This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
I’m always pleasantly surprised at just how tasty and simple a homemade liqueur can be and today’s recipe is no exception. This recipe for homemade Baileys Irish Cream is a no-stress mixture that stirs together fast, tastes yummy, and makes a nice gift too.
Making my own copycat version of Baileys did start me wondering (which is pretty typical of me) . . . why isn’t Baileys refrigerated in the store? It’s cream, isn’t it?
After a quick reading of Wikipedia I learned that the cream and alcohol in Baileys is homogenized to form an emulsion, with an emulsifier containing refined vegetable oil. That’s what prevents the separation of the cream and alcohol during storage. The manufacturer says no preservatives are used and instead the alcohol preserves the cream. They also say Baileys has a shelf life of two years, whether the bottle is opened or unopened, and whether it’s refrigerated or not.
That’s making my homemade stuff sound better all the time – time to make our own Baileys!
Making Your Own Baileys From Scratch
The ingredients for this homemade Baileys Irish cream recipe are pretty simple, however I’ll give a little more detail on a couple of them.
First, this recipe uses whiskey and I have not made this ingredient any more specific than that. However if you’re a person not in the habit of buying alcohol, you might find yourself standing in the liquor aisle of your favorite grocery store, scratching your head, overwhelmed by the many different versions. There’s bourbon whiskey, Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, to name a few. Some are kind of pricey, others not so much. After having made this recipe a few times, I believe that any type of whiskey will work in this recipe and there’s no need to stress overly much on this ingredient. My most recent batch uses the very reasonably priced Canadian Mist brand.
There’s also an ingredient in this recipe called Half & Half. This item is sold in small cartons in the refrigerated dairy cases at grocery stores. It’s a product that’s half whole milk and half heavy whipping cream. If you can’t find this product in your stores, you can substitute a ½ cup of whole milk and a ½ cup of heavy whipping cream in this recipe instead.
Finally, there’s a little bit of coffee flavor in this recipe. An easy way to do this is to dissolve a teaspoon of instant coffee in a couple tablespoons of hot water. If you don’t want to buy a container of instant coffee just for that one teaspoon, you can substitute a ¼ cup of brewed coffee in this recipe instead. Whichever coffee option you choose, let it cool first before adding it to your mixture. If the coffee is still too hot, it can evaporate away some of the alcohol in the mixture.
The remaining ingredients for this recipe are a can of sweetened condensed milk, some chocolate syrup and a bit of vanilla extract. Everything gets mixed together in a bowl, and then you can transfer the mixture to a sealed bottle of your choice. I like to use swing top bottles for this mixture.
Homemade Baileys Gift Tags Too!
This Baileys Irish Cream recipe makes a nice homemade food gift too. The recipe makes about 3-1/2 cups (or 28 fluid ounces) so it’s enough to fill at least 3 of the 8 oz swing top glass bottles. To make the homemade gift giving a little easier, I created a page with four assorted gift tags for you to use too.
Printable tags here – – > Homemade Baileys Irish Cream Gift Tags
A creamy liqueur like this homemade version of Baileys is most often used to add a little kick to a cup of coffee (my favorite way to drink Baileys), or in hot chocolate, or even tea. One of my favorite cocktails that uses homemade Baileys is a Mudslide and you can find my recipe for that drink here : How To Make A Mudslide Dessert Drink & Printable Labels
Note: This post was originally published December, 2014 and was updated October, 2020. You may have seen this original post picture floating around Pinterest!
Homemade Baileys Irish Cream
- 1 tsp Instant Coffee (will be dissolved in 2 Tbl Water) (or see substitute option in Notes)
- 1 cup Half & Half (or see substitute option in Notes)
- 1 cup Whiskey
- 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 oz size)
- 2 Tbl Chocolate Syrup
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Mix the instant coffee with a couple tablespoons of water in a small bowl and set aside to dissolve. Let it cool down if you used hot water.
- Stir together the half & half and the whiskey in a bowl.
- Next stir in the sweetened condensed milk.
- Finally, stir in the coffee, the chocolate syrup, and the vanilla.
- Pour the mixture into a bottle or jars and keep refrigerated. Try to let it set for a day before using to let the flavors meld.
More Homemade Liqueurs:
- How to make homemade Kahlua
- How to make homemade Limoncello
- How to make homemade Creme De Menthe
- How to make homemade Amaretto