How to Make Kahlua Coffee Liqueur

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This easy Kahlua recipe needs just a few ingredients, including coffee, vanilla, and spirits. It takes about fifteen minutes to make and creates about three standard wine bottles by volume. Enjoy homemade Kahlua at home, or pour it into small bottles for homemade gifts.

How to make Kahlua – everyone’s favorite Coffee Liqueur. For this recipe you'll need just a few ingredients including coffee, vanilla, and vodka #lovelygreens #liqueurrecipe #diychristmas

There’s something so cozy about curling up in the winter with a sweet tipple. Baileys, Tia Maria, and Kahlua are big favorites, but there is even more to sip and enjoy. Despite the hefty price tag per bottle in the shop, liqueurs like Kahlua are easy and inexpensive to make at home. This homemade Kahlua recipe costs just a third of the price of a branded bottle and tastes like the original recipe.

Kahlúa is a branded coffee-rum liqueur famous in the US and other places. You can have it served simply over ice (or vanilla ice cream) or mixed into cocktails; Black Russian, White Russian, Espresso Martini, and Mudslide drinks all have Kahlua as an ingredient. It’s a simple but incredibly delicious coffee-flavored liqueur that’s sweet and full-flavored, and most people like it. And instead of buying a bottle, why not make a batch yourself? You may already have everything to make Kahlua in your kitchen cupboards.

Easy Kahlua Recipe

The homemade Kahlua recipe below will take you step-by-step through how to make homemade coffee liqueur from scratch. It’s a simple process and very easy to make! First, you make a simple syrup using hot water and sugar. Then, you add instant coffee and vanilla and bottle it up. THAT’S IT. The only tricky part of making it is keeping your mitts off it while it’s infusing and the flavors meld together. Yes, you could drink it right away, but if you wait at least a couple of weeks, it tastes even nicer.

This homemade Kahlua recipe needs just a few ingredients including coffee, vanilla, and spirits. It takes about 15 minutes to make and creates about three standard wine bottles by volume. Enjoy your homemade coffee liqueur at home or pour it into small bottles for homemade gifts #kahluarecipe #drinkrecipe #coffeerecipe

How to Make Kahlua

If you choose to, you can also vary the ingredients slightly, customizing it to suit your own taste. You can make it more or less sweet, alcoholic, or more coffee. The original Kahlua recipe is a coffee-flavored liquor from Mexico with a 26.5% alcohol content. The current branded Kahlua has 20% alcohol. The recipe below will make homemade Kahlua with about 17% alcohol.

I use vodka to make this recipe, but for a more authentic homemade Kahlua, use rum. If you use stronger grain alcohol, like Everclear, you can make it much more alcoholic! Enjoy the recipe below and consider making some to give as gifts for coffee lovers. You could bottle it up in pretty bottles, tie it with ribbons, and make some friends and family very happy. Another thing that you can do is replace the water ingredient in any chocolate cake recipe with homemade Kahlua. My grandma used to do that, and it made an incredible chocolate coffee cake that is out of this world!

More Homemade Liqueur Recipes

How to make Kahlua – Everyone’s Favourite Coffee Liqueur

Homemade Kahlua Coffee Liqueur

Lovely Greens
This recipe will make about three 750 ml (25 fl. oz) bottles of Kahlua. That's the standard size that most bottles of alcohol and wine come in. Once prepared, Kahula can be served on its own or used to make White Russians and other mixed drinks. Homemade Kahlua has a recommended shelf life of up to one year.
4.80 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Infusing time 14 days
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 25 per bottle
Calories 90 kcal


  • 4 cups water, scalding hot* (950 g)
  • 2 cups brown sugar (400 g)
  • 2 cups white sugar (400 g)
  • 1/2 cup instant coffee granules* (50 g – your choice of regular or decaf)
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 3 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 4 cups white rum or vodka* (889 g / use rum for a more authentic Kahlua)
  • Clean bottles (Your choice of type, and you can use recycled wine bottles, small bottles for gifts, or even mason jars.)


