Coffee creamers come in a wide variety of flavors these days. Unfortunately those flavored creamers also tend to be full of preservatives and chemical stabilizers.
I have a family full of people with allergies and sensitivities to some of those chemicals, so I started exploring ways to make my own flavored creamers with more natural ingredients. It’s gone well, and I’m happy to share my recipe with you.
My base recipe is:
- one quart of half & half
- ¾ cup raw cane sugar
You can vary that base recipe to suit your own taste. Heavy cream instead of half & half will produce a richer end product. A can of sweetened condensed milk plus a pint of half and half and ¼ cup of raw sugar will also produce a richer mouth feel but with less fat content than the heavy cream. You can also adjust the sugar level to suit your own taste. Commercial flavored creamers have nearly twice the sugar as my base recipe. They’re more expensive too, in the end.
The quality of your ingredients affects the flavor of the finished product. Buy a brand of half & half that you trust. Use raw cane sugar for a depth of flavor you will not find in white granulated sugar. Buy good quality flavoring extracts and oils.
LorAnn or other brand flavor oils in the one dram bottle are perfect for making a quart of creamer. Normally used for candy making, they’re great for creamer. Butter Run, Caramel, English Toffee, Mint, Butterscotch, Pralines & Cream, and Amaretto have all worked well.
Use cocoa powder* and vanilla
Almond/Coconut/Chocolate Creamer: Use almond extract, coconut flavor, cocoa powder*
Almond: use 2 parts almond extract,1 part vanilla
Chocolate Almond: use almond extract and cocoa powder*
Cinnamon: use powdered cinnamon OR LorAnn Cinnamon oil
Cinnamon Chocolate: use cinnamon powder and cocoa powder*
Make Your Own Creamer
Gather all of your equipment and ingredients. You will need:
- 1 quart half & half
- ¾ cup raw sugar
- Flavoring(s) of your choice
- 2 quart sauce pan with a heavy bottom
- Measuring utensils
- Quart bottle**
- A second small container for the extra bit, as the recipe makes about ½ a cup more than quart. (Unless you use the Lehman’s Old-Fashioned Milk Bottle.)
Place the half & half and sugar (and any dry flavoring ingredients like cocoa powder* or cinnamon) into the saucepan and warm over medium/low heat just until the sugar melts, stirring frequently.
You can feel the grainy sugar on the bottom of the pan as you stir. Do NOT let this mixture come to a boil.
The sugar should be finished melting well before bubbles start to form on the edges of the pan.
Remove pan from heat and add flavorings of choice. Stir well. Pour while warm into a glass bottle and refrigerate promptly. I find that my finished creamer keeps well for up to two weeks if I use half & half with a distant expiration date.
*Cocoa powder will float on the top of the half & half until the solution begins to warm. Use a whisk to slowly and gently stir cocoa powder down into the liquid. Flavors using cocoa will also tend to separate and need to be shaken before each use.
We use empty glass eggnog bottles from Wayne County’s Hartzler Dairy, but any clean glass bottle with a cap will work. (So if you aren’t local to Lehman’s, which is near Hartzler’s in Wooster, Ohio, try a glass bottle like one shown!) You want a bottle with a tight seal, to keep air and refrigerator odors out of your creamer, and to keep your creamer’s aroma and taste fresh.
Glass is a better choice than plastic if you change your flavor from week to week as plastic will absorb flavors.
Glass is much easier to get really clean too, more so than plastic, which just feels slimy after a while. And who knows what’s in that plastic?
Sanitizing your bottle between uses with a weak bleach solution or bar sanitizer is a good idea as well.
We get our raw sugar at various Amish markets in Wayne County, Ohio too. A good one is just west on Ohio SR 30 from Lehman’s Kidron,Ohio store: East Union Bulk Foods. It’s worth a visit once you’ve finished up in Kidron.
Bridget Coffman is a mom who’s homeschooled three children, who are now young adults. She lives in a still pretty-rural area outside Akron, Ohio, where she, her husband and son cook from scratch, tend to several cats, a dog, other assorted critters, manage a few wild acres, and participate in a historical recreation organization. This is her first article for Country Life.