Limoncello Cookies of Sorrento

Lemons, and lots of them, are used to make up the Italian liqueur and digestive, Limoncello. But only the freshly peeled lemon rinds are used. This liqueur is unique to Campania and several areas claim parentage including Sorrento and the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

I recently purchased a cookbook called  NAPLES and the Amalfi Coast, fourth title in The Silver Spoon’s regional series. It’s a lovely book with scenic pictures and reflects one of Italy’s most unique regions for food. It goes through the five different areas of Campania giving local recipes characteristic of the area as well as information about the countryside.

Lemons of course were mentioned but a recipe for lemon salad did not sound too appealing.  I knew I could not get the sweet Sorrento lemons that are often eaten; fruit, skin and all with just a dusting of sugar.

In my new neighborhood there is a large, well-stocked grocery store called Cantoro’s Italian Market. Here I was able to buy a Sorrento liqueur called Villa Massa Piano Di Sorrento – Italia, all natural Limoncello liqueur. Throughout Italy growing agriculture-based products follows strict guidelines. The lemons from Sorrento follow the rules for the Limone di Sorrento IGP (Indicazione Geographica Protetta – origin for foods produced in specific areas).

On the back of the liqueur is the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) which protects and promotes names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs.

I have very fond memories of a trip with Gene to this area.  We stayed in Sorrento at the Grand Hotel Ambasciatori built into a cliff which overlooked the Bay of Naples with a private pool and beach. This was our last stop on a driving trip through Italy and what a finale – even though the hotel did not have power for a few days. It was a long hike down to the water (the elevator was not working) and even more fun coming back up. I was younger then…

Not that I enjoyed these amenities that much as I was taking tours to Naples and the surrounding area and visiting museums while Gene worked. How fortunate to have a conference in such a pretty part of the world! Word of advice; be sure you sit on the side of the bus not overlooking the cliffs. The bus driver just zipped down the winding road and scared me terribly! I was a lot smarter with other trips.

I do remember the many lemon trees along the road trip from Sorrento to the Amalfi Coast but not the Limoncello. Back then the liqueur was not so popular as it is now – the second favorite drink in Italy next to Campari.

As May was our “anniversary month” I wanted to make something Gene would love and also reflect this special vacation we shared. So, cookies it is; a dessert with lots of lemon flavor.

When life gives you lemons make limoncello. You can make your own liqueur but it will not compare to the “real thing”; they suggest you use Meyer lemons. If you can find this liqueur by all means get yourself a bottle or two.

These cookies can be made to your taste – depending on how strong a lemon flavor you would like. I was very pleased with the ingredients below…

Limoncello Cookies of Sorrento

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest, freshly grated (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 tsp. Limoncello
  • 2 cups flour

Beat the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, zest and limoncello and beat until combined. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms.

Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 logs, each 1-1/2-inches wide. Wrap the logs in waxed paper and refrigerate overnight. Cut the logs into 1/4-inch thick slices and place on prepared baking sheets.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cookies for about 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. They do not spread very much and are perfect shortbread type cookies with a nice lemon twist.

You can either ice the cookies or just drizzle with a little glaze which is what I did.


  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. Limoncello
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, freshly grated
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Whisk together the sugar, limoncello, lemon zest and lemon juice. Ice the cookies and allow to set about 15 minutes before storing or serving.

Glaze for Drizzling:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tsp. Limoncello

Combine the ingredients and once the cookies have cooled, drizzle the glaze over the top and garnish with a lemon zest if desired.

Yum, are these cookies delicious 🙂

Recipe by


Linking to Fiesta Friday.

26 thoughts on “Limoncello Cookies of Sorrento

  1. What beautiful cookies and memories! I haven’t been to that part of Italy yet but it’s on my bucket list! I got a recipe for limoncello from an 80+ year old lady when we were there last that we’ve made a couple times. It’s great but would be so much better with those lemons!


    • Thanks Julie – I had to freeze one roll before I ate them all 🙂 Lucky you to have a family recipe from an Italian that you can make. I am sure the lemons make a difference in taste – the Limoncello I bought was so smooth as an apertif and also in the cookies.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Ronit – the cookies are special with just the right amount of “lemony” flavor. Try to get the Limoncello I mentioned in my post as everyone I’ve talked to say it is the best (that’s because Sorrento lemons are used). The area is just breathtaking and probably my favorite part of Italy. We started in Venice and worked our way down…

      Liked by 1 person

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