17 Clever Ways To Use Leftover Brewed Coffee

If you're someone who needs a cup (or two) of coffee to get you going in the morning, then you probably won't find yourself with leftover coffee too often. Still, it happens from time to time. Whether you ran out of time to drink your morning cup, you measured incorrectly, or you got the jitters before you finish the whole pot, you find yourself with more coffee than you can drink. You could take your chances and reheat it later. Or, there's always the option to add some ice, syrup, or plant-based milk and turn it into a refreshing chilled beverage. But coffee starts to lose its flavor after just 30 minutes. It's still drinkable, but it just won't hit the same way as a freshly brewed cup.

Instead of jerry-rigging your leftover coffee into a disappointing beverage, get creative with your leftovers. To help you get started, we've put together a list of clever ways to use leftover brewed coffee. From coffee syrup and coffee ice cubes to a coffee marinade and a coffee vinaigrette, we guarantee you'll be surprised by all of the unique ways you can repurpose your morning brew.

1. Use leftover coffee to master tiramisu

With its luscious layers of mascarpone cheese and ladyfinger biscuits, tiramisu is one of Italy's top dessert exports. Although the sweet cakey dessert may look fancy, it contains just seven ingredients: egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone, heavy cream, ladyfingers, coffee, and unsweetened cocoa powder. Each ingredient has a role to play, but coffee is arguably the most important ingredient of all. Its strong, slightly acidic flavor contrasts with the mellow notes from the egg yolk, ladyfingers, and mascarpone, providing depth to the beloved dessert.

Some recipes call for instant coffee or coffee syrup, but expert tiramisu makers know that only brewed coffee is strong enough to stand out in the sea of creamy ingredients. We recommend using cold leftover espresso. Not only will it give your tiramisu that extra layer of Italian authenticity, but espresso has just the right amount of bitterness to counteract the smoothness of the dairy ingredients. Look for bitter dark roast coffees from India, Brazil, or Ethiopia but avoid overly acidic blends.

2. Upgrade your meat marinade

As much as we love incorporating ground coffee into our steak rubs, it's not the only way to combine coffee and meat. In fact, leftover brewed coffee is an excellent addition to your favorite steak, roast, or rib marinade. Coffee's slight acidity helps tenderize meat, making it a great alternative to acidic marinade ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice. Whereas vinegar or lemon juice can quickly turn your meat into mush, coffee will soften it to perfection.

If you're marinating a steak or a roast, combine one cup of cold brewed coffee with other marinade ingredients such as onion, garlic, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Soak the meat in the liquid, then flip, cover, and refrigerate overnight. For coffee-marinated ribs, soak the meat in cold coffee for one hour, then season, baste with barbecue sauce, and cook as you normally would.

3. Mix it into Ina Garten's Beatty's chocolate cake

From truffled mashed potatoes to chicken marbella, there aren't many Ina Garten dishes we don't want to gobble up immediately. But let's be honest — we're all tuning into "Barefoot Contessa" for the scrumptious, over-the-top desserts. In particular, we can't get enough of the celebrity chef's take on Beatty's chocolate cake.

In addition to typical cake ingredients like flour, sugar, and eggs, this moist, double-layer delicacy relies on freshly brewed hot coffee. While it may sound like a strange addition, you won't taste the coffee in the final product. Rather, coffee's bitter, fruity, and spicy notes mirror those found in the cocoa powder, something that intensifies the chocolatey flavors. While it's clear that adding coffee enhances the chocolate notes, we're not positive about which kind of coffee Garten recommends. She relies on Dallis Brothers, a high-end specialty coffee brand out of New York, for her morning cup but it's unclear if she uses it in her drool-worthy baked goods.

4. Put a new spin on oatmeal

You're probably used to having a cup of coffee alongside your bowl of oatmeal, but why not save those precious morning minutes and combine them into a delicious coffee oatmeal? On top of being an absolute treat, coffee oatmeal is quick, filling, and packed with all kinds of vitamins and minerals. Plus, the caffeine from the coffee will give you a slight pick-me-up without the mid-morning crash. Talk about starting your day off on the right foot.

The basic coffee oatmeal recipe starts with brewed coffee. Combine coffee with milk, honey, and vanilla over medium-high heat. Add rolled oats, then turn down the heat once bubbles start to form. Continue stirring until the liquid disappears. Give it a final stir, then top it with fruit, nuts, peanut butter, or shaved coconut.

5. Pour leftover brewed coffee into stew

Even if you're new to the whole repurposing brewed coffee game, you probably have no issue incorporating leftover java into desserts or sweet drinks. However, we suspect that you'll struggle a bit more when it comes to adding leftover coffee to savory, meat-heavy recipes. And we get it — coffee and meat aren't exactly a natural duo. But we beg you to reconsider, especially when it comes to mixing leftover brewed coffee into stew.

