Homemade Kahlua (Coffee Liqueur)
Each year for Christmas I try to come up with a theme for the recipes I share during the month of December.
And this year? Well this year in the spirit of Christmas, we’ll be making some homemade spirits! I know alcohol may not appeal to everyone, but for me it’s a festive indulgence to make these sweet liqueurs that I don’t treat myself to otherwise during the year. So for the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a few homemade liqueur recipes that can be used for entertaining or for gift giving, along with printable tags and cocktail serving suggestions.
First up – we’re making our homemade version of Kahlua. Kahlua is a coffee liqueur that’s a favorite to serve in drinks using milk or cream. The recipe is a simple base of sugar, water, and instant coffee heated together. You then let that base mixture cool and finish off by adding vodka and vanilla. If possible, it’s best to let the mixture set for a couple weeks to let the flavors mingle.
I’ve been happy using an inexpensive brand of vodka in this recipe but of course you are free to splurge on a pricier brand if you’d like.
Once your mixture is finished, you can transfer the mixture to a bottle or to a jar for storage. I did both! I was so happy to find one of those cute glass swing top bottles on one of my thrift store shopping trips and it worked great for storing my Kahlua. (You can find glass swing top bottles on Amazon too). But I still had a little more than would fit in my bottle so I put the remainder in a glass canning jar.
For optimum flavor, store the mixture in a cool dark place for a couple weeks before using to let the flavors meld.
I’ve also gotthree easy recipes for cocktails to make with Kahlua so you (or the person receiving the gift) can put the Kahlua to good use, as well as a printable tag that includes the recipes.
But sometimes I find myself not even needing a cocktail recipe. A little splash of Kahlua with a little splash of milk is a super simple and tasty way to enjoy your homemade Kahlua too!
More DIY Liqueurs to try:
- 2 cups Water
- 1-1/2 cups Sugar
- 2 Tbl Instant Coffee
- 2 cups Vodka
- 1 Tbl Vanilla Extract
- Combine the water, sugar, and instant coffee in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a high simmer, but do not bring it all the way to a boil. Reduce the heat a bit and let the mixture keep simmering, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. This helps deepen the flavor of the sugar and the coffee.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool completely. Once the mixture has cooled, mix in the vodka and the vanilla extract. (If you add the vodka while the mixture is hot, the heat can cause too much of the alcohol to evaporate away). Your final product will be a very rich and dark liquid.
- Transfer the mixture to a glass bottle or other container with a tight fitting lid for storage. If possible, let the mixture set for a few weeks to let the flavors meld together.
Thank you for this!! I make the Kahlua using a vanilla bean which is very expensive. Also I love the idea of the decorative bottle and recipe card. Makes a terrific gift
How long will this keep?
Do you use espresso instant coffee or just any brand of instant coffee? Does this matter? I am going to make these as gifts for this Christmas. When is a good time to start this process?
I just use any brand of instant coffee which still works fine to add the coffee flavor you need in this recipe. If you are giving these for gifts, you might want to start the process about two weeks ahead of time so that the flavors can meld together.
What size are the bottles shown?
The swing-top bottle shown is a 16 oz size, but you can fit almost 20 ounces in the bottle if you fill it up all the way to the top.
No need to refrigerate?
You can refrigerate if you wish, but this mixture should also keep OK in the cupboard with no refrigeration.
My friend has made kahula for years very similar to this. She uses bourbon which adds a different spin! I showed her your recipe and she agreed its what she does but suggests not putting coffee in right away because it turns batch bitter. She also uses equal parts water and sugar. Thoughts?
I suppose there could be potential for the coffee in the mixture to turn bitter if you simmered the batch for a long time. Because I only do the first step of simmering for about an hour, I haven’t experienced any bitterness to a batch. As far as the sugar and water, it’s probably a matter of preference on how sweet the final product is. I find that my measurements were a flavor profile that I enjoyed – enough sweetness to balance the power of the alcohol, without being overly sweet.
Can these be made now? (October) and saved til Christmas for gifts?
Yes, you could make these a several weeks in advance. During those weeks the flavors will continue to meld together and the flavor will get even better!
I make this every year with peppermint vodka and the crew at work loves it. They ask me when this year’s batch will be there.
That sounds like a yummy version – no wonder the gang at work looks forward to it!
Can you use brewed coffee instead of instant? If so, how much?
You could probably substitute brewed coffee – I would suggest trying about 1/4 cup and brew it quite dark and strong.
