Meyer Limoncello

Our Meyer lemon tree starts ripening around Thanksgiving, which means I can steep some lemon peels in vodka long enough to make limoncello by Christmas. I also use the fruit to make candied citrus peels, lemon oil and lemon truffles, all of which make great gifts.

These are not the prettiest lemons, but they’re big and juicy. They’re supposed to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin, but I’ve always suspected this tree is a cross between a lemon and a grapefruit because they’re so big.  Just like key limes, Meyer lemons have a little floral note that makes them better than a regular lemon.

Limoncello is an Italian liqueur that is best homemade.  Store-bought limoncello reminds me of household cleaners with laboratory lemon fragrance.  It’s nothing like the pure lemon essence of handmade limoncello.

Recipes say to use grain alcohol because it extracts more from the peels.  But really smooth vodka tastes better in the end, and it extracts plenty of lemon flavor for me. I’m not a purist.   I even add a little lemon juice in the end.

Serve it ice-cold in a shot glass or mix it with seltzer.  It’s liquid sunshine.

Meyer Limoncello


  • peels from 10 Meyer lemons
  • 5 cups vodka
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice


Wash the lemons.

You’ve got two options: zest them or use a paring knife to peel them and get as much of the white pith off as possible. You’re not using the juice for this, but of course you should squeeze out the juice and reserve it for another use or freeze it.

Place the zest in a large glass container and cover with 5 cups of vodka.  Allow them to steep for at least 3 weeks.  Swish them around every few days.

Strain the vodka into a large glass pitcher or beverage dispenser.

Make simple syrup:  Boil 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Add 4 cups sugar and stir.  Continue to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Allow it to cool completely before adding it to the vodka.  Stir in lemon juice.  Dispense or funnel into sterilized bottles.

Store in the refrigerator.

Notes for gifting limoncello:

  • I used 5 17-oz swing-top bottles from Specialty Bottle.
  • I used Tito’s vodka.
  • The bottles are decorated with chalkboard stickers labeled with chalkboard pen from Target, and I tied a kaffir lime leaf to each one with raffia.

7 Comments Meyer Limoncello

  1. Christina @ Whip This Up December 15, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Love this! Eric wants a meyer lemon tree so badly, but it’s not really an option in our apartment. So pretty with the lime leaves, too!

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  3. Cheryl Bredin December 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

    wonderful. i will have to try it. i had it once and it didn’t impress me. But I can see if its homemade that its much better.

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