  • Bring the water to a simmer in a saucepan on the stovetop. Turn the heat off. Alternatively, boil water in an electric kettle for this step.
  • Place both sugars into a heat-proof bowl and pour the now scalding water over it. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, then add the instant coffee. Stir again until dissolved then cool to room temperature.
    How to make Kahlua – Everyone’s Favourite Coffee Liqueur
  • Once the coffee mixture has cooled, slice your vanilla pod along the side. Scrape the gooey insides out with a knife and stir it into the liquid. Alternatively, you can use vanilla extract.
    Vanilla beans combined with coffee and sugar are what flavors homemade Kahlua
  • Pour the vodka into the mix and stir gently. Then, using a funnel, pour the coffee liqueur into the bottles and seal them. If any vanilla remains at the bottom of the bowl, spoon it out and into the bottles.
    How to make Kahlua – Everyone’s Favourite Coffee Liqueur
  • Stand your bottles of homemade Kahlua upright in a cool dark place, out of direct sunlight, and wait about two to three weeks before drinking it. This gives the flavors, especially the vanilla, time to infuse. If you absolutely can't wait that long, it's fine to drink any time after you make it.
  • You can serve homemade Kahlua on its own over ice, or mix it into a cocktail. Kahlua is the key ingredient in making White Russians, and to make your own, mix one shot of vodka with half a shot of homemade Kahlua and pour it into a glass. Top the drink with a drizzle of heavy cream, and then plop a few ice cubes on top. Cheers!
    How to make Kahlua – everyone’s favorite Coffee Liqueur. For this recipe you'll need just a few ingredients including coffee, vanilla, and vodka #lovelygreens #liqueurrecipe #diychristmas


*If you prefer, you can make homemade Kahlua with strong brewed coffee. To do this, omit the instant coffee granules from the recipe and replace the water with freshly brewed coffee. You can use any type of strong coffee but for an authentic Kahlua, use arabica coffee.
*Homemade Kahlua is relatively flexible with the type of liquor you use. Though this recipe includes white rum or vodka as the main alcohol, you can also use dark rum. 


Calories: 90kcal
Keyword coffee, liqueur
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating


  1. I had used the same recipe I was given Years ago and gifted it to friends for Xmas. I searched through the several others to locate what I somewhat recalled. I was happy to find it! I used half dark rum and half vodka. Real Mexican vanilla extract. We did a blind taste test with the real deal? Tell you what… This was much smoother !! Yummy!!! Won’t lose it again! Thanks so much!

  2. Michelle Ward says:

    If I choose to use Everclear for this recipe. How much Everclear do I put into the mixture? If the Everclear is 190 Proof. Thank you…

    1. Hi Michelle, I’d use half the amount called for if using Everclear and replace the other half with water. Otherwise, you’ll have one STRONG bottle of Kahlua!

  3. Elizabeth Pinfield-Wells says:

    5 stars
    Thanks Tanya!

  4. Kim Wilson says:

    5 stars
    I have made Kahlua before with another recipe, but this was absolutely the best one. Gave to friends for Christmas Presents and it was a huge hit. Thank you.

  5. Barbara Cottingham says:

    5 stars
    I gifted small bottles of this for Christmas. Delicious!

  6. Priscilla says:

    Can I make this with Everclear 120 proof?

    I made it with Vodka it was so yummy good 😊

    Thank you for the recipe!

  7. Excellent recipe. Read many before opting to go with this one. Followed exactly. Used instant espresso, and 750 ml dark rum; used vodka to make up the difference for full 4 c

  8. I don’t see where it shows a total amt made by 2x. Can you let me know, Please?

    1. Hi Jilli, if you go to the ingredients list, look in the top right corner. There’s a toggle to change the quantities to 2x or 3x the recipe.

  9. Kimmie Sue says:

    Excellent. Made for holiday gifts. Does it need to be refrigerated?

    1. Hi Kimmie and no, it does not need refrigerating. It lasts quite a long time at room temperature so feel free to pop the bottles under the tree :)

  10. 4 stars
    Delish. Just made it for the second time. This time I used more coffee, also let it boil down to a thicker syrup. Couldn’t wait and had some right away. Tasted even closer to Kahlua and so much less expensive.

  11. 4 stars
    This looks delish. And so easy. Store bought goes so quickly and is expensive. I saved this a while ago. My Kahlua bottle is almost empty so I decided to make it today. The water sugar mix is cooling on my counter at the moment.

  12. Gary Dezstefani says:

    5 stars
    Made this many times can’t tell the difference between this and store bought other than the savings.

  13. 5 stars
    Starbucks Liquor used to sell this and another brand i have on the shelf locally sold out in days. Good info thanks for posting. Long ago I did torrents and copied every pdf on any recipe I could.
    half n half
    vanilla vodka
    then the coffee liquor

  14. Charlotte says:

    Recipe printed! Will make half I think, bc I don’t have that many (large) empty bottles ;-)

    1. Time to crack open a few to make space? ;) hehe! Enjoy the recipe Charlotte

    2. Debie Risz says:

      5 stars
      I’ve been using this recipes for a min now.. probably have made it about 4 times and gets better each time… Made it with both Vodka & Rum. Both taste great but Rum is alil better… Thank you… I also am learning the Bailey’s and Tequila Rose….
      Thank you,
      Debie Risz
      Houston, Texas ?

      1. Annette Hensley says:

        Which rum works best?

