Homemade Baileys Irish Cream

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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!

Homemade Baileys Irish Cream in a bottle

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.

Ingredients for homemade Baileys Irish Cream

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 Irish Cream

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.

Gift tags for homemade irish cream

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

How to make a homemade version of Baileys Irish Cream

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

A simple and tasty way to make your own version of this festive and popular beverage.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Copycat, Drinks
Author: Beverly

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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.

Notes:

You can substitute 1/4 cup of brewed coffee for the instant coffee.
You can substitute a 1/2 cup of whole milk and a 1/2 cup of heavy cream for the 1 cup of Half & Half.

More Homemade Liqueurs:

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101 Comments

  1. I’m looking forward to making your Amaretto, Mudslide Recipes but was unable to print them? I did however print the Bailey’s Recipe and am anxious to try it.
    So if you boil the sugars white and brown is that caramelizing the sugars??
    Thank you Love your recipes and I’ll be looking at more.

  2. Beverly,
    I tried your recipe today, and I’m impressed! I made a double batch and it was good! My only comment would be that the coffee taste is too strong! I’m not a coffee drinker, so I could really taste it. But maybe after the flavors blend together it won’t be as bad. If it ‘s still too strong for me, I’ll add some cream to it, and maybe a little more chocolate syrup. And next time I’ll reduce the instant coffee to 1/2 tsp. and add another tbsp. chocolate syrup. But all in all, it turned out great! Thank you for sharing your recipe with us here on Pinterest!

    1. I add caramel to mine … the coffee satisfies my husband & it’s definitely not too strong for me (I am not a coffee fan either)

  3. Really like your Bailey’s recipe. I’ve tried the Canadian Mist, and Irish Whiskey. Must say, we prefer the Irish Whiskey.

    1. It will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator and probably even longer. I just always use mine up after about six weeks!

    1. It is a 10% cream. I you can’t find it, I’m sure you could mix some heavier cream with milk.

    1. I referred this question to both my husband and son who are more discerning about whiskey than I am, and they both leaned toward No, that Scotch whiskey would not be the best choice for this recipe.

      1. qha even if i reduce the quantity for 1/2 cup instead of 1 cup whiskey? cause as i know scotch is more stronger.. cause i couldn’t find irish whiskey

    2. You can easily use Canadian whiskey that is what we always use. The whiskey used for things like this are known as “mixing whiskey” ! Scotch is for “sippin’ ” don’t ya know? LOL any way that is what my ex would be telling me if I dared lay hands on his precious scotch bottle. I would love to make a batch,2 or three it’s been a bad month of covid in family and no let up.

    3. The Original Baileys is Irish Cream; therefore, Irish Whiskey would be the ideal type to use. However, I love Canadian Whiskey and like your way of using it and I’m gonna give it a try! Cheers!

  4. This is fantastic. I wanted to increase the yield volume from 28 oz. to 32 oz. to fill 2 16 oz. gift jars.
    I added one more oz. each of brewed coffee and whiskey, and two more ounces of half & half. It turned out perfectly.

  5. We enjoy this poured over coffee ice cubes. I bought a silicone ice tray that makes 1 inch cubes. I use unsweetened black coffee cooled to room temperature. Once frozen, add 3-4 to a glass & pour the homemade Irish cream over the coffee cubes. So delicious!

    1. Perhaps you could substitute a plant milk for the Half & Half. Usually oat milk or cashew milk are a little richer tasting. For the sweetened condensed milk, you could maybe try making your own using my recipe, however you would have to substitute a powdered plant milk (such as powdered coconut milk) and a vegan “butter” stick (like Earth Balance). Here is the link to the DIY sweetened condensed milk: https://www.themakeyourownzone.com/homemade-sweetened-condensed-milk/ And perhaps instead of the powdered milk in that recipe, you could simply try substituting in a 1/2 cup of a plant milk too.

    1. I usually use mine up within 3 or 4 weeks and it always stays fine during that time. I think it would stay Ok for several weeks beyond that too, but I’ve always used mine up sooner than that!

    2. Because of the alcohol content, you can keep this at room temperature and will last forever. i just read it online somewhere.

    1. I think it’s best to keep it refrigerated. Mine has always kept well for 3 to 4 weeks, and I would guess it could keep even longer but I have always used it up by then!

    1. Mine has always lasted 3 to 4 weeks (and I would think it could last even longer), however I have usually finished it all up by then!

    1. Plant milks are much thinner and not as rich tasting, so I’m not sure if that would work. However if you want to give it a try I would suggest either oat milk or coconut milk, both of which I have found to be a little thicker tasting than almond milk.

    2. We made a second batch last year using vanilla flavored almond milk (we had on hand) that we carefully reduced in a saucepan to thicken before cooling it down and measuring out. Was pretty darn good. I use the plain-Jane Jameson Irish whiskey in mine, only because of the Bailey’s Irish play – but I’ve used Maker’s Mark bourbon as well…both fantastic.

  6. Thanks for posting this, Beverly. I enjoyed reading the comments from your earlier posts about it. Have to say I agree that I would upgrade the whiskey; something this special is worth it. Your husband’s comments were funny. And it is astonishing that so many people have never heard of half and half!

    1. Choosing the whiskey is always challenging for me but you’re right that especially if it’s a gift, it can be worth it to splurge a little bit!

    1. Half & Half is a product that is half whole milk and half heavy cream. If you can’t find it in the stores you could use a 1/2 cup of whole milk and a 1/2 cup of heavy cream in the recipe instead.

