Bailey’s Irish Cream. I remember my first taste. I was barely legal but didn’t have my license with me, and my Dad, my StepMom Pat, and their friends vouched for me. That probably doesn’t happen anymore. They just really thought I should try Bailey’s. I agree and think everyone should, especially this Baileys Irish Cream Recipe Copycat Version.
This version is different from any other copycat recipe out there; most of them are pretty similar, almost exactly the same recipe my friend Jen passed on to me in the very early 80s. This version is a totally reengineered version of Baileys and it’s truly outstanding.
About Baileys Irish Cream Recipe Copycat Version:
Now, I assume that you probably need no introduction to Baileys Irish Cream. Bailey’s describes it on their site as
“THE PERFECT MARRIAGE OF FRESH, PREMIUM IRISH DAIRY CREAM, THE FINEST SPIRITS, AGED IRISH WHISKEY AND A UNIQUE CHOCOLATE BLEND.”
And you might not need an introduction to the Irish Cream Copycat recipe that’s so popular and has been floating around for decades with just tiny variations out there. I had it here for a long time but just moved it to its own post, Homemade Baileys Irish Cream. It’s the recipe that has Whisky, Cream, and Condensed Milk.
I always thought that old school recipe was good. I gave a ton away as gifts over the years, gave it as hostess gifts, served it at parties and girls nights and every now and then indulged on occasion! Sometimes in my bubble bath! Did you know Bailey’s is a “girly drink”? Check out fun facts about Bailey’s at VineFair.
As I got older (and tasted more Baileys) it started to nag at me a there was room for improvement in the copycat recipe. Tasted side by side, I wasn’t sure about the amount of alcohol; it seemed strong. I thought copycat was a little sweet and I didn’t think the chocolate syrup, coffee, and almond flavors really held up to the taste of real Baileys. (I do still give that old school recipe lots of bonus points for easy, though! That’s why it’s still on my site. ‘Sides, you can never have too many Baileys recipes!)
But I embarked on what ended up being a petty huge project, reverse engineering Bailey’s Irish Cream. It was probably one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever done as far as tasting the experiments! The deets are below, under the recipe; if you’re a geek like I am, maybe you’ll wanna check it out.
Does this recipe taste like Bailey’s? You be the judge! I will say it tastes fabulous. And it has a kick, just like the real Bailey’s, but it isn’t overwhelming. It does have more steps than the Original Copycat Recipe (which takes like 5 minutes) and there’s some waiting around time but I think it’s worthwhile. Maybe it will be for you, too. Anyway, now you have options.
And by the way? Homemade Baileys made this way is about a third of the cost of Baileys Irish Cream, even using an expensive, imported Whiskey. It’s less expensive to make than the original homemade recipes, even using real chocolate…no need to buy condensed milk, chocolate syrup, coffee granules or almond extract.
How to Drink Bailey’s Irish Cream:
Whether you use the real Irish Cream, a knock off or any other recipe, there are so many ways to indulge beyond just sipping. I gotta say, not having to pay a fortune for the real stuff makes me feel like I can be a little more liberal with it!
- There’s no limit to cocktails that can be made with Bailey’s, both warm and cold, classic or new, plain or fancy. (There are so many fancy ones!) Check out Bailey’s Recipe Collection. The fabulousness just goes on and on and they just keep adding to it.
- If you have good taste, stay away from the Irish Car Bomb. Or the name at least; Irish Slammer is def less offensive. Eater talks a little bit more about it the history but certainly glosses over the length and seriousness of the Troubles in Ireland. Anyway, if I haven’t convinced you, you just do you.
- I always liked the layered shot of Bailey’s, Kahlua and Frangelica and I swear back in the day we called that a B-52, although now I find that’s a different shot usually with something orange, and the one I love is now called a Snickers. Maybe we didn’t know any better.
- And you just can’t beat a classic White Russian. But Baileys is good just as is, in a small cordial glass, on the rocks, or as I mentioned above, with a little milk and ice. A poor man’s (or woman’s) white Russian.
- Don’t forget to add a little (or a lot) to your coffee or maybe your hot chocolate and I don’t even want to think about adding it to your Hot Nutella. That just makes me want to run to the store and get me some Nutella right now!
Using Bailey’s in Desserts:
Baileys is just perfect in or on a dessert. Baileys really has an affinity for any dessert with chocolate, caramel or coffee, although sometimes you’ll see it paired with almond or other flavors. Mostly Baileys is used in a very moderate amount.
- Baileys with ice cream is incredible, just a little pour over the top, or mixed in a shake or even made into ice-cream. Make any of those with just plain vanilla ice-cream, caramel, chocolate, coffee, mocha or any of those with any wild mixture or add-ins. It’s just so hard to go wrong.