  15. How long will this keep?

    1. About a year if all your ingredients are fresh. Check the best by dates on all your ingredients though — the closest date is your own products best by date.

  16. Patti Hamlin says:

    Made this toda. OMG is it ever wonderful! Got most in dark space for 2 weeks but just had to try it!

  17. Could you use Splenda instead of sugar in th this recipe?

    1. I tried Splenda and when I removed the lid, it exploded all over the ceiling and smelled horrific as if it for enter.

      1. There should be no fermenting going on in this recipe. Kahlua is a coffee infusion.

    2. Lynndene Way says:

      I used Monkfruit sugar replacement in my first batch. I am going to use eyrthritol in the next batch. It turned out really well!

  18. Diana Hunt says:

    I have m,ade the same for years, only with coffee beans. For this you need a larger bottle and about six weeks to get the real taste. Stored cool and dark, give the bottle a good shake every two days. Voila. Afterwards strain off and throw away zhe beans and put in a smaller bottle. A great present for the men. Here they drink it cooled as a shot. If you put more sugar in so that it is thicker it tastes wonderfull with vanilla ice-cream.

    1. lovelygreens says:

      A great present for the men?! A great present for anyone!

    2. It taste wonderful with any ice cream, I poured it over chocolate cherry yogurt with chips of chocolate and cherries. I also like to do shots, I pour Kahlúa into a shot glass and then top it off with vodka. The vodka should float on top. Then just shoot it, the Kahlúa is like a chaser. It’s called a black Russian shooter.

      I learned to do this back in the 80s. I quit making any until just recently.

  19. Susan Sparke says:

    Try using espresso. Amazing!

  20. Jacqueline Puleston says:

    could you please tell me if the 1/2 cup of instant coffee is just the granules or coffee made up with water. Thank you. J :)

  21. Sue Harrop says:

    How much vanilla extract should you use in place of a vanilla bean

    1. I’ve never tried making it without a vanilla bean but I will tell you this: you can make an entire bottle of homemade vanilla extract with just one vanilla pod.

    2. Lesley Standridge says:

      You buy a regular size bottle like from a Dollar General or Family Dollar Store, and it only costs a dollar, if you don’t want to do the Vanilla bean, however that is what I would do. Cause the fresh Vanilla bean is so much better and will be able to tell the difference in a hurry!

  22. Finally found the bean all across town, And just completed 2 bottles and one cup. Wine type bottles with rubber glass stopper. Used a Caribbean spiced rum since I was using it for white russians and my morning coffee I did not see the need for the vodka.. Now off to a dark cool room for three weeks. And onto the Baileys directions.. :) Why stop now! LOL

    1. Wondering how the Kahului turned out using spiced rum?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Made mine a few weeks ago, found some cool bottles in dollar store that are intended for olive oil! I think the Mexican variety is made with rum, I used a combination of vodka & brandy! I recommend giving it a shake every few days to keep it infused. Can hardley wait to try it. ( I did try a taste because all I made did not fit into the amount of bottles I bought and now know it is good to elet the vanilla infuse!)

  24. Making homemade Kahlua looks very tempting! Do you know if the original is made with vodka? I always liked Kahlua, but not other drinks with vodka. I'm wondering if it would taste about the same to substitute rum or whiskey in your recipe, or if those are too strong-tasting.

    1. You really can't taste the Vodka when the Kahlua is finished but you could try rum or whisky if you wanted. It might taste really strong (bad?!) though!

    2. Lesley Standridge says:

      Tanya is right about the Vodka you will not be able to taste it at all. But it is something you have to watch when you drink it, cause it will knock you on your butt, if not careful.

    3. I have made mine with whiskey and I prefer it, but I prefer whiskey over rum to start with. Wisers has a vanilla whiskey and it’s awesome in it!

      1. I have tried this recipe while stationed at Tyndall AFB, Florida. It was popular at the Yacht Club, in 1973. Thanks for preserving this recipe! Has anyone tried substituting espresso coffee (Mammi, Yauccono, Llave, just not Bustello, which is over roasted, so it lacks rich coffee flavor). If so, did you remove water from the base syrup mixture to account for the water in the espresso?

    4. 5 stars
      I’ve made it with regular vodka, vanilla vodka, rum- both white and dark, and ever clear. I’ve made it with instant coffee and fresh brewed coffee, vanilla extract and vanilla beans. As to the alcohol choice you really can’t tell much between except for strength and maybe some added caramel notes of the dark rum. Fresh brewed coffee with whole vanilla beans is my favorite. It takes the longest and if you have extra that you’re wanting to sip right away you can add extract. But whole beans and put away for at least a month but the longer the better. 6 months is amazing. The fun thing about keeping the beans whole is to can use them when you’re done. Just snip one end and squeeze the seeds out into a custard base or something. It’s like an infused bean paste and it’s delicious. I make mine in a large canister and then bottle after resting.

