Homemade Limoncello Recipes

Easy & Fun Christmas Gifts

This is one of my favorite Homemade Limoncello Recipes. I love drinking it or putting it in a jar for Christmas. It makes for a fun an easy Christmas gift for family and friends.

In my family we are kind of over the giving gifts to each and every sibling and spouses because it gets too hard. Here's something everyone can enjoy...a small jar of homemade liquor. It was such a hit the first time I did it, my brother in law finished his jar and asked if it was perpetual...meaning he wanted a refill!

What is Limoncello?

Anyway, for those who don't know limoncello is sweet Italian after dinner drink best served ice cold in a small sipping glass. A refreshing and delightful after dinner drink.

If this sounds good to you, I'll share with you my own homemade limoncello recipe so you can be a hit with your family and friends during the holidays.

Best of all, you can as I will show below get creative too. In this instance, I changed citrus from lemons to oranges. It still tastes delicious and is a nice twist to the standard limoncello.

Ingredients in Limoncello

Here's what you will need to make your limoncello;

  • 9 to 10 Medium sized lemons (or oranges)
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) 100-proof vodka
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Microplaner or other zesting tool (more below)
  • Large Storage Jar
  • Strainer

Zesting a Lemon

Zesting a lemon means to peel the outer most skin of the lemon without the rind (the white part). This is where the oils from the orange are stored.

The rind is bitter. You want no white parts in your zest. Instead you need to just scrape the outer most part of the skin. The best way to do this is to use a tool called a microplane. It is meant for just this type of work.

In my case, I did not have a microplaner so I had to come up with a way to scrape or peel the zest without getting any rind. I did try to use a grate but it got clogged up and as soon as the orange/lemon got a little soft it did not work well at all.

zesting an orange

What I ended up doing is using a potato peeler and finely chopping the peels. It did work. It took some time and patience.

Unless you have no other way, I would not recommend this because I finally broke down and purchased a microplaner and it is much easier.

Mixing and Storing The Zested Alcohol

In a clean jar, mix the zest with the 100 proof vodka. I recommend 100 proof because the extra alcohol content can break down and absorb the lemon or orange flavoring from the zest much more efficiently. Seal and store the mixture in a cool dry place for 4-6 weeks. It should start to take on the color of your citrus, yellow/orange. If you use 80 proof alcohol, let it sit for 6-8 weeks.

Homemade Limoncello Recipe

Completing the Homemade Limoncello Recipe

Now comes the fun part, bring 1 cup of water to a low boil. Remove heat and dissolve 1 cup of sugar into the water. Let the sugar water cool to room temperature so you don't cook off the alcohol.

While the sugar water is boiling, strain the zest from the alcohol. When the water cools, mix the sugar water and the flavored alcohol and voila! You have limoncello...or in my case orangecello!

Homemade Limoncello Gifts in a Jar

To package my gifts, I found some 8 oz Ball canning jars. After sterilizing the jars per the directions, I filled each jar with 8oz of Orangecello. Applied a label and placed them in the freezer.

When the Christmas eve party came, I gave each couple their own small jar. This also works for neighbors friend and those unexpected guest or drop ins who bring you presents. Just give them a jar of you homemade orange liquor.

Homemade Limoncello Recipes

As I tell everyone who I give it to, you can drink it, or use it a cleaner, degreaser or for a sanitizer to kill germs. The choice is yours!

Variants to Your Homemade Limoncello Recipes

Now of course I took the limoncello and used oranges. You can do this with most any citrus. I like both lemon and orange.

If you find that you are using an 80 proof alcohol, you also may want to reduce the water content a bit as well. For instance, a drop of 20 proof means 10% more water in the bottle of alcohol. You may want to use 3/4 cup water instead.

If you prefer things on the sweet side you can easily vary these homemade limoncello recipes by adding more sugar. Conversely if you prefer to taste more of the citrus flavor, you can drop the sugar slightly.

Limoncello Drink

Finally I'd like to share with you a drink my friends and I discovered. We mixed the Orangecello with some Limeade from Trader Joe's and it was a wonderful refreshing drink...that will kick your butt if you're not careful so use your alcohol responsibly and Salute! (That means to your health in Italian!)
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