Lemon Infused Vodka Recipe

Flavor Vodka With the Taste of Fresh Citrus

Lemon Infused Vodka in martini glasses and in a jar

The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Infuse: 96 hrs
Total: 96 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 12 to 25 servings
Yield: 750 milliliters
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
66 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 25
Amount per serving
Calories 66
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 3mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Countless cocktail recipes, including the cosmopolitan, call for citrus-infused vodka. While you can buy it, you'll soon discover how incredibly easy it is to make at home. This recipe makes lemon vodka, though you can use it for other citrus fruits, including lime, orange, and grapefruit.

Citrus is the most popular flavored vodka. It's one that you'll find from nearly any vodka brand that produces infused vodkas, but there's something special about making it yourself. Beyond the satisfaction of creating your own custom liquor, homemade vodka infusions can save you money and you can adjust it to your personal preferences. For instance, you can use any vodka you like, stop the infusion when it reaches your desired taste, sweeten it slightly, or use a custom blend of two or more citrus fruits.

The lemon vodka recipe is a basic liquor infusion, which is done by steeping flavoring ingredients in a base spirit for several days or weeks to extract the flavor. Vodka's an excellent liquor for infusions because it has a neutral taste that lets the chosen flavor—in this case, the tartness of lemon peels—shine. It takes just a few minutes to prepare, and the one-week infusion is generally hands-off—you just need to shake the infusion jar and test the flavor.

Use your homemade lemon vodka just as you would any store-bought citrus vodka. It's excellent on its own or on the rocks, as the base for simple a simple vodka soda or vodka lemonade, and in any cocktail recipe, such as the vodka collins and greyhound, that could use a bright citrus kick.

“This lemon-infused vodka is not only a great way to learn how to infuse, but also a fantastic addition to your home bar. Slow infusions are all about time and quality ingredients. If you have patience and a discerning palate this recipe will provide you with a key to a most excellent vodka and lemonade.” —Sean Michael Johnson

Citrus Lemon Infused Vodka/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 750 milliliters vodka

  • 1/2 cup (about 26 grams) fresh lemon peel (without pith)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Lemon Infused Vodka ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. In a 1-quart (or larger) jar, pour the vodka and add the lemon peels. Seal, shake, and let infuse for 4 to 7 days. Shake the jar daily and test the infusion after the third or fourth day to see how the flavor develops.

    Jar with vodka and lemon peels

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. Once the infusion reaches your desired flavor intensity, strain out and discard the lemon peels using a fine-mesh strainer.

    Lemon peels in a strainer

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  4. Bottle the lemon vodka under a tight seal. Store in a cool, dark place as you would other liquors, and use in your favorite drinks.

    Lemon Infused Vodka in a jar and in a marini glass

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn


  • Use large lemon peels (rather than zested lemon) to make straining the vodka easy. A vegetable peeler is an excellent way to quickly get peels from a lemon without the bitter pith, and you can juice the remaining fruit for another use to avoid waste.
  • Organic fruits are preferred because the fruit doesn't have a waxy peel and is not treated with chemicals while growing in the grove. If you use non-organic fruit, be sure to scrub the peels thoroughly under running water.
  • Don't worry too much about getting a precise measurement of lemon peel. Instead, peel two average-sized lemons and infuse the vodka a bit longer if the fruits yield less peel or reduce the infusion time for very large lemons. No matter how much you use, tasting a little of the vodka daily is essential.
  • The best vodka infusions begin with decent vodka. Choose a brand that you enjoy drinking on its own or mixing in with your favorite vodka cocktails. There are several smooth-tasting options among budget-friendly vodkas that are excellent candidates for infusions.

Recipe Variations

  • Several commercial citrus-infused vodkas are gently sweetened and bottled slightly lower (typically 35 percent ABV or 70 proof) than regular vodka. A little syrup can balance out the tartness of a straight citrus infusion and lower the alcohol content. To soften your homemade 80-proof citrus vodka to this strength, make a light simple syrup using two parts water and one part sugar and add 5 ounces or so (about 2/3 cup) to the strained vodka until it reaches your desired taste. The sweetened vodka may be a bit cloudy after adding the syrup.
  • You can make citrus vodka using other fruits; lime, orange, and grapefruit are great options. Orange is a bit sweeter and less tart than lemons, so you might want to extend the infusion. Lime and grapefruit are more bitter and will likely require just a couple of days to infuse.
  • Have fun experimenting with a combination of citrus fruits. For instance, many commercial vodkas that are simply labeled "citrus" are a blend of several fruit peels. Try a combination of lemon, lime, and orange for a well-balanced and interesting vodka infusion.

How Strong Is Lemon-Infused Vodka?

This lemon vodka will be the same strength as the vodka you used to make it. The majority are 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 80 proof). If you choose to use a high-proof vodka (100 proof is most common), the vodka will obviously be stronger and the extra alcohol will intensify the lemon flavor, so you might want to reduce the infusion time.

How to Use and Serve Lemon-Infused Vodka

The homemade lemon vodka has a bright, tart taste that's excellent as a sipper, shot, or served on the rocks. You can also pour your lemon vodka into any cocktail recipe that calls for citrus vodka or other vodka drinks that could use the fresh flavor boost. It's best with soda and juice highballs—from the vodka tonic to the madras—and is a fun addition to fruity martinis such as the lemon drop.

How to Store Homemade Citrus Vodka

The homemade lemon vodka will last as long as other vodkas. When stored properly—in a cool, dark place as you would any liquor—it has an indefinite shelf life. If you choose to blend it with syrup, the vodka can still be stored at room temperature, but plan to drink it within six months to a year.

How Long Is Too Long to Infuse Vodka?

When experimenting with vodka infusions, the taste is the biggest factor and the indication on when it's time to strain the liquor. The length of time that any vodka needs to be infused depends primarily on the flavoring ingredient. For instance, citrus peels are full of flavor, so they require a shorter infusion time than a milder fruit like pineapple. If you let any infusion go for too long, the flavor can become overpowering, which is why it's crucial to test the infusion throughout the process to develop a balance of flavor that works in cocktails.

Can You Eat the Fruit From Infused Vodka?

In many instances, you can eat the fruit used in liquor infusions. Sometimes—as in the case of this pear cobbler cocktail—it's desirable and the boozy fruit can make a tasty treat. However, there are not many great uses for the citrus peels used in this recipe (and they're not fun to eat), so it's best to discard them.