How To Make A Pumpkin Spice Latte

I spent a morning testing out the most popular pumpkin spice latte recipes online. I then made my own recipe based on what worked and what didn’t in the other recipes.

The first recipe that I’ll give you is the best tasting drink you can make without going through the effort of making a pumpkin syrup.

I would, however, recommend making the syrup if you have the time as it did made for a drink that was more faithful to the Starbucks version than the first one here.

A version with the syrup is the second recipe in this post. I will then give you my thoughts on the other popular recipes online.

Best Pumpkin Spice Latte If You Don’t Want to Make the Syrup

This is for one serving, feel free to double/triple up for more people.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) espresso
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) whole milk
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin Puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Whipped cream to top

For the pumpkin pie spice mix we need equal parts:

  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger powder

Please note that all the pumpkin spice lattes I made use the same spice mix and when I use the term “spice mix” this is what I am referring to.

How to Make:

  1. Puree the pumpkin by roasting it until it is soft and blitzing in a food processor. I roasted my small pumpkin for an hour. 1/4 of a small pumpkin can make around 6 tablespoons of puree.
  2. Mix equal parts ground cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ground ginger together.
  3. Make your espresso and pour it in your serving mug (bear in mind this will be about 1/4 of the whole drink so use a cup that is large enough)
  4. Heat up the milk in a saucepan to a simmer. When it starts to simmer add your pumpkin puree, spice mix, sugar and maple syrup and vanilla extract. Simmer for 8 minutes.
  5. Take your infused milk off the heat and froth it.
  6. Add the frothed, infused milk to the espresso, stir, and top with cream and a little extra spice mix.

Notes on the recipe:

When I made the pumpkin puree, it was a little bit more watery than I expected (see image below). I’d therefore recommend making it a day before and leaving it in the fridge overnight to dry out.

Pumkin puree in bowl
The pumpkin puree was more watery than expected

I find that the 1:3 coffee to milk ratio allowed you to taste the coffee but still left you with a drink that was more sweet than bitter. Try sticking to this ratio if you scale up the recipe.

Frothing already heated milk can be a bit messy so do it over the sink.

True Starbucks Style Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe (For Those Who Want to Make The Syrup)

I made the recipe from Starbucks’ Coffee At Home website. You can find this recipe here.

Ingredients:

For the syrup:

  • 4 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 12 ounces (360 grams) sugar
  • 1.5 cups (360 ml) water
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

For the latte:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • 1 fluid ounce (30 ml) espresso
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin syrup
  • Whipped cream for topping
  • 1 pinch pumpkin pie spice for topping

How to make the syrup:

  1. Heat up the water on a hob in the saucepan until it is simmering.
  2. Add the sugar to the water, let dissolve.
  3. Once the sugar has dissolved, add all the other ingredients and turn it on low.
  4. Let simmer for 20 more minutes.
  5. Strain into bowl though a sieve.

How to make the latte:

  1. Make the single shot of espresso, put in your serving cup that has at least 3/4 of its space left
  2. Heat up the milk on the hob until simmering.
  3. Once milk starts simmering add syrup and let infuse for 5 mins.
  4. Take the milk off the heat and froth it.
  5. Add frothed milk to coffee and stir.
  6. Top with whipped cream.

Notes on the recipe:

The syrup is well worth making. It led to a more mellow flavored drink than my own recipe.

It was very similar to a Starbucks pumpkin spiced latte and I would 100% recommend making the syrup if you want to get as close as possible to the Starbucks drink.

I found the drink to be a bit too sweet. I wouldn’t want to use less syrup, as I want to keep the same amount of pumpkin and spice flavor.

Therefore if I was going to make the recipe again I’d use two-thirds of the amount of sugar in my syrup. This means that I’d use two parts sugar to three parts water used in the syrup.

I also couldn’t really taste the coffee. I know that pumpkin spice lattes aren’t meant to taste that strongly of coffee, but the coffee flavor was too weak for me. Therefore I’d double the amount of coffee used in the original recipe.

When making the syrup, I was surprised by how little syrup came from the mixture I created. 1.5 cups of water, sugar, and a large amount of pumpkin and spices only made about 1/4 cup of syrup. This is enough for about two lattes.

Pumpkin syrup in a bowl
I was expecting more syrup to come out of 1.5 cups of water/sugar.

Microwave Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe From Food Network (For Those Who Hate Washing Up)

The Food Network has a pumpkin spice latte recipe where you heat up the milk in the microwave and then froth the milk with a whisk, rather than with a milk frother. You can find the recipe here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin pure
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon spice mix
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) espresso
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream for serving

How to Make:

  1. Make the espresso (2 shots)
  2. Mix the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, spice mix and vanilla extract in a microwavable bowl.
  3. Microwave until milk is hot
  4. Froth with a whisk
  5. Add espresso to a large mug, mix with the frothed milk and top with whipped cream

Notes on the recipe:

Yeah…this recipe kinda sucked for a few different reasons.

