Homemade Kahlua Using Your Favorite Coffee | Cupcake Project

Homemade Kahlua Using Your Favorite Coffee

Making homemade Kahlua gives you the flexibility to choose which coffee you would like in your coffee liqueur. Better yet, making homemade Kahlua is easy! You may even have the homemade Kahlua ingredients sitting around your house: coffee, vodka, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract. I can guarantee that you will impress your peeps when you show up to your New Year’s Eve party with a bottle of homemade Kahlua rather than a six-pack of Bud Light. The only thing that might be more impressive would be a bottle of homemade Baileys Irish Cream.

Homemade Kahlua Recipe

A Google search for Kahlua recipes will reveal that there are several different ways to make homemade Kahlua. Many of the recipes call for instant coffee. I rejected those because I wanted to be able to use good quality freshly ground coffee. Others call for letting the recipe steep for several weeks; I rejected those because I don’t have the patience. I ended up using a variation of a recipe that I found on a forum about Orchids. What do orchid growers know about Kahlua? Apparently, a lot. The end result of this Kahlua recipe is blissful. It has a sweet yet strong coffee flavor and it goes down super smooth.

Homemade Kahlua Using Your Favorite Coffee

Yield: about 1.5 liters

Homemade Kahlua Using Your Favorite Coffee


  • 6 cups brewed coffee (Use your favorite kind! I used Goshen coffee since I know that Bride and Groom 3.0 and many of my coffee connoisseur friends love it.)
  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 liter of vodka (If you have access to a pure grain alcohol like Everclear, you may want to use that. I simply used SVEDKA Vodka and it worked just fine.)


  1. While the coffee is still hot, mix in the brown sugar.
  2. Let cool.
  3. Mix in vanilla and vodka.
  4. Serve over ice, in mixed drinks like a frozen mudslide, or use to make a cupcake (post coming soon).


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86 Responses to Homemade Kahlua Using Your Favorite Coffee

  1. Julia December 23, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    sounds yummy! my dad makes his own Limoncello (a lemon liqueur) and Amaretto. I’ll try the coffee one some time for sure!

  2. Little Miss Cupcake December 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    wow! who knew it could be so simple? thanks for posting this. looking forward to your kahlua cupcakes! Happy Holidays!

  3. Cooking Foodie December 24, 2009 at 2:56 am #

    And I thought making Kahlua was this massive project… I will certainly be making a few gallons. Thanks for the recipe(?)… Looking forward to Irish Cream. Its another favorite…

  4. Andrea December 24, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    Oh, can’t wait for the Irish Cream recipe!

  5. Diana December 26, 2009 at 10:42 pm #

    I made it yesterday and it turned out great!

  6. Memória December 28, 2009 at 1:11 am #

    Cool! Now, I can make a virgin Kahlua! haha

  7. Lindsey@pickyeatings December 28, 2009 at 6:12 am #

    While I am not a big coffee drinker, I am a sucker for coffee flavored alcoholic beverages.

  8. Jessica December 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    This sounds good. Do you know how long it will keep and should it be refrigerated?

  9. Stef December 28, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    Jess – It does not need to be kept refrigerated. I think it should last several months at least. But, I haven’t had it that long enough to report.

  10. Claire December 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    Yum! I’ll make this as soon as I finish with the Kahlua in my liquor cabinet (I’ll go work on that in just a minute.)

    I made homemade Irish cream just before Christmas. I used a recipe my sister gave me, but substituted to make it vegan. I’m going to make it again for New Year’s Eve guests. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  11. Lori December 29, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    Who knew you could make it yourself? Thanks for the recipe!

  12. deb December 31, 2009 at 5:31 am #

    sounds good and easy. However I am going to try to reduce the coffee and sugar to make it thicker. And I will brew that coffee harsh strong!

  13. deb January 1, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    Well I did what I said. I actually reduced the coffee/brown sugar for a bit to make it thicker,(about 10 minutes in high simmer) I splurged and ground, in the store, some Starbucks coffee beans (on very fine) and brewed it strong. I used Stollichnaya Vodka, yet another splurge and the result kicks butt over the original. Serious! very bright flavor, cuts right through any mixes an stands on it’s own!

  14. deb January 1, 2010 at 6:39 am #

    This recipe is so easy. You got a finished batch in under 30 minutes! I got em buzzin on facebook about this post. Thanks for the info!

  15. deb January 4, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    I made the Kaluah and Irish Cream recipes and had them available New Year’s Day. All of the guests raved about them. Said they were better than the original blend you can buy in the store. I did use the best ingredients I could afford. I fresh ground the coffee beans the day of and used Stollichnaya vodka and Bushmills Irish whiskey. I brewed the coffee extra strong and reduced the coffee and brown sugar for about 10 minutes. Came out so fantastic.