- And of course, Bailey’s is excellent with or in a dessert. It hardly matters, either something plainer like cheesecake, or combined into or with something chocolate, caramel or coffee. Think brownies, cakes, bread puddings, even dessert sauces. Really the possibilities are endless.
- Frosting sometimes has Baileys, but most really use so little it’s hardly recognizable. I gotta give a shout out to my fabulous chocolate frosting, Best Baileys Frosting. Its frosting that really tastes like Bailey’s is in it! Please ignore the unfortunate photos!
Making Baileys Irish Cream Recipe Copycat Version:
There is no doubt that this reversed engineered Homemade Baileys has several more steps and is more of a time investment than the standard old school recipe. It’s not difficult or hard, and even the amount of actual working time is minimal, but there is some wait time.
First of all, I use a tincture (it’s like a tea) of a few spices to mimic the proprietary blend of herbs that Baileys uses. It takes nothing to toss together and should be put together ahead of time to soak for an hour and up to 24. I’d call that optional.
The cream has to be heated to dissolve the sugar and is added to a blender with the chocolate and eggs. Make sure the blender is running or those eggs will scramble! Wait a few minutes to add the rest of the ingredients. The alcohol should be added under 172 degrees to preserve it. I’d give it about 10 minutes. Do remember food safety and don’t leave that mixture sitting out. After the alcohol is added, straining is highly recommended.
About the chocolate, my reasoning is below, but using real chocolate brought in a lot of unbelievable flavors and notes to the home-made Bailey’s. Try the recipe with a Semi-Sweet Guittard or Ghiradelli.
Most importantly, your Bailey’s is going to taste much better the next day and even better the day after! That resting really makes a difference. That’s optional, of course, but highly recommended.
Just FYI, those eggs are optional and you can read all about them, egg safety, your choices, and options, below after the recipe. Your Bailey’s will be a bit thinner and not as well emulsified without them. For decades, eggs were in Bailey’s copycat recipes; these days most recipes leave them out. So it’s up to you.
Saving Money on Baileys Irish Cream Recipe Copycat Version:
How much your homemade Baileys runs you depends on your ingredients. A liter bottle of Baileys at the best price I could find was $24.99. My homemade version? A fraction. $9.40.
You could go cheaper on the whiskey and you don’t have to use an Irish brand. I do, because it’s an indulgence, and my pricing reflects using an imported Irish Whiskey. For years I’ve used Jameson Irish Whiskey, but this year I changed things up and tried Bushmills just coz I like their bottle. I “recycle” a lot of glass bottles because I’m always making all kinds of concoctions.
Both whiskeys were $28.99 full price, $20.00 on sale (holiday week) for a liter. The larger bottles were on sale, too, which usually means a better deal, but in this case, it wasn’t. That’s something to watch for and can stump some people because we’re not used out figuring out the pricing in liters. A liter is about 4.22 cups btw, about 4 1/4 cups.
That means each litter of whiskey will make three bottles of your homemade Baileys (if you don’t mind shorting the booze by just a hair) so the cost of the whiskey per batch is $6.66. By the time you add in the other ingredients, which might vary a little depending on where you shop you’ve added another $2.74 to the cost of your liter of Irish cream. The cream was about $1.79 at Aldi, the chocolate 40 cents, the sugar 8 cents, eggs 45 cents and other ingredients negligible and might be in your cupboard. If not don’t sweat if you don’t want to buy spices you don’t use; it’s optional. Except for the vanilla!
Even the total outlay for all your ingredients, shopping well, is $22.74, less than the cost of one liter of Baileys on sale and you’ll still have 2/3rds of a bottle of excellent whiskey left to make more! See my post, Over 75 Ways to Use Egg Whites if you wish to put those 3 egg whites to good use.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Copycat Baileys, Reverse Engineered! If you give it a go, be sure to let me know how you liked it and how you’ve spun it if you make any changes! Read below to see how I came up with the recipe and just how geeky I can be! Sláinte!
Baileys Irish Cream Recipe Copycat Version
For best flavor, start the night before and let sit a day or two before consuming.
- Total Time: 30 minutes plus optional soaking time
- Yield: about a liter, about 11 (3 ounce) servings
- Category: Beverages
- Cuisine: Irish
Irish Cream Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups of Irish Whiskey
- 1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream (sub whipping cream if not available)
- scant cup of sugar (9/10ths of a cup, to be exact; measure a cup and take out about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 2 1/2 ounces chocolate, semi-sweet, about 1/4 cup
- 3 egg yolks, pasteurized if desired, optional
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- a tablespoon or two (add a little at a time and go by taste) of optional herbal infusion (see note)
Optional Herbal infusion:
- 1” stick cinnamon
- pinch of cardamom seeds
- 1 star anise
- 1/4” slice of ginger about 1/2” across, optional
For the Optional Infusion:
Bring about 1/3 cup of water to a boil, place herbs in a cup, pour boiling water over, cover and allow to steep. An hour is good, overnight, better. Strain. Refrigerate until needed.
