Vegan White Russian
Vegan White Russian

This vegan White Russian Cocktail is made with vodka, coffee liqueur, coconut milk and cashew milk. It’s dairy free so all your guests can have a glass. Applause!

In this recipe

  • Kahlúa is not vegan?
  • Vegan alternatives
  • Best vodka
  • Ice is optional

A cocktail can live in obscurity for decades until a single movie or TV show catapults it into vernacular culture. Like cosmos in sex in the cityThe White Russian cocktail experienced a renaissance thanks to its supporting role in the film The big Lebowski. As a creamy cocktail with an energetic kick, the White Russian is a drink for everyone and at any time of the day.

Unless you follow a vegan lifestyle, it’s unattainable! Here’s why and how to fix it.

Wait… Kahlúa isn’t vegan?

There are only three ingredients in a traditional White Russian: vodka, kahlúa and cream. But two of them are not vegan friendly. Kahlúa, a rum-based coffee liqueur, contains sugar processed with animal bone char and is therefore not suitable for vegans.

But there are vegan alternatives to Kahlúa!

  • Tia Mariaanother rum-based coffee liqueur, is vegan.
  • So is NOLA coffee liqueur from St. George Spirits.
  • Do your own! My Coffee Liqueur is an easy recipe that just requires standing over a stove for a few minutes and then gently shaking the jar of brewed liquor every few days for a few weeks.

Vegan alternatives to cream

Then there’s the cream. While there is a plethora of vegan cream substitutes out there, not all of them work here. Some are too greasy, resulting in floating bits in your drink, while others don’t provide the right mouthfeel for the drink that has milk cream. My solution is to use a 50/50 mix of light coconut milk and cashew milk. While the coconut provides a pleasant mouthfeel, the cashew milk provides more flavor. Here are a few tips and tricks for working with both.

  • When choosing coconut milk, go for a “light” variety, not regular or off-white as these two have a higher fat content that tends to clump together rather than spread evenly throughout the cocktail. Here I use Whole Foods “light” canned coconut milk, which mixes evenly every time. Pacific Food’s coconut milk (the kind that comes in an aseptic package) also mixes well, but results in a darker drink because it’s thinner in consistency.
  • Make sure your coconut and cashew milk is room temperature, as they are easier to mix. Want to do it now but it’s fridge cold? Microwave in short (5-10 seconds) bursts, stirring in between to gently warm. No microwave? A small saucepan can also warm your milk on the stove.
  • When you make your own coconut milk at home, Try toasting the coconut first for a more robust base for the drink.
  • Cashew milk can vary in thickness. Similar to their coconut, Pacific Food’s cashew milk is “milkier” and blends evenly. I also like Forager brand cashew milk as it’s already mixed with coconut cream – so I can use just one bottle instead of two!
  • Shaking is the key to a consistently smooth drink! Yes, The Dude pours all of its components into a glass and then downs it, but this laissez-faire attitude won’t translate into a properly made cocktail, vegan or not! Please always shake cocktails with cream!

The best vodka for Belarusians

Finally, there is the vodka. First, Save the top vodka for your martini. The focus of a White Russian is on coffee liqueur and a creamy finish and shouldn’t taste strongly of vodka anyway. Grab an inexpensive bottle—nothing fancy, but nothing that might cause a headache later, either. I’m enjoying Tito’s here, but if you want yours more on the Russian side, Russian Standard is a good choice.

Ice in the glass is optional

While a Rocks glass with ice is traditionally served with a White Russian — which is 100% a by-product of making the drink in the glass — shaking the ice here makes it optional. However, as the drink borders on decadently creamy, you can try to include the ice, which oozes some of that heaviness as it melts. Alternatively, if you want to skip ice, you can serve this “up” (without straining) in a coupe instead of a rocks glass. As I always suggest, try both ways and see which you like better.

More pop culture cocktails

  • Classic cosmopolitan
  • Gin and tonic
  • Tequila Sunrise
  • Mint julep
  • Pina Colada

Vegan Belarusian

preparation time
3 hours

total time
3 hours

1 cocktail

1 cocktail

Not all commercially produced coffee liqueurs are vegan. Kahlúa is made from sugar processed with animal bone charcoal, and as a result some vegans choose not to drink it. Vegan alternatives include Tia Maria, St. George Spirits NOLA coffee liqueur and our own homemade version.

Although this recipe is for a vegan version of the drink, most of these tips and tricks also apply to a standard White Russian, so feel free to use these ideas interchangeably.


  • 1 3/4 ounces vodka

  • 1 1/4 ounces vegan Coffee Liqueur (see recipe note)

  • 1/2 ounce light coconut milk

  • 1/2 ounce cashew milk


  1. Combine the ingredients and shake:

    In a shaker 2/3 full with ice, add vodka, coffee liqueur, coconut milk and cashew milk. Shake vigorously to combine, about 20 seconds.

  2. Surcharge:

    Strain into a Rocks glass filled with ice. Enjoy!

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nutritional information (per serving)
259 calories
1g Fat
15g carbohydrates
0g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!