Limoncello Recipe

Create a smoky, intense twist on this Italian lemon liqueur by charring the lemons before infusing them with vodka.

Photo from Adobe Stock/Nelly Kovalchuk

If you aren’t on the Amalfi Coast and don’t have access to Sorrento lemons, fear not; any lemons will work for this recipe. It is a two-step process, which can be viewed as the “sweet lemon vodka thingy” and the “porty lemony stuff.” The port doesn’t have to be from Portugal (something local that represents its style is fine), but it does have to be white as tannins don’t play well here. Charring the lemons gives them a smoky intensity and an extra layer of complexity. For me, limoncello can taste quite plain, but a few extra elements can make it wonderful. One last note: once you have finished making the “sweet lemon vodka thingy,” take the lemons, slice them into wheels and dehydrate them, as they make a great garnish. You will need to start this recipe about one month ahead of time.

Makes approximately 1.5 litres (51 fl oz/ 6 cups)


  • 2 kg (4 lb 6 oz) lemons
  • 250 g (9 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 700 ml (23 1/2 fl oz) vodka
  • 250 ml (8 1/2 fl oz/1 cup) white port
  • 10 g (1/4 oz) dried lemonbalm

Photo from Adobe Stock/fkruger


  1. Peel the lemons and combine the peel and sugar in a sealable 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cup) jar. Leave to rest for 2 weeks in the fridge.
  2. Halve the lemons crossways and char, flesh-side down, in a dry griddle pan set over a high heat for about 1 minute.
  3. Combine the charred lemons with the vodka in an airtight container and leave to rest for 2 weeks at room temperature.
  4. Mix the white port and lemon balm together in a sealable jar and leave to rest for 1 day.
  5. Add 700 ml (23 1/2 fl oz) water to the lemon peel and sugar and stir to dissolve. Strain the vodka, white port, and water and sugar mixtures through a coffee filter or a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) into a large bowl or saucepan. Stir until well combined, then pour into sterilized glass bottles. The limoncello will keep for up to 1 year in the fridge.

For another day:

  • Ice cream: Drizzle some over your dessert.
  • Chicken marinade: Coat some chicken in limoncello and marinate overnight before chargrilling it.
  • Earl Grey tea: Spike your tea with just a splash of limoncello.

Also from All Day Cocktails:

all-day-cocktailsEnjoy cocktails at any time of day with this collection of fresh, creative low- and no-alcohol recipes. Celebrating seasonal ingredients, and with a focus on sustainability, All Day Cocktails showcases nearly fifty varieties of citrus, berries, tropical fruits, stone fruits, pome fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts. Each variety features a versatile prep recipe that can extend into your cocktails and beyond, meaning All Day Cocktails is much more than your average cocktail book. All Day Cocktails brings you ninety cocktail recipes plus fifty prep recipes, including: bitters, caramels, cordials, coulis, granitas, honeys, jams, jellies, juices, kefirs, liqueurs, sherbets, shrubs, syrups, tisanes and vinegars.

Recipes excerpted with permission from All Day Cocktails: Low (and No) Alcohol Magic by Shaun Byrne and Nick Tesar. Hardie Grant, August 2019, RRP $24.99 Hardcover.



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