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Lauren Platero

How to Make a White Russian: The White Russian Recipe

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The White Russian is a decadent and delicious cocktail. It consists of only a few cocktail ingredients and is one of the most popular cocktails you can make. 

Vodka is one of many versatile types of alcohol, whether you’re at happy hour or the liquor store. Though vodka is a convenient liquor to add to beverages, its high ABV can make it feel intimidating to use (learn how to calculate ABV before making and serving alcoholic drinks). 

Just because a cocktail contains vodka, it doesn’t mean that it’s too potent to enjoy. Mixologists worldwide use vodka to create some of the most delicious cocktails, and the White Russian is undoubtedly one of them. 

White Russian Recipe

The White Russian is a pretty simple drink, though it’s often an item within the best cocktail recipe books. It only requires the following ingredients:

  • 2 ounces vodka 
  • 1 ounce Kahlúa
  • 1 splash of heavy cream 

The ingredients above yield one White Russian. To create this vodka cocktail ready to serve, thoroughly combine all ingredients in a shaker and pour over ice. 

Some of the most popular cocktail recipes call for equal parts, so make sure you learn about: what does one part mean in drink recipes. 

A White Russian is a great winter cocktail recipe since it’s rich, not super cold, and perfect for the holidays. 

White Russians should be served at a chilled temperature, though you can add ice if you’d like. A frozen mug will work fine if you don’t have ice readily available. The glassware for a White Russian isn’t as strict, as it depends on whether you use ice or not.

White Russian Calories

On average, a White Russian has approximately 590 calories. The shocking calorie count comes primarily from the heavy cream used in classic recipes. 

Though White Russians taste good, they aren’t good for you. In addition to the high caloric intake, you’d also be consuming an astronomical amount of fat and sugars. The nutritional content is no surprise considering how decadent White Russians are; however, it doesn’t make for a healthy bar drink to consume regularly. 

Kahlúa is also a sweet liquor that contributes to a single drink’s high calories. However, the calories in two ounces of Kahlúa don’t come close to a splash of heavy cream. 

So, if you’re in the mood for a White Russian but are not willing to drink a massive portion of your daily caloric intake goal, consider changing up the classic recipe for something healthier. In many cases, this involves substituting the heavy cream for some kind of milk. 

White Russian With Milk

Heavy cream will create the ultimate texture for traditional White Russian recipes. Unfortunately, it can be a little much and irritating on sensitive stomachs. Plus, the amount of cream for a White Russian significantly bumps up the total number of calories. 

You can substitute the cream for half and half instead for a lighter option. Half and half will allow the White Russian to deliver the same flavor as the traditional recipe and won’t feel as heavy.

If you want to eliminate cream altogether, you can use milk. Milk varieties are more expansive too, which allows there to be healthier alternatives to heavy cream. Milk can come from numerous sources and is sold in sweet and unsweetened versions. 

It’s safe to say that milk substitutes provide consumers with many options when faced with health and dietary restrictions. Fortunately, healthy dairy substitutes are making their way behind the bar, too. 

Make A Dairy-Free White Russian

If you’re opting for milk to achieve a dairy-free White Russian, we recommend using oat milk. The flavor of oats will pair well with the coffee flavor of Kahlúa and is the creamiest dairy-free milk alternative. 

An oat milk White Russian will come out smooth with natural sweetness. It will be the closest dairy-free version of the classic cocktail, with additional health benefits. Plus, it’s an excellent option for those who are lactose intolerant. 

White Russians and other cocktails with dairy-free alternatives will make various menu types more inclusive to customers and are some of the many drinks every bartender should know

Almond milk isn’t as sweet, and coconut milk can add natural flavoring that may not go with Kahlúa. However, if you enjoy these types of milk as other ingredient substitutes, feel free to use them for your next White Russian. 

If you consume a White Russian with milk instead of cream, there will be significant changes in the nutritional content. In a White Russian, the heavy cream contributes to most of its caloric and fat content, so be mindful of any dietary restrictions when adjusting the classic recipe. 

