Healthier Homemade Limoncello recipe | refined sugar free, gluten free

Healthier Homemade Limoncello

Limoncello (pronounced like lee-moan-cheh-low) is an Italian sweet lemon liqueur that is often served chilled as a palate cleanser or after-dinner drink.  Sadly, most varieties that you’d find at the store aren’t natural in the slightest.  Do you get sad when you’re tryin’ to get your drank on and see “FD&C Yellow No.5” or “Color Added” written on the label?  I know I do.  Well, suffer no more as I have made this Healthier Homemade Limoncello!

This Healthier Homemade Limoncello recipe is all natural (no artificial food coloring added), low calorie, refined sugar free, gluten free, and vegan, but you’d never know it! Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

Unlike storebought varieties, this Healthier Homemade Limoncello is made without the artificial food coloring, corn syrup, and preservatives.

Yup, Limoncello JUST. GOT. BETTER.

This homemade Limoncello is all natural, low calorie, refined sugar free, fat free, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan too.

It sounds like I’m describing broccoli, but no, I’m talking about this DAMN GOOD lemon liqueur.

The only downside to this recipe is that it takes 20 days to make.  The lemons need to completely infuse the vodka with sweet, refreshing lemon flavor.  It’s kind of like the lemons are “steeping.”  But don’t worry, those 20 days will be over soon enough.  Pour the finished Limoncello (aka liquid gold) into jars and refrigerate to store.

Buuuut you can totally drink some now because you waited 480 long hours for this moment!  Once you have a sip, you’ll know that the wait is SO so worth it.  Trust me.

This Healthier Homemade Limoncello recipe is all natural (no artificial food coloring added), low calorie, refined sugar free, gluten free, and vegan, but you’d never know it! Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

This Healthier Homemade Limoncello recipe is all natural (no artificial food coloring added), low calorie, refined sugar free, gluten free, and vegan, but you’d never know it! Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits
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Healthier Homemade Limoncello

Servings: 61 servings
Prep Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 20 d
Limoncello is an Italian sweet lemon liqueur that is often served chilled as a palate cleanser or after-dinner drink. Sadly, most kinds at the store are made with artificial food dyes and refined sugars. So I made a better option -- this Healthier Homemade Limoncello!


  • 12 Organic Lemons
  • cups Vodka
  • cups Water
  • ¼ cup Agave Nectar (or to taste)
  • tsp Liquid Stevia Extract
  • ½ tsp Lemon Flavor **


  • Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler (just enough to get the yellow skin off).  Place the peels in a very large jar (or a big old vodka bottle).
  • Pour in the vodka and water.  Seal tightly and store in the fridge for 20 days (no need to mix, shake, or stir).
  • Strain the mixture through a coffee filter, into a very large bowl.  Discard the lemon peels and the filter.
  • Whisk in the agave nectar, stevia extract, and lemon flavor.  Give it a taste and add more agave if you think it needs it.  Pour the Limoncello into jars and refrigerate to store.

Recipe Notes

**You can also try 2 tsp Lemon Zest
Nutrition Facts
Healthier Homemade Limoncello
Amount Per Serving (1 serving = 1oz)
Calories 40
% Daily Value*
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Sugar 1g1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: DIY, Fat Free, Gift, Gluten Free, Holiday, No Bake, Refined Sugar Free

If you were to compare 1oz of storebought Limoncello with 1oz of my Healthier Homemade Limoncello, you’d find that my homemade version has:

  • 60 less calories
  • 13g less carbs
  • 12.5g less sugar

And it tastes just as amazing.  HAAAALLELUJAH!  Why yes, I will take another shot, please and thank you.

But really now, you should start a batch of this ASAP.  You never know when you may need it.

This Healthier Homemade Limoncello recipe is all natural (no artificial food coloring added), low calorie, refined sugar free, gluten free, and vegan, but you’d never know it! Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

You will be sipping on this amazingness soon enough.  Bottoms up!