Pouring a cup of coffee into stew gives the stock a rich, satisfying color. Besides that, coffee intensifies the flavors in the soup, adding notes of fruit, spice, nuts, or smoke, depending on the blend. As if better-looking and tasting soup aren't reason enough, coffee's acidity helps tenderize the chunks of meat, something that'll make your stew worthy of a second (or third) helping. For the best results, we recommend pouring half a cup of brewed coffee into the pot when you add broth to the veggies and sautéed aromatics.

6. Give popsicles some zip

When the sun is blazing and you need to cool down stat, few treats hit the spot quite like popsicles. Not only are they tasty, frozen, and portable, but they come in a dizzying number of flavors. Still, most of the treats you'll find at the supermarket are full of additives like high fructose corn syrup and malic acid. Thankfully, homemade popsicles are easy to make and even more delicious than store-bought varieties.

While seasonal fruit, yogurt, and juice are obvious popsicle bases, they're not the only options out there. Case in point: leftover brewed coffee makes some of the most refreshing frozen treats we've ever tried. Coffee purists can keep things simple by pouring some chilled coffee, milk, and sweetener into a popsicle mold, while sweet tooths can experiment with adding flavored syrups, sweetened condensed milk, or even chocolate chips.

7. Leftover coffee makes the best coffee gelato

Sorry to all of the chocolate and pistachio lovers out there, but coffee gelato is where it's at. Don't believe us? Just imagine the rich, complex flavors of your favorite coffee in frozen form and you'll start to understand. Although some coffee gelato recipes recommend starting with instant coffee, there's absolutely no rule that says you can't use your morning leftovers to make this creamy dessert.

That said, you'll want to make sure to chill the coffee before whipping up the gelato. Once the coffee has cooled down, whisk it with milk, whipping cream, and sugar. Pour the coffee mixture into an ice cream maker (we recommend either a Cuisinart or the Ninja Creami), then blend until creamy. Freeze the mixture for at least two hours before serving.

8. Make coffee syrup for cocktails

What if we told you that you could level up your homemade coffee cocktail game without having to buy a ton of fancy equipment or liquors? You'd probably say that it sounds too good to be true. But you'd better believe it. The secret? Making your own coffee syrup. In addition to being inexpensive and easy to make, coffee syrup can be customized according to your sweetener preferences. That's right, white sugar, raw sugar, and even granulated stevia work in this recipe.

To make coffee syrup, combine strong brewed coffee with your sweetener of choice. Boil the two ingredients together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Once ready, mix it into a white or black Russian, an espresso martini, or a mudslide. If you're feeling creative, customize your syrup by adding almond extract, ground cinnamon, or a vanilla bean during the boiling process.

9. Stir strong brewed coffee into red-eye gravy

Unless you're from the South, there's a good chance you've never heard of red-eye gravy. Also called red ham gravy, cedar gravy, or bottom sop, red-eye gravy can be made with as few as two ingredients: country ham drippings and black coffee. Some recipes call for flour, ham stock, or molasses, but they're not essential. We understand that you might need some time to warm up to the idea, but we assure you that the combination of bitter coffee and salty-sweet ham is a match made in heaven.

The first step in making red-eye gravy is pan-frying a slice of country ham. Pour boiling black coffee into the pan. Stir the liquid, making sure to incorporate any solid pieces into the liquid. Serve the gravy with sliced ham and buttermilk biscuits, or pour it over grits or fried potatoes for a true Southern meal.

10. Freeze coffee ice cubes

Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by watery iced coffee. That's what we thought — everybody. Well, no more. With this easy hack, you'll never have to suffer a flavorless chilled coffee ever again. The trick is to substitute regular ice cubes for coffee ice cubes.

Making them couldn't be easier. All you have to do is pour room-temperature coffee into an ice cube tray and freeze it overnight. Then, the next time you've got an iced coffee craving, drop a few into your drink and sip leisurely without fear of consuming weak coffee. But freezing leftover coffee is just the start. If you like a little sweetness in your brew, try adding some sugar or flavored syrup to the cubes. Prefer something creamy? Add a few drops of sweetened condensed milk to each cube.

11. Whisk coffee into your usual balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Balsamic vinaigrette is one of the easiest, healthiest dressings to make at home. The classic balsamic vinaigrette incorporates seven simple ingredients: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. We're definitely not knocking the basic recipe, but we see no reason not to experiment a bit.

Sure, you could substitute maple syrup for honey or try a red wine vinaigrette instead, but we recommend adding coffee to your ingredients list if you're really serious about getting out of your comfort zone. Make coffee balsamic vinaigrette by combining two tablespoons of cool brewed coffee with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and olive oil. Because the coffee is providing some interesting flavor notes, you can get away with not adding salt and pepper.

