Instant Pot Limoncello (regular recipe and video too)




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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 10/05/18: 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.

Instant Pot Limoncello (regular recipe and video too) imagery

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!

a glass of homemade Instant Pot Limoncello image

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.

Making Instant Pot Limoncello (regular recipe and video too) image

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.

Making Instant Pot Limoncello (regular recipe and video too) imagery

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.

Making Instant Pot Limoncello photo

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.

Instant Pot Limoncello (regular recipe and video too) photo

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.

TIPS:

  • 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.

Safety Notes:

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 post from 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 and Prairie Californian

Instant Pot Limoncello (regular recipe too)
Rate this recipe
43 ratings

Category: cocktail, infused liqueur

Cuisine: Italian

Yield: 1 1/2 pints

Instant Pot Limoncello (regular recipe too)

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Keep chilled or in the freezer until ready to enjoy.
    regular recipe
  1. 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.

 

Don’t forget to pin this epic Homemade Instant Pot Limoncello!

How to Make Limoncello in the Instant Pot ~ 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. #homemadeliqueur #meyerlemons #vodka #infusion #limoncello #cocktails #lemoncocktail #lemonliqueur #italian #diy #homemadelimoncello

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75 Comments

  • Reply
    Kim Flo
    January 27, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    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 !!

  • Reply
    Emily Lane
    December 9, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Hi, Sue!

    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!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 9, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Melissa
    October 13, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Sorry if this has already been asked and answered, but how long does this last after it’s made?

    Thanks!
    Melissa

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 13, 2018 at 10:50 am

      If you keep it in the refrigerator it will last for many months, Melissa.

  • Reply
    Julie A. Arden
    October 8, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you for the recipe. I made some over the weekend. The issues I had were — maybe I added too much lemon peel, the liquor (before I added the simple syrup) was a bit gelatinous. I then added the simple syrup and put my jar in the freezer — and it froze, which when I buy Limoncello and put it in the freezer, it doesn’t freeze. What did I do wrong or is this normal?

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 9, 2018 at 7:19 am

      The freezing might be due to the amount of simple syrup you used, a lower ratio of alcohol to water might be the cause there. Not sure about the gelatinous issue, I’ve never had that!

  • Reply
    Colleen Talbot
    August 25, 2018 at 6:07 am

    What a great idea. I’m already thinking of other liqueurs to try out.

    I recently saw a recipe from Ina Garten on making your own vanilla extract. Basically she fills jars with vanilla beans and vodka and lets it sit for a few months. Do you think I could make vanilla extract using this same IP method?

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 25, 2018 at 7:46 am

      Yes, there are lots of recipes out there for IP vanilla extract, I want to try that too.

  • Reply
    Holly lorber
    August 24, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    What size mason jar? Fill it with lemon peel? Thought the original way took way too long. Excited to try.

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 25, 2018 at 7:48 am

      I used the small mason jars, Holly, because they fit in my Instant Pot. The jars should be sturdy canning jars so they don’t break.

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  • Reply
    Cindy
    July 9, 2018 at 5:38 am

    I have now made three batches of this trying 180 100 and 80 proof. I agree that 80 is the best. My issue is that my lemon cello smells like hard boiled eggs. ?????
    I’m baffled

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 11, 2018 at 7:24 am

      I have no idea…I’m going to have to look that issue up!

  • Reply
    Amy Martin
    July 5, 2018 at 8:05 am

    Is it still alcoholic after cooking? I know alcohol burns off when you cook it, so I’m curious.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 5, 2018 at 8:37 am

      It goes into the instant pot in closed jars, Amy, and some does leak out, but the majority stays in the jar.

  • Reply
    Tina
    June 25, 2018 at 3:01 am

    Hi. I made this yesterday and put it in the freezer once it reached room temperature. This morning I checked on it and it had froze solid? Did I not cook my simple syrup enough? It’s now in the fridge and I will sample tonight.

  • Reply
    Erin
    June 20, 2018 at 9:18 am

    In your recipe you mention using pint jars, but did you mean half-pint jars? The photos show what looks like what a half-pint jar typically looks like. Also, you mention that you won’t use the whole bottle of vodka, but two pints (32oz) is more than enough to hold a whole bottle (25oz) when filled to the top, even with the added peels.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 20, 2018 at 9:44 am

      I just updated to clarify Erin, I used 1/2 pint jars.

