Caipirinhas are one of the most refreshing cocktails out there. This simple recipe (just 3 ingredients!), packs tons of fresh lime flavor, just a touch of sweetness, and the beloved Brazilian spirit, cachaça. This drink hits the spot!

caipirinha cocktail in a rocks glass set on a wood table

Hands down, the Caipirinha is my favorite cocktail. Well, it actually may be tied with the Paloma. And I do love a glass of Prosecco. Hell, it’s tied with the Margarita too. No wonder we have a Cocktail Friday around here!

But in all honesty, I love whipping up (or ordering up) a caipirinha any chance I can get. Even better, they’re super easy to make at home, require next to no preparation, and has hardly any added sugar. All you need is three simple ingredients!

Ingredients in a Caipirinha Cocktail:

A caipirinha ingredient list is simple as can be, here is all you need:

  • Cachaça 
  • Fresh Limes 
  • Sugar 
  • crushed ice (traditional) or ice cubes
a bowl with lime wedges, a shot glass, cachaca, and a cocktail glass with some sugar in it set on a wood table

What is Cachaça?

Cachaça, which was once hard to find, is becoming easier and easier to get a hold of these days. In the past few years it has gained momentum in the cocktail word, much like other small batch operations that are gaining traction in a movement towards craft distilling and brewing.

By law, cachaça must be made in Brazil (similar to how a bottle of Champagne can only carry that name if the grapes have been grown in the Champagne region of France) and is made from cane juice pressed from the stalks of sugarcane.

Is Cachaça rum?

You’ll hear Cachaça often referred to as “Brazil’s rum”, and although it is distilled from the fresh cane juice, it’s significantly different from what we think of as rum. Traditional rum is made by distilling cane juice that has been processed into molasses, which gives it that rich, caramel-like flavor. Whereas, cachaça is made by fermenting fresh sugarcane juice then distilling to create the spirit. Compared side by side, cachaça with have a much brighter, grassy, and almost herbaceous flavor than rum.

Cachaça researcher, Felipe Jannuzzi, has traveled Brazil to research and explore the different types of cachaça from the various regions of the country (the method in which it is made varies from region to region). Jannuzzi and his fellow researchers have identified more than 70 different aromas in cachaça. Much like the aroma wheel created for wine, Januzzi and his fellow researchers have created an aroma wheel for cachaça.

The Cachaça industry

Although there are brands that sell industrial, big-batch cachaça, much of this spirit that’s consumed worldwide is actually from premium artisanal productions. So, you can feel good about drinking this spirit, because you’re helping to keep an industry of small batch producers in business, how cool is that?

overhead image of a caipirinha cocktail in a rocks glass set on a wood table

How to make a caipirinha cocktail

Making the Brazilian caipirinha cocktail (did you know it’s Brazil’s national drink?!) is one of the easiest drinks you can make. The two key things to remember:

  1. get more limes than you think you’ll need.
  2. seek out Cachaça (don’t use just any ol’ rum), this is what makes a caipirinha, well, a caipirinha! Call your local liquor store or simply Google “where to buy Cachaça,” and locations near you will pop up.

step 1: 

In a rocks glass, muddle lime wedges (yes, from the whole lime) and sugar (I like 1 teaspoon of sugar, if you like your drinks sweeter use 2 teaspoons) until all of the juices have been released.

step 2:

Add Cachaça, fill with ice, and stir to chill (or transfer to a cocktail shaker, give it a good shake, and pour everything back into the rocks glass).

If you have crushed ice, use that. It’s more traditional. I just don’t have a refrigerator that makes ice! 😉

step 3: 

Sip and enjoy (then make another)!

grid of three images showing how to muddle limes with sugar, muddled limes in a rocks glass, and adding cachaca to a cocktail glass with lime

To stir or to shake the caipirinha cocktail?

Classically this Brazilian cocktail is stirred, but you can absolutely shake it. An added bonus of shaking, if you don’t have crushed ice, shaking this cocktail with ice will create smaller pieces of ice.

Favorite bar essentials:

Cocktails you might also like…

Make sure to tag me @ZESTFULKITCHEN ON INSTAGRAM or comment below if you make this Classic Caipirinha Recipe. 

To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can click the button on any of the photos, or the red button on the side bar or below the recipe. Cheers!

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caipirinha cocktail in a rocks glass set on a wood table

Caipirinha

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
  • Category: Cocktail
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: Brazilian

Description

A classic caipirinha drink recipe that features lime, a touch of sugar and Brazilian cachaça.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 12 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces cachaça
  • Ice
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Instructions

In a rocks glass, muddle lime wedges (yes, from the whole lime) and sugar until all of the juices have been released.

Add Cachaça, fill with ice, and stir to chill (or transfer to a cocktail shaker, give it a good shake, and pour everything back into the rocks glass).

Garnish with a lime wedge (optional) and enjoy!



Notes

Nowadays Cachaça can easily be found at most liquor stores. If you’re unsure, simply Google “where to buy Cachaça near me,” and options will populate.

If you have crushed ice, use that. It’s more traditional!


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cocktail
  • Calories: 164
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 11g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: caipirinha recipe, caipirinha

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This article and recipe were originally published on May 22nd, 2017. They were last updated on March 25h, 2021.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

  1. I love caipirinhas! It’s one of my favorites to make at home – so simple, smooth and refreshing.

  2. One more: if you can get key limes, by all means make a caipirinha with them – they are the best and the closest to the galego lime found in Brazil. Otherwise, regular limes will do.

    1. Melissa, thanks for that tip! I am stopping by the store this evening and will keep an eye out for some key limes. Thanks for sharing!

  3. The best tip is to cut the lime in quarters and cut off the middle white thing in the lime. And when muddling the lime, don’t do it too much. Both things will help creating a caipirinha that is less bitter. Shaking is also not recommended because it crushes the lime too much, also releasing all the bitterness of the peel. The main goal in the muddling is to release the essencial oils of the peel in just the right amount – think of the sugar as an exfoliator. Don’t over do it and the results will be amazing 🙂