By Melanie Fincher
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Everything you need to know about this Italian liqueur.

Amaretto is an almond-flavored liqueur that's often used as a cocktail mixer or as an ingredient in baked goods. It's an essential ingredient for any well-stocked home bar. Learn about it's mysterious Italian origins, and get top-rated recipes for using amaretto.

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What is Amaretto Liqueur?

This liqueur has a sweet, nutty flavor that's often used to tame the bite of many spirits. Despite its almond flavor, it doesn't always contain almonds — it's made from either apricot pits or almonds or both. Amaretto is Italian for "little bitter" as amaretto has a sweetened flavor with slightly bitter notes. It's a fundamental ingredient in many cocktails, but without something to balance it out (like bourbon or citrus) it can be syrupy and thick, almost like cough syrup.

There are two families that claim the title of amaretto inventors. One tale goes that the Lazaronni family of Saronno, Italy, had been long known for its amaretto cookies, and introduced the sweet liqueur to the market in 1851. The Reina family on the other hand claims that a widow who posed for Renaissance painter Bernardino Luini in 1525 made her amaretto potion for him. This recipe is said to have been handed down for generations and is currently marketed as Disaronno® Originale Liqueur.

No matter it's origin, amaretto didn't hit American shores until the 1960s, and we haven't been able to get enough of it since. Today it's used in popular cocktails such as an Amaretto Sour or a Godfather, but can also be enjoyed on its own over ice.

How to Make Homemade Amaretto

Learn to make your own homemade amaretto based on this amaretto recipe from Marjory. Reviewer KMWILSON98 says, "Who knew it could be this easy to make delicious amaretto? I will never buy commercial amaretto again. I even used the cheapest of vodkas, and this turned out wonderfully. I intend to give it as gifts!"

Photo by Helene Wilson

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Combine water, white sugar, and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, until all of the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the vodka, almond extract, and vanilla extract.
  5. Keep the mixture stored in a sealed bottle. Enjoy!

More Ways to Use Amaretto

The citrus in this tropical drink helps to balance out the nutty amaretto. Reviewer tthul says, "This drink is awesome. Like something that I drink in a bar that they won't tell the recipe!"

Recipe creator FrancesC says, "These flaky Danish pastries are a time-consuming project, but they're a perfect way to show people how much you love them! I like serving them at special brunches. The puff pastry dough and almond filling can be made ahead of time, and the pastries can be frozen before baking."

Recipe creator sanzoe says, "This is a favorite girl's-night drink for me. We love to mix these up any time of the year but even better on a hot summer day." It's a classic dessert made better with booze.

"The sweet potatoes and onions were caramelized and delicious and the almonds were a surprising crunch — great combination! The sweetness of the amaretto was just right," says reviewer Jacqui.

Photo by Mackenzie Schieck