Kahlua vs. Baileys – Differences You Simply Must Know

Nothing sounds better than a sweet alcoholic drink to enjoy after dinner or with friends. If you have tried Kahlua before, you might also know Baileys. These two drinks are sweet and tasty but not the same thing.

Keep on reading to find out what is different between Kahlua and Baileys. You can now decide which drink is best for you!

What Is Kahlua?

Kahlua is a brand name for a coffee liqueur. The company behind it is Pernod Ricard, which makes the beverage in Veracruz, Mexico. Kahlua consists of rum, sugar, and coffee.

The beverage first came to be in 1936 under Pedro Domecq, who named it Kahlua because the word means “House of the Acolhua people” in the Nahuatl language. The drink was then imported into the United States by Jules Berman. Later on, Berman would become “Mr. Kahlua.”

Pernod Ricard bought the original company in 2005. The alcoholic content of this drink was 20% and previously 26%. Now, you can find a more elevated version called Kahlúa Especial, available in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Kahlua Especial has 36% alcohol and is less sweet and thick. Recently, regular Kahlua was relaunched in a new bottle with only 16% alcohol content. Part of the marketing strategy is to steer people away from over-drinking and using Kahlua responsibly.

You will likely see Kahlua in various cocktails, while some people drink it neat or on the rocks. Since it is very sweet, you can find it in desserts, like ice cream, cake, or cheesecake. Sometimes it can also be added to milkshakes or served hot with milk.

Because Kahlua contains coffee beans, it does have some caffeine. A 1.5 oz. a serving of Kahlua will give you about 5 mg of caffeine, which is not very high compared to the standard 200 mg of a coffee cup. However, this beverage might not be safe for those sensitive to caffeine.

Nutrition Facts

One drink of Kahlua (45 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 151 calories 
  • 0.045 g protein
  • 0.135 g fat
  • 21.1 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 17.2 g sugar
  • 0.45 mg calcium
  • 0.027 mg iron
  • 1.35 mg magnesium
  • 2.7 mg phosphorus
  • 13.5 mg potassium
  • 3.6 mg sodium
  • 11.7 mg caffeine
  • 0 mg cholesterol

Is Kahlua Healthy?

Kahlua is a sweetened alcoholic beverage, so you should drink it in moderation. Although the flavor can be subtle, you should beware of drinking too much, as it can rack up calories and alcohol. Sometimes,  Kahlua can be the best addition to a cocktail or dessert.

You should be aware that Kahlua is very sweet, which means it is also high in calories. Unlike straight liqueur, this beverage has extra added sugar on top of the rum. When you put it in a cocktail, adding more sugar can add unnecessary calories.

However, since it does have sugar, Kahlua can replace regular sugar in desserts and beverages. Using it in things like tiramisu, cheesecake, cake, and ice cream can add flavor while saving you the problem of adding more sugar. Keep in mind that you are adding alcohol as well.

As with all liqueurs, do not be fooled by its sweet flavor. Kahlua can have more alcohol than you think. Be careful with exceeding the recommended two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

Since it does have coffee, Kahlua can act as a digestive aid. Drinking it slowly after meals can help your stomach settle and feel better. For best results, drink it straight without any additives.

It is also important to remember that Kahlua might not be the right choice for everyone. Individuals who cannot tolerate caffeine products should not drink this beverage. Although the caffeine content is small, it is still there and could pose a health risk.

Coffee is an antioxidant-rich beverage. Some of these antioxidants might still be present in Kahlua. Choosing this beverage could be a healthier way to get some alcohol while also giving your body a boost in antioxidants to fight stress and inflammation.

Thanks to its coffee content, Kahlua might be able to keep you alert. For some, this can be a health benefit when you feel tired or need an energy boost. It can be detrimental if you have trouble sleeping.

Remember that Kahlua is a versatile drink. You can drink it hot or cold, which makes it a year-round beverage. It can provide comfort from the cold or refresh you on a hot day.

What Is Baileys?

Baileys is also called Irish cream liqueur. The beverage contains heavy cream, Irish whiskey, and cocoa. As the name suggests, the drink came to be in Ireland.

Tom Jago, a liqueur executive at Gilbeys of Ireland, was the first to invent the modern Baileys. The product happened because the company wanted to expand into the international market. The search for this product began in 1971, and the final product was released in 1974.

The surplus of whiskey and an attempt to use the leftover cream created the idea of Baileys. The original recipe included Nesquik chocolate powder for added flavor. The recipe took about 45 minutes to prepare.

These days, this beverage manufacturing involves mixing the cream and Irish whiskey into an oily emulsion with vegetable oil. This emulsion prevents the separation of the alcohol and cream. The other ingredients include a proprietary cocoa mix, herbs, and sugar.

Baileys has a 24-month shelf life, even when open or not. You should keep the beverage between 32 and 77 °F and away from direct sunlight. The drink does not need to be refrigerated even after opening.

