Does Limoncello Go Bad? What Happens After Expiration

Quick summary: No, limoncello cannot go bad in a classic sense,  but you will encounter a loss of aroma after some time.

Italians have always delighted the rest of the world with their excellent taste for the beautiful and delicious. Whether it’s fashion or gastronomy, you’ll find everything you’ve always dreamed of in Italy. Alcoholic drinks are no exception. 

Italians have combined lemon, sugar, and alcohol into a wonderful sweet liqueur that also looks lovely when you serve it to guests. But can limoncello go bad, or is it durable like vodka? In the article, we bring you everything about lifespan and how to store this delicious drink.

How Long Does Limoncello Last?

We have good news for you whether you buy a finished product or make a limoncello at home. This drink cannot be spoiled in the classic sense of the word. 

This means that it will not become rancid or moldy inside, nor will any unhealthy bacteria grow in the drink that could harm you. However, you won’t be able to keep one bottle in your pantry for a decade like you could with, say, vodka. Here are the details.

Unopened limoncello 

Although it won’t spoil in the classic sense, limoncello will definitely lose its aroma and flavor over time, so you’ll want a fresh supply. Because what’s the use of liqueur if it doesn’t taste good? 

As long as the purchased drink is unopened, it is relatively protected from the loss of fragrance, so it will last for several years if you store it in a cooler and dark place. Be sure to check the best-by date written on the back because each manufacturer has its own recipe for making this drink, which can mean differences in shelf life.

Opened limoncello

After opening, keeping the limoncello in the refrigerator would be preferable. This also applies to homemade drinks. It should be of excellent quality for at least two to three months, after which it may gradually lose rate. That would be roughly the time frame within which it would be ideal for you to finish the bottle.

If you’re a fan of lemony drinks, perhaps you want to learn more about shelf life of lemon juice to master the basics. 

Can Limoncello Go Bad?

As we explained earlier, limoncello cannot spoil in such a way as to develop harmful bacteria. This would mean that if you have an expired bottle and don’t mind the weaker taste, you can freely consume it. Or use it to make a cocktail, for example. How to notice that the aroma is lost? Here are two basic signs.

Sign 1: Taste is gone

Certainly, a weaker taste is the most accurate sign that the drink has evaporated. Limoncello must be refreshing, with a pronounced citrus aroma. If there is no such thing or it is significantly paler compared to the original taste, it means that the time of the best drinks quality has expired.

Sign 2: Color is changed

Limoncello must be very pronounced yellow, almost neon. As the drink evaporates, the color will begin to change and lose its sharpness. It may become less yellow; thus, you will clearly notice that too much time has passed since opening.

Which is the Best Way to Store Limoncello?

Like all other spirit drinks, the high alcohol scope itself, which is usually around 30%, protects the content from harmful bacteria. However, given that limoncello has a crisp lemon aroma, it is desirable to create positive storage conditions.

Tip 1: Keep at cool and dry place

Before opening, make sure that the drink is away from the heat source and stored at a comfortable, slightly cooler temperature. It is preferable to avoid exposure to light, especially the sun’s rays. So, a cooler pantry or liquor cabinet will be quite sufficient.

Tip 2: Refrigerate after opening 

After opening the bottle, keep the limoncello in the refrigerator until you use it entirely. This also applies to the entire storage time of the drink you made yourself. The refrigerator will best preserve the quality for a longer time. In addition, limoncello is best served cold, so it will always be ideal for consumption.


Do you have to refrigerate limoncello after opening it?

Keeping the limoncello in the refrigerator after opening is not necessary, but it is definitely recommended to preserve its quality for a longer time.

How can you tell if limoncello has gone bad?

Limoncello will lose its distinctive aroma over time, so you’ll know it’s expired. Also, color changes are possible, which will indicate that the drink may have been left open for too long.

Can you get sick from drinking expired limoncello?

No, as a general rule, limoncello should not have any harmful bacteria in it that could give you food poisoning even after it expires.

Limoncello is a truly refreshing liqueur that Italians usually prefer to drink after a meal. Especially after a large meal. It is even recommended for its beneficial effect on digestion. 

Composed of lemons, sugar and strong alcohol, limoncello is naturally protected from harmful bacteria and is not prone to spoilage even after standing for a long time. However, the lemon aroma will fade over time, so it is recommended that you consume it within three to four months of opening to enjoy the best quality.

*image by igorr1/depositphotos

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