Homemade Nocino Walnut Liqueur

The juice from the walnuts will permanently stain anything it touches, so I recommend that you wear gloves while cutting them. Wash down the cutting board as soon as you are done cutting the walnuts.

Some people are very sensitive to native black walnuts, so if you use black walnuts instead of English walnuts, be aware of any such allergies if serving to guests.

  • Yield: Makes about 1 quart


  • 30 green English walnuts, early enough in the season so that they are easily cut with a knife
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1-inch piece of vanilla bean
  • Zest of one lemon, cut into strips using a vegetable peeler
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 liter vodka

Other recipes I've found use orange peel instead of lemon, use spices such as mace, or include grappa. The next time I make nocino I may try the orange peel and even add a little star anise.


1 Prepare the green walnuts: Rinse and pat dry the walnuts. Cut them into quarters with a sharp chef's knife or cleaver.

Be careful as you are cutting them; if you've waited too late in the season to pick them, their shells may have begun to harden and cutting through them may be a little dicey. Watch your fingers.

2 Put walnuts, spices, zest, sugar, and vodka into a large glass container. The vodka should cover the walnuts. Cover and shake to mix well.

3 Store for 6 weeks, shaking daily. As the days go by you will notice that the color of the nocino gets darker and darker.

4 Bottle the nocino: When you are ready to bottle, remove the walnuts and solids with a slotted metal spoon. (Be CAREFUL where you do this as the walnuts and the 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 fine too.)

Cork tightly. According to David, nocino will last for several years if stored in a cool, dry place.

The nocino will initially be rather bitter, but it will mellow over time. It's best at least a year after it was first bottled.

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  • Mark

    Question. I made a batch last year that I have tasted a few times throughout the year as it is aging. The liquid is actually as very dark color but with a very noticeable green hue to it. The flavor so far is very medicinal. I have tried noccino in the states and in Italy. I have even had the pleasure of trying homemade noccino in Italy with friends who live there and none of them have had this medicinal flavor. I only used the walnuts, cloves, lemon peel, and cinnamon in my recipe. Do I just need to wait longer?

    Also, this year I found a house down the street with an english walnut tree so I’m going to make another round and see what the difference is.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Mark, so you didn’t include the sugar? Nocino requires sugar, otherwise, yes, it will taste rather medicinal indeed! If you did include sugar, but just neglected to include it in the list in your comment, then I would just wait a few more months for the nocino to mellow out.

  • Chris

    I want to like it, but the batch we made seems highly toxic. We’d ordered green walnuts from Red Rosa Farms, which turned out to be green Black, not green English like I should have ordered. They’re located in Indiana and I don’t recommend them as they’re snarky and unfortunately list nocino as something to make with these. At bottling, we four adults took a tiny sip and all felt immediately nauseous. Maybe they will turn less toxic after sitting for a year, but I don’t have a way of knowing beforehand if its safe to drink

    I’d try it again with green English, and I’d nix the single anise star I’d put in. It had a too-strong licorice taste to it. So, I’ll give it three stars for my really wanting to like it and wanting to try it again. Minus two for being at this point inedible.

  • Kevin

    I made a batch with black walnuts, but actually harvested the nuts a little late (mid-July) I had to use a hammer and chisel to split them open. : p. I waited two years before trying the nocino, and was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out! It’s a walnut-producing year for my tree, so I’m planning to make another batch.

  • Nadine

    I’ve used American black walnuts every time, no problems. Allergies are outside the realm of normal, and there will always be someone sensitive to things. Mine is *awesome!* and the angels *do* sing.

  • Torrie

    black walnuts contain a high amount of Juglone, this acts a herbicide and prevents other plants from competing with them, and gives the young seedling a better chance of becoming a tree

  • Torrie

    Warner’s Farm in Beamsville sell green walnuts at the markets they attend in Toronto, in season(june through mid july in Ontario) , always order in advance, by email [email protected]

  • mortimer

    Well in Italy and the southern part of Switzerland we have a lot of proud nocino production.

    Most of the older folks tell us that the day to gather the walnuts is the 21st of June, then you let it at the sun for 21 days, filter out the walnut pieces and then add the spices to let it again 21 days at the sun. My grandma couldn’t explain me why beside of “that’s the right way to do it”

  • Jay

    Why not American Black walnuts?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jay, I was warned against using them for nocino because they can cause dangerous unexpected reactions in some people.

  • Andrea

    Help! I moved into a new house about a year ago with a walnut tree in the front yard. My old boss had made nocino in the past and I loved it, so I thought I would give it a try. However, I started it almost 2 months ago in mason jars, but the liquid is still really light. Definitely hasn’t turned as dark as any progress pictures I have seen. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Andrea, did you cut the immature walnuts and have you been shaking the jar daily?

