make your own spiced crème de cacao

This is a super easy recipe to make a rich unsweetened chocolate liqueur with warm spices, delicious to use in recipes, pour over ice cream, mix into cocktails, or to drink on the rocks as an aperitif or digestif.

Liquor bottle with two empty glasses


  • unflavored vodka (70 or more proof)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • two whole anise pods
  • one cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 allspice berries
  • one vanilla bean pod sliced and split in half
  • optional if you want a little heat: one dried birds eye chili pepper
open mason jar filled with cinnamon, star anise, and liquor


Start with a clean 12 oz. canning jar. Fill the jar up to just below the 12 oz. mark with vodka. Add the cacao nibs, spices, and chili pepper if using. Screw the lid on the jar tightly and gently shake the jar for about 30 seconds. Place the jar in a cool, dry, dark place, like in a pantry or cupboard, for about 2 weeks so the spices can seep into the alcohol. Give the jar a little shake every couple of days. The liquid will start to turn a deeper and deeper amber color as time goes by.

mason jar filled with cinnamon and spices

At the end of two weeks, strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a new jar or bottle. Voila! Your spiced crème de cacao is ready for recipes! Start with an easy affogato, or use it in baking like this recipe for a festive french apple cake, perfume a creamy chocolate mousse, or add a couple of tablespoons as you whip heavy cream. Or, you can try some of these simple cocktail ideas that we love around the holidays:

Spiced creme de cacao cocktails. One is in a martini glass and two are in whiskey glasses

Créme de la Créme

Mix one part spiced crème de cacao with one part heavy cream or a plant-based mylk in a cocktail shaker with a couple of ice cubes. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg or a star anise pod, and a pinch of brown sugar or panela.

Spiced creme de cacao cocktails in whiskey glasses with an orange garnish

Dress Flannel

Mix one part spiced crème de cacao, one part Vermont maple bourbon and a tsp of Vermont maple syrup in a lowball glass and stir. Add ice, and garnish with chocolate-dipped dried tart cherries on a cocktail skewer or an orange rind.

Affogato mocha - espresso and ice cream in a mug


Pour a shot of spiced créme de cacao in a steaming cup of coffee. Top off with freshly whipped cream and grated chocolate or a dusting of cocoa powder.

Hot & Spiced Cocoa

Add a shot of spiced crème de cacao to a mug of hot drinking chocolate or hot cocoa. A scoop of ice cream or a couple of pillowy housemade marshmallows are the perfect topper.

Table with spiced creme de cacao cocktails, an ice bucket, and two taper candles

Cheers, & Happy Holidays!