This dairy free homemade Irish cream tastes surprisingly like Baileys. Instead, it's made with silky cashew cream and flavored with cocoa, vanilla, and espresso.
After Guinness and Jameson, Baileys Irish Cream is probably the next most popular Irish beverage. But it depends who you ask. Taste Atlas puts it at number one while Tenon Tours lists it in seventh place. My girlfriend, on the other hand, would argue in favor of Magners, one of her favorite ciders. But at the end of the day, who hasn't heard of Baileys?
I enjoy Irish cream. It’s a nice addition to a mug of coffee or even to sip by itself after dinner. The problem is it doesn’t always sit well in my stomach. I think it’s the mix of dairy, alcohol, and whatever else is in there that keeps the stuff shelf-stable for up to two years after opening.
Instead, I wanted to make my own homemade Irish cream in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. And while I was at it, I decided I might as well try making it without the dairy. I wasn’t sure how good it would taste, but I went ahead anyway.
how do you make Irish cream without dairy?
I wasn’t impressed with the recipes I found on the internet. Many relied on coconut milk and looked too watery to be a realistic alternative to the classic. Having made cashew cream as part of a vegan cheese sauce recently, I thought they might work to achieve that necessary creamy texture.
The first time I made cashew cream by soaking and blending cashews, I was surprised by the creaminess of the liquid. It’s way better than what you get with most store-bought coconut or almond milk, both of which are not only too watery, but also ten to lack flavor. That’s why cashews are a staple in vegan cooking. I always keep a big jar of cashews in my pantry. I throw them into salads or just keep around for snacking. And now I know they make a great vegan cream.
One of the other key ingredients here is the sweetened condensed coconut milk. It’s essentially the same as regular sweetened condensed milk, except that it’s made with coconut milk rather than cow’s milk. It’s not available everywhere, though. I couldn’t find a can of it at Hannaford, but did in the baking section of the Rutland Co-op. It’s maybe three dollars for a can from a brand called Nature’s Charm.
If you can’t locate a can, you could try substituting an equal amount of canned coconut cream (not coconut milk) sweetened with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup. I haven’t tried this out and can’t say how well it will work, but sweetened condensed milk is essentially sweetened cream that has been cooked down until thickened.
Of course, you’ll need Irish whiskey, which is what provides the alcoholic component of Irish cream. You don’t need anything top shelf, so don’t break the bank on a bottle for this recipe. I found Tullamore D.E.W. to work fine and of course, there's always Jameson.
Once you have your ingredients, it’s simple to make the Irish cream. You start by making the cashew cream, then combine all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
flavoring Irish cream
I like to add espresso and cocoa powder to my homemade Irish cream and achieve a similar flavor to Baileys. But you could try out other flavors such as vanilla or caramel. It might depend on how you plan to enjoy your handcrafted Irish cream. I wasted no time adding it into a glass of iced coffee. It’s almost spring, after all.
Aside from iced coffee, you can add Irish cream to hot coffee, mix it into a cup of Earl Grey tea, use it as a flavoring for buttercream frosting, pour it over a piece of bread pudding, or combine it with a stout for an Irish Slammer. You can’t go wrong by simply pouring it in a glass over ice, either.
However you enjoy it, this dairy-free Irish cream is a surprisingly decent alternative. It’s not 100% comparable to Baileys, but it does the job just fine, and is especially good for folks who can’t have dairy.
If you like this drink, check out my recipe for Hot Buttered Rum.Print