Homemade Caramel Vodka

Homemade Caramel Vodka makes a great gift or addition to your home bar. Mix it into your favorite boozy coffee drinks, milkshakes, cocktails, desserts and more.

A jar of caramel syrup next to caramel vodka.

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Caramel Vodka recipe

Making homemade liqueurs is one of my favorite things to do. I love mixing them into drinks and giving them as gifts.

This holiday season, I’m making bottles of homemade Caramel Vodka to give to my drinking buddies. It’s sweet, simple and such a special gift that any cocktail lover will adore. But it’s almost sinful how easy it is!

I tried a couple of versions before the one you see here. One version I tried included infusing vodka with chewy caramel candies. It worked and tasted fine, but I didn’t love the cloudy color.

The method here involves combining homemade caramel syrup with your favorite vodka for a delicious (and clear) spirit that will look gorgeous in cocktails.

Caramel vodka has all the flavor of sweet caramelized sugar, soft English toffee and a hint of vanilla. If you like, you can add a delicate hint of salt to make salted caramel vodka, but you don’t have to.

Two shot glasses with caramel sauce rims.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Yes, you can buy caramel vodka at the liquor store, but it’s made with artificial flavorings and is suspiciously clear. (That’s because there are regulations that vodka has to be clear in color.)

  • Caramel-flavored vodka is easy to make from home with just a few ingredients.
  • You’ll know exactly what’s in it. No artificial flavors, food colors or weird ingredients here!
  • It can be mixed into all kinds of cocktails, coffee and drinks! Even poured over ice cream.

It makes a great gift for the holidays. Pour it into a mason jar or flip-top bottle and wrap it with a ribbon and a gift tag. Done and dusted!

a jar of caramel simple syrup with candy caramels

Ingredients

You only need a couple of ingredients to make this easy caramel vodka.

Caramel syrup

Caramel syrup has a thinner consistency than the caramel sauce you’d drizzle over ice cream. It’s mixed with water to make it easy to mix right into coffee and cocktails.

You can buy caramel syrup or make it yourself. Making it at home is pretty easy (and not nearly as difficult as caramel sauce) and it costs next to nothing, which always gets my vote.

You’ll need sugar, water and vanilla extract to make it. If you want to make it salted caramel syrup, you can add a pinch of sea salt.

Vodka

You’ll want to pick up a great bottle of vodka to use in homemade liqueurs. Nothing too cheap, but not too pricy.

My go-to brands right now are Tito’s, Reyka, Deep Eddy and Absolut. Learn some more about this versatile spirit in my Vodka 101 crash course.

a jar of caramel vodka with a stack of caramel candy.

Variations and substitutions

Try one of these spins on regular caramel vodka:

Salted caramel vodka: Add a pinch of sea salt to the vodka and shake until dissolved. Add another pinch if desired.

Caramel whiskey: Use your favorite bourbon to make caramel bourbon instead.

Chocolate caramel vodka: Add ½ teaspoon of chocolate extract to add a hint of chocolate flavor.

How to make Caramel Vodka

Homemade Caramel Vodka is easy to make at home and is still so full of caramel flavor.

The first thing to do is to make an easy caramel syrup that will be mixed with the vodka.

Combine ¼ cup water and ½ cup sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until dissolved, about 5 minutes or so. (Low heat will dry it out so make sure the heat is warm.)

sugar bubbling in a pan

Then cover the pot while it boils, about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and stir consistently until the mixture is a light amber color.

As soon as it turns colors, remove it from heat immediately, then stir in the remaining ¼ cup water and vanilla. It will bubble.

A hand pours caramel syrup from one jar to another.

Once the syrup has cooled, you add a little bit to a mason jar. How sweet and flavorful to make it totally depends on the person, so add the syrup in small amounts.

Pouring vodka into a jar of caramel syrup.

Then pour vodka over top. Taste it with a spoon after each addition until you are satisfied. You will need approximately ½ to 1 ounce for every 3 ounces of vodka.