– Jess


54 comments on “Healthier Homemade Limoncello”

  1. Yuck, the nutrition facts for the original are scary. I really want to try your version!!

  2. When do you add the water?

  3. I am going to try this this year. I had some last year at holiday party and I know being a diabetic i could buy this but now I just have to have it. Thanks and Happy and Holy days this year.

  4. How did you find out that this was gluten free?

  5. Ciao, I am from Italy and I love the idea of making limoncello substituting the huge amount of sugar with Stevia, to make it much lower in calories.

    However, the original recipe for limoncello calls for rectified spirit, which is a highly concentrated ethanol (190 proof), instead of vodka.
    In addition, if you want to have good results, the infusing time is much longer than 12 days.

    Specifically, the lemon zest should be soaked in 3 cups of alcohol (the rectified spirit) in a airtight glass container, in a dark cool place for 30 days.
    Then, you can make the sweet syrup by bringing water to boil and dissolving the sugar (in this case Stevia) in it.

    When the syrup has cooled off, it should be added, together with another cup of rectified spirit, to the alcohol + lemon mixture in the airtight container, again in a dark cool place.
    After 40 days, you can filer the content put it in the freezer and enjoy.

    • Simone-
      I used a lemon-flavored vodka in this recipe to cut down on the lemon-steeping time, and also because I could not find Everclear (190 proof) in my area. I also like the taste of the Smirnoff vodka and find that the lemon flavor comes through just fine after 12 days. You can definitely infuse it for longer if you wish. I put the steeping mixture in the fridge because I live in Arizona and it’s still quite warm here, other wise you can leave it in the pantry or somewhere dark/cool.
      Stevia in the Raw dissolves readily into water unlike sugar, which will crystallize and taste pretty bad!

  6. This looks beautiful!! I bet this would be amazing in so many recipes too! Also, my sisters and I nominated you for a blog award on our site today. Hope you check it out. Thanks for the great recipes. Our mom has even tried some of your recipes and loved them. 🙂 Keep up the great work!!

    • Thanks Annie! I want to try this in my healthy Lemon Fro Yo recipe, because when I made it I used a storebought Limoncello which sadly had artificial food coloring in it :/
      I’m so glad your mom liked my recipes! I always get anxious and wonder if people don’t like them… everybody has completely different tastes so I get totally paranoid lol.
      And thank you so much for thinking of DWB! That makes me so happy 😀 Natural Sweet Recipes is definitely one of my favorite blogs to visit when I receive your emails 🙂

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  9. Lori Williamson

    Yeah! I wanted a natural recipe for lemoncello! So so glad you are here♡ I’ll be starting it in the morning. I frequently use liquor for extracts in cooking, baking etc. I am allergic to artificial dye, so yes I learned the hard way after a reaction to store bought 🙁 so gave it away, new natural hunt came up with your wonderful site, THANK YOU. I’ll be trying many other recipes in the near future from your collection. 🙂 glad I found you.

  10. Lori Williamson

    Well Jess, I finally got to taste my home made lemoncello! I left it quite a bit longer to age…..ok…. it’s so much better than any I’ve ever tasted. Yummmmy. So you did it again. =)

  11. Hey Jess,
    i’m so glad someone has already made limoncello with stevia! I have my lemon peels steeping and will give it a try!
    Although, limoncello as a digestif is quite a strong alcoholic drink and when substituting 40% vodka for 80% spirit i would recommend using a lot less water (or not at all).
    Limoncello is traditionally served straight out of the freezer- light alcohol would just freeze and would not be sticky like liqueur 🙂

  12. How long can it be stored?

  13. Any idea how you can make a creamy version of this?
    I love Cremonello, but the calories/sugar/carbs must be very high,
    Let me know if you come up with someway to make it creamy.
    Thank you.

