Lemon Infused Vodka for Homemade Limoncello or Lemon Extract

And then there was homemade limoncello!


When I bought a 5lb bag of organic lemons at the beginning of citrus season, I started infusing vodka with lemon zest. I thought I’d make a lovely batch of lemon extract to use in baking.

lemon in vodkaBut after the vodka had been infused for a couple of weeks, I had the sudden urge to drink that lovely liquid! That’s when I started to consider making homemade limoncello instead of extract. After a little research, I discovered that I could easily make limoncello or lemon extract with my infused vodka.

How to Make Homemade Limoncello


  1. Wash and scrub 8-10 lemons very well.
  2. Zest all the lemons. To avoid any waste, juice your lemons right away and freeze the juice for another day.lemons
  3. Mix lemon zest with 1 bottle (750 mL) of vodka. If you’re discerning about these types of things and you have access to it, Everclear will produce even better results, as will 100% proof vodka. Since I don’t have easy access to either of those, I used a medium quality vodka and was quite happy with the result.
  4. Seal tight and let the alcohol and lemon zest rest and infuse for 2 to 4 weeks.
  5. Strain out the lemon zest.
  6. Prepare a simple sugar syrup by heating and mixing equal parts water and sugar. How much sugar and water depends on what per cent of alcohol you used, how sweet you like your limoncello and how much you want to dilute the alcohol. For my  vodka and personal preference, I used 2/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water. For higher proof liquor you may want to consider 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water.
  7. Combine the simple syrup and infused vodka. Cool and use the same day or allow flavors to blend for another week or so.
  8. Store in freezer for instant ice cold limoncello.

Flavor of Limoncello

The syrup solution added to the lemon infused vodka makes this a sweet, lemon flavored liqueur.

How to Serve Limoncello

Limoncello is best served ice cold. Ideally, put the whole bottle in the freezer for a couple of hours. NOTE: Chalk labels will smudge!

icy limoncello

Serve that icy cool limoncello straight up in a shot glass like we did last Easter.

You could also serve it over ice or mixed with champagne, white wine, soda water or your favorite cocktail.  For example to make a Limoncello Cosmopolitan mix 1 shot Vodka, 1 shot cranberry juice and 1 shot Limoncello.

These liqueurs were lovely while they lasted. Time for some more!

fruit liqueurs

See those other boozy liquids, apparently I’m starting a collection of fruit infused alcohol.  Here are the other links you might want to check out.

Nanking Cherry Liqueurs

Saskatoon and Lemon Infused Vodka

Cranberry Orange Infused Vodka

In case you’re curious about the lemon extract, here’s how you would make that.

How To Make Lemon Extract

To make lemon extract simply infuse the zest of 4 to 6 lemons in about 1 cup of vodka for 4 to 6 weeks and then strain it.  The longer you let it steep or infuse, the stronger the lemon flavor.

Flavor of Lemon Extract

Lemon extract has a strong lemon flavor without the acidity of lemon juice.  But yes, it does have alcohol flavor if used in recipes that aren’t heated – not an issue in baked goods. Because of this intense flavor, half a teaspoon may be all you need.

How to Use Lemon Extract

Use lemon extract in place of vanilla extract or even in addition to vanilla extract to add a distinct lemony flavor to baking.

Use in place of lemon juice if you want lemon flavor, but not the acidity of the juice.  You’ll need less lemon extract than juice.  For example if a recipe calls for 1 TBSP lemon juice, try 1/2 to 1 tsp lemon extract.

Add to glazes, icing, pies, cheesecakes, cookies, waffle or pancake batter, fruit salads, marinades, smoothies, etc.

extract of lemon -

What would you rather make – limoncello or lemon extract? If you make either one, I’d love to see how it turned out for you. Please take a photo and share it with me by tagging @getgettys on Instagram. Or leave a comment and let me know how it went.

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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