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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?

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.


  • 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


  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%.


Ken on January 27, 2020:

Half vodka and half Brandy works great. I’ve made a lot of versions and that is my favorite.

Shobha i.c. on November 06, 2018:

Thank for sharing this recipe

Caroline on October 09, 2015:

I made mine with expresso coffee , sugar dark rum added mixed spice and zest of orange was really good .

katshells@gmail.com on October 26, 2013:

just whipped up a good batch and doubled everything,so it took a 1.75 L. of vodka,just a middle of the road priced store brand-so for about $20 i made this recipe fill 2 1/2 quart BIG jar-i happened to have an empty pickle one that was just right-it will be just right by christmas time

cat on September 08, 2013:

Would I dare use everclear instead of vodka.

Andrea on July 14, 2013:

I would love the recipe for Irish cream

wolfcub6969 on June 26, 2013:

WEll if you think or read what is in Kahlua it has rum in it so if you change the vodka with rum then you will have the exact same thing that is in kahlua

shin_rocka04 from Maryland on February 07, 2013:

Always great making your own liquors/liqueurs and even infusions when you really don't have the money or you can make your stuff a bit more authentic. Good hub. Sharing, Pinning, and voting up!

Lynn D on October 12, 2012:

Reading the comments, I thought I would add one or two myself. One person was saying it was the exact same recipe that was in some book and asking you to give credit. Considering people have been making some variation of this recipe for many years and a lot of people have come up with their own version of this without ever seeing it in a cookbook, I think that is hardly something to worry about.

I am thinking about trying to come up with a sugar free version using something like Torani or DaVinci sugar free vanilla syrup in place of the sugar and most of the water. I think mixing the instant coffee with just enough hot water to dissolve it, the syrup to get it up to the same proportions as the sugar water and then the alcohol might work.

Francoise McKay on July 27, 2012:

This very same recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens Treasurry of Christmas Crafts and Foods", p. 125 , Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, IA; ISBN 0-696-0025-3 It's almost verbatim with only the order of the ingredients having changed and your commentary . Attribution?

Jayme on July 27, 2012:

It's actually better to boil your water and sugar first and let it cool for 30 minutes and then add your coffee and vanilla (pure is best to enhance flavor) and boil again stirring occasionally. Let cool for another 30 minutes to one hour and then add your booze. Vodka is ok. We have a family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation and that is the order that we "process" the liqueur. I can't give secret ingredients but trust me it will turn out better! :)

dale on June 08, 2012:

wow people Iam 71 years old been making it sence i was 20 real vanilla been is best but they have gotten to expensive The main thin people let it set 30 days or more the older it is the better it tast No splens no fresh coffee make and enjoy.

pat from newport, wa on March 25, 2012:

Find a store that sells supplies for home brewing and they usually sell the bottle and corks or caps. There are places online that sell brewing supplies also. Am going to try the Kahlua recipe but need to find an affordable vanilla bean first. I heard that really helps with the kahlua recipe.

Judy on February 25, 2012:

Can't really tell you used instant coffee. If you don't like instant, try this: Add 1/2 cup instant coffee to an 8oz cup of brewed coffee. Need strong heavy flavored coffee because this stuff is strong.

Judy on February 25, 2012:

Tried making this with rum instead of vodka and it came out a little better. Quick and easy

Arizona Diggs on January 28, 2012:

Going to try this today.

White Russians yea....

Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on January 08, 2012:

this I am going to try! I have many recipes calling for Kahlua, but I cannot make them because they are too expensive. Now I can.

Ty on December 24, 2011:

what are you thinking. instant coffee? people use real coffee or espresso. and not vodka. use clear springs.

adriana on November 24, 2011:

can you use ground coffee instead of instant? I hate instant. Going to try it

jules33 on November 23, 2011:

can u use splenda instead of sugar?! thanks!

cynthia on November 11, 2011:

i saw bottles (decanters) at both cost plus world market and at sur la table.

