Homemade Crema Di Limoncello Recipe

glass of limoncello on table
glass of limoncello on table - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie... it could be amore, but there's a good chance it's just limoncello. Boozy but sweet and dripping with the taste of fresh lemon, limoncello is a classic Italian liqueur known for being a dessert-y digestif. In a country that's perfected gelato, it was only a matter of time before limoncello got a creamy upgrade, becoming an even smoother, even sweeter after-meal drink similar in taste to the famous frozen treats.

Like gelato, limoncello is also frozen, but because it's made with high-proof alcohol, limoncello stays liquified. If you know your fats and acids, you might also be wondering how lemon, liquor, and cream are also existing together without being a curdled mess. It's all about the process, which takes at least a week to do correctly — but think about it, with a little patience you'll have enough limoncello to last you a year. Follow this recipe by developer Michelle McGlinn to learn how to make the perfect after-dinner sip.

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Gathering The Ingredients For Homemade Crema Di Limoncello

ingredients for crema di limoncello
ingredients for crema di limoncello - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

It may seem easier to simply buy a bottle of the premade liqueur from the store, but picking up a few ingredients on your next grocery run and making this recipe will be well worth it for a delicious fresh flavor. To start, you'll need around 10 lemons and a bottle of high-proof grain alcohol. Now, we're not talking any old vodka, here (though that will work, if needed). For the strongest limoncello, you'll want to seek out something 90 proof or higher. A popular option is Everclear, which is sold up to 190 proof. Lower proofs will be tasty, but very diluted in the cream, making your limoncello much less strong. To finish off the crema di limoncello, you'll need a few quarts of half and half, a bag of sugar, and some vanilla extract.

Steep The Alcohol

pouring everclear into pitcher
pouring everclear into pitcher - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

If you've made plain limoncello, you'll be familiar with this step. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the zest from all of the lemons and drop them into a pitcher or large jar. Pour the alcohol over the lemon peels and swirl it around a few times, then cover and place the jar in a cool, dark place. Then, just leave it alone. Don't touch the jar at all for at least a week — or up to 4 weeks, if you can manage. The longer you steep, the more lemon flavor your drink will have.

Make The Cream Syrup

stirring the syrup in a pot
stirring the syrup in a pot - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Some recipes call for milk in the syrup, but we prefer the creamier, richer quality of half and half. Just like making a simple syrup, heat the sugar in a saucepan with the half and half until dissolved, stirring and scraping the bottom constantly to avoid scorching and sticking. This will only take about 5 minutes, but make sure your spoon runs through the cream smoothly before turning off the heat. If any sugar remains, your limoncello will end up grainy.

Combine, Bottle, And Serve

bottle of limoncello on table
bottle of limoncello on table - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Strain the lemon peels out of the Everclear and pour the lemony alcohol into the cooled cream syrup. You may want to use a stock pot for this if you don't have a pitcher large enough – the total liquid will be almost 4 quarts. Which, of course, you won't be drinking all at once; unless you happen to have a lot of friends.

Because of its strength and sweetness, limoncello is served in small portions of about 2 ounces or less. Like a glass of whiskey, you'll find that a few ounces is plenty to serve as a digestif, and much more than that can result in a gnarly stomach ache. Luckily, though, crema di limoncello can be stored for up to a year, so you can take your time sipping it so long as you have a reliable freezer. Transfer the mixture into bottles with about 2 inches of space to account for expanding, then seal and store in the freezer until ready to serve. And serve cold — it'll taste just like your favorite gelato this way.

Homemade Crema Di Limoncello Recipe

glass of limoncello on table
glass of limoncello on table - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Prep Time: 168h 10mCook Time: 5mYield: 14 ServingsIngredients

  • 10 lemons, peels only

  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Everclear (190 proof)

  • 2 quarts half and half

  • 4 cups granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Place the lemon peels in a pitcher or jar and cover with the Everclear. Cover and let steep for at least 1 week or up to 1 month.

  2. When ready to make the cream, add the half and half to a pot and heat on medium low. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

  3. Strain the lemon peels from the alcohol and pour the infused alcohol into the cooled cream. Stir well to combine. Divide into bottles and store in the freezer until ready to drink.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.