A cup of coffee and a glass of beer on a table, with Iced coffee

How to Make Perfect Iced Coffee

As a coffee lover, there’s one thing I just didn’t get until quite recently—Iced Coffee. What?! The idea left me well, cold. Coffee is supposed to be hot. Very, very hot.

And then I made a fatal mistake. I accepted a sample of iced coffee in a popular coffee shop. It was strong, sweet, creamy and icy, icy cold. Wow.


A cup of coffee on a table, with Iced coffee and Sugar

The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee


I needed to figure out how to make this myself—it was that good—because as much as I might want iced coffee again, I was not going to pay the outrageous price to have someone else make it for me.

One might think, as I did, that pouring hot coffee over ice, adding milk and sugar would do the trick. Not exactly. The problem is that the ice seriously dilutes the coffee, a problem that sent me in search of the secret for why the sample was not at all diluted. That’s when I discovered that Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, is quite an iced coffee aficionado, and willing to share her secrets.

Make cold brew

First, you must make a big batch of very strong “cold brew” coffee. And while you can as little as one cup of cold brew at a time, why? I’d rather make 2 gallons at a time because it’s excellent for up to six weeks in the refrigerator.

Now you’re ready

Once you have that beautiful concentrate locked and loaded, it’s time to make one or a number of tall, beautiful, lovely iced coffee! You’ll need ice, coffee concentrate, and your choice of milk, cream and or sugar. Or just drink it black. It will be non-acidic and not the least bit bitter.

Here you have it: Icy cold, undiluted, perfect iced coffee.


A cup of coffee and a glass of beer on a table, with Iced coffee
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5 from 1 vote

How to Make Perfect Iced Coffee

As a coffee lover, there’s one thing I just didn’t get—Iced Coffee. What?! The idea left me well, cold. Coffee is supposed to be hot. Very, very hot. And then I made a life-impacting mistake. I accepted a sample of iced coffee in a popular coffee shop. It was strong, sweet, creamy and icy, icy cold. Wow! The secret is in the cold brew coffee concentrate.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Brewing8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 30 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1
Calories: 107kcal


  • Large container like a clean, new 3-gallon bucket
  • Long wooden spoon
  • Large sieve or colander
  • Cheesecloth


For the Coffee Concentrate

  • 1 pound ground coffee
  • 8 quarts filtered or bottled cold water

For a Single Serving Iced Coffee

  • 1 ½ cups ice
  • 8 ounces coffee concentrate
  • 2 to 4 ounces milk or cream or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or to taste


To Make Proper Coffee Concentrate

  • Into a very large container, dump one pound of ground, dark, rich coffee. Any brand will do.
  • Now pour in 8 quarts (2 gallons) of cold water.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the dry coffee is wet. Cover. Allow to steep at room temperature for at least 8 hours, longer is just fine.
  • Line a large sieve or colander with several layers of cheesecloth and pour the steeped coffee grounds through. You’ll need to prod it a bit to get all of that coffee perfectly sieved, but stick with it. You’ll end up with just shy of 8 quarts of rich, dark coffee concentrate that will be void of bitterness and very low in acidity.
  • Discard the coffee dregs; tightly cover and place the concentrate in the refrigerator.

To make a tall, cold, wonderful glass of Perfect Iced Coffee

  • Fill a 12-ounce glass―or a one-quart canning jar―with ice.
  • Pour very cold coffee concentrate over the ice until the glass or jar is about 3/4 full.
  • Add your choice of milk or cream.
  • Add the amount of sugar you need to make it as sweet as you desire. Stir to mix.


1. The water you use is important: If your tap water is highly chlorinated (taste it, smell it to discover this; if it tastes good to you, use tap water here), opt for bottled or filtered water. 
2. Any ground coffee will do, but you'll be super happy if you start with dark, rich, freshly roasted coffee.
3. This coffee contrate will keep well in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks, provided it is kept tightly covered. Enjoy!


Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 407mg | Potassium: 185mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 201IU | Calcium: 287mg

MORE: Make it Better Yourself: Homemade Coffee Creamer

Start small

Not ready to commit to nearly two gallons of coffee concentrate? No problem. Scale down the proportions: 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each cup of cold water.

In any proportion, iced coffee made this way is even better than the sample that got me into all of this in the first place.

First published: 8-24-12; Seriously updated 1-6-20.


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37 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Priscilla says:

    I just love my coffee hot. I pre-mix very well 3 parts powdered milk to 1 part Coffeemate, 1 T sugar and 1 tsp. cocoa and spoon that into the hot coffee…love it!. I never throw the coffee grounds away but mix them with potting soil for my plants or take them out and put them in the flower garden. Awesome for mixing in the dirt.

  2. Monica in Austin says:

    I reccomend buying (if possible) a toddy drip coffee maker. I have used mine now for 3 years and love it. The filters cost about $1.50 and last for 10 filterings. You still filter water through the coffee ( 12 hours) and then let it drip into glass carafe that goes in the refrigerator. The coffee is less acidic and the coffee grounds are good for the rose bushes!

  3. Trixie Belden says:

    I have made Ree’s recipe before and yes, it is a lot of work …and makes a HUGE mess. As others have stated, there are simpler methods.

    I find it easier to make by the glass using cold coffee.

  4. Sue says:

    I am a half-and-half fiend. However, fat content is, well, fat. I discovered a great substitute – Silk’s Soy Creamer. 3 varieties – Original, French Vanilla, Hazlenut.
    French Vanilla is a keeper for me – I don’t even have to add sugar to my coffee. It adds richness and creamy flavor to my morning cup. Only 1 gram of fat, 3 grams of sugar, 10 mg sodium and 3 grams of carbs.

  5. Jan Marie says:

    I discovered that I can make my iced coffee in my coffee press and then I don’t have to sieve it. And I love mine black with no cream/sugar and lots of ice!

  6. Briana says:

    I add a small squirt of Nestle’s chocolate syrup and a splash of vanilla extract. Mmmm. And I usually make a 6 cup pot in the morning. Have 2 cups to wake me up and then chill the rest for an iced coffee later in the day. And I drink it too fast for the ice to melt 🙂

  7. Jackie says:

    Instead of adding sugar, I use a simple syrup of equal parts water and sugar. The syrup dissolves in better than plain sugar. And yes: 1/2 & 1/2 is the ONLY way to have it!!
    Have you ever had Thai coffee? If I remember correctly, sweetened condensed milk is poured over a glass of ice; a strainer containing coffee is set over the top of the glass, and boiling water is poured over the strainer. It is Heavenly!

  8. Barb says:

    The iced coffee receipt sounds like a lot of work to me. I just make up my coffee and freeze some in ice cube trays. I use them when making my iced coffee and it will not dilute the coffee. Yum!!

  9. Inge Reuter says:

    If you ask for ice coffee in a cafe in Germany, you get a base of superstrong coffee filled up with cream (or half and half), a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a topping of whipped cream. That’s what they call ice coffee! Served in a tall skinny glass, you need a long spoon for that.

  10. Deb says:

    2 teaspoons instant coffee – (Folgers is my preference)
    3/4 to 1 teaspoon sugar. (you could experiment with sweetners – I prefer sugar)
    Mix well with 3 Tablespoons HOT water
    Fill glass at least half full with ice
    Pour 6 oz. skim milk into glass – mix well

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