Delicious Iced Coffee

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Save money by making refreshing and delicious iced coffee at home. Get tips on how to sweeten and flavor your iced coffee to make it delicious every single time.

Half & half poured into an iced coffee.

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Homemade Iced Coffee

Delicious and refreshing, nothing is as good as iced coffee on a hot summer day. This homemade iced coffee is made with just 4 ingredients (coffee, ice, brown sugar simple syrup, and half & half).

Iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee, then cooling it down in the refrigerator. It’s a little different from cold brew coffee, which is made by steeping ground coffee in cold water for hours. If a coffee drink is made with espresso instead of brewed coffee, it’s an iced latte.

The best way to sweeten iced coffee is with simple syrup, which is liquid sugar (half water and half sugar), and this recipe is made using a brown sugar simple syrup. Flavored syrups is how Starbucks flavors their hot and cold beverages.

RELATED: Iced Shaken Espresso

Ingredient Notes

4 ingredients to make iced coffee at home.
  • Brewed coffee: Make strong coffee in a drip coffee machine or a Nespresso using a coffee/mug capsule. Strong coffee is key to making great iced coffee so that the ice doesn’t dilute the drink. Chill hot coffee in the refrigerator.
  • Brown sugar simple syrup: I prefer brown sugar, but you can use regular simple syrup or a flavored one like vanilla syrup. Stirring sugar into a cold drink doesn’t do a great job in sweetening a drink since the sugar just sinks to the bottom.
  • Half & half: Half cream and half milk, it’s creamier than regular milk but not as rich as heavy cream. You can also use any milk you prefer including oat or almond.
  • Ice: Use filtered water to make ice if possible.

For full ingredients and detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Coffee pot with coffee.

Step 1: Make and cool strongly brewed coffee.

Coffee poured into a cup with ice.

Step 2: Pour cooled coffee into a cup with ice.

Adding simple syrup into an iced coffee.

Step 3: Add brown sugar simple syrup.

Pouring half & half into a cup with iced coffee.

Step 4: Add half & half. Stir before drinking.

Jee’s Tip

There’s no need to use the most expensive coffee to make sweetened iced coffee with milk or cream. Adding milk and sweetener will hide a lot of tasting notes in coffee. Use the pricier coffee for drinks without anything else added like an iced Americano.

How to Make Strong Coffee

Use 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee and 1 ¼ cups of water to brew strong coffee in a coffee machine. If using a Nespresso, use 1 coffee/mug capsule (not an espresso capsule) to make 1 full cup of coffee.

Expert Tips

  • Don’t pour hot coffee into a cup of ice since the ice will melt too quickly, leaving a drink that’s too watered down. Use coffee that has cooled down a bit.
  • Cool down hot coffee is by putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • The pretty swirls in the drink from the cream can only be made using half & half or heavy cream. Using just milk won’t create the swirls like you see in the photo.
  • If the iced coffee is too strong, dilute it by adding cold water.
  • The coffee and simple syrup are great to make ahead of time and both can be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers. Make coffee the night or two before and let it chill in the refrigerator. The simple syrup will last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Serving Suggestions

Flavored syrups
Vanilla syrup, cinnamon syrup, and gingerbread syrup all taste great with iced coffee. They flavor and sweeten at the same time.

Coffee creamer
To cream, flavor, and sweeten all at once, replace the half & half and simple syrup with coffee creamer like my easy, homemade French vanilla creamer.

Cold foam
Instead of just pouring half & half directly into the drink, make cold foam using a French press.

Questions You May Have

What’s the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?

Cold brew coffee is made without heat, letting ground coffee and water steep in cold water for hours in the refrigerator. It results in a smoother, less acidic coffee. Regular iced coffee is made with heat, by making hot coffee then cooling it down in the refrigerator.

How can I cool down hot coffee in less than 2 minutes?

If you don’t want to wait for hot coffee to cool down in the freezer or refrigerator, put ½ cup of ice and a cup of hot coffee into a cocktail shaker and shake 10 times. Pour cooled down coffee into a cup and add ½ cup of more ice.

What kind of coffee should I use to make iced coffee?

Any kind you like! You can use light, medium, or dark roast. The lighter the roast, the more caffeine there is.

Iced coffee in a cup.

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5 from 6 votes

Delicious Iced Coffee

By: Jee Choe
Save money and make perfectly sweet and delicious iced coffee at home with easy step-by-step instructions.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 serving (16 ounces)

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled down
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar simple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons half & half

Instructions 

  • Make and cool strongly brewed coffee.
    Make strong coffee in a drip coffee machine or a Nespresso using a coffee/mug capsule. Strong coffee is key to making great iced coffee so that the ice doesn't dilute the drink.
    Cool down hot coffee by putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for an hour.
    1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • Pour cooled coffee into a cup with ice. Add brown sugar simple syrup. Add half & half.
    Stir before drinking.
    1 cup ice, 2 tablespoons brown sugar simple syrup, 2 tablespoons half & half

Notes

  • Use 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee and 1 ¼ cups of water to brew strong coffee in a coffee machine. If using a Nespresso, use 1 coffee/mug capsule (not an espresso capsule) to make 1 full cup of coffee.
  • Don’t pour hot coffee into a cup of ice since the ice will melt too quickly, leaving a drink that’s too watered down. Use coffee that has cooled down a bit.
  • Cool down hot coffee is by putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • If you don’t want to wait for hot coffee to cool down in the freezer or refrigerator, put ½ cup of ice and a cup of hot coffee into a cocktail shaker and shake 10 times. Pour cooled down coffee into a cup and add ½ cup of more ice.
  • The coffee and the simple syrup are great to make ahead of time and both can be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers. Make coffee the night or two before and let it chill in the refrigerator. The simple simple syrup will last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 150Carbohydrates: 31gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 56mgPotassium: 209mgSugar: 29gVitamin A: 106IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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