  16. Craig January 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Made this with Golden Grain (an Everclear analog) instead of vodka and only used 375 mL. Still a bit strong on the alcohol flavor, but it is truly delicious.

  17. MP January 19, 2010 at 6:02 am #

    Oh yum!!! (Profound, I know, but fitting…)

  18. Kristina January 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    I made it exactly as you’ve described, down to the vodka brand (coincidentally) with some chocolate truffle flavored coffee, and it was just perfect. Thanks!

  19. Margaret V March 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    This is so cheap! I think this ended up costing me around $8 for $20-30 worth of Kaluha! and it’s GOOOOOOD. It actually gets better over time if you can resist for a month or so.

  20. Margaret V March 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    This is so cheap! I think this ended up costing me around $8 for $20-30 worth of Kaluha! and it’s GOOOOOOD. It actually gets better over time if you can resist for a month or so.

  21. Margaret V March 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    This is so cheap! I think this ended up costing me around $8 for $20-30 worth of Kaluha! and it’s GOOOOOOD. It actually gets better over time if you can resist for a month or so.

  22. Margaret V March 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    This is so cheap! I think this ended up costing me around $8 for $20-30 worth of Kaluha! and it’s GOOOOOOD. It actually gets better over time if you can resist for a month or so.

  23. Margaret V March 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    This is so cheap! I think this ended up costing me around $8 for $20-30 worth of Kaluha! and it’s GOOOOOOD. It actually gets better over time if you can resist for a month or so.

  24. Anonymous July 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    Just made my first batch, only used about 4 cups of coffee – as I had a little less than a half litre of vodka, so also used a little less brown sugar – Had a bottle of Kaluha so I was able to compare, don’t know how much more tast testing I can handle this early in the day, lol – Mine came out good, but not as thick and syrupy as the Kaluha, added a fair bit more sugar and that got it closer. Think next time I might try to reduce the coffee/sugar solution down to make it a little thicker as suggested. Sure is drinkable though! Thanks

  25. Serena August 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    i’ve just finished making my own kahlua!

    i actually didn’t even know what kahlua was until some months ago, but since i’ve been collecting and making anglo-saxon recipes since i was 15 years old, one day i stumbled upon a recipe calling for that ingredient, and i started looking around, to get information about it
    i had a look at several recipes, and in the end i chose yours!

    it is REALLY delicious! :) now next time i wanna make a recipe calling for kahlua i’ll be able to make it! with my own! :)

    (the main problem with foreign recipes is that you never are able to follow the recipe exactly, you have to adjust and adapt it on the basis of the ingredients available in your country)

    if i manage to take a nice pic of my kahlua, i’ll publish a post on it on my blog :)

    thanks for the recipe

    greetings from Italy


  26. Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    a tip, to make real coffee liqueur, use vodka instead of water to brew the coffee. you will keep enough of the alcohol to give you a buzz and it’ll have the nice coffee flavor. add milk or ice and you have a great mixed drink.

  27. Jane July 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    I make Baby Guinness with Kahlua poured into a shot glass and then just tilt the glass and gently pour Irish cream in, which should float on top giving the appearance of a small guinness! nice! Jane x

  28. Stephen September 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Can you explain the brewing of the coffee in a little more detail please! I don’t know whether to use espresso cups or cups cups(235ml).

  29. Stef September 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Stephen – I mean cups as measured in a liquid measuring cup.

  30. Blake October 3, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Wouldn’t this work better with rum since Kahlua is actually made with rum? Still, I’ve got to try the recipe before I knock it.

    • Joan September 26, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      My question EXACTLY! I may try making this with Mount Gay Rum from Barbados!

  31. Tim October 22, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    I just finished making a half batch with this mornings leftover coffee and Bacardi rum (3 parts superior, 1 part 151). The result was fantastic! Enough to fill a fith and about a cup leftover for the samplers. Thanks for the quick recipe.

  32. Chris November 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    FYI Tia Maria is made with RUM… Kahlua is VODKA based.

    • trish December 24, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

      actually kahlua is made with rum – read the bottle!

  33. Anonymous November 22, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Would a cheaper vodka work too? Such as Grey Goose or Absolut?

  34. Stef November 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Anon – Yes, that would be fine.

  35. Anonymous December 3, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    Kahula is RUM based. Says right on the bottle.

