The Secret to Great Iced Coffee

iced coffee recipe

You don’t have to be a barista behind the counter surrounded by stainless-steel equipment and rows of glass syrup bottles to make a great iced coffee. In fact, iced coffee is better when made at home, if you know the right method.

The secret to an iced coffee that has delicious flavor without the bitter taste or over-sweetness is to make it the night before using the cold-brew method.

Instead of making the traditional pot of hot coffee and then chilling it, you soak the coffee grounds overnight in cold water. It makes a tremendous difference in flavor: it’s smoother and easier to drink, so you don’t need to add extra sugar to cover up any acidic taste.

Once you make iced coffee at home and realize how easy it is and how much better it tastes, the idea of spending cash at a coffee shop each morning seems disappointing. This iced coffee recipe makes two glasses for less than fifty cents, and that’s with the good coffee.

french-pressIt’s super-easy to make in the French press, but you could also use a glass jar and sieve.

  1. The night before, start with 1/4 cup of coarse ground coffee, and add 1 cup of cold filtered water. Let it  overnight.
  2. The next morning add 1 more cup of fresh cold water.
  3. Strain and pour into a chilled glass over ice (makes two glasses).

I add a generous amount of milk and a spoonful or two of raw sugar. You could even make a simple syrup with a little vanilla. If you like extra milk, add less water. Freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays for next time.

After you’ve tried this recipe, the next time you order an iced coffee from the coffee shop, you’ll think, “I can make this better at home.” Try it, you’ll see.

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About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I love this – thank you! I am an iced coffee fan, but of course, as is the case for me with salads, they are always better when a professional makes them.
    But this gives me hope. I am going to try it! Better than spending a ton of money on my little cans of Starbucks Espresso and Cream and pouring over ice every morning.

    Leigh´s last blog post..Catalogs, Junk Mail and Phone Books… Oh, My!

  2. I’ll have to give this one a try. Thanks.

    Shanna´s last blog post..Tell Me Thursday : Beautiful Surprise

  3. Yea – I have a french press and will try this. So no boiling at all? Ever? Now I only have to remember the night before. ;)

    Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam´s last blog post..Watching my Garden Grow…asparagus

    • No boiling, that’s why for me it’s even easier than regular coffee. And if setting up the coffee is part of my evening routine, then the morning is simpler too.

    • I was watching the food network one night and there is some sort of a coffee shop that cold drips the coffee they make. I think it was on the best thing I ever ate show, but I’m not 100% certain.

      The trick was to slow drip the coffee. You would actually see water drip by drip. I think it took overnight there too for them to make the coffee, but it was apparently the best coffee and best way to make coffee. Most people just aren’t willing to be that patient for the morning cuppa joe.

  4. What a great tip! My husband and I went through a phase of trying to make frappucinos ourselves a few years back – we got pretty good at them!


    steadymom´s last blog post..Children and TV – Use the Screen Successfully

  5. I was just thinking the other day that you had posted something like this before and so I was going to come look for it. Here it is! We don’t have a coffee maker, so currently I make coffee with a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup, a tea strainer and a pan of hot water. This will make iced coffee pretty easy.

    Shannon´s last blog post..Food Roots – June 4

  6. I make a big pitcher of this and leave it in the fridge. It stays good for a week or so, not that it ever lasts that long. I make it extra stong and then add some sweetened condensed milk, Vietnamese style. It’s also amazing if you pour it into ice pop moulds.

  7. Thanks for the new recipe. My husband loves iced coffee, but we haven’t figured out how to make it as good as specialty shop versions. Excited to try this!

  8. I remember you posted a link to this recipe last year or so (I think it was you) and I’ve been making it ever since. It is sooooo good and so easy. I’d never think of buying an iced coffee again!

  9. Christy says:

    Freeze coffee in ice cube trays and use it to keep your coffee from getting watered down as it melts.

    Now you’ve given me a hankering for an iced coffee, so I’m signing off. :)

  10. thanks for re-posting this. It has been iced coffee weather week here!!