Heat cream with sugar in a medium saucepan (be careful, the cream can boil over in a heartbeat) stirring often until sugar is dissolved. This is easily checked by wetting a clean fingertip with the cream; if the sugar granules aren’t dissolved, you’ll feel a grittiness as you rub your fingers together. Add chocolate and eggs to a blender and with the motor running on low, through the hole in the top, pour in the hot cream. Continue to pulse and blend on slow until all is incorporated.
Cool slightly, add whiskey, vanilla, and a tablespoon or two of strained herbal infusion. Taste, adjust any elements to your liking. At this point, straining is highly recommend. Refrigerate, at least one day, preferably several for the flavors to meld. If you can wait.
Notes About Cooling the Mixture:
- The mixture should be under 172 degrees before adding alcohol. If you don’t wish to use a thermometer, give it about 10 minutes.
- Do not cool the mixture to cold before adding the alcohol; it becomes difficult to mix the alcohol in.
- The mixture should not sit at room temperture for any length of time before adding the alcohol; remember safety. Work promptly and refrigerate.
- Recommended storage time is 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
- This is not a safety issue (the alcohol inhibits any bacteria) but there is a possibility the emulsion won’t hold, causing some separation and possible clumping.
- There is always slight risk when using undercooked egg; the risk is minimal after three weeks and possibly earler.
Amount of Alcohol:
Each serving, about 3 ounces contains 1 “jigger” of whiskey, 1.5 ounces.
- Slightly fewer calories than commercial Bailey’s, based on 11 servings:
- Calories 332; Total Fat 18g 27 %; Saturated Fat 12 g 59 %; Monounsaturated Fat 5 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 117 mg 39 %; Sodium 18 mg 1 %; Potassium 50 mg 1 %; Total Carbohydrate 21 g 7 %; Dietary Fiber 0 g 2 %; Sugars 20 g; Protein 2 g 4 %; Vitamin A 51 %; Vit C 0 %; Calcium 1 %; Iron 2 %
Keywords: Alcohol, Bailey's, Beverages, cocktail, Cream, Eggs, Homemade Baileys, Irish, St Paddys
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Figuring Baileys Irish Cream Recipe Copycat Version Out:
To “reverse engineer” the recipe. I grabbed the nutritional information from Bailey’s website and broke down the data to determine, first of all just how much alcohol to use in my Homemade Bailey’s and what the right proportions were of cream, sugar and so on. It was a huge math “word problem” with lots of tasting along the way. With all that tippling, I hope all my numbers are spot-on; if you find otherwise, let me know!
A serving of Bailey’s is 100 ml (3.22 ounces or .422 of a cup). Bailey’s is 17% alcohol, contains no egg or nuts, has 50 percent cream and milk protein from dairy milk, and some oil for an emulsion and contains sugar from sugar cane and a cocoa extract. Bailey’s has “hints of chocolate and vanilla” and proprietary herbs. (The subtle flavor from those herbs might be why some people add almond extract.)
Working from metric and converting to American measurements for both dry and wet, I was able to figure out the amount of alcohol to use to get close to the 17% stated in the recipe. I used this handy-dandy alcohol calculator and came up with the proper ratio which is 1.5:2 alcohol to cream. That should be the key figure for any Homemade Baileys.
The amount of sugar is listed (fun fact, a serving contains 22 grams, half that of a can of coke). I wasn’t going to emulsify with oil, don’t have access to the pricey cocoa extract, and our American cream isn’t as rich as Irish cream so I used chocolate in the recipe adding a little richness. That let me nix the old school Hershey’s syrup addition, too. The amount of chocolate I figured I’d need is 2 1/2 ounces, which at first taste seemed a bit much but mellowed over time and I chose that amount because it gets me to closer to the right fat content of the recipe, keeping the balance.
Since there is no mention of coffee or almond in Baileys, I didn’t use either; I just stuck with vanilla since Bailey’s claims vanilla notes. I couldn’t find what herbs & spices are used in Bailey’s so I experimented. I ended up making a little tea, a tincture, of several. I’d really call that optional; they add a barely discernable depth of flavor.
The most important thing I found through all my experimentation and trial and error is that this Homemade Irish Cream tastes better the second day and even better on the third. It seems it needs to mellow just a bit and the flavors need to blend. I’m going to have to try the old school copycat version and see if it benefits from a little mellowing time, too. It’s never been around long enough!
Addressing the Mouth Feel of The Baileys Irish Cream Recipe:
My little recipe was starting to taste quite a bit like Bailey’s, I just had to address the “mouthfeel.” Bailey’s isn’t thick but def has “body” which is partly from the cream and probably partly from their special emulsion. Home-cooks have gotten that thickness in two ways in those old school recipes:
- They use condensed milk.
