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The Dude Abides, and you can, too, by making this delicious Classic White Russian recipe. This is a big drink with big flavors. 

Perfect for any time of the year, but especially wonderful in the colder months. A great holiday drink or a Friday night belly warmer. Give our delicious creamy Classic White Russian recipe a try.

Two Classic White Russian cocktails on a platter with a container of milk and a bottle of Kahlua
A White Russian is such a tasty cocktail!

🥃 What makes this recipe special?

This is a hardy and bold cocktail. We love White Russian cocktails and have made a few spin-off recipes, but you can’t beat the classic drink.

Yes, we have made some great drinks inspired by this one, but today is devoted to our Classic White Russian Recipe that you should try. If you are looking for some other tasty creamy cocktails, maybe check out this Rumchata Cider Cocktail or a cool Mojitarita Milkshake. Whatever you do, make sure to treat yourself

☕ Ingredients

Such a simple cocktail. Three ingredients are all it takes, plus some ice. 

Vodka in the White Russian

This is a big drink, and vodka is not a big flavor, so the vodka brand is not that important. I am a fan of Smirnoff Vodka for most of my mixed drinks. 

If I were to drink the spirit alone, I might look a bit further at vodkas I want to try, but we are putting this in a drink with strong flavors. There is a strong coffee flavor, and the cream brings a heaviness to this drink that would likely hide the nuances of any vodka flavor.

Reach into your liquor cabinet and grab that vodka you would use on the regular. Keep the top-shelf stuff where it is. Of course, if you like fancy vodkas, consider a Grey Goose White Russian or whatever great vodka you have! 

Coffee Liquor or Kahlua

There are a few choices for Coffee Liquor, but I look to Kahlua as my go-to for this drink. It has a long-established history and really is a staple Coffee Liqueur. When I bartended as a job, it certainly got the most use out of all coffee liquors.

I don’t even call it coffee liquor, but Kahlua. They are almost synonymous. Other brands, like Tia Maria, also have some historical claim to the drink. There are new kinds of coffee liqueurs coming out. As always, I say drink what you like and today I will stick with Kahlua.

If you want real fun, try making your own Kahlua.

Heavy Cream

Use milk in a pinch, but let’s stay true to the heaviness of this drink and use heavy whipping cream. Half and half works, too. I have used whatever was in the refrigerator when I didn’t have cream, but the cream can add a specialness to the cocktail.

See the recipe card for quantities.

🥛 Layering or Mixing The Cream

I have seen the White Russian cocktail served in two different ways. First is the drink, where the cream is mixed right in. The second is a recipe where the cream is layered on top. For this recipe, I am using the layering technique.

Either method is acceptable. The layered method will give a more interesting look as the cream starts to intermingle with the other alcohols. It does, however, give a more separated flavor.

I generally use a spoon for layering, but if my ice cube is a big one rather than smaller cubes, slowly pouring also seems to work.

Pouring some cream on top of an almost complete cocktail.

☕ Difference between a Black Russian and a White Russian

The answer to this is simple. Cream. A White Russian recipe calls for cream, while a Black Russian has none. The original Black Russian was created in 1949, and eventually, the cream was added to the mix. So, if you prefer a Black Russian, just leave the cream out!

🎓 History tidbit

Many of us know the drink from the famous movie, The Big Lebowski. This cocktail’s history has much more going on than just a movie, which we previously wrote about. The ratio for this classic cocktail is one to one to one! How did we get that? History.


What is the difference between a White Russian and a Black Russian?

A White Russian has cream in it and a Black Russian does not.

What does The Dude put in his White Russian?

I use heavy cream, but I am pretty sure The Dude used whatever dairy was in his fridge.

📝 Tips and tricks

  • Layer your cream for an interesting visual effect in the cocktail.

🛠 Products used in this recipe

😋 Did you make this recipe?

That is awesome, and thank you so much for giving this White Russian recipe a try. If you could leave a rating in the comment area below, it would be greatly appreciated. This lets me know how I am doing and also helps others decide if they want to make this recipe. Most of all, thanks for visiting Ramshackle Pantry.

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Two Classic White Russian cocktails on a platter with a container of milk and a bottle of Kahlua

Classic White Russian Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 11 reviews
  • Author: Ben Myhre
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 Minutes
  • Yield: 1 Cocktail 1x
  • Category: Cocktails
  • Method: Stir
  • Cuisine: American
Save Recipe


This Classic White Russian Recipe is like a double dessert of drink. If you have not had this vodka and Kahlua cocktail before, I suggest you run with this recipe. It is tasty.


  • 1 Ounce Vodka
  • 1 Ounce Kahlua
  • 1 Ounce Heavy cream


  1. Add ice to Lowball Glass
  2. Add Vodka & Kahlua to glass
  3. Stir
  4. Layer Heavy Cream on Top
  5. Serve

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  1. Haven’t had a White Russian in years! Love them! Especially love them layered, because you get flavor and texture layers.

  2. This has always been one of my favorite cocktails but haven’t had one in years. You reminded me how much I loved them. I’ve also had them made with ice cream instead of cream and it’s delicious to drink as it melts, especially here in Florida.

    1. Just saw your idea about icecream in White Russian… i also live in Florida and that sounde good
      Did you mix the kahula and vodka in a glass and than just add the vanilla ice cream?

  3. I love this post. To be honest, White Russians disappeared for a while and I think they are making a comeback! I actually had my first one ever last Christmas. I’m glad to see this class version explained in your post. Gotta start with the basics!

  4. I had never made one of these before, but love them.. this recipe came out perfect! Thank you so much for sharing… I’m excited to be making these all holiday season long.

  5. I’m glad I love coffee with cream, because this makes me appreciate a White Russian even more. I’m guilty of knowing the drink from the Big Lebowski, so it was interesting to read about its history.

  6. I am in love with the layered look and that is sure to make my guests happy! This is so perfect for my little holiday gathering this year. And now that I know the history of it, I can boast little to my guests!

  7. Nice to see that a drink that I’ve always thought was so decadent is actually so easy. Looking forward to the day when we can have larger party gatherings and offer this treat.