Make Ahead

Irish Cream

November 29, 2016
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes just short of 4 cups
Author Notes

I love giving homemade gifts at the holidays—especially drinkable ones—and I’d never made homemade Irish cream before. **I knew that even those who might forgo the commercial stuff wouldn’t be able to resist it if it were made from scratch, and by a friend.** It turns out to be spectacularly straightforward—especially if you use a blender instead of a whisk. Making Irish cream at home also allows for control over the flavor and the alcohol content. I like to keep it pretty simple, with the flavor of the whiskey in the foreground, and just a teaspoon each of espresso powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. But there’s no reason not to play with recipe to your taste: I’ve heard of the addition of almond extract, or honey, or nutmeg.

Your homemade Irish cream won’t have the same, leisurely shelf life as the bottled stuff. It’ll keep in the fridge for about a week. But don’t worry about it: Odds are it won’t make it past Christmas night. —Rosie Schaap

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  1. Throw all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a glass bottle and refrigerate. Shake before each use.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Erin
  • Dayn Riegel
    Dayn Riegel
  • Veratrine Flipflop
    Veratrine Flipflop
  • sydney
Rosie Schaap is the “Drink” columnist for The New York Times Magazine and the author of the memoir, Drinking With Men. Schaap has also written for publications including Food & Wine, Lucky Peach, The New York Times Book Review, Saveur, and Travel + Leisure, and her essays have been published in numerous anthologies.

6 Reviews

Erin March 26, 2023
I made a version of this without the sweetened condensed milk because tbh, I found this recipe to be much too sweet and I had a craving for something bailey's like (but still have too many half-empty bottles of lock-down booze to justify buying anything from the liquor store). It worked quite well, and I've posted the recipe to the site here (I swapped sweetened condensed milk for unsweetened evaporated milk and added maple syrup to taste).
Suz March 15, 2020
I make this every winter, and I change up the alcohol by using rum or spiced whiskey. I’m sad that Veratrine F. didn’t like it, but if you’re on the fence, give it a shot! Great in coffee or over ice cream....
Dayn R. December 25, 2016
Just made it after reading the recipe but not the comments. Glad I did. I used half the condensed milk, sub'd some cashew milk, unsweetened, doubled the espresso powder and a liberal "splash" of light agave. On my second glass now. Oh, I used a rather expensive small batch bourbon - 1792 Small Batch.

I typically don't buy "name brand" Irish cremes but I do drink the Buffalo Trace now and again. This is close to their recipe, IMNSHO.
Veratrine F. December 2, 2016
I tried this--it is only for those who need alcohol to justify their habit of drinking sweetened condensed milk. Sweetened condensed milk has its place, I suppose. In fudge, maybe. But this was undrinkable--I poured it (and $8, and my bitter tears) down the drain.
sydney December 7, 2016
Condensed condolences to Veratrine Flipflop. Grateful s/he did the heavy [cream] lifting so I don't have to. I was going to try it. Love Bailey's, but it's so full of additives.
foofaraw December 9, 2016
Sorry that was not working for you. I have tried similar recipe, but it ask to let it sit in the fridge for 3-5 days so the flavors would meld together. It does taste better after several days. I like Irish cream and had been buying them for awhile - Irish cream is good as ingredients in indulgent cafe latte, as topping for ice cream, or as sauce for chocolate pudding/mousse.