12. Blend it into your morning smoothie

From thirst-quenching coconut water to creamy avocado, there's no end to the ingredients you can add to smoothies. And while you're probably confident mixing yogurt, milk, and fresh fruit into smoothies, we're willing to bet that you've never thought about adding coffee to your chilly beverage. It's an easy oversight, especially if you're used to drinking hot coffee, but we encourage you to add some coffee to your blender the next time you're craving a smoothie.

Our favorite coffee smoothies start with leftover chilled or room-temperature coffee. Pour the liquid into the blender, then add frozen bananas, cocoa powder, peanut butter, milk, and ice. The natural sugar and caffeine will perk you up, while the fiber and protein will keep you full for hours. For an even more nutritious smoothie, add frozen cauliflower, leafy greens, or protein powder to the mix.

13. Take it on the go with coffee gummies

Bulletproof coffee (aka coffee mixed with added fats like unsalted butter and MCT oil) has taken the world by storm, especially amongst those following a high-fat keto diet. The unconventional drink was inspired by Tibetan yak butter tea and claims to enhance mental function, increase energy, and burn body fat. While the jury's still out on the nutritional and cognitive benefits of bulletproof coffee, people have been consuming it in droves.

If you consider yourself part of the bulletproof coffee cult, then this leftover coffee recipe is for you. Like bulletproof coffee, these homemade gummies contain coffee (duh), butter, and coconut oil. Additional ingredients include vanilla extract, gelatin, and a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup. Blend all of the ingredients together, pour into candy molds, then refrigerate for at least two hours, or until firm. Once set, toss them into a plastic baggy or container for an easy on-the-run caffeine boost.

14. Try coffee brownies and never look back

If you've been paying attention, then you know that coffee enhances the flavors of chocolate. Without getting too much into the food science, coffee makes sweet flavors stand out, while simultaneously decreasing our sensitivity to bitter flavors. It may sound counterintuitive that a bitter drink could make flavors taste sweeter, but you'll see what we're talking about as soon as you try this dynamic combination.

Specifically, we're talking about incorporating leftover brewed coffee into your favorite brownie recipe. You can do this with either boxed brownies or homemade ones. When using a premade mix, simply replace the water with coffee and follow the directions as usual. If you opt for homemade, stir strong coffee or espresso into a mixture of melted butter and chocolate before adding the dry ingredients. Whichever method you choose, your brownies will give you a subtle caffeine hit and be unbelievably chocolatey.

15. Add it to frosting

Whether you're looking to liven up vanilla cake or take devil's food to the next level, adding a healthy layer of coffee frosting is the way to go. When combined with vanilla cake, coffee frosting adds an expected layer of flavor. Paired with chocolate cake, coffee frosting amplifies the chocolate notes in ways you'd never expect.

There are a couple of ways to make the perfect batch of coffee frosting, but pretty much every method starts with a cream cheese or buttercream frosting recipe. The only difference is to replace milk (or whichever liquid the recipe calls for) with leftover brewed coffee. Another option is to combine instant coffee granules with cream and vanilla extract, then add the coffee mixture to the creamed butter and sugar.

16. Turn it into bacon jam

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably seen bacon jam. From fast food meals like Sonic's Bacon Jam Cheeseburger to upscale cheese and meat boards, it seems like everyone's scooping up this savory-sweet condiment these days. Most bacon jam recipes contain some combination of oil, red onion, bacon, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and water. We've got no issues with the original recipe, but we think more people should incorporate brewed coffee into the mix.

While unconventional, adding strong brewed coffee enhances the sweetness of the onions and the smokiness of the bacon. Plus, you won't taste coffee in the final product, so there's absolutely no reason not to add it. To make bacon jam, cook the bacon first. Then cook onions and sugar in the leftover bacon fat. Deglaze the pan by adding a splash of coffee and water before reintroducing the bacon. Simmer until the mixture reaches jam consistency, stir in some balsamic vinegar, and serve with crackers and cheese.

17. Shake up a coffee mocktail

Whether you're sober, sober curious, or just cutting back on booze, finding some go-to mocktail recipes is an essential part of maintaining your social life. These days, the market is full of all kinds of incredible non-alcoholic beers and alcohol alternatives, but we get it — sometimes you just want a pretty drink in your hand.

That's where our favorite coffee mocktails come in. One of the simplest recipes is an espresso tonic. As the name suggests, it's a mixture of espresso and tonic water, served on the rocks. The simplicity of the ingredients means the coffee flavors shine through, so make sure to use a quality brew. If you're looking for something fancier, combine freshly squeezed orange juice, ice cubes, soda water, and hot coffee mixed with honey into a tumbler glass.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.