- They add eggs.
My more adult palate nixed the cloying cooked taste of the condensed milk. I found it tasted strange, especially in side by side tastings with both the real stuff and my recipe using cream and sugar. Funny I had never noticed that before in my old copycat version; I put it down to being so excited at making it that I probably glossed it over. Besides, doesn’t any alcohol taste better after a drink or two?
Eggs seemed the way to go and eggs help with the body and the emulsion. The original recipes from back in the 80s all contained four whole eggs. That was back before eggs were vilified for having cholesterol and before there were so many issues with food safety and no one thought much about raw eggs. Hey, in the original Rocky, Sylvester Stallone downed raw eggs and fitness buffs followed suit. Dieters ate poached eggs and Hollandaise ruled.
Newer versions of the old school recipes (which is on a zillion sites now) usually just leave out the eggs and you can do the same. If you’re basing your recipe on taste, using the real cream and sugar rather than condensed milk, whether using eggs or not, will make your Bailey’s taste better! No eggs will just make it a little thinner. In the end, I decided to use 3 egg yolks for their emulsion value and left it like that seeing no reason to use the whites. Leave the eggs out if you wish.
Raw eggs are a nagging concern. For one, they can gross people out. Then there’s the food safety issue, even though the chances of getting a bad one are incredibly small. The CDC estimates 1 in 20,000 eggs are contaminated.
I wondered, does alcohol really kill Salmonella? I did a lot of research and finally found the real answer. Given enough time and enough alcohol, yes, it does.
There’s a rather famous “experiment” that was done by the esteemed scientist, Vince Fischetti, and colleague Raymond Schuch as something of a lark and it became the subject of an NPR interview. It wasn’t a tightly controlled study as some claim and didn’t necessarily follow the “best” scientific practices. These mad scientists dosed the eggs in their eggnog with enough Salmonella to mimic anywhere from 1 to 10 contaminated eggs. Checking at one week, the Salmonella had started to diminish but was still there in amounts that could seriously do damage. Checking it at three, it was completely clear. No definitive studies that I know of have been done.
The recipe they used is shown in the video, and Forbes in an article referencing this study says, “The heirloom recipe comes from family archives of Dr. Rebecca Lancefield, a noted microbiologist who was born in 1895.” What we know is from the video is large eggs (they would weigh in at 24 ounces) were used. I’m assuming the minimum amount of sugar, eight ounces, was used but it could have been up to 12 ounces of sugar. That means that the alcohol in the recipe compared to the other ingredients comes in at about 33 percent. Here are the facts:
- The amount of alcohol to other ingredients is 48 ounces of alcohol to 96 ounces of other.
- The ratio is 1:2 alcohol to other ingredients.
- The percentage is 33 percent alcohol.
- The time that the alcohol cleared the salmonella was somewhere between the test done at one week when it was still heavily colonized although diminished from the original test (when it was made) to three weeks when it was clear.
Forbes makes the claim that 20 percent alcohol will clear the Salmonella in three weeks but gives no information on how they got that figure. Even using a lesser 12 ounces of sugar for my figures, it didn’t get me to 20 percent alcohol.
For those aged eggnog fans, note the recipe was stirred together and didn’t include beaten egg whites or cream, which can float on top of the eggnog and not be in contact with the alcohol; any blogger (or anyone) who claims that this experiment proves their fancier egg nogs with whipped cream and/or beaten egg whites are safe because of this experiment, unfortunately, hold no basis in fact.
So what does that mean for us Baileys drinkers knowing we are at 17 percent alcohol? Here are your choices, keeping in mind you’ll probably want to “age” your Bailey’s at least a day and preferably two or three.
- Use the yolks of pasteurized eggs.
- Use egg and drink anyway.
- Use egg and age for 3 weeks, not knowing if there is enough alcohol/time to clear any contamination.
- Don’t use egg and have a thinner Bailey’s.
Storing Baileys Irish Cream Recipe Copycat Version:
The recommended maximum storage time for all the old 1980s Bailey’s recipes was always two months. There isn’t really any valid safety reason for that time period.
We do know that at refrigerator temperatures, the salmonella won’t grow so even with the extremely slight possibility an egg contained salmonella, it doesn’t matter if you drink the Copycat Baileys at one week or six or two months or three years; there will not be more salmonella. The alcohol will certainly inhibit any bacterial growth and given enough time, clear the salmonella. We just don’t know scientifically in this case, when.
As far as quality, I think you’ll find with no way to commercially emulsify the Homemade Irish Cream recipes, whether my newer version or the old school ones, that after several weeks the cream can clump up and be kind of strange. (I divided my final recipe into several small bottles so I could taste it as it aged.) My best advice? Make it, drink it, enjoy it. And then make another batch!