  36. Brenda @ GreenishPink.com December 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    This sounds so great! I want to make it and give as gifts. Does it need to be refrigerated? I assume so…

  37. Brenda @ GreenishPink.com December 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Actually, I just read somewhere else that it doesn’t need to be. Do you know? Thanks!!!

  38. Anonymous December 11, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Regarding vodka or rum based…kahlua is vodka based. I don’t know what bottle the previous poster is looking at but I’m looking at a bottle right now and it clearly says infused vodka.

    • Jen December 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      Funny, my bottle says Rum. I don’t remember that being on the bottle in the past????? I got it at Costco.

  39. Anonymous December 11, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Hey my name is Steve Campagna, I was wondering if anyone may have tried this recipe with a whiskey base and am curious as to how it turned out. Any speculation would be helpful as well. Thanks!

  40. Anonymous December 12, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    haha, im sure any strong alcohol would make it wonderful, all slightly different, think i will try different ones too, great recipe thanks x

  41. Anonymous December 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Kahlua is a RUM based liquor. It says right on the newer bottles, you can easily find that information on their website and places like wikipedia. I am sure the vodka is darned tasty as well!!

  42. Anonymous December 14, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    I used to have a Cook ‘Em horns cookbk whose recipe I used years ago. It called for vanilla bns and rock candy! Huh! I am going to try deb’s recipe soon. I like the suggestion of using your favorite coffee. Great idea.

  43. Rebecca December 19, 2011 at 1:50 am #

    silly question!? Do u mean tsp or tbs of van? U have T. Not sure what that means. Thanks!

  44. scegan December 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Can you use vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract? Or does it not make much of a difference using one over the other? Just got some fresh vanilla beans from JR Mushrooms and can’t wait to use them!

  45. Heather Getson January 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Do you actually mean to use six cups of water measured in a liquid measuring cup,as this is ten cups when placed in the coffee maker? Thanks.

  46. Anonymous March 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    I made some this weekend, I’m not convinced by the amount of water. 1.2 litres of coffee seems like too much?

  47. Anonymous March 18, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    I’ve made homemade Kahlua before using white sugar. How does this compare to using brown sugar as far as taste and consistency?


  48. Anonymous March 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Do you pack the brown sugar?

  49. Anonymous March 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    I am looking at a bottle right this moment. It states on the label, “Rum and Coffee Liqueur.” I just purchased this bottle last week, so I seriously doubt it is an old bottle.

  50. Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    You always pack brown sugar.

  51. Rhea Thompson June 3, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Just finished making this…. amazing. I guess I shouldn’t just sit here drinking it for the rest of the day though. :)

    p.s….. one pound of brown sugar packed = one pound of brown sugar not packed

  52. Sarah B June 27, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    I made this yesterday for my husband. He absolutely loved it! He says he likes it better than store bought Kahlua. :) Plus it made my whole apartment smell like chocolate. Yummy!

  53. Anonymous July 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    This is so good!! I have tried a few different recipes. It is much better with brown sugar than white sugar. I would like it a little thicker, but it is awesome just as is!!

  54. Anonymous August 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    How would a person make it thicker?

    • Anonymous November 19, 2012 at 8:09 am #

      You’d need to simmer it for a couple hours to get a thick syrup. I’ve seen other recipes for homemade Kahlua and they call for 2 – 4 hours of simmer time.

  55. Laura Piccolotto December 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. Anonymous December 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    If you look at the original Kahlua web site you will see that you are right, Blake. It is made with rum.

  57. Anonymous December 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Looking at the original mfg web site – says made with run.

  58. Berta ;-) December 17, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    I think simmering it down to thicken is good, just keep and eye on it till it seems thick enough.
    My twist on this: of course use a coffee you like and if you are going to cook it down add 1-2 cups more. My first batch had part dark brown sugar and org cane sugar (Costco) and I cooked it down till I liked the thickness, let it cool and then added the vanilla & Vodka. Done! #2 Batch: used a better coffee and only did little more than 6 cups, but it was stronger, only used org coffee and sugar 1lb+ cooked it down but not as long, cooled and then this time I got hold of some Mexican Vanilla…the best! no alcohol in it. Makes the difference if you can get it! I like this batch much better!! Oh and in both I used !00 proof Vodka! Half a bottle each!( uh the big half gal size 😉 Made something similar years ago but with instant coffee and way more sugar but had the Mexican vanilla, it was primo too!! Cheers all! And to all a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!
    Thanks Cupcake Project!!

  59. Lynne December 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    I’m making a big batch of this right now for Christmas presents – thanks so much for the recipe! I’m using a local (Crimson Cup) coffee roaster’s Celtic Grogg coffee and vodka from a local distillery (Watershed here in Columbus, Ohio.) And I’m trying the suggestion to simmer it for a while to make it more syrupy. It smells incredible!

