Authentic Homemade Baileys Irish Cream (vegan)

You may or may not have noticed that it has been uncharacteristically quite on The Clean Dish this past month! Here is why: We have moved back to Bragg! Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The last couple of months have been out of this world crazy-busy and exhausting! We practically had less than two weeks to pack, say our goodbyes and leave Florida for a much cooler North Carolina.

We should be moving into a new home in November and in the meantime, we’re staying with our friend Kate, the girl with a black belt in yoga – I am not joking! Kate has some mad arm balancing skills and bends like a pretzel. Check out the photos at the end of the post.

Kate has been graciously and patiently putting up with the three of us; our puppy shedding her summer coat, my husband and I making piles of just random stuff all over the house and I don’t even want to get into the amount of dirty dishes we generate. On the bright side, I’ve been cooking lunch and dinner for everyone and today, I finally found a spare minute to work on my blog!

I am not even sure why I hadn’t thought of this before: Homemade Baileys Irish Cream – especially with the holidays coming up! Baileys used to be one of my favorite drinks which I cut out when I changed my diet. Like, you don’t need a list of ingredients to know Baileys is loaded with sugar. Speaking of Baileys ingredients: nobody knows exactly how it’s made. The Irish keep it a secret! Well, we know these ingredients are included:

  • Whiskey
  • Cream
  • Sugar
  • Mystery herbs

It took me a few days of repeatedly tasting Baileys and conferring with my soldier (who has an amazing palate, by the way – no big deal) but I think I finally cracked it. From over 50 commonly used herbs in alcohol (or so my sources tell me) I picked the ones I thought may be present in Baileys and I started to experiment. This herbal mixture seems to add just the right flavor to homemade Baileys:

  • Licorice
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Star Anise
  • Cardamon

Hold up — don’t be discouraged by this list of ingredients you probably do not have sitting around in your pantry — I bought all these in the bulk section of my local health food store for less than $2. You only need a tiny amount of each (see recipe) so it is not a major expense but adds so much flavor and authenticity to your Irish cream! Plus adding this herbal infusion gives Baileys’ almost a healthy twist 😉 (I promise it won’t taste healthy, though!!)

As always, feel free to change amounts according to your taste preference. If you like it sweeter, add more maple syrup; if you like more flavor, add more herbal mixture! Of course, you can always add more whiskey, too!

Authentic Homemade Baileys Irish Cream (vegan)
Prep time
Total time
Yields roughly 30 oz
Recipe type: Drinks
Irish Cream
  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • ¼ cup +1 tablespoon maple syrup (I prefer Grade B Maple Syrup)
  • ½ cup brewed cold espresso or strong coffee
  • ¾ cup Whiskey (I used Jameson Irish Whiskey)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon herbal mixture – see below (optional)
Ingredients for herbal mixture (optional but recommend)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 stick licorice root
  • ¼ stick cinnamon
  • small piece of fresh ginger (about the size of a hazelnut)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 pinch cardamon seeds
  1. Make ahead: In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients for herbal mixture and bring to a boil; cover with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes and steep for at least 1 hour; ideally 2-3 hours or overnight. Sieve and store in glass container until ready to use.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a glass carafe with lid or container of your choice and whisk until smooth.
  3. Serve chilled or on ice.
Tip: Dissolve cocoa powder in 2-3 tablespoon of espresso/coffee (using a whisk or fork) before adding to the Baileys’ mixture to avoid cocoa lumps.


Kate doing yoga in the woods

Kate doing yoga in the woods

Kate & Rose - Fall 2013

Kate & Rose – Fall 2013


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    • Rose says

      Hi Bree, I imagine it will keep in the fridge for several weeks but I have not tried it out. The whiskey definitely helps to preserve it. We usually drink our homemade Baileys within days 😉

  1. aislinn says

    Great recipe! How long until it goes out of date once all ingredients are mixed and stored in the bottle? Could it be made now and kept until Christmas??

    • Rose says

      Hi Aislinn, I’m honestly not sure how long it would keep. I make small batches that never last more than a week in our house 😉 I imagine it would keep for much longer than that. Just add some more whiskey 😉

  2. Kate says

    Love it! And oh so delicious – better than the original Bailey’s, to me, because it doesn’t have that overwhelming liquor taste, and I know I won’t have holiday food remorse!