  • Reply
    Kathy
    May 12, 2018 at 9:32 am

    We use to live in Italy, La Maddalena in Sardegna. While stationed there with my husband we were introduced to creamy melon chello OMG it tasted just like cantaloupe, and also creamy lemon chello but my favorite is the melon. Please if anyone ever comes across a recipe for the melon i would love to have it. Irishlimmerick@ aol.com

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 12, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Kathy I’m going to work on the melon liqueur asap it sounds so good. The creamy limoncello is a great one, too, that’s been on my list, you’ve given me the incentive to get to it!

      • Reply
        Victoria
        October 5, 2018 at 6:52 am

        How do you make it “creamy”?

        • Reply
          Sue
          October 5, 2018 at 8:06 am

          I’m working on that recipe Victoria, stay tuned!

  • Reply
    Eliza
    April 14, 2018 at 11:20 am

    On the Mason jars, do they need to be the kind with the two part lid? I have a mason jar with a regular screw on top. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 14, 2018 at 11:54 am

      It can be the regular lids, too Eliza, as long as your jars are sturdy canning jars you should be fine.

      • Reply
        Eliza
        April 15, 2018 at 2:12 pm

        Thank you! Going to give it a go:)

  • Reply
    Christina
    April 3, 2018 at 8:11 am

    I like Limoncello, but I prefer tequila. I wonder if you could do something like this with tequila and limes. I may have to experiment.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 3, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Interesting, let me know…I think you can infuse just about any alcohol, so it should work.

    • Reply
      Mike
      May 12, 2018 at 7:25 am

      Orange peels and a cinnamon stick go great in tequila. Once infused, I would not sweeten it; just use it in margaritas or other cocktails.

  • Reply
    Mary Beth Cox
    April 1, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    Do you think I could sub honey for the sugar in a smaller amount?

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 2, 2018 at 6:55 am

      I think that should be ok, Mary Beth.

  • Reply
    Fern
    April 1, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    May I ask a question? In step 5 you strain the lemoncello. Then you add the sugar. When you strain it do you put both jars into one and then add the sugar or two separate jars? Thank you.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 2, 2018 at 7:01 am

      I do it all in one, and then fill my bottle or bottles, Fern.

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  • Reply
    Janet Zirilli Dolan
    March 31, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    OMG I love my Instantpot and I love Limoncello! I’ve made Limoncello with recipe from my brother and I give it as gifts. We use about 20 lemons. But this idea is genius. I’d have to do it a few times but then it’s done and no waiting for the lemons to steep. I can’t buy Everclear where I live in NY. But I’ve had it with Everclear and think it’s a little strong. I use Vodka. Thank you so much for this idea.

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 31, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Yes, the only limitation is the size of the pot! Hope you enjoy this Janet ~ isn’t the Instant Pot fun??

  • Reply
    Jeanne Szymanski
    March 31, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    What setting did u use on the instant pot? Also I thought you sd not put lids on in a pressure cooker. Other liquids ive seen used foil (making caramel from sweetened cond milk) and then a tight lid after it was in the IP. Do you put lids on loosely or normally tightened?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 31, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      I used the pressure cook setting, on high, Jeanne. I put the lids on screwed gently, but not super duper tight. They are fine in the Instant Pot. If you don’t screw the lids on securely the alcohol will evaporate off.

      • Reply
        Amanda Lomax
        May 13, 2018 at 6:06 pm

        I screwed the lid on, not all the way tight, and most of the vodka evaporated :(

        • Reply
          Sue
          May 13, 2018 at 9:59 pm

          It sounds like your lid was not secure, could it have been dented or not airtight in some way? Some of the alcohol does evaporate, but only about 1/8 or so.

  • Reply
    Katie Goldberg
    March 31, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Did you put water in the pot? Don’t you need some, like a cup?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 31, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Yes, Katie, that’s in the recipe, you’ll put a cup of water into the instant pot.

  • Reply
    Ami G.
    March 13, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Hi there- How big (what size) are the jars you used and did you use 4 lemons per jar?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 13, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      I used pint sized jars and used 2 lemons per jar.

  • Reply
    susan elin zacharias
    March 11, 2018 at 5:15 am

    The glasses you used for this post, Sue, are fabulous ! New or vintage?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 11, 2018 at 8:47 am

      They’re from the thrift store Susan :)

  • Reply
    susan elin zacharias
    March 11, 2018 at 5:12 am

    What a clever use of Instant Pot, Sue!
    Please tell me how long this limoncello can be frozen…. a year? indefinitely? Thanks :-)

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 11, 2018 at 8:49 am

      I’d say a year, probably longer.