If you’re making salted caramel vodka, add a touch of salt and then shake it up in a mason jar or cocktail shaker until dissolved. Always strive for light saltiness, as salt is difficult to walk back.

Two shots of caramel vodka with a jar of caramel syrup.

What to make with it

You can make so many caramel vodka drinks with this homemade version. It also works well for shooters with a caramel drizzle on the rim.

Try it in White Russians for a caramel macchiato twist.

Mix it into the ultimate fall cocktail, the Caramel Apple Mimosa, a bubbly libation garnished with an apple slice or two for good measure.

It would also be so good in a Caramel Mule, a spin on the classic Moscow Mule with ginger and lime juice.

Add it to a boozy milkshake like these caramel macchiato milkshakes.

Try it in a Caramel Appletini, made with apple juice or fresh apple cider, for an absolutely decadent treat.

It’s great in winter warmers, too. Stir it into homemade apple cider, hot chocolate or a boozy caramel coffee on a holiday morning.

A jar of homemade caramel vodka on a white background with a red kitchen towel.

More homemade liqueurs

a jar of caramel vodka with a stack of caramel candy.

Caramel Vodka

Yield: 8 ounces
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Homemade Caramel Vodka is easy to put together at home with homemade caramel syrup and your favorite vodka.
4.67 from 3 votes
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ingredients

Caramel Syrup

  • ½ cup water divided
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Caramel Vodka

  • 1 ounce caramel syrup
  • 7 ounces vodka
  • pinch salt for salted caramel vodka, optional

instructions

  • Combine ¼ cup water and ½ cup sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until dissolved, about 5 minutes or so. (Low heat will dry out the sugar so make sure the heat is at medium-high.)
  • Cover the pot while it boils, about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and stir consistently until the mixture is a light amber color.
  • As soon as the color change occurs, remove from heat immediately. Cool slightly.
  • Stir in the remaining ¼ cup water, vanilla extract and salt, if using.
  • Once the syrup has cooled, stir it into the vodka.

notes

Variations

Salted caramel vodka: Add a pinch of sea salt to the vodka and shake until dissolved. Add another pinch if desired.
Caramel whiskey: Use your favorite bourbon to make caramel bourbon instead.

Tips

When you heat the sugar and water together, low heat will dry out the sugar so make sure the heat is set to medium-high.
How sweet and flavorful you’d like the vodka depends on the person, so add the syrup in small amounts. Taste it with a spoon after each addition and add more if desired. You will need approximately ½ to 1 ounce for every 3 ounces of vodka.

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nutrition information

Yield: 8 ounces

amount per serving:

Serving: 1ounce Calories: 125kcal Carbohydrates: 15g Sodium: 30mg Sugar: 15g
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Comments

  1. Ex bartender says

    Tip to remove the “cloudy” aspect of your home infused vodka. The haze is some sort of very fine sediment, that was a side effect of whatever the vodka was infused with. After the process is complete, run the batch through a Brita filter…dispose the filter afterwards, you just broke it. (It’s possible the the filter process might tone down the flavor, so maybe let it steep an extra day) cheers.

    • Susannah says

      That’s a great tip for infused vodkas! This one uses a simple syrup and is an easy solution if someone doesn’t want to take the time for a long infusion and/or filter out the sediment.

  2. XboxDragon says

    Good recipe. Tried it twice. First time I don’t think I let it get Amber enough. It’s not obvious in my pans what color the liquid is. Still good though. Second time I let it cook longer and found it began to crystallize so added the water and vanilla. Had to heat it again to get the crystals to dissolve but in the end it was fine. Just a matter of practice.

    I originally had caramel vodka years ago in a steakhouse in Hanoi believe it or not. The owner kept it super cold and it went down smooth as water. Definitely a cab required after that evening.

    • Susannah says

      So glad you loved this recipe! Yes, the caramel syrup is tricky but agree that it’s a matter of practice. What a cool story about Hanoi — this recipe would definitely be good ice cold and neat!

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