10 Delicious Ways To Use Irish Cream Liqueur

Creamy, luscious, and boozy, Irish cream is a whiskey lover's dream. The liqueur is classically used to spike coffee but has so many applications beyond that, from cocktails to cakes. Given the name, you'd understandably think the drink came about in Ireland, but that's incorrect. Irish cream liqueur was invented in the early 1970s by a team of professionals from South Africa and London. They were hired by the head of innovation and development for a company called International Distillers & Vintners in an attempt to create a drink that would become a hit export for Ireland. Thus, they invented a name that would sound Irish, choosing the name Baileys at random from a restaurant in SoHo, London.


They nailed their goal: Baileys is exported to over 180 countries worldwide and is a household name globally. Though Baileys is the most well-known, there are many brands of Irish cream liqueur, all of which contain some combination of Irish whiskey, cream, and flavoring (often chocolate). Irish cream is often added to white Russian cocktails or mixed into hot beverages like coffee, but it has so much potential beyond beverages.

Upgrade your tiramisu

Tiramisu, which translates to "pick me up" in Italian, is plenty energizing and enticing in its traditional form. Made with coffee-soaked ladyfingers layered with a creamy, sweet mascarpone filling, the dessert delivers a hit of espresso along with sugar. But since coffee and Irish cream liqueur are a beloved and well-known combination, mixing Irish cream into a coffee-focused dessert makes sense as a delicious upgrade. 


In fact, although the exact origins of the Italian dessert are contested, most early forms of it did include a splash of Marsala wine in the mascarpone filling, giving it a hint of booziness. Given that prototype, it's an easy and logical modern twist to add Irish cream to your tiramisu recipes. Either mix the Irish cream into the mascarpone filling, just as the Italians used to with their Marsala wine, or stir it straight into the coffee before soaking the ladyfingers.

Give your frosting a twist

Buttercream frosting can be a sugar bomb, tasting like little else other than the sweetener. To give it the proper nuance of flavor, an excellent technique is to fold in some sort of extract or flavoring, like vanilla extract. But instead of flavoring your buttercream with a commonplace extract like vanilla, leaning on a flavorful booze like Irish cream can not only boost the flavor, even of store-bought icing, but can improve the texture as well. 


In a small quantity, the swap from extract to liqueur won't cause any issues in your recipe but will actually pay off in terms of the final result. For one, buttercream frosting is often extremely thick and can be difficult to spread and pipe. Adding Irish cream (start with 1-2 times the amount of liqueur as you would normally add extract) can thin out the frosting slightly, making it more pliable and easier to pipe. Beating the slightly thinner frosting for a little longer will make it even fluffier. The flavor is reminiscent of vanilla, with more creaminess from the dairy that plays nicely with the buttercream.

Bring some booze to your brownies

Avowed chocolate lovers might quibble with the idea that anything could improve upon a classic brownie, but the addition of Irish cream could win them over. The very first brownie, allegedly created in 1893 by a pastry chef at the Palmer House in Chicago, was dense and rich: more fudgy than cakey. The modern brownie takes many forms, and brownies can be lighter and more cake-like or richer and more dense depending on the ratio of ingredients. 


For an Irish cream twist, opt for a fudgier version since the alcohol pairs well as a foil to rich, darker chocolate flavor. If you want to really double down on the flavor, you can add the Irish cream to the batter itself and then whip up a simple Irish cream frosting for the top. When adding alcohol to a batter that doesn't otherwise call for it, keep in mind that you're going to be changing the liquid ratio of the batter. You can safely play around with adding several tablespoons without adversely affecting the texture of the final baked good too severely.

Level up your French toast

Sweet and rich, French toast is an undeniably delicious way to start a morning. The American version of a classic French toast typically relies on a simple flavoring of cinnamon in the egg wash. Although the name would imply otherwise, the dish itself isn't actually French in origin, and recipes for it can be traced back as far as the Roman Empire. 


The most basic form of French toast relies on a combination of egg and milk for the batter. Because the base is liquidy, it's an easy place to add other flavorful ingredients like extract. Or, for a decidedly adult take on breakfast, you can mix in some Irish cream. This choice of liqueur is ideal for a dish that already boasts a creamy flavor profile. Mix the liqueur in with the wet ingredients (milk and egg), and be sure to give the bread ample time to soak and infuse with the Irish cream flavor without getting too soggy. 

While recipes will vary on soaking time and method, remember that the amount of soaking time should vary based on your bread choice. Sturdier bread like baguettes, sourdough, or day-old loaves can handle more soaking time without falling apart while something like challah only needs a few seconds.


Stir it into fondue

It's no secret that Irish cream and chocolate are a match made in dessert heaven. Though fondue has been around for centuries — the earliest recorded recipe was published in the late 1600s in Switzerland — the original forms of it were savory and made with melted cheese. It wasn't until 1960 that a Swiss chef, Konrad Egli, invented a chocolate version of it at his restaurant Chalet Swiss. Egli's chocolate fondue included kirsch, a type of cherry brandy. 