  11. My farmer Dad always loves his iced coffee. He would come in from the hay field or wheat harvest and drink cold coffee. I didn’t get it when I was a kid. I do now. I never knew how to make it! I’m trying it tomorrow!! Thanks for sharing.

    mrs. e´s last blog post..Summer Job

  12. I love this!!! I always think that making coffee and pouring it over ice could never work — ice would melt, dilution issues, etc. This is so smart! Will definitely give it a shot…

    Allegra´s last blog post..Awesome Item of the Day

  13. Oh my! That looks awesome! I have been wanting a french press. Now, I might have to go get me one!

    Marci@OvercomingBusy´s last blog post..Setting up summer routines for kids

  14. Trying tonight! Can’t wait for morning to come:)
    Thanks for the great (easy) recipe. No boiling water–w00t!

    tara´s last blog post..ten things i love about you [nm]

  15. I made it this morning – so good! Thanks for the yummy (& easy) recipe!

  16. I make an iced coffee every morning. I make espresso and then have to chill it in an ice bath {I’m so fancy, I pour the espresso in a metal little pitcher and then set that down in a metal bowl full of ice water}. It’s cold in about 2 minutes.

    Everyone in the house looks at me like I am a freak. Especially when we have guests. Your way is a thousand times easier and I’ve been looking for a reason to get a french press!

    Thanks so much for saving my dignity.

    The Nester´s last blog post..How to Yard Sale

  17. I’ve got my grounds soaking in water and its a rainy day – not typical iced coffee weather:) I want to learn the ingredients in Tim Horton’s iced coffees; maybe they’re not all bad like those from McDonalds. I do find that iced coffee cubes makes a nice difference and I use evaporated milk and some Torani syrup in my iced-brew too.

  18. Delish! I tried today. I have been making iced coffee every day, but with hot espresso. I made this with regular coffee and it was as good, if not better! Perfect for my new press. Very smooth, indeed. Thank you so much for the recipe!!!! <3

    Melanie´s last blog post..Ketchup

  19. This great! I’ve been thinking about buying a toddy maker (for cold brewed coffee) but since I already have the french press this option is much cheaper. And I read your post about McD’s…can’t believe what they put in there. Terrible!

  20. YUM! I live in Sicily and have completely fallen in love with cappuccinos. But it gets super hot here during the summer and I didn’t know what I’d do without my cappo! Thanks so much for the recipe! I even blogged about it! YAY!

    Emily´s last blog post..Delicioso!

  21. Love this idea, Rachel. I tweeted this article because it is so genius. You never cease to amaze me and I am now going to have to replace that French Press that cracked :) Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Amy´s last blog post..Freebie Friday: June 5, 2009

  22. This is fabulous! I’ll be linking.

  23. What brand of coffee do you prefer?

    Abdolhosein V. Ebrahimi´s last blog post..Find build date of an assembly

  24. Thank you Thank you Thank you! I have been looking for a simple way to make these and this fits the bill. I absolutely love my iced coffee and grudgingly pay Starbucks prices. But sometimes don’t want to make the hike to get one if I’m in my PJs on a Sunday morning!

    First time visitor to your blog – thanks to Janis at An Inspired Life. I love what I’ve seen so far and will be checking back regularly.

    donna @ dh designs´s last blog post..A weekend in the Garden

  25. Barbara says:

    Any suggestions for a good DECAF coffee brand to use? With a new baby, am trying to stay away from the caffiene.

    • I’m not sure about decaf coffee brands. Rather than decaf coffee, I tend to drink herbal tea.

  26. thanks so much for sharing this–it was delicious!

  27. You’ve made my summer! As much as I adore iced coffee, I never seem to make it well at home. Thanks for the great secret and tips! I plan to go to Costco tomorrow, buy the jumbo bag of Starbucks French Roast beans, get out my coffee grinder and French Press and start a new afternoon ritual.

    julie´s last blog post..a weekend’s always worth the wait

  28. I have made this several times and love it. I’m just wondering about making a bigger batch. Do you keep the ratio the same? To make 8 cups of coffee would I use a full cup of grounds? Thanks for posting this!

    • I would think so. I’ve never made that much at one time, but I would keep the ratios the same.

  29. Hey, just discovered this through stumble, and I’m making it right now. We’ll have to wait ’til tomorrow morning to see how it turns out, though.

  30. Do you chill it in the fridge overnight or just leave it on a counter?

    • I just leave it on the counter overnight, and then in the morning add more fresh cold water.

    • I had the same question, the article didn’t make it clear. Thanks for reading my mind! ;)

  31. This is a great alternative to using the Toddy system. Lots of people use dark roasted coffee in a drip-brew since it’s smoother and has less acidity, but if you’re cold brewing, you might want to try a medium or light roast since cold brewing makes a smoother brew anyway.

