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Since its first introduction into Starbucks cafes in 2003, the pumpkin spice latte has seen a meteoric rise in popularity that no other coffee drink can claim.
Every fall, one out of every five Americans admits to enjoying pumpkin spice lattes—we’re not afraid to be called basic!—and the cozy, autumnal feeling they invoke.
This year, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte turns 20 years old—and we decided to celebrate by making our own, much healthier version of the classic fall drink.
In our homemade pumpkin spice latte, we slashed the sugar content by 70% and cut the calories in half—without compromising on any of the flavors! Keep reading to learn more about how to make a healthier pumpkin spice latte in mere minutes—no pumpkin carving required.
How to Make a Healthy Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
Making a healthy homemade pumpkin spice latte couldn’t be easier—it even takes less time than the Starbucks drive-thru!
We decided to make a dairy-free pumpkin spice latte using oat milk and coconut cream, but you can use regular cream, almond milk, or a different type of non-dairy milk if you prefer.
You can also make this pumpkin spice latte hot or iced—we all know that early fall weather can be unpredictable, so go for iced on those still-feels-like-summer days.
All you need to do is mix all of the ingredients in a blender—or a large jar or mixing bowl—and blend or froth them together.
If you don’t have a blender, a handheld milk frother (like this one) is a worthwhile tool to have in your kitchen.
Then, refrigerate the mixture if you want an iced drink, or add it to a saucepan and warm it up if you want a hot pumpkin spice latte. Another option is to use steamed milk instead of heating it on the stove.
Feel free to drink it as is if you don’t want any coffee, or add brewed espresso, coffee, or cold brew, depending on your preferences.
If you’re feeling extra fancy, spray a dollop of whipped cream on top—you can even use dairy-free whipped cream to keep this recipe vegan.
Easy peasy, right?! Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the star ingredients.
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte Ingredients:
Here is what you’ll need to make a homemade pumpkin spice latte:
- Pumpkin Puree: Canned pumpkin puree is available at just about any grocery store in the fall—but it can sell out quickly, so stock up if you see it! Be sure that you are not buying pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar and other ingredients. It should say simply “pumpkin puree” or “100% real pumpkin.” We love Farmer’s Market Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree. While you can certainly make homemade pumpkin puree, we don’t think that’s worth the time or energy!
- Coconut Cream: This is how we get our homemade pumpkin spice latte nice and creamy, as coconut cream has a similar texture and mouthfeel to dairy-based cream. You’ll want to look for canned coconut cream, not coconut milk, which is more liquidy. Thai Kitchen is a great brand for high-quality canned coconut cream.
- Oat Milk. You can use any type of non-dairy milk that you prefer, but we love oat milk for its extra creaminess. Oat milk can vary widely in sugar and fat content—one of our favorites is Minor Figures Oat Milk Barista Blend, as it doesn’t contain added sugar or canola oil.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice. You can’t have a pumpkin spice latte without pumpkin pie spices! (Trust us, you don’t want a solely pumpkin-flavored latte—you need the spices!) Pumpkin pie spice can be purchased as a blend, like this one from Simply Organic, or you can get the spices separately. Typically, pumpkin pie spice includes cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.
- Sugar-free Hazelnut Syrup. If you don’t have sugar-free hazelnut syrup, your latte will still taste good—but this syrup adds an additional fall-like flavor that is hard to beat. Most sugar-free syrups use sucralose, which we don’t recommend. Instead, try a monk fruit-based hazelnut syrup, like this Lakanto Sugar-Free Hazelnut Syrup.
- Maple Syrup. Even though we add some sugar-free hazelnut syrup, we also love using one tablespoon of maple syrup, as it provides a quintessential fall aroma and flavor. This is where most of the sugar in this recipe comes from, so feel free to omit it if you want to make your pumpkin spice latte even lower in sugar and calories.
- Vanilla Extract. A smidge of vanilla extract brings out the pumpkin spice flavors without overpowering anything—and it makes your house smell amazing!
- Espresso or Coffee. Last but not least, it wouldn’t be a latte without some caffeine! Feel free to use whichever form of coffee or espresso you prefer. A latte typically contains 2 ounces of brewed espresso, but you can also use this pumpkin spice mixture with cold brew or hot brewed coffee.
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe
- 2 tbsp Pumpkin Puree
- 3 tbsp Coconut Cream
- ½ cup Oat Milk
- 1 tbsp Sugarfree Hazelnut Syrup
- 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
- ½ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 oz brewed espresso or 12oz of cold brew
Add ingredients to a blender or a mixing bowl.
Use a milk frother to blend ingredients.
Refrigerate, then pour over your espresso or cold brew and enjoy!
Pumpkin Spice Latte FAQs
What Are Pumpkin Spice Lattes Made Of?
The classic Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks doesn’t just use canned pumpkin—it’s made of a “pumpkin spice sauce,” which is made of sugar, condensed milk, pumpkin puree, fruit and vegetable juice for color, natural flavors, annatto (for coloring), salt, and potassium sorbate. Because of the condensed milk, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is not vegan.
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte also contains brewed espresso, whipped cream, vanilla syrup (made of sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, and citric acid), and a pumpkin spice topping (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and sulfiting agents).
A homemade pumpkin spice latte typically contains:
• Canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree
• A sweetener like maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar syrup
• Cream of choice (we used coconut cream, but you can use half and half if you prefer dairy)
• Milk of choice (we used oat milk)
• Pumpkin pie spice (you can buy premixed pumpkin pie spice seasoning blends or use cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, and nutmeg)
• Vanilla extract
Are Pumpkin Spice Lattes Coffee?
Yes, traditional pumpkin spice lattes are coffee- or espresso-based drinks. However, you can get pumpkin-spiced drinks that do not have coffee, like pumpkin spice chai lattes, which use black tea instead of coffee. You can also get decaf pumpkin spice lattes if you like the taste of coffee but don’t want the caffeine.
Are Pumpkin Spice Lattes Healthy?
Sadly, most pumpkin spice lattes from coffee shops are not healthy. For example, the Grande size (16 ounces) Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte contains:
• 390 calories
• 14 grams of fat
• 50 grams of sugar (yep, 50!)
One easy way to make your coffee shop pumpkin spice latte order healthier is by skipping the whipped cream, which adds 72 calories and 7 grams of fat for a Grande drink.
Plus, homemade pumpkin spice lattes can definitely be healthy—like this one! Our homemade version contains:
• 196 calories
• 8 grams of fat
• 15 grams of sugar
Are Pumpkin Spice Lattes Vegan?
The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is not vegan, and there is no way to customize it to make it vegan because the pumpkin spice sauce contains dairy.
However, you can easily make a vegan pumpkin spice latte at home using non-dairy milk (like oat milk or almond milk) and coconut cream. You can even add dairy-free whipped cream!
Why Are Pumpkin Spice Lattes So Popular?
Pumpkin spice lattes are likely popular because they remind people of fall and coziness. After a long, hot summer, many people are ready for the cooler weather of autumn—and the nostalgia that the season brings, with Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner. Plus, pumpkin spice lattes are delicious!