  3. says

    Baileys has always been one of my most detested drinks – and there’s something off about alcoholic beverages not having to put their full ingredients list on the bottle – but suddenly you make it with coconut milk from scratch and I want to make it!
    Hope you get a little more time to pack for the move again this month, do you know how long you’ll be at this new location for?

    • Rose says

      Well…. since we don’t know how they make it…
      At the very least, I can confidently say it TASTES authentic 😉

  4. Susan says

    How wonderful that you would come up with this recipe! We like Bailey’s and just a couple of days ago discovered Crema de Tequila, which is very similar to Bailey’s. At some point I will have to try this recipe. Thank you for posting it, and I hope you are able to get settled quickly in your new home.

  5. Caleb says

    How close is that herbal mix to black chai tea? I don’t have a local bulk food store near by but keep bags of chai tea on hand.

    • Rose says

      Honestly, Caleb, I couldn’t tell you. You can make the Bailey’s without the herbal mix – I actually did it last week for an impromptu gathering. It still tastes great! I’ll try to find out about that Chai tea and let you know :)

  6. says

    All kinds of amazing! Found your recipe via Beard & Bonnet!
    I’ve been looking for a DIY recipe for Bailey’s. Vegan is a BONUS!
    Thank you for all that you do!!

  7. Jenn says

    Just to confirm, the coconut milk doesnt need to be cooked? Just asking because other recipes I have seen require you to boil down the milk… But if I dont have to, even better!

  8. Jennifer says

    My boyfriend loves to challenge me with the “old things we can’t have” list. This time was Baileys and coffee for an upcoming Charity Golf tournament. I downloaded 5 different recipes and yours just was honestly the most simple! I even had EVERY herb ingredient from the health food store! LOL! I just didn’t have the maple (only had Agave).

    I just have to say this is by far the most WONDERFUL “cheat” that I have found!!! I did make it today with maple and still really like the Agave. I also substituted brandy for the whiskey to make it Gluten Free. I took the “little” bite out with two packets of vanilla stevia.

    Thank you for a WONDERFUL recipe and putting a BIG smile on my boyfriends face!!!

    Happy Holidays!

    • Rose says

      Hi Jennifer, I just saw your comment (I think I have a bug on my site!) so apologies for the delay in responding!
      You just totally made my day :) I am super glad you like the recipe; it took me a while to put it together!
      What a great idea to use brandy as a substitute – I must remember that!
      I hope you and your boyfriend will have a wonderful Christmas and an even better 2014 :)

  9. says

    I LOVE this! I just made it and it is scrumptious! We had to blend ours in the blender. We used the extra coffee we brewed to make ice cubes to serve it over on Christmas Morning. The coconut milk won’t solidify again in the fridge? Thank you :)

    • Rose says

      Amy, I am so glad you liked the recipe!! What a fantastic idea to use coffee ice cubes – I must remember this!
      The coconut milk will separate a little but as soon as you take it out of the fridge and stir it, it’ll be perfect again!
      Have a great Christmas!!

  10. Bee says

    Hey do you think this would work with soymilk? I am allergic to coconut AND dairy (booo) but want to test this out for St. Patricks day! Let me know :)

    • Rose says

      Hi Bee! I generally don’t use soy milk but having said that, I think it would work however, it wouldn’t be as creamy as coconut milk.
      I’m sorry about your allergy! Is it just coconut or nuts in general? I would suggest to try homemade cashew milk (still not as creamy as coconut milk but at least creamier than soy milk).
      I haven’t used any seed milk yet but I will ask around to see if some of my fellow bloggers can give a recommendation for a good substitute in that department :)

      • Bee says

        Thanks for your speedy response :) So yeah unfortunately its an allergy to all nuts, coconut & dairy so I have to stick to Rice or Soy (I prefer Rice milk however I think that soy will be the creamier option of the two) Let me know if you get any feedback on other options!!

  11. Colleen says

    Good in coffee or recipes, but not good on ice! Did anyone else have a problem with it changing texture (I’m sure because of the coconut milk….?

    • Rose says

      Hi Colleen, I have not had any issues with the texture – sorry to hear! What brand/type of coconut milk are you using?


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