How to Make Imitation Kahlua

Kathleen Esposito
Homemade coffee liqueur

Kahlua is a coffee-flavored liquor that originated in Mexico. Like coffee, it is dark brown, and it doesn't contain cream like Bailey's Irish liqueur. Kahlua can be paired with most liquors, as well as many flavored liqueurs. If you don't have any Kahlua on hand, make your own to mix into your favorite Kahlua drink recipe.

Coffee Liquor Recipe

A bottle of Kahlua isn't cheap, so unless you plan to visit Mexico and pick up a few bottles from the duty-free shop, consider making your own coffee liqueur.


  • 1 cup instant coffee, any flavor and brand
  • 2 pounds light brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups grain alcohol
  • 5 tablespoons vanilla extract

You will need a coffee pot, a large saucepan, and a mixing spoon as well.


  1. Pour the water, coffee, and sugar into the saucepan and heat the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Continue to heat and stir until all the sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat source and wait until the boiling ceases.
  4. Add the alcohol and stir.
  5. Add the vanilla and stir.
  6. Pour your drink into a mason jar and let it age for a month in a dark, cool place.

You can substitute light rum for grain alcohol and two halved vanilla beans for the vanilla extract. If you're feeling really ambitious, you can brew whole bean coffee instead of using instant coffee and water, for an extra rich flavor. The drink is safe to consume right away, but it tastes much better if you let it age.

Have Kahlua Available for Any Occasion

Get a few batches going at different times and you will always have some imitation Kahlua on hand. Kahlua drinks don't require special bartender skills, and they are sure to impress your guests.

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How to Make Imitation Kahlua