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You're craving a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, but...you want to save money and skip out on all the artificial flavors and chemcials in the Starbucks version, so what is a girl to do?
Make one at home, of course. It tastes way better than the Starbucks version, takes pantry staples, is more economical, and can be made in less time than picking one up from the coffee shop, so what do you have to lose?
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This recipe takes eight simple ingredients, many of which you'll have in your cupboard or fridge. No artificial flavors or colors in sight!
- Pumpkin puree for a real autumn flavor
- Pumpkin pie spice for the autumn aroma (don't have it? Make some in 2 minutes with this recipe.)
- Black pepper for a hint of spice
- Vanilla extract for flavor and sweetness
- Brown sugar for sweetness
- Milk for foam
- Heavy cream for extra creaminess and foam
- Coffee because it's a latte
What is pumpkin spice latte?
It is a pumpkin-flavored fall coffee drink originally created by Starbucks in 2003. The Starbucks PSL consists of espresso, foamed milk, and pumpkin spice sauce, which contains a small amount of pumpkin puree. The drink is usually garnished with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pie spice.
Who invented it?
Peter Dukes, a former basketball player with degrees in economics and business, started working at Starbucks in 2001. Two years later, Peter and a team of Starbucks employees developed an espresso-based drink with pumpkin pie flavors. The drink has been an instant success since its introduction in 2003, and has even become a symbol of “basic” mainstream American culture.
What does it taste like?
My copycat recipe has subtle hints of coffee with a creamy, spicy flavor. The whipped cream and pie spice on top boosts the autumn flavors.
Is it healthy?
Overall, a Starbucks it isn’t healthy. A grande PSL made with 2% milk and topped with whipped cream contains an astonishing 50g of sugar! It’s much healthier to make your own PSL at home, without all the extra sugar, coloring, and preservatives that are in the Starbucks version.
How many calories does it have?
This homemade version contains just 302 calories, not including the whipped cream garnish. Even though it's a little higher in calories than the Starbucks version, our recipe is made with high quality, all-natural ingredients and doesn't compromise on taste.
How to Make It Healthier
- Make your own concentrate. Skip the sugary artificial syrups and use real puree cooked briefly with pie spice and brown sugar.
- Reduce the sugar. My recipe uses 5 teaspoons of brown sugar per batch, but feel free to cut it down if you like.
- Use stevia or monkfruit instead of sugar. This will affect the flavor of the latte, so I’d only recommend this if you’re diabetic.
- Use lower fat milk. I like to use a combination of whole milk and heavy whipping cream for a luxuriously creamy texture, but you can always use 2% milk. Don’t use 1% or skim milk; it has too little fat content.
- Omit the garnish. You’ll save a lot of fat and calories simply by omitting the whipped cream on top of the latte.
Use these ingredients for a skinny PSL and follow the directions as written in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Skip the whipped cream garnish to save extra calories and fat.
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree (104g)
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon light brown sugar, packed (60g)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 2 cups 2% milk or full-fat coconut milk (480 ml)
Do you serve it hot or cold?
You can serve it hot or cold; both ways are popular. My recipe gives the instructions for making a hot version, but feel free to use cold brew coffee and serve over ice instead.
Is it vegan?
Neither Starbucks’ recipe nor my recipe is vegan, but you can make a vegan version simply by swapping the dairy milk for full-fat coconut milk. Use coconut cream instead of heavy whipping cream.
Note on Non-Dairy Milks: it’s best to use coconut milk for making lattes. Almond milk doesn’t contain enough fat to get a nice froth.
Is PSL gluten free?
The Starbucks PSL isn’t guaranteed gluten free. However, you can make your own gluten free one at home with certified gluten free ingredients.
Does it have coffee in it?
Yes, it does have coffee in it. The Starbucks version is made with espresso, while my recipe uses strong coffee instead.
How to Make a PSL without Coffee
Want to make a caffeine-free latte for kiddos or for when you want to go to bed early? Here’s how to do it!
- Substitute decaf black tea for the coffee. This makes it similar to a London Fog, a latte made from Earl Grey tea and foamed milk.