    Meanwhile I’m sipping on some store-bought Kahlua (you know, gotta use it up) and the bottle actually says “Kahlua’s dark liqueur cradles delicate notes of rum, vanilla, and caramel, wrapped in roasted coffee flavor” which I think is slightly ambiguous – could actually mean that it tastes like rum as well as vanilla and caramel, but is still based on vodka. Regardless, I’ve seen many recipes for homemade Kahlua that use vodka, I’m guessing because vodka doesn’t have a distinct taste of its own the way rum does, so you can be more free to be creative with the other flavors, like your choice of coffee. Either way though, I’m sure it’s going to be delicious. Thanks again!

  60. Amanda Mclellan December 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Any ideas for how to package this. I would like to give it as gifts if I could make it look pretty. I know it doesn’t need to go in the fridge. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Anonymous December 23, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      I give as a gift as well. I go to the local beer/wine making supply store and buy the bottles that have a flip top seal. I call them old fashioned root beer bottles. They come in brown or clear glass. Just a buck or 2 a bottle here.

    • Anonymous December 23, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      I forgot add that I tell em you get a refill for all returned bottles. I get all the bottles back every year so I must be doing something right.

  61. Anonymous December 23, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Someone mentioned using whole vanilla beans. You can but it has to sit in a dark place at least 3 months to seep out the flavor. I just found 3 bottles I made 2 years ago with whole Madagascar beans. MMMM, just perfect for my taste. This recipe is meant for liquid vanilla extract, and the best you can afford in my opinion, not the $4 shillings stuff.

    Brown sugar is a variation I have not tried.

    I will be using hazelnut coffee as a variation with a batch this year. I make about 2 gallons and put in root beer bottles.

    I use a lot more vanilla for my taste. Usually half a bottle but my recipe makes 3 1/2 fifths, made with pure grain alcohol (190 proof). Oh yeh, it has a kick and thats the way I like it.

  62. Anonymous December 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    T = Tablespoon, t = teaspoon. :)

  63. Anonymous December 27, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    how many cups is 1 pounf of brown sugar

  64. Anonymous January 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    making kahlua is so easy and cheap compared to 35 dollars a half gallon where do they get off charging so so much for some thing so cheap,,,, cant even find the real kahlua in the store it is a mocha vanilla especial and one with rum added,,, what 3/4 rum cheap and 1/4 kahlua probably I will make it myself from now on this is insane to pay so much for so little,,,, they are now rippin us off so yaaa to home made thanks

  65. Anonymous February 23, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    just want to say…kalua with a good alcohol content is absolutly wonderful on vanilla icecream!!!!

  66. Emily April 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Just so you know, my cousin and I made a batch, with a couple tweaks, all the way back last June. I polished off my half within a couple months, but I just visited her last week and discovered she still had about a half a cup of hers left. We drank it together, and it had really mellowed out over time, wasn’t too sweet nor too bitey from the alcohol. Delicious!

  67. Alex February 15, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    I had to check out this recipe because the link to it said homemade kahlua but pictured a glass of brown liquid with mushrooms inside. It totally confused me. What do mushrooms have to do with kahlua? And why are the mushrooms not mentioned in the recipe? It took me quite a while to realize they’re ice cubes, not mushrooms – lol.

  68. Amazmerizing February 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    I Have been making excellent homemade kahlua for many years. Heres a few tips I have learned over that time. If you store it for 1 to 3 weeks prior to opening you should get the best flavours. I only refridgerate after initial opening. At worst, I always use pure vanilla extract…yes PURE and no imitation! Makes a huge difference. My preference is to use this and a vanilla bean in each full-sized bottle. You take the bean and lay it long-wise and split it carefully down the center of the bean to let the pure vanillaness soak into the kahlua. I make the coffee double strength. (Add double the amount of coffee you would normally use.) Yes, we simmer it down to thicken it. Then we pour it into dark brown bottles. We use yes old kahlua bottles, the “other” coffee liquer bottles, even A-1 bottles work great. Oh and rootbeer bottles are perfect! I even have a few mini bottles saved to make super secret shots. 😉

  69. Mitchell Webster January 30, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    I am so glad to see someone else that has discovered using brown sugar in their recipe. Most of the online recipes are very weak and disappointing. My mother and I decided after several attempts to get the right viscosity and richness, we had to use brown sugar over white sugar and that was the absolute key ingredient. Making it with white sugar just does not cut it for us. Love your blog!


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