Homemade Italian Licorice Liqueur Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on August 3, 2023

Italian Licorice liqueur is a popular digestif within Italy itself, but also in many European countries. The rich and syrupy liqueur is especially popular in Italy and Northern Europe.
Homemade licorice liqueur

The taste of licorice is sweet yet very strong and hence polarizing. Some people absolutely love this unique flavor, and others hate it.

However, in liquid form, a chilled glass of homemade licorice liqueur (or liquorice liqueur)is the perfect digestif after a meal. Primarily because of its sweet and herbal taste, but also due to medical benefits as it helps with digestion, is diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and protects the mucous barrier in the stomach wall.

Besides Italy, licorice liqueur is also very popular in Northern Europe. Scandinavians prefer a salty version of this liqueur because it tastes like Salmiakki. Salmiakki is the Finnish name for a salty licorice candy that's super popular in Finland, but also in other Northern European countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and North Germany.

Licorice liqueur digestif

However, regular licorice and Salmiakki are quite different in taste and so are the resulting liqueurs. Hence, I should point out that our recipe is for making an Italian version of licorice liqueur.

And the best part of our recipe is that it's easy to make, so you can drink it the next day.

What exactly is licorice?

Licorice is a popular and distinctive flavor often used in candies, beverages, and herbal remedies. It is made from the root of the licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra), native to parts of Europe and Asia. 

The flavor of licorice is sweet and slightly anise-like, with a characteristic taste often described as "licoricey." Licorice extract, obtained from the root, is used to flavor a variety of products, including licorice candy, licorice tea, and some alcoholic beverages. 

Additionally, licorice is used in traditional medicine for its potential health benefits, but it should be consumed in moderation, as excessive consumption can lead to side effects. Licorice, and the liqueur made from it, is digestive, diuretic, and even protects the gastric mucous. 

Licorice roots (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

A traditional liqueur from Calabria

Calabria is a region in Southern Italy known to be an important producer of licorice. Licorice, as I mentioned, is candy from the extract from licorice roots that find excellent growing conditions in the region. The liqueur made from Calabrian licorice is remarkably famous. In Italy, the dark, almost black digestif is almost as cherished as Limoncello.

For centuries, people have been consuming licorice for medical reasons. And the licorice from Calabria was renowned all over Europe for its excellent quality.

Therefore, I recommend using Calabrian licorice powder to make homemade licorice liqueur. Other types work, too, but the taste of the Italian licorice is very well-balanced with just the perfect contrast of sweetness and bitterness. 

Ingredients of homemade licorice liqueur

If you plan to make licorice liqueur at home, you need the right ingredients. In this case, this means choosing the best-suited form of licorice and also choosing the corresponding alcohol.

Choosing the licorice

You can use licorice in a variety of forms, some liqueurs use anise to mimic the flavor, but only authentic licorice results in the distinct and complex licorice taste in the final liqueur. Our recipe uses licorice powder to infuse the flavor into the liqueur. Alternatively, you can also use pure licorice extract or very pure forms of licorice candy.

Licorice drops or sticks with a high amount of licorice are other great options. Another one is licorice root. However, you have to cut the roots into small pieces and let them soak in vodka for an extended time (about one week). 

Licorice powder from Calabria

And again, so you won't forget, the licorice should be produced in Calabria. Otherwise, the balance of ingredients is not perfect, and the resulting liqueur could be either too sweet or too bitter.

Alcohol for making licorice liqueur

For the base, use a high-ABV neutral grain spirit. Use a 95% ABV (190 proof) Everclear vodka from your local liquor store.

Don't worry. The final result will be much lower in ABV after mixing it with sugar, water, and licorice.

And again, so you won't forget, the licorice should be produced in Calabria. Otherwise, the balance of ingredients is not perfect, and the resulting liqueur could be either too sweet or too bitter.

How to make Italian licorice liqueur in 3 Steps

Making DIY licorice liqueur is easy and shouldn't take more than half an hour of active cooking. You can break down the whole process into three steps:

Step 1 - Dissolve licorice powder

Begin by adding licorice powder, sugar, and a bit of water to a saucepan on low heat. Start stirring the mixture and gradually add more water to incorporate the elements to get a licorice-flavored sugar syrup. Once all the water is in, turn the heat to medium while stirring the licorice, sugar, and water mix.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat. Let the mix simmer for about 15 minutes before you turn off the heat.

Step 2 - Add alcohol

Now you have licorice syrup which has to cool down to room temperature before you add our neutral grain spirit. Stir the alcohol in and confirm that everything is combined before the liqueur is ready to be bottled.

Step 3 - Bottling

When bottling the liqueur, use a funnel and a sieve or cheesecloth to filter out larger particles when you strain the liquid. Once bottled, the liqueur should be stored in the fridge for at least one day before you drink it. 

However, it's better to let it sit for 4 to 5 weeks so the liqueur can build up its full aroma and flavor.

Shake the bottle from time to time to prevent lumps of licorice.

Homemade licorice liqueur

Homemade Italian licorice liqueur recipe

A recipe for making a rich and delicious Italian licorice liqueur at home.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Shaking time20 minutes
resting: 30 days
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: licorice, liqueur


  • 4.5 cups Water
  • 3 cups Sugar
  • 2 cups 95% ABV grain alcohol
  • 1.5 cups Calabrian licorice powder


  • Combine sugar and licorice powder in a saucepan and mix it.
  • Gradually add water while stirring the mixture.
  • Place the saucepan on medium heat and keep on stirring. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat.
  • Let the mix simmer for 15 minutes, then take it off the heat.
  • Cover and let it cool down to room temperature.
  • Stir again before and while adding the grain spirit.
  • Bottle your liqueur and store it in the fridge. Leave it there for at least 4 to 5 weeks and occasionally shake the bottle to prevent lumps of licorice.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Homemade liqueur recipes made with fruits, herbs, or spices

If you want to try the difference between Italian and Scandinavian licorice liqueur, get some of our recommendations here.

Subscribe to Cocktail Society!

Receive our latest recipes, reviews, and insights - straight to your inbox.
Subscription Form

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

ContactAbout usPrivacy PolicyTermsSitemap
Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.

© 2023 Cocktail-Society.com