So, the origins of chocolate fondue are decidedly boozy in nature, making Irish cream chocolate fondue an obvious choice for a flavor twist. While you can tailor the amount of alcohol to your own personal taste, finding a solid recipe to start with is worthwhile to ensure that the balance of cream, chocolate, and booze is in harmony. Irish cream, with its notes of chocolate, will blend beautifully with fondue, but the sharpness of the alcohol can overpower the rest of the dish if you add too much.

Amplify your chocolate chip cookies

Rarely will you encounter a chocolate chip cookie recipe that doesn't call for vanilla extract. Vanilla, that ubiquitous flavoring well all have in our pantry, acts like salt in a recipe, elevating and intensifying the existing flavors. 


Chocolate desserts are particularly enhanced by the addition of vanilla. Without it, your cookies can taste bland and flat, much like if you were to omit the salt. And yet, vanilla alone will only yield an ordinary chocolate chip cookie. If you want to take it one step further and really elevate the flavor, add Irish cream. This addition will round out the toasty, caramelized flavors of sugar and butter. The cocoa notes in Irish cream help to amplify and play up the chocolate flavor. You can adapt any go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe to include Irish cream by adding 2-3 tablespoons of the liqueur along with the vanilla extract.

Doctor your ice cream sundae

Ice cream sundaes are about as festive and celebratory a dessert as they come. Just because this is a childhood favorite doesn't mean you can't give it a seriously adult upgrade. Ice cream sundaes come with all manner of toppings, from hot fudge to chopped nuts, so how you decide to incorporate the alcohol is entirely up to you. The most obvious and minimalist route is to simply pour the Irish cream over the ice cream and then add other toppings as desired (opt for toppings that complement the flavor of the liqueur — chocolatey, malty, or nutty toppings are all smart choices). 


Baileys itself lists an ice cream sundae recipe on its website that simply calls for Baileys to be poured over vanilla ice cream and garnished with chocolate-covered pretzels. If you prefer a less booze-forward approach, you could mix the Irish cream in with your hot fudge or caramel sauce. And if you want to channel the classic combination of Irish cream and coffee, you could make the ultimate adult affogato by mixing a shot of Irish cream with a shot of espresso and pouring that over a scoop of vanilla gelato.

Start the morning with cinnamon buns

Liqueur isn't just for cocktails and nightcaps: Irish cream makes a delightful addition to baked goods, particularly breakfast items like cinnamon buns, waffles, pancakes, and scones. Adding alcohol to a batter or dough can be tricky, because alcohol will affect the texture and baking quality of a recipe, sometimes adversely changing the rise or crumb, as it will interact with the other ingredients. A safer route is to mix Irish cream into the toppings: glazes, frostings, or garnishes. 


When adding liqueur to a glaze or frosting, there are still concerns to keep in mind. Irish cream can thin out a frosting or glaze too much, so it's important to start by adding a small quantity and then increase it bit by bit until the flavor is desirable without changing the texture. If you want a thinner glaze rather than a thicker frosting, the Baileys Irish cream website has a recipe for cinnamon buns with a topping that blends Irish cream with milk and powdered sugar.

Skip the campfire for your s'mores

That ubiquitous campfire staple dessert, s'mores, doesn't need to stay out of reach until you're in the great outdoors. You can absolutely enjoy them anytime you like from the comfort of your kitchen. All you need is a heat source to toast your marshmallow, and you're good to go. 


But why stop with just recreating a classic dessert when you can dress it up? According to Baileys, a brilliant twist on handheld s'mores is to make them in the air fryer, creating a sort of layered dip for fruit and graham crackers or even cookies. Baileys elevates the s'mores experience further with its recipe by melting the chocolate chips with heated Irish cream, then layering the melted chocolate with marshmallows before popping the entire dish in the air fryer until gooey and toasted and warm. It's the perfect dessert dish for a crowd, especially after a summer barbecue.

Spike your hot chocolate

Want to know how to make a good thing great? Take an indulgent luxury like hot chocolate and make it even more decadent. Boozy hot chocolate is a perfect way to warm up in the winter, and while chocolate pairs nicely with all manner of alcohol, from whiskey to Kahlúa to rum, it's worth giving it a try with Irish cream. 


The creamy, sweet chocolate notes of Irish cream make it well-suited to pair with chocolate. To really take it up a notch, be sure to make your hot chocolate with melted chocolate rather than cocoa. Melting chocolate (semisweet for a more intense kick of chocolate) will give a more concentrated, deep flavor than if you use cocoa, which doesn't wield the same intensity, especially when tempered by milk. When adding your liqueur, stir it in at the very end and adjust to taste. A good ratio to start off with is 1½ ounces of Irish cream for every 6 ounces of milk.