Grapefruit Limoncello (Grapefruit-cello)

5 from 2 votes

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Grapefruit Limoncello | Three Olives Branch

If you have never had limoncello before, the real stuff not the pre-bottled stuff that you get in the liquor store, you are missing out.

Grapefruit Limoncello | Three Olives Branch

Now I love lemons, I use them all the time, but I also have an obsession with grapefruit.  (Grapefruit margarita, anyone?  Or a paloma! Mmmm).  I wanted to make all sorts of citrus versions of limoncello, and so grapefruit limoncello (grapefruit-cello) was an obvious choice.

It is so incredibly simple to make this stuff, but it takes some time.  Like a few weeks, so you need to plan in advance.

Grapefruit Limoncello | Three Olives Branch

It is very important that when you peel the grapefruit that you avoid as much of the white part of the peel as possible because it will make it bitter!  I found that a cheap, dull peeler is great for this because it does not peel too deep.  My awesome, go-to peeler took a ton of white off, so I bought a different peeler for just a couple bucks specifically for this process.  Here is a picture to show you what a “thin” peel versus what a “too deep” peel would look like.

Grapefruit Limoncello (Grapefruit-cello) | Three Olives Branch

(This post contains affiliate links).  My favorite bottles to store the grapefruit-cello are these glass bottles that have a seal so that they can go in the freezer easily without spilling.  I have a few pretty, decorative bottles as well but they just have a cork stopper, so those are used simply for display and serving.  You can find those bottles here.  You will also find bottles that have a color tint, however I like to stick with the clear ones so that you can (a) identify which bottles are which flavor of limoncello and (b) see the beauty of the liquor itself.  You will also need a gallon sized glass jar for the steeping process.

Grapefruit Limoncello | Three Olives Branch

If you want a strong batch, knock down the sugar water mixture to 2 cups sugar,  cups water.  For a sweet batch, use 4 cups sugar, 5 cups water.  It will affect the overall final volume of how much you make, but the strength will determine how you use it and what you want to add to it.  Depending on how much sugar water you add, you will likely fill around 3 bottles with this recipe.

Grapefruit Limoncello | Three Olives Branch


5 from 2 votes
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Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Holiday
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 28 days
Total Time: 28 days 15 minutes


  • 10 large grapefruits (try to get ones with lots of color)
  • 750 ml vodka unflavored
  • 750 ml everclear (or you can sub for more vodka)
  • 3 cups sugar (see note)
  • 4 cups water


  • Wash your grapefruits. Using a duller peeler, peel just the top layer of the skin off the grapefruits. Avoid peeling off any of the white pit as much as you can. The white parts will make it bitter. I have found that cheap peelers are not very sharp to begin with and perfect for this. If you do get a lot of white on the peels, use a knife to scrape as much as you can off. This is not a fun process, so the cheap peeler is the best approach.
  • Place the peels in a large, 1 gallon glass jar that has a lid. Pour the vodka and everclear into the peels.
  • Place the lid on the jar and let it sit for at least one week, up to four weeks. Keep it out of direct sunlight.
  • When this step is complete, make the sugar water. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let the sugar water cool to room temperature.
  • When cool, add the sugar water to the peel mixture in the gallon jar. Cover and let it sit for another week.
  • After it sits for a week, strain out all of the peels and bits that are in the liquid. Funnel the grapefruit-cello into the glass bottles with stoppers. Store in the freezer. The grapefruit-cello can be served straight or as part of a mixed drink. Taste the grapefruit-cello so that you know how strong that batch is based upon how much sugar water you use.


You can find the glass bottles with stoppers for storage here.
You can find the gallon size glass jar here.
For a strong batch, use 2 cups sugar and 2 2/3 cups water.
For a weak and sweet batch, use 4 cups sugar and 5 cups water.
By on March 20th, 2016

About Kim

Kim has grown up with a passion for cooking good food! You can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, making dog treats, and eating Italian food!

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21 thoughts on “Grapefruit Limoncello (Grapefruit-cello)”

  1. Grapefruits are one of my favorite fruits! I have some vodka I was not sure what to do with left over from a girls night and now I know! Thanks!

    • Hi Lea Ann! The sugar water definitely plays a big role here. I would do two cups sugar and three cups water which will give you a decently strong batch, which is the way I like to make it also so that you get less sweetness and more flavor from the fruit!

    • Hi Richard,
      It does not have to be refrigerated because of the high alcohol content. I do keep mine in the freezer (it does not freeze solid for the same reason – high alcohol content) because I like it cold!

    • Hi Deb,
      I use half and half, but you can use all vodka if you prefer. Sometimes everclear can be more difficult to find.

  2. I regularly make limoncello and orangecello (just finished a double batch of 8 pints each today)
    and always wondered how grapefruitcello and tangerinecello would taste (maybe adding a bit of lime for a difference), so maybe it’s time to try it in next batch .. (love grapefruits by themselves anyway)

    I like a medium strong, not too SWEET cello.
    Using a 96% per volume strong, neutral alcohol (buy it in Luxembourg).
    Percentages 1: .75 : 2 alcohol, sugar, water.

    It seems to go down well because when I have guests, a full bottle is always empty before they leave haha.

  3. We just made some and it’s really good, a little sweet, so next time we will knock down the sugar. Where can we find some cocktail recipes to make with this? And the blood orange cello sounds awesome too. Do you have the ratios?

    • Hi Bonnie,
      Great idea on the cocktail recipes, I will start working on some! I made this for my wedding and I just poured a couple ounces over ice and topped it off with club soda (tonic would work too but has more sweetness in it). You could also add some grapefruit juice to it.


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