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Peppermint mochas are to winter as pumpkin spice lattes are to fall—in other words, these mint-and-chocolate lattes are the ideal seasonal drink once temperatures drop, holiday decorations emerge, and Christmas music is inescapable.
But while peppermint mochas are undoubtedly delicious during the holiday season, they can also be loaded with sugar, thanks to the doubling up of mocha sauce and peppermint syrup commonly used by popular coffee shops.
The Grande Starbucks Peppermint Mocha contains 440 calories and 54 grams of sugar (yikes!), while our healthier version has just 127 calories and 16 grams of sugar—keep reading to see how it’s done.
How to Make a Homemade Peppermint Mocha Latte
Peppermint mochas don’t have to be overloaded with sugar and dairy—instead, we made a dairy-free, low-sugar, healthier peppermint mocha that takes minutes to make.
With ingredients like non-dairy milk, peppermint extract, unsweetened cocoa powder, maple syrup, and espresso, this recipe is over 70% lower in calories than your typical coffee shop peppermint mocha.
To make a healthy peppermint mocha, simply combine warmed oat milk with cocoa powder, maple syrup (or honey), and peppermint extract in a small saucepan. Alternatively, you can use steamed milk if you have a milk steamer.
Whisk these ingredients well until the mixture becomes frothy and warmed through—feel free to continue heating it if you prefer a hotter latte.
Instead of whisking, you can use a handheld milk frother (like this one) to incorporate the ingredients well together.
Then you’ll add brewed espresso to a mug and pour the warmed milk mixture on top.
If you want an iced peppermint mocha, simply whisk, froth, or blend all of the ingredients (without warming in a saucepan) and pour over ice.
And if you want to make your peppermint mocha extra fancy, try it topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, crushed candy cane, fresh mint leaves, or crushed peppermint candies. You can even use dairy-free whipped cream to keep this recipe vegan, like this coconut whipping cream.
Additionally, you can top this peppermint mocha with coconut cream, which you can add as is (from a can), or whisk vigorously to create a whipped cream-like texture.
Homemade Peppermint Mocha Recipe Ingredients
- Oat Milk: Any non-dairy milk that you like will work in this peppermint mocha recipe (like almond milk), but we love oat milk for its creamy texture and naturally sweet flavor. Oat milk can vary widely in sugar, calorie, and fat content, so be sure to check out the nutrition label and ingredients list. One of our favorite brands is Minor Figures Oat Milk Barista Blend, as it doesn’t contain added sugar or canola oil.
- Coffee or Espresso: Of course, every mocha needs espresso—otherwise, it would be hot chocolate. We prefer to use two shots of freshly brewed espresso, but you can use one cup of regular coffee if you don’t have access to espresso.
- Peppermint Extract: While many other peppermint mocha recipes use peppermint syrup, we used an extract to add that distinct peppermint flavor without any of the sugar. This organic peppermint extract is a great option—a little goes a long way!
- Cocoa Powder: It wouldn’t be a peppermint mocha without chocolate! While Starbucks peppermint mocha uses sugar-laden chocolate syrup, we used cocoa powder, which does not have added sugar. Alternatively, you can use cacao powder, which has a richer and slightly more bitter flavor than cocoa. The main difference between cocoa and cacao is how they are processed—both start from cacao beans, but cocoa is processed at a much higher temperature. In contrast, cacao powder is made from fermented beans that have not been roasted, leading to a more nutritious powder. We like this cacao powder from Navitas Organics.
- Vanilla Extract: If you’ve ever wondered what a secret ingredient is in a delicious baked good or why bakeries smell so good, the answer is often vanilla extract. Although we only use ¼ of a teaspoon in this recipe, it adds a slightly sweet, warm, and homey flavor and aroma.
- Maple Syrup: You just need one tablespoon of pure maple syrup to add the perfect amount of sweetness without overpowering the peppermint or chocolate. Alternatively, you can use honey or another sweetener that you prefer.
Peppermint Mocha Recipe
- ½ cup oat milk
- 1 cup strong coffee or 2 shots of espresso
- ⅛ tsp peppermint extract
- ¼ tbsp cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- top with coconut cream
In a saucepan, warm oat milk on low to medium heat until steam arises. Turn the heat on low.
Whisk in peppermint extract, cocoa, and maple syrup. Continue whisking until the mixture becomes warm and frothy.
Add coffee or espresso to a mug and add the boiled mixture. Optional: top with coconut cream. Enjoy your Christmas drink!
Peppermint Mocha FAQs
What Is in a Peppermint Mocha?
All peppermint mochas need three key ingredients: chocolate, espresso, and peppermint. However, this can vary widely in nutritional value. For example, our peppermint mocha recipe uses powdered cocoa, peppermint extract, and maple syrup. In contrast, the Starbucks version contains a mocha sauce (made of sugar, water, cocoa, and natural flavors), peppermint syrup, whipped cream, and dark chocolate curls.
Here is the complete ingredient list for the Starbucks Peppermint Mocha:
• Mocha Sauce [Water, Sugar, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Natural Flavor]
• Brewed Espresso
• Peppermint Syrup [Sugar, Water, Natural Flavor, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid]
• Whipped Cream [Cream (Cream, Mono And Diglycerides, Carrageenan), Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid)]
• Dark Chocolate Curls [Sugar, Chocolate Mass (Processed With Alkali), Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract, Milk]
How Much Peppermint Extract Should You Use in a Peppermint Mocha?
As with all extracts, just a little bit of peppermint goes a long way. Peppermint, especially, has a very strong flavor, and you do not want to use too much—otherwise, you might end up with a toothpaste-tasting latte!
We used ⅛ of a teaspoon of extract in this single-serve peppermint mocha.
What Makes a Peppermint Mocha Skinny?
Starbucks’s “skinny peppermint mocha” is made with sugar-free peppermint syrup, nonfat milk, sugar-free mocha sauce, and chocolate curls without whipped cream. A Skinny Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks is 100 calories for a Tall (12-ounce) beverage.