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Low-Carb Limoncello

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If there is one liqueur that screams, "Summer is here!", it's Limoncello!

Limoncello is a delicious Italian liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy. It's made with just four ingredients: lemon peel, alcohol, sweetener and water.

I first tried Limoncello in Capri during our family holidays in Southern Italy. It was sweet and refreshing and I couldn't believe how many varieties there were — some with cream and some with orange or tangerine flavors. (You can learn more about the history of Limoncello here).

But just like all liqueurs, Limoncello is laden with sugar and a no-go for keto. That's why I haven't had Limoncello for over a decade and was really excited to make it keto-approved. (Here's a full Guide to Alcohol for Low-Carb Diets with suitable options and options to avoid.)

How to Make Sugar-Free Limoncello

Making Limoncello at home is really easy because you will only need four ingredients, that's it!

  • Lemons, organic and unwaxed, peel only. The essential oils from the peel is what will add fantastic flavor to your limoncello.
  • Grappa or vodka. Grappa is the traditional way but vodka is a good alternative. Both of these options are zero-carb and have a clean, neutral flavor that elevates the zesty lemon flavor.
  • Allulose combined with water to make a simple syrup. Allulose is a type of low-carb sweetener that tastes just like sugar and does not crystallize like other types of low-carb sweeteners like Erythritol. You can read all about Allulose here.

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Tips for the Perfect Limoncello

Use unwaxed, organic lemons. Most citrus fruits have pesticide residues on the peel so you want to make sure you are using unwaxed and organic lemons. You'll only be using the peel and you don't want any pesticides in your limoncello.

Avoid bitter limoncello. When peeling the lemons, try to only get the yellow part. The less of the white pith you use, the less likely you'll end up with bitter Limoncello. If you slice a piece with too much white on it, carefully scrape it off using a small pairing knife.

Let the peel infuse in alcohol for 1 to 4 weeks. The longer you leave it, the more flavor you'll get. I infused the first one for a week, the second one for three weeks.

Strain the limoncello through a nut milk bag to ensure that there are no solids and the final product is smooth.

Use Allulose to make your limoncello smooth and keep the carbs low. If you absolutely have to, use Erythritol-based sweetener instead but keep in mind you will get a slight cooling aftertaste and there might be some sediments on the bottom once chilled.

Clear or cloudy? Interestingly, my limoncello remained clear and didn't become cloudy like the once I remember from Capri. I assume it may have to do with the type or amount of alcohol you use. Either way it was delicious!

Don't Waste the Lemons!

You'll have quite a few leftover lemons. Don't waste them and instead use them in other recipes. How about making a batch or two of my Keto Electrolyte Drink, Blueberry Electrolyte Drink or this easy Sugar-Free Lemonade?

You can even make a batch of Low-Carb Lemon Curd although that will also require you to use some lemon zest.

More Low-Carb Liqueur Recipes

I love the challenge of transforming high-carb liqueurs into sugar-free versions and here's even more delicious recipes you may like:

Is there any liqueur you've been missing on keto? Let me know in the comment section and I'll do my best to make a low-carb version!

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Hands-on Overall

Serving size 45 ml/ 1.5 fl oz

Allergy information for Low-Carb Limoncello

✔  Gluten free
✔  Dairy free
✔  Egg free
✔  Nut free
✔  Nightshade free
✔  Pork free
✔  Avocado free
✔  Coconut free
✔  Fish free
✔  Shellfish free
✔  Beef free
Pescatarian
Vegetarian
Vegan

Nutritional values (per serving, 45 ml/ 1.5 fl oz)

Net carbs0.9 grams
Protein0 grams
Fat0 grams
Calories65 kcal
Calories from carbs 96%, protein 3%, fat 1%
Total carbs1.1 gramsFiber0.2 gramsSugars0.1 gramsSaturated fat0 gramsSodium1 mg(0% RDA)Magnesium0 mg(0% RDA)Potassium3 mg(0% EMR)

Ingredients (makes about 1.1 L/ 37 fl oz)

  • 7 to 8 organic, unwaxed lemons, peel only
  • 1 bottle vodka or grappa (700 ml/ 24 fl oz)
  • 1 cup Allulose (200 g/ 7.1 oz)
  • 1 cup water (240 ml/ 8 fl oz)

Instructions

  1. Start by washing the lemons (you'll need 7 to 8 lemons). Using a vegetable peeler, zest the outer layer of the peel. (The less of the white pith you use, the less likely you'll end up with bitter limoncello.) Low-Carb Limoncello
  2. Place the lemon pee in a fido jar (or any jar that you can seal) and add the alcohol. You can use vodka or grappa for a more authentic flavor. Low-Carb Limoncello
  3. Secure with a lid and store in a dry cool place for at least one week, or up to 4 weeks. As the lemon peel steeps into the alcohol, the liquid will turn yellow and the peel will start looking pale. Low-Carb Limoncello
  4. When ready, prepare the simple syrup. Pour a cup (240 ml) of water into a sauce pan and heat up until warm (it doesn't have to boil). Add the sweetener (Allulose works best but Erythritol can be used instead). Stir until all the sweetener crystals have dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Low-Carb Limoncello
  5. Strain the limoncello through a fine mesh sieve lined with nut milk bag. Add the prepared simple syrup. Use a funnel to pour into the 2 to 3 storage glass bottles. Low-Carb Limoncello
  6. Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months. It's best to place the limoncello in the freezer for 1 hour before serving. Low-Carb Limoncello

Ingredient nutritional breakdown (per serving, 45 ml/ 1.5 fl oz)

Net carbsProteinFatCalories
Vodka, distilled alcoholic beverage (~40% vol)
0 g0 g0 g61 kcal
Lemon zest (peel), fresh
0.1 g0 g0 g1 kcal
Allulose, natural low-carb sweetener
0.8 g0 g0 g3 kcal
Water, still
0 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Total per serving, 45 ml/ 1.5 fl oz
0.9 g0 g0 g65 kcal

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Martina Slajerova
Creator of KetoDietApp.com

Martina Slajerova

I changed the way I ate in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. I had no energy, and I found it more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s when I decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic approach to food.

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Comments (3)

This is brilliant Martina, I was just thinking what to do with all these lemons we've got at home. They are all organic and there is just so much lemon curd you can make. We will make lemonade but there is usually no use for the peel. This looks like a winner!

Hi there Martina,
I'd like to try this but I don't drink alcohol. Any suggestions for a substitute.
Thanks!

Hi Furhana, in this case I'm afraid there isn't an alternative as you need the alcohol to get the flavour from the lemon zest.
I'm thinking... you could make lemon flavoured simple syrup by boiling whole sliced lemon in water and allulose, remove the lemon slices and then use just like simple syrup - with water to make a refreshing beverage. I know that will work because I made an orange version.
Also, there are other options. For instance, it's easy to make classic cocktails without alcohol: ketodietapp.com/Blog/Filter if you are looking for a virgin option.