How to Make Homemade Kahlua (Recipe)

Making your own liqueurs can be so satisfying, and this recipe for homemade Kahlua is a great example. It’s easy to make, just as delicious as the store bought version, and ready for you to experiment and tweak!

In this post you’ll find out how to make this rich, velvety coffee liqueur, all from the comfort of your own kitchen, with pantry ingredients you probably already have. You’ll also get suggestions for adding special flavor ingredients to your Kahlua, how to serve it, and how to store it!

Bottle of homemade Kahlua liqueur next to a cup of coffee

What is Kahlua?

If you’re not so familiar with Kahlua, it’s a popular coffee liqueur that originated in Mexico. It is made from a combination of rum, coffee, vanilla, and sugar.

The result is a smooth and sweet concoction with a distinct coffee flavor. Kahlua can be enjoyed on its own over ice, used as a cocktail ingredient, or added to desserts, coffee or hot cocoa for an extra kick of flavor.

Two Methods

Note that the recipe calls for you to store the finished product for 1-2 weeks before drinking. That’s not strictly necessary. If you drink it as soon as you’ve finished making it, it’ll be delicious.

But if you give it the extra couple of weeks to let all the flavors meld together, it’ll taste even better. You may even like it better than the store bought version.

Serving Suggestions

Now that your homemade Kahlua is ready, here are a few ways you can enjoy it:

  • On the rocks: Serve chilled over ice for a simple and refreshing drink.
  • White Russian: Mix equal parts homemade Kahlua, vodka, and cream over ice for a classic cocktail.
  • Espresso Martini: Shake homemade Kahlua, vodka, and freshly brewed espresso with ice for a caffeinated twist.
  • Dessert topping: Drizzle homemade Kahlua over ice cream, cakes, or brownies for a delicious boozy treat.

Variations and Flavor Additions

While the classic homemade Kahlua recipe is delicious on its own, you can get creative and add additional flavors to customize your coffee liqueur. Here are a few variations and flavor additions you can try:

Chocolate Kahlua

For a decadent twist, add chocolate to your homemade Kahlua. Here’s how:

  • Add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the sugar and coffee mixture while simmering.
  • Stir until the cocoa powder has dissolved completely.
  • Proceed with the recipe as usual.

Hazelnut Kahlua

If you love the combination of coffee and hazelnut, try this variation:

  • Add 1/2 cup of hazelnut syrup or liqueur (such as Frangelico) to the cooled coffee mixture.
  • Stir well to incorporate the hazelnut flavor.
  • Adjust sweetness if necessary.

Caramel Kahlua

For a sweet and buttery twist, add caramel to your homemade Kahlua:

  • Add 1/2 cup of caramel syrup or sauce to the cooled coffee mixture.
  • Stir until the caramel is fully mixed into the liqueur.
  • Taste and adjust sweetness as desired.

Spiced Kahlua

If you enjoy warm, aromatic spices, try this spiced variation:

  • Add 1 cinnamon stick, 2 whole cloves, and a pinch of ground nutmeg to the pot while simmering the coffee.
  • Let the spices infuse for at least an hour before removing them.
  • Proceed with the recipe as usual.

Vanilla Bean Infusion

To enhance the vanilla flavor even more, consider infusing your homemade Kahlua with additional vanilla beans:

  • Split another vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
  • Add the vanilla bean and seeds to the cooled coffee mixture along with the first infusion.
  • Allow the flavors to meld together for an extended period of time (2-4 weeks) before straining and bottling.

Serving Suggestions for Variations

Once you’ve added these flavor variations to your homemade Kahlua, here are some serving suggestions to enjoy them:

  • Chocolate Kahlua: Mix with milk or cream for a delicious chocolatey cocktail or drizzle over desserts like chocolate mousse or chocolate cake.
  • Hazelnut Kahlua: Combine with milk or cream for a delightful hazelnut latte or use it as a flavoring in baked goods like cookies or brownies.
  • Caramel Kahlua: Serve over ice cream or use it as a topping for pancakes or waffles. It also pairs well with hot apple cider or hot chocolate.
  • Spiced Kahlua: Use it as a warming ingredient in hot toddies or mulled wine. You can also add it to your favorite holiday desserts like pumpkin pie or gingerbread cookies.
  • Vanilla Bean Infusion: Enjoy it on its own over ice or use it as a base for homemade vanilla-flavored cocktails like a Vanilla Martini or a Vanilla White Russian.

Experiment and Get Creative

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and combinations. You can try adding other extracts like almond or mint, or even incorporate spices like cardamom or chili powder for an unexpected twist.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to customizing your homemade Kahlua to suit your preferences and taste buds.

Storage Tips

To ensure your homemade Kahlua stays fresh and flavorful for as long as possible, follow these storage tips:

  • Store in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.
  • Make sure the bottles or jars are tightly sealed to prevent air exposure.
  • Use within one year for optimal taste and quality.
Bottle of homemade Kahlua liqueur next to a cup of coffee

How to Make Homemade Kahlua (Recipe)

Yield: 1 batch
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Additional Time: 14 days
Total Time: 14 days 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 2 ½ cups strong and hot fresh brewed coffee
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups of rum (dark or light, depending on your preference)


  1. Brew the coffee.
  2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
  3. Place the vanilla bean and seeds into the pot with the brewed coffee. If using vanilla extract instead, simply add it to the pot.
  4. Stir well to ensure the vanilla is evenly distributed.
  5. Let the mixture sit for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  6. Return the pot to low heat and add the granulated sugar.
  7. Stir continuously until the sugar has completely dissolved. (If you prefer a sweeter Kahlua, you can add more sugar to taste.)
  8. Continue simmering the mixture for an additional 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the pot from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  10. Pour the rum into the cooled coffee mixture.
  11. Stir well to combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
  12. Taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness or strength by adding more sugar or rum if desired.
  13. Transfer the homemade Kahlua into clean, sterilized bottles or jars.
  14. Seal tightly and store in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks to allow the flavors to develop fully.

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    Last Updated:

    May 17, 2024