Nowadays, you can find Baileys in various flavors, including apple caramel, pumpkin spice,  cinnamon, horchata, and more. You will also see other products with Baileys, such as ice cream and desserts. In some cases, Baileys is also added to cocktails for extra flavor.

Nutrition Facts

One drink of Baileys (63 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 206 calories
  • 1.76 g protein
  • 9.89 g fat
  • 13.2 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 12.5 g sugar
  • 10.1 mg calcium
  • 0.082 mg iron
  • 1.26 mg magnesium
  • 31.5 mg phosphorus
  • 20.2 mg potassium
  • 58 mg sodium
  • 5.04 mg caffeine
  • 0 mg cholesterol

Is Baileys Healthy?

If Kahlua is high in sugar, Baileys is high in saturated fat. Since the drink has cream and oil, you should expect that it is high in fat. It can be a safe choice every so often, but otherwise, it might be too high in calories.

Baileys contains over 200 calories per serving, 9 grams fat, and 13 grams carbohydrates. Although this might not seem excessive, it can accumulate over time. Most fat content comes from the cream and oil mixture, while the carbohydrate comes from the cream.

Like other liqueurs, Baileys is meant to be sipped slowly, often after a meal. It has a sweet taste, so many consider it a dessert drink. You might also see it can be added to actual desserts, like tiramisu, cheesecake, or affogato.

For the most part, Baileys contains 16 to 17% alcohol content. While this is not very high, it can be hard to measure because of the sweetness and creaminess of the drink. Be mindful of how much Baileys you drink, as it can be hard to taste the alcohol, and overdrinking can occur.

There are many flavors for Baileys these days. Most of the time, the alcohol content is the same, but some of these might have more added sugar. In some cases, it might be best to stick with the original drink rather than the flavored ones.

Since it is made with cream, Baileys also has some calcium content. You will obtain a few vitamins and minerals from cream that other beverages will not have. This can be beneficial for individuals who are at risk for osteoporosis but should not be the only form of calcium intake.

Because it contains cream, this beverage is not safe for individuals with intolerances or allergies to milk products. It can result in gastrointestinal distress and make the digestion of this beverage very difficult. It also happens to be non-vegan friendly because it contains milk products.

The best way to consume Baileys is on its own, over ice or straight. This beverage can rack up calories and fat quickly, so limiting it to one drink at a time is the best way to stay healthy. You should also avoid adding it to other sugary cocktails.

What Are The Key Differences Between Kahlua And Baileys?

The main difference between these two beverages is that they do not contain the same liquor. Kahlua is made with rum as the main alcohol. Baileys contains Irish whiskey as its main ingredient.

The other ingredients in these two liqueurs are not the same. Kahlua contains coffee, rum, and sugar. Baileys is made with cream, Irish whiskey, oil, cocoa mix, spices, and sugar.

The consistency of these drinks is also different. Kahlua is black and thick, almost like syrup. Instead, Baileys is creamy, almost like a milkshake.

When it comes to flavor, many believe that these two taste similarly, but they do not. Kahlua has a rich, intense coffee flavor. Baileys is creamy, sweet, and light, with varying notes of cocoa.

Since they are produced differently, they have a different nutrition profile. Kahlua is lighter in calories and has very little fat with more carbohydrates from sugar. Baileys is higher in calories and has more fat and carbohydrates from the cream.

These two products also come from very different places. Kahlua originated in Mexico and then was imported to the United States. Baileys came to be in Ireland and is still produced there where it is distributed everywhere else.

Because these two beverages taste and look differently, they are also used in different settings. Kahlua is often added to coffee beverages, cocktails, and desserts. Baileys can be added to certain desserts, but it is more likely to be served alone, particularly because it comes in a wide range of flavors.

Main DifferencesKahlua Baileys
Alcohol content16 to  36%16%
UsesOn its own, coffee, cocktails, and dessertsOn its own, certain desserts, and ice cream
Main ingredientsRum, coffee, spices, and sugarIrish whiskey, cocoa mix, cream, sugar, and spices
Calories per drink151 calories206 calories

Is Kahlua or Baileys Better?

In terms of nutrition, both of these beverages offer similar nutrients. They are both high in calories and sugar, while Baileys contain more fat. These two beverages should not be part of your daily diet.

For the most part, Kahlua seems like a better choice because it contains fewer calories and no fat. However, it is still high in sugar and alcohol, so moderation remains essential. It also has some caffeine, which might not be suitable for everyone.

Unlike Kahlua, Baileys contains more calcium and some more vitamins and minerals than the cream. It can be a bit more filling, which means it packs more calories and fat. It is suitable depending on the drink, but always in moderation.


Next time you find yourself debating what liqueur to drink after dinner, you will surely know whether you are feeling a Kahlua or Baileys. These two drinks are not the same and offer very different flavors, but you can choose one or the other depending on the occasion. Always remember that even if they do not taste like it, these two beverages still contain alcohol.

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*Photo by DenisMArt/depositphotos

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