  32. I just tried this recipe, and it is fabulous. In fact, I’m enjoying a glass right now. :) Along with the milk & ice, I also added some sugar-free vanilla syrup to my glass. It’s wonderful. I can’t thank you enough for posting this recipe!

    Amy´s last post…Skillet Blueberry and Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

  33. I thought the French Press was bad for your health, since it is not filtered?

  34. AH! This is the sort of thing I have been looking for. Looking for my next choice of coffee. Thanks! Your site is great by the way. You should add buttons to the bottom of your posts to digg, stumble, etc your content.- Tom

  35. Bridget says:

    tried the recipe this morning in a home-made carmel frappacino–freaking best coffee drink! thank you so much for sharing the recipe! This will save me several trips to the pricy coffee houses!! :)

  36. Meghan D says:

    I just made a big batch of this last night for brunch today and it came out perfect! I just tripled the recipe which made around 40 oz of coffee. Depending on how strong you like your coffee add more or less water when diluting the coffee after letting it sit over night. I also went ahead and made a simple syrup for the batch since I like mine sweet and added about 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of that to the 40 oz of coffee which made it just sweet enough but not too sweet.

    Now, I don’t have to go to Starbucks for my iced coffee anymore!- Thanks so much for posting this!!!

  37. Stephanie Fallon says:

    I am so glad I remembered you posted this. Our college age daughter is home for the summer and has developed a taste (ok, love) for iced coffee. It has been driving my husband and I crazy watching her drive 6 miles (our car/gas) each way, every morning to get one. Our investment in a French Press is well worth it. Thank you for the post and helping us to stay simple!

  38. Amber Tucker says:

    1/4 c. plus a tbsp? That’s… mind boggling… Thanks for telling us, Meghan D.
    All of a sudden I’m glad I live out in the sticks, so to speak, and Starbucks is only a very occasional treat.
    And here I thought a coffee containing a single 2-Tbsp shot of syrup was bad but not THAT bad… I was wrong in my assumptions of just how much they use! Eeeeep!

  39. Interesting. By the way, I found this trying to find out why McDonald’s iced coffee made me sick as a dog. I’m lactose intolerant, but a regular coffee plus a bit of milk and ice would never bother me. Duh, I should have known they used a mix, like a shake, or something.

  40. Made a pitcher of this today — it’s practically 100 degrees outside so it was much needed! Thanks for the recipe.

  41. Thank you for this! I have recently developed a love for Iced Coffee but am not excited about spending over two dollars a day buying it. I was reading your blog after googling ‘Baby Closet Organizers’ – good job by the way, and was excited to find this post. You just saved me having to google iced coffee (or rather, put off googling how to make it and spend another two dollars later)
    Rae´s last post…A toast to new beginnings It is 2011 and many thing are

  42. Tip to keep it from getting watery as the ice melts –

    (sorry if this was already mentioned – didn’t have time to read through all the comments!)

    my boyfriend makes coffee ice cubes with left-over brewed coffee (or from cold-brew)…

    i love iced coffee, but not the watery aftermath…hope someone finds this helpful!

  43. I like to add some vanilla soymilk to my iced coffee to make it super amazing awesome. It’s probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

  44. Elizabeth T says:

    Having my first home cold-brewed iced coffee!!! Yummy!! thank you for sharing a great recipe. I even pulled out my old Bodum, it worked perfectly.

  45. Iced coffee is my DH’s all time favorite but we’ve never tried to make it at home. Thanks for this recipe – this is enough inspiration to give it a go.
    Anne-Marie @ Best Toys for Boys´s last post…Razor Dune Buggy Review

  46. Very clever. I’ve never heard of the “cold brew method”. Will give it a try…
    Trecia @ Kitchen Playsets´s last post…Little Tikes Super Chef Kitchen Review

  47. I’m a HUGE iced coffee fan but I’ve never tried to make it myself – actually, I’ve never even thought about trying it. Will give your recipe a go!
    Lynn@Sewing Machine Reviews´s last post…Brother CS6000i Review

  48. Tried this and it came out perfectly. Now all I need to get is some whipped cream and caramel topping! =)

  49. Good;)

  50. Just made a glass from the grounds I had sitting overnight and all I have to say is YUM!

    Just got my grounds ready for tomorrow. :)