Limoncello / Arancello

Donna Graffagnino


Limoncello is a liqueur made from lemons and in Italy usually served after dinner. You will find locally made Limoncello in Sorrento, near the Amalfi coast where the lemons are grown to create the Limoncello. For a taste of Italy at home try this recipe and make your own.

Arancello is exactly the same but made with orange zest.

Please note that this is a very detailed recipe for those who have never tackled liqueur making before. There are other recipes which are much simpler and faster, but I don't think they are as good. This is an original recipe from Sorrento, Italy.

pinch tips: How to Chill a Drink in 2 Minutes





1 Hr


Stove Top


1 bottle
(750 ml) everclear (95% alcohol 190 proof)
1 bottle
(750 ml) good but not necessarily premium vodka (40% alcohol 80 proof)


large thick skinned bright yellow lemons (without scars or flaws in the skin if possible.) [[or]]
large thick skinned oranges (without scars or blemishes)
3 c
filtered tap water or distilled water (not mineral water)
4 c
pure cane white sugar (this will give thin syrup consistency; if you prefer a thicker syrup, experiment with increasing your sugar by 1-2 cups)


very clean and dry gallon glass jar (the kind you make sun tea in is perfect)
large gallon sized glass (pyrex style) pitcher
punch ladle
large supplies of unbleached cone coffee filters
canning funnel with large mouth. one should have a bowl capacity to fit the coffee filter
small bottle funnel
cup sized measuring cup
clean, 200 ml. bottles that seal tightly

Directions Step-By-Step

STEP 1 - DAY 1

Pour the bottle of Everclear and the bottle of vodka into the gallon jar.

Either use organic lemons or make sure that lemons are cleaned to remove all pesticides, dirt, and fertilizer chemicals. After washing the lemons, dry them off with a clean towel. Then you just use the zester to remove a thin layer of zest from the whole lemon. If you get even a little bit of the white pith just below the zest, it will make your Limoncello bitter. So don’t take chances, if the lemon is bumpy and you can’t get all the zest without hitting the pith elsewhere, let it go. This step is all about quality over quantity.
Put the lemon zest in the gallon jar and stir gently. Cover jar with 2 layers of plastic wrap then screw on lid tightly. Store in a cool (not cold) dark place for alcohol to extract oils from peels, creating an infusion.
DAYS 8, 22, 36 & 45 or LATER

Gently stir lemon zest to refresh exposure to alcohol. Return to cool, dark place.
STEP 2 - DAY 1

Dissolve sugar in water and bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Set syrup aside to cool. It must be room temp before adding to infusion.

Pour lemon liquid through a fine strainer to get out as much zest as possible. Discard zest.

Using the canning funnel, the ladle, and coffee filters, slowly strain infusion through filters into large pitcher. This is a messy process. The filters will clog quickly and you will use many of them.

Rinse and dry gallon jar. Repeat straining process, transferring infusion from pitcher to original gallon jar by straining again through more coffee filters.

If you have a pitcher with a filter, such as a Brita, pour the filtered infusion into the pitcher and allow it to completely filter through. Otherwise, use the coffee filter method again (3rd time).

Return filtered infusion to jar and add COOLED syrup.

Place in a cool dry place for 40 days to begin mellowing process that combines alcohol infusion
with syrup to create Limoncello.

Note: If you moisten the filters before the straining, you will not waste liqueur by soaking it into the filter.

Begin filtering Limoncello. Use punch ladle to pour a small amount into a filter-lined funnel held over the small measuring cup.

Fill measuring cup to an even ml level. (100, 200, 300, etc.)

Using a smaller funnel and coffee filters or white paper towels, filter one last time into individual 200-ml bottles. You have now filtered the liqueur a total of 5 times. Seal bottles VERY tightly.

Remember, if you are corking the bottles -- corks breathe. So consider dipping the neck several times in melted wax after corking.

Label and/or tag bottles.

Return to cool dark place for storage.

Your Limoncello is now ready to enjoy. However, the longer it sits and "ages" the smoother it becomes.

I start my batches in the spring/summer when the lemons are at their best. Then I give it as gifts at Christmas time. Since Limoncello is a favorite warm weather treat it will have aged an entire year by the time most people drink it. VERY smooth and delicious!

The 200 ml size bottles make ideal gifts. You should label the bottles with some basic information and a disclaimer (You don't want to be arrested by ATF as a Bootlegger).

I label my bottles and add a decorative tag.
On My Labels:

Casa di Graffagnino
Premium Lemon (or Orange) Liqueur

On My Tags:

As an after dinner drink, serve one ounce in a small chilled aperitif glass.

As a refreshing dessert, pour an ounce over a large scoop of shaved ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

Limoncello / Arancello is best when served directly from the freezer.

Ingredients: beverage alcohol; distilled water; pure cane sugar, & lemon oil infused from the peel of fresh lemons [oranges].

200 ml -- 45% alcohol by volume

This liqueur is homemade for private use only. Not intended to be sold or served commercially.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Other Drinks
Main Ingredient: Alcohol
Regional Style: Italian
Other Tag: Heirloom