  • Reply
    Beth
    March 11, 2018 at 1:15 am

    I LOVE limoncello. I saved this post to my favourites, I’ll be doing this at some point for sure <3
    xxx Beth

  • Reply
    Bhiravi
    March 10, 2018 at 11:35 am

    What?! This is amazing. When reading this recipe I thought you were going to put the lemons & sugar in the instapot, and then mix with vodka later. I had no idea you could put jars full of alcohol in an an instapot. Do you know about the safety of doing this in a regular manual pressure cooker? Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 10, 2018 at 11:50 am

      I can’t say for sure about a regular pressure cooker, Bhiravi, I have only done this in my Instant Pot, but I think the same should be true for a regular pressure cooker, but definitely don’t take my word for it. I’ll do a little research today and note it on the post if I find out anything definitive.

  • Reply
    Angie@Angie's Recipes
    March 8, 2018 at 12:40 am

    What a creative way to make limoncello!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    March 7, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    We love a little limoncello from time to time but never knew you could make it so quickly! I thought two weeks was the only option. You are a genius!

  • Reply
    Abbe@This is How I Cook
    March 7, 2018 at 11:58 am

    S you are telling me this the reason I need to buy an Instant Pot? Well. This is a good one!

  • Reply
    Mino
    March 7, 2018 at 9:42 am

    I am confused….when I cook wine into a recipe, at the end the alcohol is gone. Is that not true for Vodka too?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 7, 2018 at 9:57 am

      In this case everything is in a closed jar, Mino, so a little evaporates off, but not much.

  • Reply
    Lynn A
    March 7, 2018 at 9:34 am

    I love making a variety of homemade liqueurs! Does the heat used in this recipe destroy the alcohol and so you’d end up with a non-alcoholic drink?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 7, 2018 at 10:31 am

      The alcohol doesn’t burn off because it’s enclosed in a mason jar, Lynn. The resulting liqueur is potent :)

  • Reply
    Joni Peth
    March 7, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Interesting idea! I make Limoncello every year for Christmas. This year I discovered a recipe for making it with grain alcohol. I will never go back to vodka. The difference is that you get a truer Italian style product AND it only takes 7 days. I’ll have to try it in the insta-pot, though I fear for my liver!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 7, 2018 at 10:31 am

      I have heard that, and I think I’ll get over my negative feelings about grain alcohol and give that a try, Joni.

      • Reply
        Lynn A
        March 8, 2018 at 8:39 am

        Sue, you really should give it another try. I make Kahlua and assorted fruit cordials to give as gifts and my experience has been that using grain alcohol (EverClear) results in a cleaner taste and really lets the fruit flavor shine through.

        • Reply
          Sue
          March 8, 2018 at 11:02 am

          I guess I really do need to give Everclear a try, I’m off to order some! One of my favorite posts I’ve ever done is my fruit infused vodka (here) so I’ll have to try it with the high proof stuff.

          • Theresa. B
            April 3, 2018 at 8:38 am

            I know there are different proofs of Everclear. Maybe start with the lower?

          • Sue
            April 3, 2018 at 8:48 am

            I think that’s a good idea.

  • Reply
    Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)
    March 7, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Get out!!! What a great idea, and it sure beats the month long wait, like I usually make it.

  • Reply
    Kathi
    March 7, 2018 at 8:09 am

    I make Limoncello a lot (like A LOT! LOL!) and this is just the most clever recipe! I can’t wait to try it when I’m in a hurry to get my fix. Beautiful pics like usual too!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 7, 2018 at 8:21 am

      Oh then this is right up your alley Kathi!

  • Reply
    John / Kitchen Riffs
    March 7, 2018 at 7:54 am

    LOVE limoncello. But I’m a lemon freak — I’ve probably told you. :-) Anyway, this recipe is GENIUS! Great use of the Instant Pot — very creative. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 7, 2018 at 8:21 am

      This concept has legs, too John, just think of all the lovely liqueurs you can do this way…

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    March 7, 2018 at 5:19 am

    Love this! Can’t wait to try this in the Instant Pot :) Limoncello has such a wonderful flavour.

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 7, 2018 at 7:03 am

      It’s so empowering to make stuff like this, either with the Instant Pot or not ~ I taste tested my Limoncello against the bottled version and I definitely preferred the fresh made.

      • Reply
        Mary Ann Pollitt
        March 7, 2018 at 1:58 pm

        I bought some Limoncello on Capri Island in Italy. It is wonderful and a lot cheaper than buying it here. I will have to try this recipe and compare, but I’ll have to do the long version as I don’t have an instant pot.

        • Reply
          Sue
          March 7, 2018 at 3:27 pm

          It will be interesting to compare to a really great Italian Limoncello, Mary Ann.

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