Kahlua – A Simple Homemade Recipe

by Suzan Ferreira
Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe image showing a cocktail glass of kahlua and cream with background christmas tree

Making your own Kahlua or Coffee Liqueur with a few simple ingredients including vanilla extract or vanilla beans & given the time to age results in a smooth rich Kahlua that will rival any store-bought brand for pennies on the dollar.

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Kahlua or coffee liqueur may be one of the easiest adult beverages to make homemade, and one that has been made & enjoyed here at IMSL for many years. Whether making it to be savored straight as a sipping liqueur, added to mixed cocktails, or bottled in a decorative container & given as gifts (one of our favorites to give), this Kahlua coffee liqueur recipe will be one you will want in your recipe box.


Anyone who enjoys adult beverages has tried or at the very minimum heard of Kahlua. An adult beverage with roots steeped in Mexican history, Kahlua is a coffee liqueur made in Mexico & a staple in any well-stocked bar. It’s creamy, rich sweet coffee flavor continues to be enjoyed world-wide, and even hails its own celebratory day on February 27th…National Kahlua Day! Who knew?

Originally made with a combination of coffee, rum, corn syrup, and vanilla, a typical bottle can take up to 7 years to make, largely due to the length of time it takes to grow the coffee beans themselves. This is especially true of Kahlua Especial, a less sweet version than the original with a far stronger coffee flavor from utilizing 100% Arabica coffee beans. In addition, Kahlua Especial contains 36% alcohol as opposed to the original Kahlua which contains only 20%.


Kahlua, is a word with Arabic ties & is said to be slang for “coffee”, found its start in 1936 in Veracruz Mexico & was imported to the USA in 1940. Interestingly, what brought Kahlua to the media’s attention in the 1960’s was not so much the beverage itself, but the fact that there was an all women’s leadership within the company!

Kahlua’s continued to gain popularity from the 1970’s to present day. It continues to be enjoyed not only in many cocktail recipes but in culinary recipes as well. To this day, Kahlua remains the #1 coffee liqueur worldwide.


Our homemade Kahlua recipe, although not steeped in as much history as the original, is somewhat varied by using vodka in lieu of rum. It happily boasts a rich, slightly sweet coffee flavor, & can easily be adjusted to use traditional rum instead if preferred.


For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients. No need to write it down, a printable recipe card will be provided at the end of this post. This recipe card will make 1 batch of homemade Kahlua. **NOTE: I make a double batch of this recipe as quite frankly, it doesn’t last the winter here on the hill 🙂 . Directions will be listed assuming a double batch is being made.

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Instant Coffee
  • Vanilla Extract (or vanilla beans)
  • Glycerin
  • Vodka

Begin by mixing in a medium size pan, 2 vanilla beans if using instead of vanilla extract (sliced open, seeds scraped from pods and add both seeds and pods) 4 cups of sugar with 4 cups of water. The preferred vanilla is from extract here on the hill for this recipe. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat & simmer 2-3 minutes.

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe sugar & water to boil

Dissolve 12 Tbl instant coffee in 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe dissolving instant coffee in boiling water

Add the dissolved instant coffee to the pan with sugar/water mixture & cool to room temperature.

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe adding instant coffee to sugar & water

Add 4 Tbl of vanilla extract (our preferred ingredient) if not using vanilla beans & 4 Tbl Glycerin to the cooled sugar/coffee mixture. Stir all the ingredients until combined well.

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe adding vanilla extract and glycerin to mixture

Add 1.75 ml vodka (double batch here) to the mix and combine well.

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe add vodka to mixture

Bottle and store in a dark cupboard for a minimum of 3-4 weeks. Save your 1.75 ml bottles for this purpose. The end product will be equal to approximately double the amount of vodka used. We may have made this a few times before 🙂 .

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe bottling end product

We prefer to let this age upwards of six months. The longer it ages, the richer & smoother the end product. Of course, if you feel the urge, taste tests along the way are always allowed 🙂 .


There are many ways to enjoy Kahlua. Cocktails are always a hit and here are a few of our favorites.

  • On The Rocks with just a splash of half & half or even for the daring a bit of heavy cream
  • Sombrero made with milk or cream with an added shot of Kahlua
  • Black Russian made with 5 parts vodka and 2 parts Kahlua or coffee liqueur
  • White Russian 2 oz vodka, 1 oz Kahlua, 1/2 oz whole milk or cream
  • B52 1/2 oz each of Kahlua, Baileys Irish Cream, & Grand Marnier orange liqueur in that order…yummy!
  • Expresso Martini combine 1 oz brewed expresso, 1.5 oz vodka, 1.5 oz Kahlua, 1 oz white creme de cocao in shaker with ice

These are just a few of the delicious ways to enjoy Kahlua the adult way 🙂 . Kahlua, however, is versatile in that it can be added to a few culinary dishes as well. Here are a few recipes shared.