- Omit the coffee entirely. Just keep in mind that the drink won’t taste the same; it will be much richer and sweeter.
How to Make
Measure out the eight ingredients: pumpkin puree, pie spice, black pepper, vanilla, brown sugar, milk, cream, and coffee.
Put the puree, pie spice, pepper, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes on medium heat until it begins to bubble and smells spicy. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the milk and cream into saucepan and heat until simmering. Be sure to whisk until the pumpkin mixture is incorporated into the milk.
Blend the milk in a blender for at least 60 seconds on high speed until very well mixed and foamy.
Pour ½ cup of coffee or ¼ cup of espresso into a glass.
Pour ⅔ cup of the milk mixture on top and gently stir to combine.
Top with homemade whipped cream. (It's super easy and tastes SO much better than store-bought.) Sprinkle on some pie spice and enjoy!
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: just blend together ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Grab the recipe.
- Pumpkin Puree: replace the 3 tablespoons puree with 1 ½ tablespoons of pumpkin spice syrup.
- Milk/Cream: use coconut milk instead of whole milk and coconut cream instead of heavy cream.
- Iced Version: use cold brew coffee instead of espresso and pour over ice.
- Make sure to cook the puree mixture. Briefly cooking the puree with spices brings out the flavor and aroma.
- Blend the milk mixture thoroughly. This step adds foam to the milk and prevents settling or separation of the latte.
- Use freshly brewed coffee or espresso, less than 20 minutes. The bitter taste of old coffee won't improve the latte.
- Make the milk mixture ahead of time. It will keep in the fridge for a few days--just re-blend it before using.
- Turn it into an iced latte in one step. Pour it over crushed ice and enjoy!
- Emeril Lagasse 1-Quart Saucepan: this small pot is the perfect size for making PSLs.
- Vitamix Blender: this is our favorite blender! It's easy to clean and to use.
- Stainless Steel French Press: make amazing coffee at home with this French press.
- Set of 3 Stainless Whisks: these sturdy whisks come in three convenient sizes.
Other Starbucks Copycat Drinks
The pleasure of a 5-star review would be greatly appreciated.Print
Skip Starbucks this fall and make your own healthy and delicious pumpkin spice latte at home instead. This easy recipe shows you how to make this hot, cozy coffee drink with a few basic ingredients. You'll definitely be coming back for a refill!
For the Pumpkin Milk Concentrate (3 cups)
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree (104g)
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon light brown sugar, lightly packed (60g)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ¼-½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk (240 ml)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (240 ml)
For the Latte & Decoration
- 2 cups freshly brewed strong coffee (or 1 cup espresso)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, for decoration
- Pumpkin pie spice, for decoration
Making the Pumpkin Milk
- Place the puree, brown sugar, pie spice, and black pepper in a small saucepan. Stir continuously over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, until the puree begins to bubble and sizzle and smells spicy. Mix in the vanilla extract, then spoon the mixture into a small bowl.
- Pour the milk and heavy whipping cream into the same saucepan and set over medium heat, whisking occasionally. When it begins to steam, add the puree concentrate and whisk continuously until well blended and smooth.
- Pour the milk into a blender and blend for at least 60 seconds on high speed.
- Use immediately, or pour into a glass jar, seal tightly, and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Re-blend the milk or shake well before using.
Assembling and Decorating the Latte
- Pour ½ cup of coffee and ⅔ cup of the milk mixture into a glass or mug to make one latte. Gently stir to combine. Serve warm or poured over ice.
- Pour 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into a small mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Pipe or spoon the whipped cream on top of the latte, then sprinkle a little pie spice over it. Serve immediately.
- Use fresh spices for the best flavor and aroma.
- Cook the pumpkin mixture until it sizzles. This removes any "squash" flavor and enhances the spicy taste.
- Blend the milk mixture thoroughly. This foams the milk and prevents settling.
- Use freshly brewed coffee or espresso (less than 20 minutes old).
- In a hurry? Make the milk mixture ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat before making the latte.
- Category: Beverage
- Method: Blender
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: homemade, starbucks
This post was originally published in October 2017 and updated in September 2018 and August 2019.