Homemade Creme de Cacao – Chocolate Liqueur for Your Happiest Hour

This homemade Creme de Cacao recipe is great for gift giving, but be sure to make an extra bottle of this delicious chocolate liqueur for you. There’s a delicious chocolate cocktail in your future!

For double the fun, pair it up with this homemade coffee liqueur, aka Kahlua.

creme de cacao recipe in a glass bottle

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Ready to DIY your pantry with more wholesome ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.

Homemade Chocolate Liqueur

Homemade liqueurs are easy to make and satisfying to give. They take only a few minutes of hands on time, but they excel in wow-factor. This homemade crème de cacao is an exceptional chocolate liqueur that is useful for dessert cocktails, but also good for adding chocolate flavor to coffee drinks, frosting, trifle, truffles, and other baked goods.

This DIY creme de cacao recipe makes an amazing gift; present it in a fancy upcycled bottle wrapped in a cloth gift bag.

Depending on the cost of cacao nibs and vodka where you live, it may not be cheaper than just buying a bottle of chocolate-flavored liqueur at the store. The homemade version is more flavorful and contains fewer toxins than a store bought bottle, though

If you want to have crème de cacao ready for December gifting, it will be best if you can start this chocolate liqueur in September or October so the flavors can meld. You only need four ingredients; it’s very easy. 

Consider doubling the recipe and making two bottles; once you see how easy it is to make (and how good it tastes) you might decide to keep a bottle for yourself.

clear bottles with brown liquid, topped with pastel colored fabric


Filtered water — Using the best water you can will ensure no extra taste is added to the final product.

Cane sugar — Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic.

Cacao nibs — These fermented and cracked cacao beans offer lots of nutrients, providing a rich cocoa flavor perfect for chocolate lovers. Save the leftover cacao nibs to make this brewed cacao drink.

Vanilla beans — This will add some true vanilla flavor, which mellows things out.

Vodka — You don’t need the top shelf version, just select a bottle that you find drinkable on its own.

How to Make Homemade Chocolate Liqueur

Dissolve the sugar in boiling water and set aside to cool.

Add the cacao nibs to a coffee or spice grinder, and turn them into a coarse powder. This should look coarser than cocoa powder in a can.

grinding cacao nibs

ground cacao nibs

Add all ingredients to a large mason jar, cap tightly, and add the date to the lid.

Store in a cool, dark place, and give it a quick shake when you think of it.

layer of cacao in a glass jar

As the mixture sits, it will separate. This is totally normal. After a month, strain the mixture through a coffee filter (requires lots of patience!). Save the cacao nibs to add to cookies or quick bread.

Bottle the finished liquid, but wait at least a month to use.

After-Dinner Cocktail Ideas

If you indulge in alcoholic beverages and love a good sweet drink, keeping a bottle of this on hand allows you to mix up delicious cocktails like the classic cocktails like a Brandy Alexander or chocolate martini, or simply add it to hot coffee. Another easy and indulgent dessert drink is a simple mix of this homemade liqueur and heavy cream over ice.

Consider this homemade chocolate liqueur a tasty addition to desserts, too. You can even use it in place of chocolate or vanilla extracts in baking recipes such as:

  • Hot chocolate
  • Coffee drinks
  • Cocktails
  • Trifle
  • Coffee cakes
  • Icing
  • Cookies
  • Cheese cake
  • Ice cream topping
  • Truffles
  • Chocolate Mousse
  • Pudding
  • Meringue
  • Egg nog

cacao nibs in a blue bowl

On second thought, maybe you’d like to make three bottles of this knockoff creme de cacao recipe to enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate in a crème liqueur. 

More DIY Liqueurs

While you’re making liqueurs consider these other additions to your DiY liqueur repertoire:

HOMEMADE creme de cacao in a glass bottle with a cork

★ Did you make this homemade creme de cacao recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

bottle of creme de cacao.

Homemade Creme de Cacao Liqueur

Yield: 32
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting time: 30 days
Total Time: 30 days 20 minutes

This makes a chocolate liqueur with a rich brown color, not the clear, colorless, liqueur of the popular brand of Crème de Cacao.


  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 cups granulated cane sugar
  • ¾ cups organic cacao nibs
  • 2 organic vanilla beans
  • 3 cups vodka, 80-proof


  1. In a small saucepan boil the water and sugar together until the sugar fully dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow the sugar syrup to come to room temperature.
  2. Put the cacao nibs in a coffee grinder.
  3. Grind into a coarse powder.
  4. Put them in the bottom of a mason jar. Add the vanilla beans and vodka to the mason jar along with the sugar syrup. Cap tightly. Write the date on the jar.
  5. Put the jar in a cool, dark spot. The cacao will rise to the top in a visible layer. Shake the jar when you think of it.
  6. After a month, strain the contents of the jar through a coffee filter. This takes a bit of time. Be patient.
  7. Reserve the cacao nibs for baking with. They make an amazing addition to chocolate cookies or chocolate cake. Or try them in a chocolate zucchini cake.
  8. Bottle the liquid in fancy bottles, but don’t taste it yet. Wait at least a month before sampling. (It’s even better after three months.)


I use organic sugar, but any sort of cane sugar will do.

The rich chocolate flavor of this homemade liqueur lends itself well to a variety of drinks, and it's delicious stirred into a chocolate milkshake.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 3 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 116Total Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCarbohydrates: 13gSugar: 12g

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Originally published in September 2016; this post has been updated.