      • Andrea

        I quartered the walnuts, and I have been shaking the jars, but I’m not consistent about doing it EVERY day. But at least every other… Is it a lost cause, or can I fix it by shaking them more often?

        • Elise Bauer

          Hi Andrea, I don’t know. What’s weird is that walnuts stain everything. When you cut them they would have stained your fingers (after a few minutes or so the stain would make itself known.) So I don’t know why they’re not working right. Was it a new bottle of alcohol? Could it have been diluted?

          • Andrea

            Hi Elise,
            They stained my cutting board, and my sister-in-law’s fingers (she volunteered to do all the cutting), and I had just bought bought the bottle of vodka for this project. I cracked the seal on the bottle myself… I’m at a loss, and I can’t find answers anywhere else online!

  • Jeanette

    Hello! Do you store it in the sunlight or darkness? I’ve heard different ways and am curious!

  • Margo D

    I made vin de noix (nocino) this year. I am 74, so I could only use the walnuts I
    could reach by pulling down the limbs, so I made about a pint. It is really good,
    and I read the longer it sits (bottled) the better. After saying all that……..I was
    wondering if anyone has made this with green pecans, and if so, how did it
    turn out?


  • Eugene Bogan

    I noticed that your ingredients said to NOT use American black walnuts. Why? Also, A couple of folks commented that they were going to try and use American black walnuts; was there ever any feedback on how that turned out?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Eugene, I’ve had a reader complain that he got terribly sick from nocino made from black walnuts and said there was a problem with black walnut toxicity. I do have friends that are particularly sensitive to walnut leaves and bark and black walnut trees are known for having a toxin in their roots that can keep other plants from growing. So, the reason to not use black walnuts is to protect someone who might be unknowingly hyper-sensitive to it.

  • infinity

    originally for nocino Italians use grappa used.

    Years back, while I was still living in the Italian part of Switzerland I received whole bunch of green walnuts accompanied with a recipe for nocino. It was given to me by a Swiss-French Chef.
    At that time I did not have grappa, only Sake, it has worked out well too , but grappa would be a prefered choice.

    I would say quality of any ingredient in the composition counts.

    Try to build a castle on a clay foundation.

    here is another “NOCINO MODENESE”

  • Robinson

    Does the quality of vodka matter or can I use any old rotgut?

    Great question. I have been told that it doesn’t really matter. I usually find an inexpensive brand when I make this. ~Elise

  • marjorie

    Hi Elise. The batch that I made is indeed getting darker with each passing day. It has a rather interesting deep green hue to it – the same green color that you get when you mix the dyes together when dying easter eggs. Is this the normal color, or should I be worried? Thanks for your input.

    Hi Marjorie – sounds perfect! That’s just the color it is, almost black with a greenish hue, which I think may turn brownish over time. ~Elise

  • Marjorie

    Great post Elise! I made two batches of this last weekend; one with black walnuts, the other with english. I used orange zest instead of lemon for the black walnut batch and added a bit of allspice for good measure. The english batch I followed your recipe to the tee. Will let you know how they turn out in a couple of months. Any other recipes for home made liqueur would be greatly appreciated if you have them; I am a big fan of making my own concoctions, such as Mulberry liqueur, which is less fuss then Mulberry wine. Keep up the great site!

  • Jen

    Great! I love that people are doing this it…We made 5 gallons last year and it was amazing. I was told you have to harvest on June 23 and use an uneven number of nuts!
    I make mine a bit differently. We steep the nuts sugar and spices (i add coffee beans) in the sun for 3 months and then strain add simple syrup and steep one monthe more.
    It was very complex and great with chocolate.
    I am just about to write a story for The Seceret Eating Socitey fall issue magazine…check it out.

  • Tiffany

    I’m allergic to cinnamon. Is there another spice you’d recommend as a substitute?

    What do you usually use instead of cinnamon? Allspice? I recommend using whatever spices you would normally use when making this substitution in other recipes. ~Elise

  • Sam

    What type of “cloves” are you using?

    Dried cloves. If there is another kind, I don’t know of it. ~Elise

  • Rorik Melberg

    I am going to give this recipe a shot. For those of you without a walnut supply: I searched on the web for Green Walnuts and came up with Haag Farms at http://www.walnuts.us/ was $34 for 6 pounds (about 60 walnuts, or two batches worth) including shipping. Was really fast and easy to use. (not affiliated, just a happy customer)

    The walnuts arrived today (3 day shipping) and although I am not a walnut expert, they seem to be what I want. Getting ready to start chopping them up now.

  • Dragon

    The only liqueur I’ve made is limoncello. This one looks really interesting. I don’t know of any local suppliers of green walnuts. Do you know of any online where I could order some? I think my dad would love this.

    No idea. I think this is one of those you gotta know someone with a walnut tree. ~Elise