    • I’ve never had Cremoncello so I’m not sure how it tastes. From what I read online, it looks like it’s just Limoncello + heavy cream? If that’s all it is, I guess you can try mixing some of this Limoncello with organic heavy cream. The calories will go up a bit from the cream, but it will still be sugar-free and low-carb!
      PS: I’m coming out with a Boozy Limoncello Ice Cream recipe soon, so maybe that’ll be a good substitute for the Cremoncello 😉

      • Oh the ice cream sounds great! Can’t wait. Thank you!

        Cremoncello is just a creamy version of Limoncello. I will try the organic cream.

        I was also thinking maybe using some unsweetened coconut milk…might make an interesting taste.

      • Just got the recipe for the ice cream! YUMMY! Can’t wait to make it.

        Thank you.

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  16. Agave nectar is 66% sugar. I suggest you check your claims aboyt both calories and sugar.

    • You are correct that agave nectar is a sweetener, however the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup which is spread throughout the entire batch (makes 7+2/3 cups TOTAL). Also never claimed that this recipe is calorie free… I said it’s lower calorie than storebought Limoncello, which IS basically pure sugar.

  17. I feel silly asking but is there a substitute for the alcohol? I’m pregnant. Any ideas would be appreciated.

  18. Hi what about using honey VS agave/stevia?

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  22. Lemon flavor? Extract? Lemon juice?

  23. Nice recipe except for the agarve nector. The internet has plenty of info about it. It is even worse than table sugar. I suggest xylitol or erythritol instead.

    • I don’t agree that agave is worse than table sugar, but each to their own. I didn’t use xylitol and erythritol here because they won’t dissolve in the mixture… they’ll most likely stay in granulated form and sink to the bottom of the bottle. If you don’t mind that though, feel free to use those sweeteners instead 🙂

  24. This looks interesting but IDK how anyone can like stevia. I’d rather use 1. Monk Fruit or 2. Powdered Xylitol. I wonder how it’d with 150 proof rum or grappa

    • Everyone has a different taste. You might not like stevia, but I don’t like xylitol. Everyone is different! I’m sure this would work just the same with those substitutes though!
      And as long as it’s a strong alcohol, I think it would work just fine. Definitely give rum or grappa a try! 🙂

    • Monkfruit, at least in crystal sugar-like form, does not work. It re-crystalized when I put it in the refrigerator or freezer. The taste was good, but it did not work. Not sure how it would work if you tried a liquid version of it…..

  25. I’m curious how it turned out with the coconut milk! I was thinking about doing that myself, but with coconut cream. I was also thinking about just adding the cream before serving each time, but afraid this might over dilute it for some. Store bought limoncello is pretty strong to me and I would prefer to be able to drink a little more, since it’s so yummy! I am using vodka though. Thanks for this great limoncello recipe! I have a bottle of in the closet infusing now!5 stars

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  27. I recently made the recipe as written and it is really delicious. However, after I mixed it up I put most of it back in the vodka bottle and left it on the counter for a few hours instead of getting it into the fridge right away. The bottle suddenly shattered. Any idea about that? I was glad I still had a couple of smaller bottles too.

    • I soaked my sliced lemon in a mason jar and poured vodka over it. It’s been a week and already tastes awesome. I added Stevia to the drink not the jar that way I can control the sweetness. I was wondering, why use water at all? Why refrigerate? Would the stevia ferment like regular surgar does considering it is a derivative of surgar? Or would it crystallize without breaking it down with boiled water first. Chem questions, sorry. 😁4 stars

  28. Just an FYI, I tried making a healthier version (before I saw your recipe) with Monfruit Sweetener (in sugar-like crystals), and while it tasted good, the sweetener crystalized when I refrigerated or froze the Limoncello, so it was a big fail in that sense. DO NOT USE MONKFRUIT SWEETENER at least in crystal form. I will try it with stevia and agave next time. Thx

  29. Is there a way to use granulated Truvia? If so how?

  30. Hello. With Tito’s vodka and adding the water. Any idea what the alcohol content is?

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