Heather on November 09, 2011:

Where would be a good place to buy glass bottles for this?

Heather on November 09, 2011:

Where would be a good place to buy glass bottles for this?

yafit on November 06, 2011:

Is that 1/2 cup pure coffee or 1/2 cup coffee blend with the water?

Judy C. on October 23, 2011:

Wow, what recipe did all these comments make? Not thinking it was this one. OMG this was horrible. The coffee taste was so stronge and overwhelming. I am now making extra 2 cups of simple syrup with 2 tsp. vanilla and 2 cups of vanilla vodka, to mix into this recipe, hope it helps. Otherwise I am out 4 cups of vodka plus every other ingredients. Don't know what y'all made but I think that coffee should be cut into 1/3 this was way to coffee taste stronge. Horrible is all I can say, sure hope I can salvage it. Ewwwww!!! Ewwwww!!! Ewwwww!!!

jessica_alias on July 08, 2011:

Kahlua is the best coffee liquor ever. My favourite kahlua drink is b52. Have you ever tried it? ( http://kahluadrinks.com/recipe/b52 )

Although I also like cafe kahlua, kiss recipe but b52 is simply exotic. Try it once!

DustinnB on June 03, 2011:

This is great, I made it with Pinnacle whipped and man it's good. I will always have this on hand.

David on May 13, 2011:

Could you remove the water and instant coffee and just add the same amount of real, fresh-brewed coffee?

William Condie on May 08, 2011:

Could you remove the water and instant coffee and just add the same amount of real, fresh-brewed coffee?

John D Lee (author) on February 15, 2011:

Hi Gertrude:

I think you could use splenda - although i don't know how it would age? But the texture would be compromised, as it is the sugar in the mixture that gives kahlua its rather syrupy finish.

Gertrude on February 14, 2011:

This sounds awesome, could one use Splenda instead of sugar - this if for the diabetics out there:) Also, would you have a peach snapps recipe?

John D Lee (author) on October 25, 2010:

I use a full bottle of vodka and I end up with about 2 full bottles of kahlua

question on October 20, 2010:

How many bottles did you use for the made kahlua approx?

John D Lee (author) on July 26, 2010:

Thanks everyone for the comments and compliments - Kayce, using brandy and real vanilla sounds like a great variation!

Mr. Shadow on July 20, 2010:

Just made this this afternoon.

So delicious and couldn't have been simpler.

Thank you tons for this.

Kayce on July 18, 2010:

Using brandy and a real vanilla bean, make this much tastier.

globalcoffeegrind on January 25, 2010:

That's a great recipe! Funny that it never occurred to me before to simply make coffee liqueur at home. Thanks for breaking it down.

John D Lee (author) on January 16, 2010:

Vi Brock, you are very welcome, and I know I was excited too when I first made this and found how closely it tasted like real Kahlua!

Vi Brock on January 16, 2010:

First time i ever made liquor. This tastes like the real thing. Thanks so much for sharing.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on October 20, 2008:

I have never made coffee liquor. I have made most everything else, down to peppermint schnapps. This will be a great project for the party season soon to be coming up. Thanks for sharing.

regards Zsuzsy

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 18, 2008:

Brings back memories for me, too. I haven't made this in years, and have no idea what happened to my recipe. Thanks for publishing, and for the storage tips, too!

Katherine Baldwin from South Carolina on October 17, 2008:

Hi John, boy, this brings back memories. I haven't made this since the '70's, but I just thought about it the other day, lol. I'm trying to get back to making everything from scratch like bread, potato chips, mayonnaise (loved your hub on making mayonnaise). With potato chips at almost $4.00 per bag, which is only half full to begin with, I have decided to take a stand and fight! I'll have to look around for some glass bottles to sterilize and make a batch of this. I think I also had a recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream, but haven't looked for it yet. If you've got one, maybe you could do a hub on that also.


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