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How to Make Homemade Kahlua: An Easy Coffee Liqueur Recipe

John writes these articles to try to pass on any great recipes and tips that he's picked up during my culinary journeys.

This homemade Kahlua-like coffee liqueur is perfect for making Mexican coffees.

This homemade Kahlua-like coffee liqueur is perfect for making Mexican coffees.

In much of the world, Kahlua is sold as a very premium liqueur. Were I to walk to my local wine and liquor store for a bottle of Kahlua, I'd pay almost $40! Which, although I do like an occasional Mexican coffee, is a steep price.

Fortunately, a friend recently showed me the trick to making my own very Kahlua-like coffee liqueur, and it can be made for a fraction of the cost of the original—I figure it costs me about $6 a bottle.

It is very easy to do and only takes about 10 minutes of active work and the patience to wait a few weeks to let the flavors meld. Once made, your coffee liqueur will keep safely on the shelf for at least six months—and probably for much longer.

As with anything, the quality of the ingredients does impact on the eventual taste, but the recipe as follows is for a pretty quick, easy, and affordable concoction. After all, if you're going to spend a fortune on ingredients, why not just buy the original in the first place?

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These are the only ingredients you need to make your own homemade Kahlua.

These are the only ingredients you need to make your own homemade Kahlua.

Homemade Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua-ish) Recipe

This won’t be an exact replica of the original, but it will be pretty close.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of instant coffee (caffeinated)
  • 1 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract (imitation is fine)
  • 750 ml (26 oz . . . a "fifth") bottle of generic vodka

Instructions

  1. Mix the coffee, the sugar, the water, and the vanilla together in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let it all simmer together for about 10 minutes before removing from the heat.
  2. You want to have about 3 cups of coffee "syrup" at this point. Measure, and if you’re short, add a bit of water in to top it off.
  3. Mix in the entire bottle of vodka (40% alcohol).
  4. Store in clean bottles. (Old wine bottles or water bottles will work just fine—just make sure to sterilize them by rinsing them out in boiling water first.)

The liqueur is drinkable immediately, but will get far better after about a month of aging. Serve as a substitute for Kahlua in cocktails such as mudslides, Mexican coffees, or Monte Cristo coffees. Or you can just enjoy it straight up over ice cubes.

This does not need to be refrigerated and will keep for many months at room temperature. The alcohol content of the coffee liqueur is approximately 20%.

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