Homemade Kahlua

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This homemade Kahlua recipe is so easy to make! You probably have the necessary ingredients sitting around your house, especially if you’re a coffee lover.

Making it yourself means that you can choose which coffee you would like; since you make it with brewed coffee, the flavor of your favorite beans ends up being the star of your drink.

homemade Kahlua on the rocks

I can guarantee that you will impress your friends when you show up to a gathering with a bottle of this liqueur rather than a six pack of beer. The only thing that might be more impressive would be bringing a bottle of homemade Baileys Irish Cream as well!

a bottle of homemade Kahlua in the foreground with two cocktails made using it in the background

Searching for Kahlua recipes will reveal that there are several different ways to make the liqueur at home.

Many of the recipes call for instant coffee. I rejected those because I wanted to be able to use high-quality, freshly-ground coffee beans. Other recipes call for letting the drink 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. The end result is blissful. It has a sweet yet strong coffee flavor and goes down super smooth.


To make this recipe, you’ll need coffee, vodka, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract.

How It’s Made

To make homemade Kahlua, start by brewing coffee. As soon as it’s done brewing, pour it into a large glass vessel that you can use to mix it.

pouring coffee in a jug to make homemade Kahlua

While the coffee is still hot, mix in brown sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature.

adding sugar to coffee in a jug to make homemade Kahlua

Once it’s cooled off, mix in vanilla extract.

adding vanilla extract to sweetened coffee in a jug to make homemade Kahlua

Then, mix in vodka.

adding vodka to sweetened coffee in a jug to make homemade Kahlua

That’s it.

Expert Tips and FAQs

two cocktails made with homemade Kahlua and a bottle of homemade Kahlua in the foreground
How do I store it?

Store Kahlua at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to two months.

How should I use it?

Serve over ice, in mixed drinks like a mudslide or a White Russian, or use in baking.

glass with a White Russian cocktail made with homemade Kahlua
White Russian cocktail: 2 parts vodka, 1 part homemade Kahlua, and a splash of heavy cream
Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!
homemade Kahlua on the rocks
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4.36 from 17 votes

Homemade Kahlua

Making this homemade recipe for Kahlua is easy and gives you the flexibility to choose which coffee you would like to use.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 50 servings
Calories 60kcal
Author Stefani


  • 6 cups brewed coffee use your favorite kind
  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 liter vodka If you have access to a pure grain alcohol like Everclear, you may want to use that.


  • Brew coffee. While the coffee is still hot, mix in the brown sugar.
  • Cool to room temperature.
  • Mix in vanilla extract and vodka.
  • Serve over ice, in mixed drinks like a frozen mudslide or a White Russian, or use in baking.


Yields 1.5 liters.
Homemade Kahlua may be kept out at room temperature for a few days but should be refrigerated for longer storage. It can be refrigerated for two months.


Calories: 60kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 27mg | Sugar: 9g | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. Tori L. Maricellisays:

    5 stars
    delicious and easy to make.

  2. KAREN VALLESsays:

    5 stars
    i made this a few years back and it was so delicious and super easy! i am going to make some more this year!! Love it!

  3. Catleysays:

    Okay this is probably a stupid question… caffeine doesn’t affect me, but it does affect my hubby and friends… considering we’d probably have this for dessert, I’m thinking I should make with decaf? Or do you think it matters?

    • J Lsays:

      I don’t believe it would effect the flavor, there is plenty of kick with the Everclear, my choice of alcohol for the recipe!

  4. Simonsays:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe. We’ve made several batches and they’re all wonderful. So easy and tasty, and great for presents. Made it as written except used rum instead of vodka and let the coffee/sugar mixture simmer for 30-60 minutes to thicken. Yum!

  5. Jackie Moonsays:

    5 stars
    I have some everclear, and was just curious how much you would suggest for this recipe. Is the alcohol less detectable this way?

  6. Debbiesays:

    Julia-Does your Dad have a recipe for Limoncella or his Amarretto? I would love to have yhese recipes! Thanks so very much!

  7. Brenda O'Neillsays:

    I found my problem of lumpy Irish Cream. I used a vitamin on high speed and made butter. I went back to my inversion blender and it worked perfect.

  8. Mitchell Webstersays:

    5 stars
    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!

  9. Amazmerizingsays:

    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. ;)

  10. Alexsays:

    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.

  11. Emilysays:

    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!

  12. Anonymoussays:

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

  13. Anonymoussays:

    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

  14. Anonymoussays:

    how many cups is 1 pounf of brown sugar

  15. Anonymoussays:

    T = Tablespoon, t = teaspoon. :)

  16. Anonymoussays:

    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.

  17. Amanda Mclellansays:

    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!

    • Anonymoussays:

      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.

    • Anonymoussays:

      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.

  18. Lynnesays:

    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!

  19. Berta ;-)says:

    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!!

    • DeeDee Moradosays:

      Dont know where you get your “mexican vanilla”, but I live in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico & I buy my vanilla at Costco. It has 35% alcohol.

  20. Anonymoussays:

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

  21. Anonymoussays:

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

  22. Laura Piccolottosays:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Anonymoussays:

    How would a person make it thicker?

    • Anonymoussays:

      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.

  24. Anonymoussays:

    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!!

  25. Sarah Bsays:

    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!

  26. Rhea Thompsonsays:

    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

  27. Anonymoussays:

    You always pack brown sugar.

  28. Anonymoussays:

    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.

  29. Anonymoussays:

    Do you pack the brown sugar?

  30. Anonymoussays:

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


  31. Anonymoussays:

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

  32. Heather Getsonsays:

    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.

  33. scegansays:

    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!

  34. Rebeccasays:

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

  35. Anonymoussays:

    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.

  36. Anonymoussays:

    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!!

  37. Anonymoussays:

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

  38. Anonymoussays:

    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!

  39. Anonymoussays:

    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.

  40. Brenda @ GreenishPink.comsays:

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

  41. Brenda @ GreenishPink.comsays:

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

  42. Anonymoussays:

    Kahula is RUM based. Says right on the bottle.

  43. Stefsays:

    Anon – Yes, that would be fine.

  44. Anonymoussays:

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

  45. Chrissays:

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

  46. Timsays:

    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.

  47. Blakesays:

    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.

  48. Stefsays:

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

  49. Stephensays:

    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).

  50. Janesays:

    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

  51. Anonymoussays:

    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.

  52. Serenasays:

    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


  53. Anonymoussays:

    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

  54. Margaret Vsays:

    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.

  55. Margaret Vsays:

    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.

  56. Margaret Vsays:

    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.

  57. Margaret Vsays:

    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.

  58. Margaret Vsays:

    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.

  59. Kristinasays:

    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!

  60. MPsays:

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

  61. Craigsays:

    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.

  62. debsays:

    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.

  63. debsays:

    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!

  64. debsays:

    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!

  65. debsays:

    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!

  66. Lorisays:

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

  67. Clairesays:

    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.

  68. Stefsays:

    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.

  69. Jessicasays:

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

  70. Lindsey@pickyeatingssays:

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

  71. Memóriasays:

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

  72. Dianasays:

    I made it yesterday and it turned out great!

  73. Andreasays:

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

  74. Cooking Foodiesays:

    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…

  75. Little Miss Cupcakesays:

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

  76. Juliasays:

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

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