You can make coffee liqueur, a sweet coffee-flavored beverage, at home. Homemade Kahlua is perfect for cocktails, to give a special gift, or as a drink to savor. It is easy to make with a few simple ingredients.
You may wonder if homemade Kahlua tastes as good as store-bought. The answer is yes! In fact, you might even think it tastes better.
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What Is Kahlua?
Any bar will have one or more bottles of Kahlua. It’s one of the ingredients in the popular White Russian Cocktail. Because of this, you might think that Kahlua originated in Russia.
You also might believe that Kahlua is made in the Middle East because the name Kahlua comes from the word kahwa, an Arabic slang word for coffee.
But no – this coffee-flavored liqueur is Mexican. Kahlua is a wonderful mix of coffee, rum, sugar, and vanilla beans.
How Is Traditional Kahlua Made?
In preparation for making Kahlua, arabica coffee beans are dried, de-husked, and allowed to age for about six months before they are roasted, ground up, and brewed.
The sugar cane used in Kahlua is harvested, crushed, juiced, and then reduced to form molasses. Yeast and water are added to ferment the mixture and produce the alcohol content.
The cane spirit is combined with coffee, vanilla, and caramel and allowed to rest for eight weeks before being filtered, bottled, and sent out into the world of delighted drinkers.
Kahlua is consumed at a rate of two million cases a year in 150 countries around the world.
What Makes Homemade Kahlua So Good?
Making authentic Kahlua is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and why Kahlua is expensive to buy. Here’s the good news – you can make homemade Kahlua with instant coffee without breaking the bank!
This homemade Kahlua recipe is just perfect for an after-dinner tipple. You can savor it with your family.
You can also use it to make wonderful gifts, especially for Christmas. Just pour it into bottles and dress it up with pretty ribbons.
You will enjoy this liqueur from Mexico even more when you make it yourself from scratch.
Homemade Kahlua Coffee Liqueur Ingredients
The combination of coffee, rum, sugar, and vanilla makes this drink absolutely irresistible. Its deep, rich, savory flavor is balanced with the right amount of sweetness. Here are the ingredients you need for this easy recipe:
- Instant Coffee
- Vanilla Extract
What Liquor Can Be Used to Make Kahlua?
- Traditionally, rum is used. You can go with either dark rum or white rum. Dark rum provides more warmth.
- Vodka also makes a nice Kahlua. Go with vodka if you want a more neutral taste and a Kahlua that doesn’t have a strong aroma.
- There’s also Everclear, a distilled grain alcohol spirit – powerful stuff that’s often used to create liqueurs. It should not be used as is in cocktails.
- Brandy is also an option.
How to Make Homemade Kahlua with Instant Coffee
Making this homemade Kahlua recipe couldn’t be simpler:
- Combine hot water, sugar, instant coffee crystals, and vanilla in a saucepan.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Allow the sugar mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Add the rum and stir to combine.
Recipe Variation – Homemade Kahlua with Brewed Coffee
Instead of making homemade Kahlua with instant coffee, you can choose to use brewed coffee. Freshly brewed espresso or really strong brewed coffee will give your Kahlua extra richness. Concentrated cold brew coffee will also work.
Simply substitute the water and instant coffee granules with the same amount of strong brewed hot coffee.
What Drinks Can You Make with Kahlua?
The coffee tones of Kahlua make it the perfect cordial for creating a variety of cocktails. Many drinks feature Kahlua. Here are just a few delicious recipes:
- B52 Shot – Layer Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Grand Marnier in a shot glass. Find out more about this tasty B52 cocktail.
- Black Russian – Fill a glass with ice. Add one part Kahlua and two parts vodka. Mix and garnish with a cherry on top. Find out more about the Black Russian cocktail.
- Kahlua and Cream – Simply fill a glass with ice. Add 1.5 ounces of Kahlua, and 4 ounces of half and half.
- Mind Eraser – Fill a glass with ice to the brim. Add Kahlua and vodka then top off with club soda. Don’t stir, this is a drink that should have layers.
- Mudslide Drink – Pour Kahlua, Bailey’s, Vodka, and milk into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a glass. Get the Mudslide Cocktail recipe.
