Kahlua vs Bailey's: What's the Difference?

The punching taste and instant awakening effect of coffee are behind the reason why it is a daily necessity. To help us deal with stress and relax our day away, liquor too has become a staple wind-down ritual.

When the taste and spark of coffee and the feel-good vibes of liquor come together, you’ve got a match made in heaven. Both Kahlua and Baileys fall into this category but, how do they stand up head-to-head? Below, we’ll take a look at both plus share some irresistible cocktails that are sure to change your life.

Are Kahlua and Baileys the Same?

While both Kahlua and Baileys do taste like coffee, they are not the same. Kahlua is thicker in texture and bolder in flavor, playing up notes of intense coffee with hazelnut aftertastes. Baileys, on the other hand, is creamy, sweet, and light.

When pouring them into a glass side by side, you’ll notice the difference in both color and texture. Even though they are very different, both staples in any home bar, each adding their own little something to cocktails and coffees.


When you pour Kahlua straight into a glass, you’ll instantly sense the intense aroma. This Mexican coffee liqueur is infused with sugar and vanilla to provide the perfect flavor and creamy texture. The ingredients list features rum, vanilla bean, and coffee, with just a touch of sweetness added in to boost any cocktail.

Pour a bit over ice for an instant treat or enjoy in a delightful cocktail like the Café con Leche Martini.  For that extra punch, chill the glass and have some chocolate syrup on hand to drizzle for a treat for both the eyes and the pallet.


Baileys has a silky texture that is unrivaled. Sip it alone for tastes of coffee and cream or mix it up for fun. The texture and the flavor have just what you’ll need to spruce up any cocktail and give it that oomph you’ve been searching for. You’ll find Irish crème and hints of chocolate, with a pinch of sugar for added spark.

For a taste that will leave you speechless, try a Mudslide, we guarantee you’ve never had something like this!

What Can You Do with Kahlua or Baileys?

When you check out the descriptions of the two, you’ll see that both mention coffee. However, just like a cup of joe, these two liquors highlight different aspects of one of the world’s most beloved drinks. Kahlua has a bolder taste, with hints of hazelnut that make it just like taking a shot of espresso in the am.

Baileys, on the other hand, has a milky texture, mimicking the feel and taste of a coffee with milk and a pinch of sweetness. While you can throw them up against each other, the truth is they should be in their own category, working well in different types of cocktails.

Mix Up a Cocktail

If you’re in the mood for the flavor of coffee with the relaxation you feel after sipping on a good cocktail, then you’ll love a drink that combines the two, fusing bold coffee and creamy milky goodness together for a burst of flavor in your mouth.

Try out the infamous Baby Guinness, which uses both Kahlua and Baileys for a creative and flavorful combo that you’re sure to crave from day one.

Spruce Up Your Coffee

Even though both Baileys and Kahlua have a coffee taste does not mean they can’t be used to enhance your coffee. Adding a douse of Kahlua or Baileys (or both!) to your am or pm coffee is just the thing to give you the kickstart you need and boost the flavors of your coffee.

Kahlua + Coffee

If you’re one that likes it bitter and hot, go with Kahlua. The syrup-like texture and the hazelnut notes that enter the pallet afterward are just the things to add a light flavoring to your coffee without taking away from its taste. Enjoy it warm and dark with a bit of Kahlua in your coffee.

Baileys + Coffee

If you’re into sweeter drinks and enjoy a creamier cup of coffee, then Baileys should be your go-to. Take a warm, fresh cup of coffee and add a bit of Baileys to add texture, creaminess, and sweetness to your cup of coffee. Even if you’re not quite the morning person, this is sure to give you the jumpstart to your day.

Common Kahlua & Baileys Food Pairings

When you order a luxurious dessert, you are likely to crave a hint of bitterness to counter the sweetness. That, or a creamy iced something to wash it down. No matter what your tastebuds desire, you’re sure to unlock an intensity you’ve never felt before when pairing Kahlua and Baileys with your favorite desserts.

The bitterness and sweetness you’ll find from coffee liquors are not best when paired with salty or savory foods, but work wonders with sweet treats like cheesecakes, scones, brownies, and cupcakes. For the perfect balance for your sweet tooth, add a bit of either Kahlua or Baileys to some coffee.

Then, dip in your dessert or just take a bite and follow up with a sip of warm coffee with your preferred liquor. Also, don’t forget about desserts that you can make with Kahlua, Baileys, or both, exploring recipes that will take your dessert-making to a whole new level.

Kahlua vs Baileys: Is There a Clear Winner?

Kahlua and Baileys are cocktail staples. Not only are they great alone on the rocks but also mixed up in a beautiful cocktail. When it comes to putting both head-to-head, there remains the question, is there a clear winner?

The answer is, it just depends, as each one is so unique when it comes to flavor complex.  The bitter notes in Kahlua and the sweetness you get from Baileys are both great on their own and become a magical explosion when mixed together.

For your next cocktail, try out one or the other, adding coffee or shaking them up into a cocktail all your friends will be raving about.