Making your own Kahlua or coffee liqueur is simple & quick. Whether you make it to enjoy yourselves or give as gifts, it’s sure to be a hit. The challenge is not using it up until Father Time has done his magic 🙂 .

Do you make your own Kahlua already, or just enjoy it? Love for you to share your preferred way of making or using yours! As always, be sure to subscribe to stay up with the latest happenings here on the hill!

Love, Light, & Laughter ~

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe image showing a cocktail glass of kahlua and cream with background christmas tree

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe

Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 2 voted )


  • 1/5 Vodka
  • 2 C Sugar
  • 2 C Water
  • 6 Tbl Instant Coffee
  • 1/4 Boiling Water
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tsp Glycerin


  1. Mix together sugar & water in a medium size pan
  2. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat & simmer for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add to this 6 Tbl of instant coffee that has been dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water and mix together well.
  4. Cool to room temperature
  5. Add 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract and 2 Tsp Glycerin, mix well
  6. Bottle and store in cupboard for a minimum 3-4 weeks


Allowing the Kahlua to age upwards of 6 months or longer encourages a rich, smooth, and less bitter coffee flavor.

Kahlua - A Simple Homemade Recipe

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Jane August 12, 2019 - 6:46 pm

Pardon my ignorance, I didn’t know that Kahlua started in Mexico. I always thought Hawaii…gah afterall this time! 🙂 Thanks for the great info. I’m a fan of martini so this would come in handy.

Suzan Ferreira August 12, 2019 - 7:16 pm

Yup, Mexico. Hope you give it a try!

T.M. Brown August 12, 2019 - 3:19 pm

Good to know – keeping this recipe in mind as the holidays approach.

Suzan Ferreira August 12, 2019 - 5:14 pm

Awesome, Tina! Thank you for stopping by to read.

Marilyn Lesniak August 10, 2019 - 11:58 pm

Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared.

Suzan Ferreira August 12, 2019 - 11:29 am

Thank you, Marilyn!

Laura Lee August 7, 2019 - 6:48 pm

OMGosh! This would make an awesome Christmas present! If it lasts that long. HAHA!

Suzan Ferreira August 8, 2019 - 11:32 am

Think double batch 🙂 Enjoy!

Stacey Kyle August 7, 2019 - 12:13 am

Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Heather August 6, 2019 - 7:06 pm

I have already shared this with a couple of my friends and my personal FB page. It sounds amazing. I like the different recipes you listed. All of them sound amazing.

Suzan Ferreira August 7, 2019 - 10:30 am

Thank you for sharing, Heather! Hope you enjoy it.

Cindy August 6, 2019 - 7:06 pm

My mom loves kahlua! I’ll ask her if she’s ever made her own. If not I’ll share this with her!

Suzan Ferreira August 7, 2019 - 10:31 am

Hope she enjoys it Cindy!

Haley Kelley August 6, 2019 - 12:38 pm

Oh my gosh, definitely trying this ASAP!

Suzan Ferreira August 7, 2019 - 10:34 am

Let us know how you like it!

Maria Gustafsson August 6, 2019 - 4:00 am

I have got to make one of these recipes soon!

Suzan Ferreira August 6, 2019 - 12:02 pm

Hope you do, Maria! Let us know how you like it!

Kendra August 6, 2019 - 3:17 am

Oooh! Yummy! I’ll have to plan ahead and make some for the holidays!

Suzan Ferreira August 6, 2019 - 12:02 pm

You will not be sorry 🙂

Tiffany August 6, 2019 - 2:05 am

This looks like an amazing challenge! Yum!

Suzan Ferreira August 6, 2019 - 12:03 pm

No challenge really…simple to make and so worth it!

Christina Furnival Real Life Mama August 6, 2019 - 7:01 pm

How cool is that?!! Mmm!

Candy K August 5, 2019 - 11:15 pm

Thanks for sharing. We never thought of making our own and it doesn’t seem very hard.

Suzan Ferreira August 6, 2019 - 12:03 pm

Truly very easy Candy. Hope you give it a try!

Magan August 5, 2019 - 10:30 pm

I love this idea for gifts! We made wine for gifts once and everyone LOVED it. I can only imagine how well this would go over! Going to give it a try.