- White Russian – Fill a glass with ice. Pour in 2 ounces of vodka and 1 ounce of Kahlua. Add a splash of heavy cream. Find out more about the White Russian Drink.
Some More Ways to Use Homemade Kahlua
Consider making a dessert by pouring some Kahlua over vanilla ice cream – it’s like coffee candy!
Kahlua can also be used in baking. When getting ready to bake, ask yourself if your concoction would be enhanced by some Kahlua. Here are three Kahlua baking recipes:
Check out even more Kahlua dessert ideas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most commonly asked questions about homemade coffee liqueur:
Homemade Kahlua will last for about 3 years and actually improves with age. The longer it ages, the more deliciously syrupy it gets.
Homemade Kahlua will decline in quality over time. Although it may not spoil with growing mold or becoming rancid, it should be consumed or used within 3 years of being made.
It is not necessary to refrigerate homemade Kahlua. Store coffee liqueur in a tightly sealed container or jar in a cool dark place and away from direct sunlight or exposure to heat.
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Popular non-alcoholic drinks
Use Kahlua in baking this Sara Lee Brownie Recipe.
Find more recipes for drinks and tasty dessert recipes.
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring (not extract)
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 1/4 cups rum
- Combine the coffee, sugar, vanilla, and water, and stir until the sugar is dissolved completely.
- Set aside to cool (otherwise, you will evaporate the alcohol).
- Mix in the rum.
- Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark, dry place and away from direct sunlight or exposure to heat.
Oh yes! I have made Homemade Kahlua. My parents love it. I also would wrap them up and give them as a gift. Friends and family would rave about it.
I used to make Homemade Kahlua. It was great for giving as a gift, because it came from your heart. I think giving gifts that were hand made are way more special. But a good drink homemade and shared with friends and family, is just so special. It’s really hard to even find the words to express the feelings of giving something homemade. Unbelievably just the BEST EVER! Totally awesome. And the longer it sits, Unbelievably Great Taste. I would start at least 6 months if not longer before the Holidays. And it really goes fast. It seemed like I could not even keep my stock up. Now of course I love Kahlua too. The reason I left a comment is because I saw a add about Homemade Kahlua, brought back wonderful memories. Oh and I am going to start making my Homemade Kahlua again. Thank you so much for just popping up on my phone. I will be stocked up for the Holidays in 2023.
What do you think of doing half vodka and half rum? It works for Long Island Iced Tea.
I modified the recipe by exchanging 2 cups sugar into 1 cup dark brown sugar and 1 cup brown sugar. I always double vanilla (from advice from my childhood neighbor, a home economics teacher.) I also added an extra teaspoon of coffee. The changes made a big difference. Although it isn’t exactly Kahlua, it is affordable and very easy to make. I LOVE Kahlua but at $16.99 per bottle, I can not afford to drink it as much as I want. This recipe can be made in a short time. It is WAY cheaper than buying the brand name. I have not tried to “age” the mixture. Another recipe calls for adding a vanilla bean and setting the mixture in a cool dark place and letting it age for 5 weeks. I have this alternative recipe brewing in my closet.
White Russians are not from Russia either. There is a Black Russian and a White Russian that came after. Both drinks are only have the name “Russian” because they’re made using Vodka. The closest origin to both drinks is tied to a Belgian bartender, his sister being responsible for the White Russian.
I was pretty skeptical about this recipe, but I did a blind taste test, and this recipe came up great. No one was the wiser when I served this.
Kahlua is rum based…? why vodka or brandy?
Vodka is very neutral.
Sounds like not enough coffee flavor. Here’s my version that I have had and used for 40 years.
2 cups boiling water
3 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup “Yuban” instant coffee or any really dark instant coffee
2 cups brandy
1 vanilla bean, divided
Dissolve sugar & coffee in water. Let stand 5 min. then stir in brandy. Using cheese cloth, strain into sterile bottles. Break vanilla bean in half for each bottle. 3 months-fair, 6 months-good, 12 months-excellent. The longer it ages, it gets thicker and more syrupy. I have some that is over 5 years old. Like coffee candy over ice cream.