    5. The original recipe calls for rum. Four friends came up with the recipe in Veracruz, Mexico in the 1930s.Googled it.Lol

  25. Tanya, I happened to find your lovely blog and love it! Especially the Kahlua recipe. Do you happen to like Amaretto Di Sarrono? I have a recipe that is awesomely wonderful! I and spouse only drink the very expensive Amaretto but I too have the recipe that you are unable to tell the difference.

  26. not sure where I would find vanilla bean.. how much vanilla abstract would suffice in it's place?

    1. (but if) So far I have not found, > how much vanilla abstract would suffice in it's place?

  27. Anonymous says:

    I'm going to have to try this! Thanks :)

  28. Anonymous says:

    How long will this last?

    1. Not long…the bottle is usually empty within a week or so ;)

      I'd say about three months though it probably could last much longer. You'll actually find similar recipes claiming a year, two years, or indefinitely but without evidence I'd be conservative on shelf-life due to the water content and lack of preservatives.

      1. I made a huge batch and put it in old Kahlua bottles several years ago.
        Then got sick and had to stop drinking alcohol while I was in treatment.
        Now I can drink it again.
        I’m just finishing up the last of those bottles now after 5years since being made.
        I stored it in the pantry, not completely dark but I’d used the actual Kahlua bottles.

  29. If you can get Al Kool or 180 proof alcohol there will be a purer taste. Also I think some real coffee beans would be a nice touch.

  30. Tanya,

    I recently found your blog and totally enjoy reading it. Thank you
    for this recipe, the Kahlua will make a great Christmas gift.

    1. Sharon Manning says:

      I made some 3 years ago and just found several jars pushed back in a cabinet. Just wondering if they are still good. If so can this be opened and divided into smaller jars for gifting?

      1. I doubt that there would be any issue with microbes, but I’d recommend you keep it for yourself rather than gifting. Or at least be transparent when you do give it away as to its age.

  31. This is perhaps my favourite liquer of choice, but for a while I have had to walk by it at the supermarkets as the price has been outwith my present income. I so appreciate this recipe and cannot wait to try it – will do once I have settled into my new home in Wales. Thank you for sharing Tanya.

  32. I don't drink coffee in any form, Tanya, though I don't mind the coffee creams in a box of choccies, lol. Well you can't win us all, can you?

  33. Jo – Do you drink iced lattes? If so, you'll love this recipe. It's really not all that strong once you mix it half and half with milk.

    Mad Kiwi Bird – Sounds delicious! Freezing fruit does tend to break down its structure but if you're planning on using it for cooking or blending it actually doesn't matter – and anyway it enhances the flavour. I always freeze my bananas before using them in baking these days and I do the same for berries as well.

    Becky – Let me know how you get on :)

    Nelly – You're very welcome…enjoy :)

    Liquineer – This is very true about alcohol taxes/duty. And am VERY jealous about your experience of making 'Real' Baileys. Lucky you!

    Sunnybrook – You should try it! I'll bet it will work just fine.

    Elaine – To each their own ;)

    Green Lady – Whoo hoo! Am glad to help :) And it sounds like those church ladies know how to party! Haha

    Philippa – Am really glad to give you the idea and hope that John enjoys his homemade Kahlua :)

  34. One of John's favourite drinks has Kahlua in so will definately be trying this out. Never even thought of making it ourselves – thank you!

  35. Oh wow. My booze intake has risen since my son started Catholic school. all the fundraisers seem to involve it. Before Christmas we had a cocktail crawl, going from house to house, each one with a country theme. I made my chilli verde canapes for the Mexico house. Anyway, I couldn't remember the name of my favourite cocktail, it's the B52!!! I also got a bit of a taste for Irish coffee at the Church Christmas fair too. I think you have just made my day.

  36. I am afraid that coffee liqueur doesn't appeal in any way, shape or form. Sorry Tanya, you are on your own on this one. I can remember Christmasses past when my Aunt was always trying to press a Tia Maria on me – no-thank-you!

    1. Anonymous says:


  37. The Liquineer says:

    Of course the reason the shop bought drinks are so expensive is the Government tax placed on every bottle-the ingredients themselves are a small part of the cost.Just to make you all jealous, I have actually made Baileys in the Baileys factory! But I can't tell you the recipe!

  38. That's brilliant! We had far too many strawberries last year, arrive all at the same time, so we froze them. People told us that would spoil them…..joke's on them, we were making strawberry daquiri's for my birthday!

  39. Once again, home made costs so little compared to shop bought. That looks so easy to make too. I'm afraid that I don't care much for any alcohol other than wine, or perhaps a half of lager on a very hot day.