Limoncello, Arancello, etc

  • Prep Time: About 2 hours, spread over 3 months
  • Makes: About 3 liters, depending on dilution



  • 20 lemons, oranges or other citrus
  • 1.5 L grain alcohol (highest percentage of alcohol possible, at least 60)


  • 1.25 L filtered water
  • 1.25 L white sugar

Crema di Limoncello:

  • 1.5 L whole milk
  • 1.8 L heavy cream
  • 2.5 kg white sugar


  • Microplane grater
  • 2 x 2 liter glass jar with lid (such as mason jars)
  • Funnel
  • Reusable coffee filter
  • Fine paper coffee filters
  • Large (at least 3 liter) heavy pot (I prefer enamelled cast iron)
  • Silicone spatula
  • Bottles to store the result in, approximately 3.5 liters total
  • Label maker (optional, but recommended)
  • Vegetable brush



  1. Thoroughly clean all the lemons, using the food brush to ensure they’re absolutely clean
  2. Using a microplane, carefully remove the yellow from the lemons. It’s better to leave some yellow on the skin than get any of the white pith as that will make it bitter
  3. Pour alcohol into a 2 liter glass jar with a sealable lid (e.g. a mason jar)
  4. Put the jar in a cool dark place, I recommend labelling it with the date
  5. Once or twice a week, take the jar and turn it upside down a few times to mix the zest and alcohol
  6. After a minimum of 45 days remove the jar from the cupboard
  7. Using the reusable coffee filter and funnel, pour the contents into the other jar
    • Press down on the zest to squeeze out any liquid which has been caught.
    • Discard all zest and rinse the first jar
  8. Using the fine paper coffee filters and the funnel, pour the liquid back into the first jar. Repeat this between the jar, with a new filter each time, until the liquid is no longer cloudy (usually around 4 passes)


  1. Heat the water in the pot until it begins to boil
  2. Slowly stir in the sugar
  3. Once all the sugar is in the pot, stir until it is completely dissolved in the water
  4. Bring off the heat and cool until room temperature. You now have a simple syrup to dilute the limoncello base with
  5. Work out the concentration you desire (I typically go for 20%). With 60% grain alcohol, 20% is achieved by mixing 1 part limoncello base to 2 parts simple syrup
  6. Pour the appropriate amount of limoncello base into the storage bottles
  7. Add the simple syrup to dilute it to the preferred level of alcohol
  8. Let sit in the fridge or freezer for a minimum of 45 days before serving

Crema di Limoncello:

  1. Pour milk and heavy cream into a large heavy bottom pan over low heat
  2. Turn up heat and stir constantly, bringing the dairy to the point where it’s just beginning to boil
  3. Turn off the heat
  4. Slowly add the sugar, stirring constantly until it’s fully dissolved
  5. Let cool to room temperature
  6. Pour the limoncello base into the dairy and stir
  7. Pour the crema di limoncello into serving or storage bottles
  8. Store in the fridge for a minimum of 10 days before serving
  9. Shake before serving

Best served: Cold, from the fridge or freezer. Traditionally the glass it’s served in is also chilled.

Preparation Notes

Vodka is sometimes used instead of grain alcohol. It has its own flavor (mild as it may be) and, in my opinion, this results in an inferior limoncello.

The 1:1 mixture of sugar and water creates a very sweet limoncello. The sugar can be adjusted to taste.

Limoncello is known as being a smooth drink, this is not the case if you make a high percentage version. I generally recommend staying below 30%.

Any citrus works, not just lemons. Orange is the favourite amongst my friends.

If your local water has any flavor, filter it before making the simple syrup

I frequently split the limoncello based into 1 liter used for crema di limoncello and 500 ml used for limoncello.


  • Storage: Sealed bottles in the fridge (crema) or freezer (limoncello)
  • Shelf Life:
    • Crema di Limoncello: approximately 2 months.
    • Limoncello: approximately 2 years.