How to Make Iced Coffee

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Save money and make perfectly sweet and delicious iced coffee at home with easy step-by-step instructions. Plus, get tips on how to sweeten and flavor your iced coffee to make it delicious.

Pouring half & half into a cup of iced coffee.

Recipe Highlights

  • Delicious and refreshing, nothing is as good as iced coffee on a hot summer day. It’s made with just 4 ingredients (coffee, ice, simple syrup, and half & half).
  • The best way to sweeten iced coffee is with simple syrup, which is liquid sugar (half water and half sugar). Add flavoring like vanilla and cinnamon and you’ve got flavored simple syrups. This is how Starbucks flavors their hot and cold beverages.
  • Iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee, then cooling it down in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s a little different from cold brew coffee, which is made by steeping ground coffee in cold water for hours.

RELATED: Brown Sugar Iced Coffee, Decadent Iced Coffee with Cream Froth, Best Starbucks Iced Coffees

Ingredient Notes

Iced coffee ingredients.
  • Strong coffee
    Make coffee in a drip coffee machine, or a Keurig. Strong coffee is key to making great iced coffee so that the ice doesn’t dilute the drink. Chill hot coffee in the refrigerator.
  • Simple syrup
    Brown sugar simple syrup is what I add to my iced coffee but you can use any kind of simple syrup (including flavored) you like. Stirring sugar into a cold drink doesn’t do a great job in sweetening a drink since the sugar just sinks to the bottom. The easiest thing to do is to make a batch of simple syrup at a time and store it in the refrigerator. It’s ready to use whenever you want!
  • Half & half
    Half cream and half milk, it’s creamier than regular milk but not as rich as heavy cream. You can use any milk you prefer including oat or almond.
  • Ice
    Use filtered water to make ice if possible.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Four photo collage showing steps to make iced coffee.

For full ingredients and instructions, scroll down to the recipe.

  1. Pour strong, cooled coffee over ice.
    A good balance is half strong coffee and half ice.
  2. Stir in simple syrup.
  3. Add half & half.

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.
  • A quick way to cool down hot coffee is by putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • No need to use the most expensive coffee to make iced coffee unless you’re not adding any sugar or sweetener.
  • If the iced coffee is too strong, dilute it by adding cold water.
  • 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.

Serving Suggestions

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 1/2 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 1/2 cup of more ice.

What size cup should I use to make this drink?

The drink should be made in a 16 ounce cup, which is a grande cup size at Starbucks.

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 tall glass.

Related

Did you make this and love it? Please leave a 5-star rating below or a review in the comments section!

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How to Make Iced Coffee

Author: Jee Choe
Save money and make perfectly sweet and delicious iced coffee at home with easy step-by-step instructions.
4.9 from 8 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Total Time 3 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving (16 ounces)

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons half & half

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pour strong, cooled coffee over ice.
    Use cooled down or cold coffee. A good balance is half strong coffee and half ice.
  • Stir in simple syrup.
    Add more or less, depending on how sweet you like your iced coffee.
  • Add half & half.
    Add more or less, depending on how creamy you like your iced coffee.

NOTES

TO MAKE STRONG COFFEE: Use 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee and 1 cup of water to brew a strong coffee in a coffee machine. If using a Nespresso or Keurig machine, use 1 pod or capsule to make 1 cup of coffee.
Cool down hot coffee is by putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for an hour.

  • Strong coffee is key to making great iced coffee so that the ice doesn’t dilute the drink.
  • 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.
  • No need to use the most expensive coffee to make iced coffee unless you’re not adding any sugar or sweetener.
  • If the iced coffee is too strong, dilute it by adding cold water.
  • 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.
  • If you don’t want to wait for hot coffee to cool down in the freezer or refrigerator, put 1/2 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 1/2 cup of more ice.
  • Brown sugar simple syrup is what I add to my iced coffee but you can use any kind of simple syrup (including flavored) you like. Stirring sugar into a cold drink doesn’t do a great job in sweetening a drink since the sugar just sinks to the bottom. The easiest thing to do is to make a batch of simple syrup at a time and store it in the refrigerator. It’s ready to use whenever you want!

Serving Suggestions

 

NUTRITION

Calories: 150 | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 209mg | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 106IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg
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5 thoughts on “How to Make Iced Coffee”

  1. Fill an icecube tray with coffee and you won’t have any dilution. It’s how we do things down here in Florida where ice melts quickly. ☺️

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Love coffee. Make coffee ice cubes. Get a ice tray from dollar store,wash it dry it. Make extra coffee. Place in ice trays freeze. Put in your ice coffee.

    Reply
  3. 4 stars
    Can you switch the brown sugar to Swerve brown sugar and use almond milk for low carb and low sugar for diabetics. That is my main concern since I’m type 2 diabetic. The stores stay out of my sugar free coffee creamer and it hurts. I love international delight zero sugar caramel macchiato and the stores have been out for 3 weeks!

    Reply
    • Hi Darlene, yes, you can swap out the sugar and use almond milk. Just dilute the sugar in hot water before adding it to the iced coffee.

      Reply

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