Suzan Ferreira August 6, 2019 - 12:04 pm

Wonderful, Magan. Be sure to come back and give it a rating and let us know how you like it!

Jennifer Morrison August 5, 2019 - 9:56 pm

i Have never thought of making homemade kahlua, but it sounds wonderful!!!!

Margaret August 5, 2019 - 7:50 pm

I am not much of a cook, but this is different. This definitely sounds like something I want to make! Looking forward to it.

Suzan Ferreira August 6, 2019 - 12:04 pm

You won’t be sorry for sure, Margaret! Hope you give it a whirl 🙂

Katherine Wolfe August 5, 2019 - 6:31 pm

Looks delish and like a great gift idea! What would happen if you made it without the alcohol, I wonder?

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 7:17 pm

Then it wouldn’t be a liqueur, but instead, a coffee-flavored cream.

Adrienne August 5, 2019 - 6:26 pm

I love Kahlua and didn’t know you could make it! Thanks for the recipe I’ll definitely have the try this.

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 7:18 pm

Come back and let us know how you enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by, Adrienne.

Cynthia August 5, 2019 - 5:40 pm

How interesting! I enjoyed reading the process of how this is made. Thanks for sharing!

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 5:57 pm

Thank you for stopping by Cindy!

Melissa Parcel August 5, 2019 - 4:20 pm

This does look pretty easy! What is the purpose of the glycerin?

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 4:34 pm

It is so easy! The glycerin will add a bit of viscosity to the end product. I am able to purchase wonderful vegetable glycerin from a local source that I trust and have always added it as per our families recipe. Hope you can give it a try!

April August 5, 2019 - 4:07 pm

They were giving infused beignets out with this inside at an event I just attended. I bet yours would be good for that as well.

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 4:34 pm

Ohhh, yum. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing this and stopping by, April!

Angela August 5, 2019 - 4:02 pm

oh my! white russians are one of my favorite holiday drinks – this looks great to make homemade!

Sian August 5, 2019 - 4:00 pm

Love these ideas. I like making gifts for people so I’ll be adding this to my list!

Karla Petersen August 5, 2019 - 3:49 pm

I put the ingredients on my shopping list and THIS will happen!!! Thanks!

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 4:35 pm

So glad to hear, Karla! Be sure to stop back and give the recipe a rating if you like!

Rachel DeMello August 5, 2019 - 2:18 pm

Waiting for our next party to give this a try! 🙂

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 4:36 pm

Be sure if it is your intent to enjoy this at your party to make ahead accordingly 🙂 Thanks for stopping by & reading Rachel!

Lisa Manderino August 5, 2019 - 2:14 pm

I enjoyed reading how this was made! It’s crazy it take 7 years to make! Great presentation!

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 4:37 pm

Thank you, Lisa. The seven years does include growing the coffee 🙂

Nikki August 5, 2019 - 1:08 pm

Wow – I would have never thought to make this myself. Over the holidays I make GALLONS of homemade Irish Cream and everyone loves it. We love Kahlua so this will most likely be added to make holiday making plans. I’m pinning it on my boards too – so I don’t forget about it. Thanks for the printable recipe card also!

Suzan Ferreira August 5, 2019 - 4:38 pm

Glad you enjoyed this, Nikki! Let us know how you like it by stopping back and giving the recipe a rating if you make it.

Joanne August 5, 2019 - 12:56 pm

Great Holiday Gift Idea! Looks Delicious!

Kippi August 1, 2019 - 11:58 am

Yum, I just pinned this recipe for my holiday gift giving. I am getting so excited about fall and holidays already.
Have a great weekend,’

Suzan Ferreira August 4, 2019 - 10:21 am

Hope you enjoy it Kippi! Thanks for reading 🙂

Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef July 31, 2019 - 7:49 pm

Awesome, thanks so much for this recipe really excited to make some for the holidays!!!

Suzan Ferreira July 31, 2019 - 8:09 pm

Hope you enjoy it, Angela! Please be sure to stop back & give it a rating if you can 🙂

Darlene July 31, 2019 - 5:50 pm

It looks like a wonderful recipe! Might be my new Christmas gifts to friends 😀

Suzan Ferreira July 31, 2019 - 8:10 pm

Hope you enjoy it!

Tamera Gleason July 31, 2019 - 11:28 am

Thank you! I will definitely be making this!!

Suzan Ferreira July 31, 2019 - 2:32 pm

Be sure to come back & give us your rating as to how you like it! Any questions, let me know. Thanks for stopping by Tamera!


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