Two months ago, I nestled a gallon-jar of limoncello into my dark pantry to slowly marinate. We just bottled the limoncello this week, so it’s time to report to my friends that it’s damn fine. It’s honestly the best limoncello I’ve tasted. Just sweet enough, with a clean lemon finish.

This recipe comes from my friend Jim Mininger. Jim researched various limoncello techniques, compiling ideas into his own original recipe. He discovered the perfect balance of proportions.

Jim also advises using Everclear instead of the traditional vodka. The Everclear makes quite a difference. Because most limoncellos are made with vodka, they can’t help but taste like lemon-infused vodka, with a definite antiseptic edge. Without the vodka, it is truly a lemon aperitif, clean and bright. You might not be able to find Everclear at your corner grocery, but any liquor warehouse would carry it.

Bottles of homemade limoncello make great xmas gifts, and are especially convenient as make-ahead gifts before the holiday frenzy. As I give bottles of the 1st batch away this week, I realize I may need to start the 2nd batch soon. It does take several weeks to rest, you know.

limoncello recipe

15 lemons
2 bottles Everclear (750 ml each)
4 cups sugar
5 cups water


Pour one 750 ml bottle of Everclear into a 1-gallon jar.

Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax, unless you know that they have not been sprayed. Pat them dry.

Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or peeler. Use only the outer part of the rind. The white pith under the rind is bitter, and would ruin the limoncello.

Add the lemon zest to the gallon jar, adding as you zest it.

Cover the jar, and let sit for 10-40 days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better. There is no need to stir — all you have to do is wait. As the limoncello sits, the Everclear slowly takes on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.

At this point, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Let the syrup cool. Then add it to the gallon jar. Add the 2nd bottle of Everclear. Allow this to rest for a second waiting period of another 10-40 days, also in a cool dark place.

During this time, collect and clean various liquor bottles and vinegar bottles (that you will eventually fill with limoncello). Also plan to make room in your freezer for the bottles.

After the 2nd resting period, strain the liquid with a very-fine sieve or a cheesecloth to remove the lemon zest. Discard the zest.

Use a funnel to fill various bottles. Store the bottles of limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. Serve cold.

recipe courtesy of Jim Mininger

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