Instant Pot Limoncello ~ if you love lemons you probably also love this gorgeous Italian lemon liqueur. It traditionally takes weeks to infuse the lemon peels into vodka ~ but the amazing Instant Pot does it in 30 minutes. So basically, how can you not make this?
Updated on 12/29/19: Although I have had no trouble making limoncello in my Instant Pot, it has come to my attention that cooking high-proof alcohol in an Instant Pot is not safe because the alcoholic vapor it generates can possibly be ignited by a spark either in the machine itself or in the vicinity. I’m continuing to research the issue but to be absolutely safe I recommend you make your limoncello with the regular method, not in the Instant Pot.
Infused liquer is a blast to make at home, especially when you’re using the freshest seasonal fruit.
I’ve wanted to make homemade limoncello for years, but the big production and having to wait forever to taste the stuff put me off for so long. Getting an Instant Pot finally pushed me over the edge. The high heat and high pressure inside the machine extracts the flavor from the lemons in a fraction of the time.
This is my favorite kind of kitchen project, the kind you can decide to do when you have a random spare hour, and in this case, a few lemons and a bottle of vodka handy.
Imagine ~ you can get the idea in the afternoon and have your homemade limoncello ready for entertaining that night. Now that’s a great recipe!
So here’s the deal ~ you need to remove the peel from 4 lemons. I used Meyer lemons, but regular lemons will do just fine. I recommend using organic lemons because the color and flavor will be extracted from those peels, and you don’t want random chemicals in your liqueur. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel in strips. Make sure to get only the yellow part, the white part is bitter. If your peels have some white stuff stuck to them, you can just scrape it off with a small knife.
Put the peels in a mason jar, and fill up with vodka. Some folks say to use a super high proof alcohol product like Everclear, (150 or 190 proof alcohol) which is better at sucking all the flavor out of the lemon peels, but I prefer to use Vodka. Everclear is too much like rubbing alcohol for me. I used regular 80 proof vodka and was happy with the results.
Once you’ve filled your jar or jars, and screwed on the caps, they’re ready for the Instant Pot. Set them on the metal rack in the pot, and cook for 30 minutes. The jars will be bubbling like crazy when you take them out. Let them cool all the way down before you attempt to open them.
To make your limoncello with the regular method
- you will set your jars in a dark cool place, such as a kitchen cabinet, for 3 weeks to a month to allow the lemon flavor to infuse into the vodka naturally.
The last step in making Instant Pot Limoncello is adding a simple sugar syrup which sweetens and brings out the lemon flavor. You can adjust the amount of syrup for a stronger or more mellow result.
Limoncello is best chilled, whether straight up in a pretty little vintage glass, or on the rocks, and it’s great mixed in cocktails. Spike your lemonade or iced tea with it, or even cook with it ~ I’ve used it in the sauce for MEYER LEMON ROAST CHICKEN.
- I bottled my limoncello in a recycled vinegar bottle. Remove the labels, wash, and save your prettiest bottles ~ you never know when you might be able to use them!
- Store your limoncello in the freezer if you like it super frosty.
This recipe is formulated for the Instant Pot only. Please don’t try this with any other type of pressure cookers as I haven’t tested it on other models. Follow all safety instructions in your manual, and follow the recipe instructions carefully.
There is no definitive answer that I have been able to find about whether cooking alcohol under pressure in the Instant Pot is safe. I recommend you do your own research and decide what is best for you. I found the information in this postfrom Tidbits, and this post from The Kitchn about making vanilla extract in the Instant Pot helpful.
- Always make sure there are no open flames or sources of heat near your Instant Pot as there may be a small amount of alcohol vapor that escapes as it is cooking.
- Make sure to use good quality canning jars that are safe to use in the Instant Pot (like Ball or Kerr) to avoid breakage, and be very careful when you do take them out of the Instant Pot as they will remain very hot for a while.
- If you’re not comfortable cooking with alcohol in the Instant Pot, you can always make limoncello the old fashioned way! It just takes a little longer. See the recipe instructions below for the method.
*recipe adapted from the Instant Pot Community
Instant Pot Limoncello (regular recipe too)
- 4 organic lemons, well washed (use Meyer or regular lemons)
- 750 ml bottle of Vodka, you won't use the whole thing
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- Use a serrated vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the lemons. You just want the yellow part, not the white. You can remove any white part sticking to the peels by scraping them with a small sharp knife. Divide the peels between 2 wide mouthed 1/2 pint sized mason jars. Fill the jars with vodka and leave 3/4 inch space at the top. Screw on the lids securely but not tightly.
- Place your jars in the Instant Pot, on the rack. Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the pot. Close and lock the lid. Set the vent to 'sealed', and press 'Pressure Cook' and set to high. Set the timer for 30 minutes.
- Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with equal parts (1 1/2 cups) water in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar has dissolved, and the syrup just comes to a simmer, stirring well. Let the syrup cool to room temperature.
- When the Instant Pot timer beeps, press cancel. Let the pressure release naturally, this can take about 20 minutes, do not use the quick release for this recipe. Carefully remove the jars, they will be hot. Let them cool completely.
- When the jars are cooled to room temperature, open them and strain out the lemon peels. I strained it through a double layer of cheesecloth.
- Blend in the sugar syrup to taste. Less will make a stronger liqueur, and more will produce a sweeter, more mellow drink. Start with one cup of the sugar syrup, and add more to taste, to make your own custom blend.
- Keep chilled or in the freezer until ready to enjoy.
- Follow step one, above, but instead of putting your jars in the Instant Pot, store them somewhere dark like a kitchen cabinet, and leave them for a few weeks to a month. Then strain out the peels and continue with the sugar syrup, as above.
Questions and Reviews
For clarification: the juices from the lemons are not used in making the lemoncello?
Just finished making Instant Pot Limoncello. It came out well except maybe too sweet. What can I do to decrease the sweetness: Add lemon juice?, add vodka?, add water? Do nothing.?
Love using your recipes especially ‘cause I knew you when.
Ok, now I’m wondering who you are…:) I would add more vodka to lessen the sweetness.
Because I a) am not patient enough to wait 3 weeks b) love using my instant pot whenever possible c) love trying new recipes and d) have friends who introduced us to limoncello, I am going to live on the edge and try it in my IP.
Thanks for sharing!
A little late to the party, but have you done a comparison of the lemon peels cooked with sugar and water to get the flavor, and the alcohol added to that, verses this way with the lemon cooked in the alcohol with simple syrup added? I’m wondering how much difference there is in taste / essence extraction.
I haven’t tried that but maybe another reader will weigh in.
great recipe, I just made it and I had only one problem, I did not have the small mason jar and made it in the 16 oz & one of the jars broke when I lifted it out of the pot. I probably should have waited until it cooled a little more from the Instant Pot. I don’t believe that it could explode or anything. The instant pot is NOT on the fire, and is secure. Thank you for the recipe, it was great and so easy. Can’t wait to try it again !!
I’m about to run out and buy a bottle of vodka for this recipe, I’m so excited to try this! Two quick questions I have for you — what brand of vodka do you recommend and is the alcohol content changed by the heat in the pressure cooker (instant pot) or not? Thank you!
I go for a lower priced vodka Emily, because it really doesn’t matter, the lemon flavor is going to take over anyway. I’m not sure if the alcohol content changes in the pressure cooker, sorry.
Sorry if this has already been asked and answered, but how long does this last after it’s made?
If you keep it in the refrigerator it will last for many months, Melissa.