Homemade Kahlua

Guys, this recipe is good. I mean really good.

I was gifted a delicious bottle of homemade Kahlua last year, and ever since I’ve been meaning to learn how to make this sweet & cinnamony coffee-flavored liqueur.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Best made into a White Russian (Kahlua + vodka + cream or half & half). Cream + coffee + rum + cinnamon + sugar, I don’t know what flavor combination gets much better than that, especially this time of the year!

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

When I began searching for Kahlua recipes online, I came across too many to count – and too many variations that all sounded delicious. So in the spirit of trying something new, I created my own using my favorite mix of ingredients from several recipes around the web.

Homemade Kahlua

Makes about 64oz, or enough to fill four of the 16oz bottles that I shared yesterday. For my own gifts this year, I doubled this recipe to create eight 16oz bottles.

~1 liter bottle of rum (you might use a bit less depending on the size of your final bottles)
1 c water
2 c sugar
1 lb whole coffee beans
Rind of half of an orange
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole vanilla beans (cut and split)

Fill each bottle by splitting the ingredients evenly amongst the bottles you’re using – for example, each of my smaller 16oz bottles received roughly 1/2 a vanilla bean, 1/2 a cinnamon stick, 2 orange rind slices, 1/3 lb coffee beans, 2/3 c sugar, 1/3 c water and ~5-6oz rum.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

I used the end of a wooden spoon to help mix all together.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

(The above photo is before all of the rum was added).

Then seal and store your bottles in a dark place, shaking ingredients 1-2 times a week for 2-3 weeks. The longer they sit, the more delicious they get!

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

When they emerge, they should be a beautiful amber color.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

You could strain out the coffee beans, cinnamon stick, vanilla and orange for a pure liquid:

Homemade Kahlua

But I actually liked the look of some of the whole ingredients left in the bottle (plus it will continue to marinate in the cupboard of your giftee). And the floating beans makes for a pretty addition to that above mentioned White Russian.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Label your bottles with hang tags or sticker labels (I used shipping label sticker paper for mine). Here’s the download if you’d like to use it (remember to use the link and NOT the image below – that’s a low quality version just for looks). The red in these labels will be a much stronger cranberry red on regular paper and a darker, mulberry red when printed on sticker paper.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com-13_400

I ended up rounding the black corners after cutting these out, too. I think it gives a nice, polished look. You could also sign your name under the dotted line after ‘Merry Christmas’ to personalize it.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

So that is the easiest way to make this delicious drink! But I will share with you one more variation that – if you have time – will make it a bit sweeter.

As I began experimenting with this recipe, I actually tried creating a simple syrup first out of all of the ingredients.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

Here’s how that’s done: bring all ingredients (with exception of alcohol) to a simmer in a sauce pan. Cook down the simple syrup until it’s about the consistency of light cough syrup (that’s a bad description – maybe a very watery honey sounds prettier?).

Fill up your glass bottles halfway with alcohol and then add this new simple syrup as well (with all of the whole ingredients, aka coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, orange rinds, vanilla beans) and put into pantry.

This time the infusion will start out a bit darker, and will continue to get cloudier over the next couple of weeks.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

We did a taste test between the two and I preferred the sweeter, slightly spicier version of the Kahlua better (made with the simple syrup), but Kevin and my mom opted for the more recognizable taste of traditional Kahlua from the first batch.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract | PepperDesignBlog.com

Either way – you’ll love the result! This really is a delicious recipe.

Homemade Kahlua | PepperDesignBlog.com

PS here’s a link to yesterday’s easy diy vanilla extract, and a link to all of the handmade gifts from this blog (including that rosemary olive oil and lavender lemon sea salt that is equally yummy). 

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  1. Steve Gossett says

    Morgan, where did you get the bottles from and what method to use to seal them? I have seen bottles that have a built in cork on them and would wonder how well those would work. I like the style you used though. Any pointers would be great.


  2. marie says

    You know… i love Kalua, ive used it in baking and drinking for years, and ive made my own vanilla extract for almost a decade now, but it never occurred to me to make kalua lol. And if it had occurred to me, it never would have crossed my mind that there was cinnamon and orange zest in kalua! Thank you, gotta try this :) Wonder if i could use stevia instead of sugar to make this a more legal part of my low carb life (and therefore be able to drink more!)? hmmmmm.

  3. says

    I just made both recipes (vanilla and Khalua) and all the bottles are sitting prettily on my dining room table waiting to “cure”. Thanks, Morgan for this terrific idea. I split the vanilla bean per the above suggestion. Can’t wait to try both!

  4. Janelle says

    This looks so good Morgan, I’m definitely going to try it & I’ll let you know how it turns out! Thx for the labels too, they’re just right!! ;)

  5. says

    This may just NEED to be a gifted item this year. I don’t know too many people who would use it, but I’ve got a few ideas. And I agree that the whole ingredients are really pretty inside. Thanks for the recipe!


  1. […] Homemade Kahlua: a white russian is the drink of choice for me during the holiday season and this recipe is one I highly recommend. Needs a few weeks to build flavor so now’s the time to order bottles and ingredients. Chalkboard Mugs: chalkboard on everything was a hit last season, happy to say that I think the trend is here to stay a while! Ombre Rattan Placemats: wrapped with a big burlap bow these are neat for the hostess with the mosses. $6 Slate Cheeseboard: a home improvement store tile takes on new life with legs and a shiny border. Rosemary-Infused Olive Oil: a homemade treat for the chef. Lavender & Lemon Sea Salt: I really enjoy cooking with flavored sals so this was probably one of my favorite gifts to make for friends. Marble Cheeseboard: similar to above but so classic and beautiful. Equally inexpensive. Fort Kit: diy gift bag possibilities are endless. This fort kit includes everything that every preschool-aged boy needs for one awesome living room hideout. Painted (& Sharpie) Baked Mugs: a gift that’s a lot of fun for kids to participate in. But they’re not dishwasher safe (I learned the hard way, tear) French 75 Cocktail Kit: one example of how personable a diy drink kit (infused-alcohol and simple syrup included) can be. Stationary Kit: I use my return address stamp almost every day, here’s a kit built around staying in touch. Felt Town Rollup: a kit for kids that includes a cute, flat felt town and miniature wooden cars for playing on the go. Homemade Vanilla Extract: we gave a mini bottle of this to each of our friends last year, I still have a few in my pantry! Downloadable label included. Cupcake Kit: a collection of sprinkles, beautiful cupcake liners and wax candles make for a fun, girly cupcake decorating kit. […]

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