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About the author: Chris is the author of The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms, and More. She is a teacher, author, gardener, and community herbalist with 30+ years of growing herbs and formulating herbal remedies, skin care products, soaps, and candles.

34 comments… add one
  • Kathleen Bron Jun 3, 2023 @ 9:09

    Can you Sous Vide this to speed up the process? I usually Sous Vide my Lemoncello and it turns out wonderful.

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 6, 2023 @ 9:51

      I honestly don’t know!

  • Leigh May 22, 2023 @ 14:07

    Has anyone tried making this sugar free? Diabetic, but love chocolatey drinks.

    • AttainableSustainable May 25, 2023 @ 11:12

      I personally haven’t, but perhaps there’s some wisdom out there.

    • Nick Dec 31, 2023 @ 13:01

      I use allulose sugar to make a lot of my liqueurs and simple syrups. It has all the same properties of table sugar, but it does not get metabolized by the body. It is only about 70% as sweet as table sugar, so you will probably want to add a little extra to your recipe, but it will work.

  • Karen Mar 8, 2023 @ 11:02

    Hello! I have read through this recipe multiple times and have all the ingredients ready to go—but I’m not seeing the proportions! Am I missing them?
    Thank you

    • AttainableSustainable Mar 9, 2023 @ 5:30

      If you scroll down to the bottom where the recipe card is, the proportions are all listed on the ingredients list!

    • Karen Mar 9, 2023 @ 6:34

      Thank you—I just never went that far

  • Diane Dec 24, 2021 @ 12:14

    Have you tried adding candy cane infused vodka?

    • AttainableSustainable Dec 28, 2021 @ 9:56

      I haven’t, but that sounds delicious!

  • Jo Nov 30, 2021 @ 11:29

    Do you split open the vanilla beans or just leave them whole?

    • AttainableSustainable Dec 2, 2021 @ 9:58

      You could do either since you strain it at the end. Enjoy!

  • Esther Karl Oct 5, 2021 @ 14:15

    Sounds great! However, I have some 109 proof vodka I need to use up. Would that cause an issue? Also, found both sweetened and unsweetened organic cacao. Is there a preference? Thanks!

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 13, 2021 @ 14:53

      Use unsweetened cacao, and the 100 proof will be fine — it’s not available in many places.

  • Rhys Jun 6, 2021 @ 13:21

    After straining out the nib solids I still have a lot of cocoa butter in the mix that has leeched out of the nibs. How would you suggest removing it to get a clearer output? Should it be removed entirely?

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 6, 2021 @ 16:49

      It’s really personal preference. If you want a clearer version, you can strain again. Leaving it in won’t hurt, though.

    • AA Oct 10, 2021 @ 16:14

      After you filtered the nibs through a strainer, strain it again with a cheese cloth in the strainer. I did this with a banana liqueur that i made and it made it really clear. I DID filter it with the cheese cloth twice though. Hope this helps.

  • Cynthia Lea Thomson Oct 28, 2020 @ 12:35

    I do not handle Vodka so well. I do good with brandy or rum. Which is better for your recipe?

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 31, 2020 @ 7:48


  • Fitz Aug 20, 2020 @ 3:05

    Do you think using brown sugar instead would offer more complexity or unbalanced the recipe? Thanks! So excited to try this.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 20, 2020 @ 16:07

      I think it would be delicious!

      • Fitz Aug 21, 2020 @ 6:46


  • Eric May 29, 2020 @ 12:08

    You use vodka with 80% alcohol by volume? So 160 proof?
    Or did you mean that you’re using standard 80 proof vodka, so 40% alcohol by volume?
    Thank you!

    • Kris Bordessa May 29, 2020 @ 13:54

      80 proof. I’ve clarified that!

  • Georgina Nov 20, 2018 @ 1:29

    Love this. However, with an allergy to sugar wondered if it might work with xylitol?


    • Kris Bordessa Nov 23, 2018 @ 13:29

      Hm. I haven’t tried it, but I feel like it would be worth a try!

  • Julio May 30, 2018 @ 16:54

    You mentioned that store-bought liquor has “toxins.” What are they, specifically, and how do we know that they’re there? And if they are there, how do we know they’re bad for us? Different chemical substances have to be consumed in different amounts before they’ll have any effect on our bodies (either good or bad), so how do we know that there’s enough of the ones you mention in store-bought liquor that it will have any effect on us?

  • Fran Apr 9, 2018 @ 20:27

    I made this for gifts — people loved it!

  • Laura Oct 9, 2017 @ 7:29

    Can cacao powder be used to replace the nibs?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 14, 2017 @ 8:37

      I think that will make it murky.

  • Katherine Sep 25, 2016 @ 5:47

    Where is a good place to get the organic cocoa beans – nibs?

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 25, 2016 @ 16:53

      I can get them at my local health food store, but they’re also available on Amazon if you can’t get them in your area. This is the brand my store carries: https://amzn.to/2dkW3BQ

    • Reza Aug 26, 2021 @ 22:45

      In my region the only cocoa product is cocoa powder.
      How can I substitute it with nibs?
      Thank you

      • Kris Bordessa Sep 12, 2021 @ 8:46

        That’s probably not going to work, sadly. Is ordering online a possibility?

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