15-Minute Homemade Root Beer
This simple 15-minute homemade root beer is so fun and festive to make! Plus, it is the tastiest root beer in all the land. Truth.
Growing up, homemade root beer was a staple. Well, a staple in that I remember my dad making it with us around Halloween each year. So I guess that’d be considered a once a year seasonal staple? Something like that?
We thought it was terribly exciting, meaning lots of shrieking and dancing around, to watch the dark root beer bubble and pop while the billowy white fog spilled from the container.
Brian, who happens to love root beer with his whole soul (I think it’s the one and only thing, besides BBQ sauce, that he’s actually kind of a snob, in the very best sense of the word, about).
His feelings about this homemade root beer? “Man, this is really, really good root beer.” I’ll take that.
Best Extract for Homemade Root Beer
A lot depends, of course, on what you use for extract. I’ve learned my lesson over the years that not all root beer extracts are created equal.
I won’t dissuade you from using widely-recognized brands out there, but I will tell you that my favorite of all favorites is Zatarains root beer extract. It is extremely delicious and has a very intense but well-balanced root beer flavor.
The slight carbonation and extra chilliness from the dry ice makes me think I could get behind homemade root beer more than just once a year.
Precautions When Using Dry Ice
While homemade root beer is ridiculously easy and food-grade dry ice is completely safe to drink once it is melted, please, please keep in mind that there are definitely precautions to take when using dry ice.
I’ve listed a few in the notes of the recipe and there is a lot of helpful information online. It’s nothing at all to be scared of but it’s important to remember that because dry ice is so cold, it can cause burns if touched directly so always use insulated gloves or tongs to transfer and take care when using it around small children that may not know they shouldn’t touch it.
Make the root beer in a large, ventilated room or outside so the carbon dioxide doesn’t build up as it works its magic.
Also, remember that dry ice evaporates quickly (a 5- to 10-pound block can evaporate within 24 hours; learned that the hard way when I opened my freezer and my stash of dry ice was just empty plastic bags!) so try to buy just the amount you need when you know you’ll use it quickly. <–speaking of that, it’s best to store dry ice in a styrofoam cooler or container well-wrapped to keep it cold longer, instead of in a commercial freezer since it’s so cold and can sometimes cause the internal thermostat to shut off.
I know, I know, the precautions are a little boring but it’s good to get them out of the way; don’t let them prevent you from trying this!
This simple 15-minute homemade root beer is such a fun, festive drink for the fall and Halloween season, but it is definitely delicious enough to make year round!
The root beer doesn’t keep well if you want to make it days in advance. Over time, the carbonation dissipates, so it’s best to make this right before you want to enjoy it.
15-Minute Homemade Root Beer
- 4 quarts cold water
- 2-3 cups granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you want it; 2 cups is perfect for us)
- 3 tablespoons root beer extract (see note)
- 1-2 pounds food-grade dry ice broken into pieces (use the smaller amount if you want it to dissolve quickly and the greater amount if you want it to foam and bubble while serving)
- In a large pitcher (I use glass), stir together the water, sugar and root beer extract until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Take a little taste to see if you need more extract or sugar.
- In a well-ventilated area, carefully add the dry ice to the pitcher using insulated gloves or tongs and stir with a long-handled spoon so that the dry ice doesn’t stick to the bottom and sides of the container. The root beer will bubble and the dry ice fog will spill from the container (cool!).
- Continue stirring until it is mostly melted, 10-15 minutes.
- Ladle into cups, avoiding any large pieces of unmelted dry ice, and serve.
Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (just like we made it growing up)