If you’re planning to open a bar, adding menu items that cater to diverse dietary needs is a foolproof way to increase bar profits and grow a loyal customer base. Learn more about restaurant marketing ideas and bar event ideas to inspire more promotions for your business.

Best Vodka For White Russian

Vodka is the primary alcohol in White Russians. Though all vodkas may look alike, they are not made equal. 

Here are just a few different vodka brands that we recommend adding to your next White Russian:

  • Absolut 
  • Chopin 
  • Grey Goose
  • Smirnoff

In a White Russian, you want to make sure that the flavors of the Kahlúa and cream are present. With this in mind, avoid flavored vodka. White Russians are prime examples of the importance of vodka’s lack of taste and scent. 

How To Make A Frozen White Russian 

A frozen White Russian is one of the few refreshing summer cocktails that should also be on the dessert menu. Typically, drinks for the warmer weather are light and reflective of smoothies, whereas the White Russian is adaptable to be a year-round favorite. 

To make a frozen White Russian, simply add a cup or two of ice to a blender and the three classic ingredients. The thickness will vary depending on the amount of ice you use, so start with just a cup and work your way up until you reach your ideal texture. 

Frozen White Russians aren’t common, so keep an eye out on lists of drink specials when you go out, or ask the bar staff if they can customize the classic drink. 

White Russian Milkshake Recipe

A frozen White Russian is delicious, but you can add a little extra sweetness by turning the classic drink into a milkshake. The White Russian milkshake is definitely a dessert drink, 

The ingredients won’t differ too much from a traditional White Russian. Simply include the following items in your blender:

  • ¼ cup Kahlúa
  • ¼ cup vodka 
  • 4-5 scoops of vanilla ice cream

In this recipe, the ice cream replaces the heavy cream. The level of thickness also depends on the amount of ice cream you use. Similar to how you’d add a little bit of ice at a time to your frozen White Russian, add the ice cream in small increments until you reach the perfect consistency. 

White Russians consist of high demand products, so every bartender should be able to create the simple concoction. If you want to learn about more creative cocktails, check out our complete bartender's guide book for more ideas.

Recipe templates are beneficial to restaurant operations and help better track your liquor storage inventory. View our free and editable standardized recipe template to simplify the creations of your unique cocktails. 

White Russian Without Vodka

If you don’t have vodka on hand but want to make a White Russian, don’t fret. You can make White Russians with numerous liqueurs. 

Kahlúa and cream pair exceptionally well with various types of rum or bourbon. However, these alcohol options offer a strong flavor and aroma, whereas vodka does not. The result won’t be exactly like a White Russian, but a cocktail that falls into the same family. 

If you only have the Kahlúa and cream, the combination of just these ingredients is also very delicious. Plus, it contains significantly less alcohol. 

Unfortunately, White Russians aren’t a drink that you can make as a mocktail (a cocktail without alcohol). You would be eliminating the vodka, but you would also have to leave out the Kahlúa. 

If you’re not able to consume alcohol but crave the flavor of a White Russian, opt for a frozen coffee drink instead. Frozen cappuccinos and frappes are frothy, smooth, and sweet options that will function as a delicious, non-alcoholic replacement. 

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Frequently Asked Questions About White Russians

What Liquor Is In A White Russian?

Vodka and Kahlúa are the two types of liquor in a White Russian. Aside from the classic recipe, numerous variations may include ingredients such as Bailey’s, rum, or bourbon.  

What Is A Kahlúa and Cream Called?

There isn’t a particular name for drinks containing Kahlúa and cream. However, it is a simple version of the White Russian. Many consumers opt for a glass of Kahlúa and cream if they don’t want to consume too much alcohol. 

Can You Make White Russians With Gin?

Yes, you can substitute the vodka in a White Russian for gin. You may also enjoy swapping out the vodka for dark rum or bourbon. Keep in mind that these liquors will interfere with the Kahlúa’s flavor profile and taste different from the traditional White Russian.

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