Homemade Nocino Walnut Liqueur
Homemade Nocino Walnut Liqueur

Instructions for making Nocino, a tangy-sweet Italian walnut liqueur made from green, undeveloped walnuts.

Nocino is an Italian liqueur made from unripe walnuts that are still soft in their green shells. Spicy, sweet and slightly bitter, it’s delicious when drizzled over vanilla ice cream or served neat as an aperitif.

Look for green walnuts

To make Nocino, you must first get some green walnuts! I have never seen green walnuts in a market. Maybe finding a friend with a walnut tree is easier.

The best time to make nocino is late May or early June, when the skins in the shells have not yet hardened. If you wait too long, the walnuts will be too hard to just cut in half and you’ll have to quarter them to make nocino.

Protect your hands and cutting board from walnut stains

Once you have your green walnuts, you should handle them with care when working with them for this (or any) recipe. Walnuts STAIN like a felt tip pen.

You cut in and they look nice and white inside, but green walnuts exude a sap that turns everything it touches dark brown — your fingers, your cutting board, your clothes.

So wear gloves when you cut into the walnuts and handle the cut pieces. Work on a cutting board that you don’t care if it gets stained. Wear an old t-shirt or old clothes or an apron that you don’t care if it gets stained.

The recipe comes from our favorite Parisian, David Lebovitz, from his amazing book Room For Dessert.

As spices for his Nocino, David uses cinnamon, cloves, lemon zest and vanilla bean. I’ve also seen orange zest used in place of lemon. I can also try adding star anise.

Homemade Nocino walnut liqueur

total time
0 minutes


1 quarter

The sap from the walnuts will permanently stain anything it touches, so I recommend wearing gloves when cutting. Wash the cutting board once you’re done slicing the walnuts.

Some people are very sensitive to native black walnuts. So if you use black walnuts instead of English walnuts, beware of such allergies when serving them to guests.

Recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz’ fabulous Room For Dessert. (Nice book!)

Other recipes I’ve found use orange peel instead of lemon, use spices like mace, or include grappa. Next time I make nocino I might try the orange zest and even add a little star anise.


  • 30 green english walnutsearly enough in the season to be easily cut with a knife

  • 2 Cinammon sticks

  • 5 all cloves

  • 1 (1-inch) piece vanilla bean

  • citrus peel 1 lemonCut into strips with a vegetable peeler

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 liter vodka

special equipment

  • cheesecloth or coffee filter


  1. Prepare green walnuts:

    Wash walnuts and pat dry. Cut them into quarters with a sharp chef’s knife or cleaver.

    Be careful when you cut them; If you’ve waited too late in the season to pick them, their pods may have started to harden and cutting through can be a little tricky. Watch your fingers.

  2. In a large glass container, combine walnuts, spices, zest, sugar, and vodka:

    The vodka should cover the walnuts. Cover and shake to mix well.

  3. Store for 6 weeks, shake daily:

    As the days go by you will notice that the color of the Nocino gets darker and darker.

  4. Fill the Nocino:

    When ready to bottle, remove the walnuts and solids with a slotted metal spoon. (Be CAREFUL where you do this as the walnuts and nocino will stain.)

    Strain the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth into glass bottles. (I’ve seen recipes that call for straining the liquid through coffee filters, which I think would work well too.)

    Cork up tight. According to David, nocino has a shelf life of several years when stored in a cool, dry place.

    The Nocino is initially rather bitter, but softens over time. Preferably at least one year after the first bottling.


The chemistry of Nocino and Nocino Walnut Liqueur – by Khymos

nutritional information (per serving)
159 calories
0g Fat
19g carbohydrates
0g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!