Hot Stuff: Making Chile-Cello

photo credit: Paul Fontana

I love limoncello, as well as lime-cello and orange-cello, so I thought, why not try the same experiment with chile peppers?

Well….with some modifications. The key to limoncello is to combine high-proof spirits with citrus peel, and then allow it to steep undisturbed for at least a week, often longer. But you can’t do that with chiles, which infuse super-fast. A week-long infusion would be insanely spicy. So here’s my revised version, loosely based on Scott Beattie’s “Hello Cello” recipe from Artisanal Cocktails.


Zest of 4 lemons

Zest of 5 limes

2 jalapeno peppers, sliced lengthwise

1 quart 100-proof vodka

2 cups simple syrup  (2:1 ratio)

Combine citrus zest, jalapenos, and vodka in a large, air-tight container. Allow to sit for 2 hours, then remove pepper pieces (look out for free-floating pepper seeds, too). Cover tightly, and let the mixture rest for at least 1 week in a cool, dark place.

Once infused, strain out the zest and add the simple syrup to the vodka. Seal the container and let the cello rest for 1 more week, refrigerated.

Strain cello into glass bottles and store them in the freezer.


4 thoughts on “Hot Stuff: Making Chile-Cello

  1. I think another good option would be to infuse the simple syrup with the jalapeno. That way you can just do the cello infusion as you normally would.

    How does the finished product taste?

  2. Hi Reese! That’s a good idea too.

    It tastes like lemons, primarily. The peppers just add a bit of tingle but no taste.

  3. I’d also be tempted to try a more flavorful chile. Something like a fruity habanero might go well with the citrus. Have to be careful with the infusion times though or it’ll burn your face off. 😉

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