Recipe: Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Spice Lattes

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Christine Gallary
Nov 22, 2016
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

With the holidays come long, lazy mornings spent hanging out with friends and family. Coffee is a must, but who wants to run out to the coffee shop for a fancy flavored latte? This recipe lets you keep a big batch of pumpkin spice lattes warm in the slow cooker and doesn't even require an espresso machine. Now you can cozy up and stay inside instead, sipping the quintessential coffee drink of fall.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Brew It Strong

Lattes have a shot or two of espresso in them, but when making a big batch of flavored lattes, it's much easier to rely on the good ol' fashioned drip coffee maker instead. Buy a good dark-roasted ground coffee and then brew it strong — extremely strong — to mimic the deep roasted flavors of espresso. This method is perfect for those who don't own a fancy espresso machine.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes Need Pumpkin

Sorry to break it to you, but many pumpkin spice lattes don't even contain pumpkin. They rely on common pumpkin pie spices instead for flavoring. We don't pull that trick here! Taking a tip from our favorite way to make pumpkin pie, we pre-cook canned pumpkin with sugar and spices to deepen and develop the flavors before using it in the lattes. An extra step for sure, but one well worth it for the final success of this latte, and it only takes a few minutes on the stove while the coffee's brewing.

Half-and-Half for Creaminess

When slow-cooking dairy, you have to be careful that it has enough fat so that it doesn't separate. Half-and-half is the perfect balance of creaminess and richness. Cream is too heavy, and even whole milk separates as it cooks.

Slow-Cook and Sip

For those who are bleary-eyed in the morning, the coffee can be brewed and the pumpkin cooked the night before, so all that's left to do is to whisk everything together and plug the slow cooker in. After the flavors meld, switch the slow cooker to warm and you'll have a delicious coffee drink to serve all morning. Each mug won't have foam art on top, but we've found that a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg are fine replacements.

Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Makes about 8 cups

6 cups water
3/4 cup ground dark-roasted coffee
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving (optional)

Brew the coffee with the 6 cups of water in a standard drip coffeemaker. (Alternatively, do it in batches in a French press.) While the coffee is brewing, cook the pumpkin and spices.

Place the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until heated through and very fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is simmering at the edges of the pan. Scrape the mixture into a 3-quart or larger slow cooker.

Add the brewed coffee, half-and-half, and vanilla and stir to combine. Cover and cook on the HIGH setting until the mixture is hot and the flavors meld, about 2 hours total, stirring halfway through. When ready, whisk to recombine and switch to the WARM setting; it can be kept warm for up to 2 more hours. (If the bits of spices floating on top bother you, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth and return it to the slow cooker.) Serve in individual mugs topped with whipped cream and nutmeg, if using.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: Brew the coffee and cook the pumpkin mixture the night before, then cool and refrigerate. Proceed with slow-cooking the next morning.
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