Although the microwave did heat up the milk, it didn’t allow for the spices to infuse in the milk at all so I was left with a raw spice flavor in the milk – not what you want.

The first, and last, coffee I make in the microwave

Also, the instruction to froth the milk with a whisk…well that just doesn’t work. I was whisking for several minutes and the milk just got cold rather than frothy.

If, for some reason, you are sold on the idea of making a pumpkin spice latte in the microwave then I’d recommend at least toasting the spice mix in a frying pan before you add it to the milk to mellow out the spices slightly.

You also need a proper milk frother to froth the milk. If you don’t have one I would just leave the milk as it is rather than whisking it.

Low Sugar Pumpkin Spice Latte From Gimme Some Oven (For Those Who Don’t Like It Too Sweet)

Gimme Some Oven’s pumpkin spice latte doesn’t use any sugar, rather it uses maple syrup as a sweetener.

It’s also the only recipe that adds salt to the drink. Rather than being infused in the milk, the spices are added to the coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of espresso
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon spice mix
  • 1 cup milk (240 ml)
  • Whipped cream to top

How to make:

  1. Brew the espresso (2 shots)
  2. Mix the maple syrup, vanilla extract and spice mix in the espresso
  3. Heat the milk to a strong simmer (but not to a boil)
  4. Froth the milk
  5. Mix the milk into the coffee
  6. Top with cream

Notes:

The balance of sweetness and coffee in this was better than most of the other recipes, and is why I opted for maple syrup as the main sweetener in my final recipe.

The area where this recipe fell down was that the spices were just left raw in the drink. This made the spice flavor completely overpowering.

Pumpkin spice mix in bowl
No one wants a mouthful of this.

No matter how much you stirred the drink you would always end up with clumps of spice in your mouth. This bought back nasty memories of doing the cinnamon challenge as a kid.

Inspired Taste’s Pumpkin Spice Latte (For Those Who Want To Be The Popular Kid)

I mainly included this recipe, from Inspired Taste as it seemed to be the most popular one on the internet. Similar to my own recipe, it involves infusing the milk with spices on the stove.

The recipe was for two lattes, but I scaled it down to one as I was feeling pretty queasy at this point from all the previous lattes I had drunk.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (wtf?)
  • 1/2 teaspoon spice mix
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) espresso
  • Whipped cream for serving

How to make:

  1. Make espresso (2 shots)
  2. Heat up milk to simmer, add spices, sugar, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree
  3. Simmer milk with other ingredients for 5 mins. Do not let boil
  4. Add hot milk and coffee to mug
  5. Top with cream and pinch of spice.

Notes on this recipe:

This was better tasting than any of the recipes that did not involve infusing the milk with the pumpkin and spices.

Calling for a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract seems like overkill and I think it might have been a typo on their website. Half a teaspoon is more than enough for this amount of latte.

It was, however, far too sweet. This was partially down to the amount of sugar used but also down to the fact that the milk was not frothed. This concentrated the flavors more heavily than they otherwise would have been.

Key Questions When Making Pumpkin Spice Lattes At Home

Here are my answers to common questions that you may have when trying to make a pumpkin spice latte at home:

Do I need a milk frother?

To make a proper pumpkin spice latte, you need some sort of milk frothing device.

Contrary to what The Food Network wants you to believe, you can’t froth milk by whisking it. If you are going to make a pumpkin spice latte without frothing the milk use 1/4 less pumpkin, spice, and sugar as a lack of air in the milk will mean that the flavors are more concentrated.

Is it worth making the pumpkin syrup myself?

Yes. Especially if you want to emulate Starbucks .

If you cannot be bothered to make the syrup then make sure you infuse the milk with the spices well and sweeten with a combination of maple syrup and sugar.

How much pumpkin do I need for the puree?

Not a lot.

One small pumpkin should be enough for 8-10 lattes.

Do I need to use cows milk?

No.

The best vegan alternative to use for this is oat milk as it froths up well.

Do I need to use whole milk?

Low fat milk would work just as well. If you use low fat milk, you might need to infuse it with spices for slightly longer than with whole milk.

What To Do Next?

Now you know how to make a pumpkin spice latte, what are you waiting for?

Try my recipe. If you think you have a better one then let me know.

If you want to make more Starbucks recipes at home I also have a recipe for Caramel Frappuccino for you to enjoy.

Leave a Comment