A Better Pumpkin Spice Latte (Sorry Starbucks!)

This homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe is a mix of warm cinnamon, spicy nutmeg, and sweet pumpkin swirling around your tastebuds. With this recipe, you won’t have to wait for Starbucks or the fall weather to enjoy a nice steaming mug of pumpkin spice. 

I won’t ever forget my very first pumpkin spice latte and the perfect fall weather mood it certainly brings you with just one sip. To properly remake the Starbucks favorite, I’ve created a pumpkin spice sauce that gives you a latte made with real pumpkin puree!

cup of homemade pumpkin spice latte

Background

Let’s be real, pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks has an insane following and it’s well-known during the autumn season. So much so that people have countdown clocks or Instagram accounts dedicated to the addictive drink. 

While Starbucks officially came out with the drink around 2003, it didn’t receive it’s cult following until the recent decade. The famous Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte is a mix of a pumpkin spice sauce base, vanilla syrup, milk, and espresso. It wasn’t until 2015 though that Starbucks finally added real pumpkin puree to it’s sauce ingredients. 

pumpkin spice latte ingredients

After buying way too many pumpkin spice lattes throughout the years, I made my own sauce based on information I could find about Starbucks pumpkin spice sauce.

To do this, I started by looking at the ingredients on Starbucks website and narrowed down the ratios for the recipe and of course tasted a fresh psl from Starbucks while taste testing the new recipe.

Pumpkin puree

cooked pumpkin puree

For this recipe, I went with the trusty old Libby’s pumpkin puree that I found at my local grocery store. I found when I used another organic brand, the puree tasted too raw and watery even when cooked a bit. After making simple syrup in a pan, add the pumpkin puree and cook the puree for about one to two minutes to remove the raw flavor of pumpkin.

Evaporated skim milk

While looking over the ingredients list on the website, I zoomed in on something they listed as “condensed skim milk.” After a quick search online, I found that it was evaporated skim milk and not sweetened condensed milk–not the stuff you add to Vietnamese coffee or Vietnamese coconut coffee. It’s important to take note of this difference because it could drastically change the consistency and the sweetness of your sauce. 

Pumpkin spice & nutmeg

pumpkin spice powder closeup

For flavoring, I used the Trader Joe’s blend of pumpkin spice with a little pinch of extra nutmeg–this is a flavor I picked up on the original pumpkin spice latte. Note that many different brands have various ratios of pumpkin spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, allspice, etc.) so using a different brand may affect your pumpkin sauce flavor. 

What’s great about this recipe is that you can adjust the pumpkin spice or make your own based on your preferences. 

The espresso – Starbucks Pike’s Place

One the website, it specifically states that this latte is made with pulled espresso shots–like all lattes. After trying many different types of beans ranging from dark roast, to espresso, to medium beans, I finally consulted a friend who worked for Starbucks. One change I also made was using only one shot of espresso vs. two shots that a regular grande cup called for. I found one shot didn’t overpower the pumpkin spice sauce. 

Thanks to my friend who works at Starbucks, I learned that Starbucks typically uses medium blends, most likely Pike’s Place for their beans. The darker beans I tested were too strong for the drink, whereas the Pike’s Place beans were the appropriate flavor along with the specified 2% milk they use. If you don’t have Pike’s Place beans, you can also pick a similar medium blend bean. 

Cooking tips

  1. Cook the puree in the pan to remove the raw flavor and achieve a sweeter, roasted flavor. 
  2. Use a medium blend coffee bean for your latte. Using a darker roast bean will overpower your pumpkin spice sauce. 
  3. Transition for warmer months by adding ice! You can enjoy pumpkin spice lattes all year long by adding ice and turning it into an iced cold pumpkin spice latte. 

Serving & storing

pouring pumpkin sauce into glass jar

After the pumpkin spice sauce has cooled down, place it in an airtight container, and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. I would recommend heating up the sauce in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds to warm it up before adding in the espresso and steamed milk.

pumpkin sauce closeup

Serve the pumpkin spice latte as soon as possible and enjoy with some tasty desserts like guava and cheese pastries, ube crinkle cookies, or mini fruit tarts. You can also store pumpkin spice sauce to use later on too.   

cups of pumpkin spice lattes

pumpkin spice latte recipe

A Better Pumpkin Spice Latte (Sorry Starbucks!)

If you've ever had a craving for Starbucks' famous pumpkin spice latte, then this recipe will give you an easy recipe to make at home, for a lower cost, and better taste.
5 from 2 votes
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By: Huy Vu
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients

Pumpkin spice sauce

  • 80 g granulated white sugar
  • 25 g water
  • 61 g pumpkin puree
  • 115 g evaporated milk
  • ½ tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/16 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Hot pumpkin spice latte (recipe for 1 latte--if you scale the recipe to make more sauce above, reset the scale before using this section)

  • 62 g pumpkin spice sauce from above
  • 20 g espresso Starbucks' Pike Place blend, or other medium roast
  • 180 g 2% milk steamed

Equipment Used

Instructions 

Pumpkin spice sauce

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water until sugar dissolves.
    pouring sugar into a pot
  • Add the pumpkin puree.
    addding pumpkin puree to pot
  • Cook, stirring constnatly for about 1 minute until the pumpkin has darkened slightly and loses its raw flavor. See image for finished puree.
    cooked pumpkin puree
  • Add the evaporated milk, pumpkin spice, and vanilla and cook for an additional one minute to combine and warm the ingredients. Set sauce aside or pour into a jar for storage until you want to make a pumpkin spice latte.
    pouring pumpkin sauce into glass jar

Pumpkin spice latte (one cup)

  • Add 62g of pumpkin spice sauce into a latte cup or mug.
  • Pull a single espresso shot (20g of coffee), then pour it into your cup, and stir to combine.
  • For a hot latte: steam 180g of 2% milk, then pour into the cup. For an iced latte: add ice, and pour in cold milk.
    cups of pumpkin spice lattes

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories: 164.08kcal | Carbohydrates: 30.3g | Protein: 4.24g | Fat: 3.18g | Saturated Fat: 1.94g | Cholesterol: 11.94mg | Sodium: 54.93mg | Potassium: 358.28mg | Fiber: 0.44g | Sugar: 25.73g | Vitamin A: 2487.97IU | Vitamin C: 1.19mg | Calcium: 140.05mg | Iron: 0.54mg
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Fall, pumpkin
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy--I'd love to see it!

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