    1. It is a type of creamer that is sold that is half milk and half cream. If you can’t find this product you could substitute a 1/2 cup of milk and a 1/2 cup of heavy cream to replace the cup of Half & Half in the recipe.

  7. I’m not a whisky fan but I love Baileys. A friend of mine saw the whiskey in my liquor cabinet and suggested I use it to make Baileys. This morning I made a double batch for Christmas. I can’t wait to sample it and want to thank you so much for posting this recipe. It may even make it to my family cookbook. Cheers.

  8. Hello Beverly, thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I have made this kind of drink last in 1986, I have researched a heap of recipes now and I like yours most. I have brought a bottle of cane spirits from Cape Town, a neutral alcoholic drink made from sugar cane. I used it when I use to make this baileys back then. I can’t wait to taste it!. Thank you again.

    1. Half & Half is a creamer that is half milk and half cream, so it is not quite as rich as straight creamer.

      1. Where are these people from that have never heard of half and half? My mind is officially blown with this question!

  9. I’ve been making my own Irish Cream for years but with a few variations that might interest you. I simmer the tin of condensed milk in a pot of water for about one and a half to two hours (three hours if I’m making a caramel). This adds extra depth to the flavour and also makes the colour of the liqueur almost identical to the original. I whizz all the ingredients up in a liquidiser. Being Scottish I use Scottish whisky (the Scots never ever call it Scotch!!). I also sometimes substitute the whisky for brandy which is really delicious (because although I’m Scottish I hate whisky, a cardinal sin here in Scotland!).

    1. Loved your input Jill! So much fun to hear from an actual Scot on how it’s done in your part of the world!

  10. I got into making my own irish cream because of an allergy to coffee. Granted, Bailey’s and most homemade recipes only have a smidgeon of coffee but more than a single shot could start me puking. I’ve found that omiting the coffee did not change the taste so that’s how I make mine now. I’ll be trying your version next, minus the coffe of course. I’ve never tried one that uses vanilla bean pods.

    1. Perhaps if you wanted a non-alcoholic version of Baileys (maybe as a coffee creamer), you could adjust this recipe by eliminating the sweetened condensed milk and the whiskey, and using 1 cup of half & half, 1 cup of heavy cream, and keep the rest of the ingredients as they are. I haven’t tried it, but I think that would work and would give you a good starting point to adjust from.

  11. I think the only things i did differently were to use heavy whipping cream, an extra 2/3 cup of Jamison Whiskey vs your brand and it was absolutely delish and super creamy. I also put everything in a very large pitcher and whisked the ingredients all at once.

  12. Just made it so it’s “resting”. Pay attention to amounts. With the level of downsizing companies do now (instead of raising prices), your 14 oz can of condensed milk is now 10 oz (Canada–300ml). So for this can, only use 3/4 of the rest of the ingredients to compensate.

  13. Love the recipe but I am sorry to say I totally disagree about the whiskey. Whiskey is like wine and has many layers and the reason Bailey’s tastes so good is the quality of the whiskey the use. So I would put it this way…..if your not a drinker use whatever you like, if know what your drinking use a single malt whiskey

    1. Agree with Lexus. Just like when cooking with wine. (If) you don’t drink plonk, why would you cook with it?

      I agree that when using mixes (rye and coke for example), it’s usually a waste to use a “good” rye. In this bailey’s recipe, I would also pick a liquor you like in that “rye” family.

    1. Half and Half is a cream sold in the U.S. that is a “lighter” version of cream that is the equivalent of half cream and half milk. I think in the U.K. it is called “Half Cream”. To substitute for the cup of Half & Half in this recipe, you could use a 1/2 cup of milk and a 1/2 cup of cream instead.

      1. It seems that in GB half n half would be whipping cream and your heavy cream would be double cream. We can also get single cream that’s used for pouring and coffee. Tea never has cream added (too rich), only milk which is 3% fat or less.
        Your recipes sound delicious so going to try one or two. Not with the cheapest spirits though as they are too rough to contemplate.

  14. I have been making Irish cream for many years, my recipe is almost the same as yours. Next time you make it try substituting one teaspoon of the vanilla essence for 1 teaspoon of almond essence. the taste and aroma is so much better.

    1. I use vanilla extract and almond extract, 1/2 &1/2 or cream depending if it’s for sipping or for coffee. Also about 2 cups whiske and with 1 Jumbo egg. The egg really smooths it out and the almond is a excellent addition. Be careful though as almond is really strong

      Also I wouldn’t use bourbon as this recipe shows. Seagrams V/O is fine for coffee,Jameson Irish is great for sipping. Everyone has their favorites but stick to whiskey not rye or bourbon

  15. Beverly, I remember when I could purchase Bailey’s Ice Cream and they stopped selling it in my local grocery store. I guess I will have to figure out how to make it.

        1. I had to make baileys ice cream for a special recipe once , the instructions was to partly melt ice cream add baileys mix well then refreeze it was lovely

    1. It should last for several weeks. It takes us about a month to use up a batch and it does not go bad in that time. I have never kept a batch much longer than that because it’s yummy and we find ways to drink it up!

        1. A quart size mason jar should hold 32 ounces, and this batch makes about 30 ounces, so it should fill one quart size mason jar.

  16. Thank you!! I’ve got some friends on Facebook waiting for me to share this post, too.

    I have a question, though: where I am, we don’t have half & half. In other recipes that ask for it, I’d substitute with evaporated milk. Will it also work for this? Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. Yes, I think evaporated milk would work as a substitute for the half & half because it’s about the same consistency and just a little richer than regular milk. Another option might be to substitute cream but that will make the mixture a little bit thicker.