This pumpkin spice latte recipe is easy to prepare and rivals coffee shop versions! Save money and make a large batch at home to enjoy all season long.
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The end of the year brings my favorite holidays, lots of baking, and the smells of lingering fall spices to my kitchen. The season is kickstarted by ordering a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte (aka PSL) on the first day they are available. A sip of coffee is always paired with a pumpkin cream cheese muffin.
To save money and time waiting in line at the coffee shop, I successfully recreated the famous pumpkin spice latte at home. It starts with a batch of simple spiced syrup made with real pumpkin purée. This lasts a week, so it’s easy to grab and pour into your daily cup. Combined with espresso, frothy milk, and whipped cream, you’ll become a barista in no time.
Pumpkin spice latte ingredients
- Pumpkin Spice Sauce: A sugar syrup mixed with pumpkin puree, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, clove, and ginger.
- Espresso: One to two ounces (also called shots).
- Milk: About 8 ounces, dairy or plant-based, like almond, soy, or oat milk. Steamed or cold for an iced version.
- Whipped Cream: Top with whipped cream, either unsweetened or sweetened; this is optional.
- Pumpkin Spice Topping: A mixture of ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. You can use homemade pumpkin pie spice or store-bought for a quick swap.
Make the pumpkin spice sauce
The sauce comprises canned or homemade pumpkin puree, cinnamon sticks, ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Feel free to add vanilla extract or beans. It gently simmers on the stovetop for 20 minutes. This will slowly extract the flavors of the spices, infusing them into the sugar solution. Your home will smell incredible!
Don’t boil the syrup; you want to keep a simmer, which will thicken as it cools. Strain the sauce through a cheesecloth to grab any significant bits of spice. You can skip this step if you don’t mind it in your beverage. Afterward, I store the syrup in a glass bottle, making it easy to pour into the latte. The recipe makes about 2 cups of sauce. This would be great to add to a pumpkin cream cold brew.
Espresso is used in lattes because it’s a concentrated coffee combined with steamed or cold milk. It’s brewed in a espresso machine using packed, finely ground beans and high water pressure. The shot of coffee is strong in flavor and caffeine levels. Typically, one shot is about 0.75 to 1 ounce (22 to 30 ml).
Starbucks’ single shot is 0.75 ounces, used in short (8-ounce) and tall (12-ounce) lattes. Grande (16 ounces) and venti (20 ounces) use two shots or 1.5 ounces. You can adjust how strong you like for your coffee. This recipe makes about a 10 to 12-ounce latte.
Prepare the milk
This recipe makes for one latte, but it’s easy to scale up! For one serving, I use 8 ounces of milk. Whole milk will give you the richest texture, but other types of plant-based milk are great substitutes. Almond and oat milk are a favorite at my house. Many brands have formulated the milk to become frothy, similar to cow’s milk.
The key is warning the milk to 140 to 145ºF (60 to 63ºC) for a drinkable, hot temperature that is not scalding and makes the best foam. Warm it on the stovetop over medium-low heat to make a few drinks. Or, if you are in a hurry, in a 10 to 12-ounce cup in the microwave, in 15-second intervals. I like to use a hand-held milk frother to create foam on top.
How to make pumpkin spice latte
Depending on how sweet and robust you like your latte, add 1 to 3 tablespoons of the pumpkin spice sauce. Stir in the espresso shot or two, then add the steamed or cold milk. Add foam or top with homemade whipped cream. Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice on top, then enjoy!
A quicker version
For those busy mornings, if you want to make a quick pumpkin spice latte without preparing the sauce, here’s an easy solution. Add the following ingredients for one latte:
- Milk: 8 ounces
- Espresso: 1 to 2 shots
- Sweetener: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup, honey, or sugar. Adjust levels to your liking.
- Spice: Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Alternatively, combine 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and add the desired amount of blend.
- Pumpkin: Add 1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons of pumpkin puree.
Serve this with
- Pumpkin cream cheese muffin
- Pumpkin cake
- Coffee cake with pumpkin
- Pumpkin cinnamon rolls
- Pumpkin waffles or pumpkin pancakes
- Apple turnovers
Cold or steamed milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice sauce, brewed espresso, whipped cream, and pumpkin spice topping.
A combination of ground cloves. cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg is sprinkled on top of the foam or whipped cream.
Substitute 1/4 cup of strong brewed coffee for 1 shot of espresso or 1/2 cup for two shots. Use dark roast for a more intense coffee taste.
What gives pumpkin spice lattes their flavor?
Ever wonder what the baristas are pumping into each cup to give it flavor? The sauce is a simple syrup, using a 1:1 ratio of granulated sugar and water. As the sugars dissolve, this will give a thickened consistency. If you prefer a more caramel-like taste, use brown sugar. Condensed milk is added for a milkier taste and thicker consistency. I chose to omit it because milk is already being added to the latte.
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Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pumpkin Spice Sauce
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups water
- 6 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ cup canned pumpkin purée
- 2 teaspoons nutmeg, ground
- 1 teaspoon teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pumpkin Spice Latte
- 1 cup milk, dairy or plant-based
- 1 shot espresso, 0.75 to 1 ounce
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin spice sauce
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream, optional
- pumpkin pie spice, for topping
Pumpkin Spice Sauce
- Make the Simple Sauce – In a medium saucepan add the granulated sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heating, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Infuse the Spices – Add the cinnamon sticks, pumpkin puree, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until the syrup is fragrant, about 20 minutes. Do not let the mixture bubble, gently infuse the spices into the syrup.
- Strain – Pour the syrup through a cheesecloth-lined sieve or fine-meshed strainer. Lightly press the mixture through to extract the spice flavor.
- Using and Storing – Use pumpkin spice sauce in the latte as directed. For the leftover syrup, cool to room temperature. Transfer to a glass container, cover, and refrigerate.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Heat the Milk – Warm the milk over medium-low heat on the stovetop until hot, between 140 to 145ºF (60 to 63ºC). Alternatively, microwave in 15-second intervals until the desired temperature is reached. Use a frother if desired to make foam.
- Make the Latte – Add the pumpkin spice sauce to a 10 to 12-ounce coffee cup. Add less or more depening on desired sweetness. Add the espresso and add to the cup, stir to combine. Add the hot milk and foam is desired.
- Make the Whipped Cream (Optional) – In a medium bowl, whisk the heavy whipping cream until medium peaks form. Add on top of the latte.
- To Serve – Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice on top of the latte. Enjoy!
- Pumpkin Spice Sauce Yield: About 2 cups, use 1 to 4 tablespoons per latte. Makes around 16 servings.
- Storing Sauce: Let the syrup cool to room temperature. Transfer to a glass container with a lid. Store for up 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
- Stronger Latte: Add about 1.5 to 2 ounces (2 shots) of espresso.
- Substituting with Coffee: Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup strong coffee, dark recommended.
- Quick Latte: If you don’t have time to make the sauce in advance. Combine espresso shot, milk, 1 to 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and 1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons pumpkin puree.
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