I love Kahlua poured over vanilla ice cream. Yummmm.
Thank you for this recipe! Very delicious indeed. I once made many years ago in Hawaii. Better than store brand 💕
Lost recipe but tried many. Yours is the closest so far. I did substitute Vodka with Brandy. Used 1/2 instant coffee and 1/2 instant espresso. Rich and yummy with a kick!
Thank you again. Happy holiday season to you and family.
Thank you very much! Made some mods to the recipe and it’s delicious. Replaced the vodka with white rum. Also, instead of water and instant coffee, used 2 cups off fresh brewed coffee. Excellent flavor!
Hej 😊 kan vanilje ekstrakt erstattes af vaniliestang
Nei, du trenger vaniljeekstrakt.
At last Ive found an actual recipe………the first Ive been able to write up with my arthritic writing hand but I had been looking for along time. want to try and make as gifts (I personally do not drink alc.ohol) So thanks
I Luv KahluA
Seems simple enough. I will give it a try.
I wonder, instead of using the 2 cups of water and instant coffee if you could just use 2 cups of cold brewed or regular brewed coffee…
I have always made Kahlua with Vodka but also heard recently about the rum. I’ve been making it with rum now for a couple of months and I must say, it tastes more like the store bought Kahlua. Will make it only with rum from now on.
For years everyone has said to use vodka when making homemade Kahlua, but the company has come out and said it is rum that is the alcohol used in making it. Have you heard this?
I have not heard this, but I suppose you could make that substitution and see how it turns out!
great ideas and recipes
Looks amazing! Where can I get those recipe tags?!
There’s a link in the post above for the tags 🙂
Can you substitute prebrewed coffee instead of water and instant?
I have not tried that, but it would probably work. I’m not sure however if the brewed coffee would get stronger during the hour it simmers as compared to just having some instant coffee in the mixture.
How much does this recipe yeikd?
It makes about 1 quart (32 oz)
What is the vodka brand you specifically use for this recipe?
I’m sorry I don’t remember the exact brand, but I know it was one of lowest priced ones at the store.
Could the sugar be substituted with swerve?
I haven’t ever tried substituting another sweetener (such as Swerve) but I think it would work. As long as it will dissolve completely, I think it should be OK.
Did you make this with Swerve? My sister follows Keto. I will make this for her if Swerve worked.
Oh my, this looks amazing! By the looks of the reviews on Pinterest it also taste amazing. Too bad I didn’t see it early enough for the eggnog mudslide I want to make. Pinning for later use. Thanks for sharing!
Like the sound of this.
When you simmer your sugared coffee water mix, how much are you aiming to be left with after an hours simmering
hi, I was wondering how long this can sit in the jar? will it eventually begin to spoil or become too strong?
Your homemade kahlua should stay fine for several months. I always use mine up in a few months and it always stayed good during that time.
I have always used mine up within a couple months and it has always stayed good during that time with no flavor change or spoilage.
Does this need to be refrigerated or just in the liquor cabinet?
I just keep mine in the liquor cabinet.
Hi, I made a batch 4-5 years ago. just a month ago I found a bottle of it , that I had forgot about, it was so good and tasty so I just made more. love it with fresh cows milk White Russian it might be called.
I love making homemade kahlua ! For even more depth of flavor, I use 2 split vanilla beans instead of extract. 1/4 cup instant espresso and 1 tsp dark cocoa added to the sugar syrup and brought to a boil. And 2/3 cup brandy with the vodka. Amazing flavor !
Those sound like delicious additions to the recipe Emmajune!
I’m excited to try making this, and now I’m wondering if you’ll be coming up with Irish or Canterbury Cream? I’m already trying to figure out how it might be done based on how you made this Kahlua, but if you already have instructions, then that would be a lot better for me. 🙂
Yes, a copycat Bailey’s Irish Cream is the next recipe that’s coming up!
THANK YOU!! Looking forward to it as calmly as I can manage… ^_^
Kailua is my favorite spirit. The sugar in it is what I am trying to avoid. If a sweetner is necessary are there any healthier choices that can be used or can you make it without?
I tried to do a little research on this and some say Splenda can be substituted in a “simple syrup” while others say No Way! It might be worth experimenting and see if you like the results. I would think a Splenda/water combo would not need to be simmered for an hour because Splenda dissolves so much more quickly.
Correction Joyce, Kahlua is not Spirit, it’s liqueur.