How To Make Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Even Better than Starbucks!)

How To Make Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Even Better than Starbucks!)

Faith Durand
Oct 14, 2018
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

'Tis the season. Can you hear the espresso machine firing up? Starbucks brought back its rockstar latte, the queen of froth, the obsession of millions — the Pumpkin Spice Latte. But if you don't want to drive to Starbucks and just fancy making it yourself at home, we have your back!

Here's how to make a spicy, frothy Pumpkin Spice Latte at home. It's so easy, and you'll have enough to share with someone you truly love. Don't skip the whip.

Pumpkin Spice Latte: Watch the Video

We'd be remiss not to mention one more advantage of making the PSL at home: Our version actually has pumpkin in it. When we originally created this recipe, Starbucks' version of the PSL didn't contain any real pumpkin. (Anjali's rant on the topic was pretty epic.) Our recipe originated with Kathryn, a core writer in the early days of Kitchn. She included a touch of pumpkin for delicious and full-bodied pumpkin spice flavor.

Real pumpkin! Not just spice.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

An at-home PSL is also cheaper than those coffee shop drinks. As Kathryn says, "For those of us on a budget, those little cups of spicy goodness can add up. Making your own at home will not only save you money, but you can also enjoy them year-round. In addition, you have more control over the ingredients (especially the sugar), so you can tweak the recipe to your liking."

Especially if you like extra whipped cream. We won't tell.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Tester's Notes

I've whipped up Kathryn's pumpkin spice concoction several times now, and I made some changes from the original recipe. First of all, I cook the pumpkin and the spices for a moment in the saucepan, which gets rid of any raw squash flavor and makes the spices toastier. Secondly, I think that the real key to this recipe is a healthy dose of black pepper, which cuts through the sweetness and the coffee for a spicy bite. And her rather startling amount of vanilla (yes, two tablespoons!) mimics the enhanced flavor of coffee shop syrups. Start with less if you want. Enjoy!

Faith, August 2014

How To Make a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Home

Makes 2 drinks

What You Need


  • 2 tablespoons

    pumpkin purée

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    pumpkin pie spice, plus more for garnish

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    vanilla extract

  • 2 cups

    whole milk

  • 1 to 2 shots

    espresso (about 1/4 cup), or 1/3 to 1/2 cup strong coffee

  • 1/4 cup

    heavy cream, whipped into firm peaks

  • Equipment
  • Mixer, whisk, or hand blender, to whip cream

  • Saucepan

  • Wooden spoon

  • Whisk

  • Blender

  • Espresso maker or coffee maker


  1. Heat the pumpkin and spices. Place the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and a generous helping of black pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until it's hot and smells cooked, about 2 minutes.

  2. Stir in the sugar. Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly, thick syrup.

  3. Warm the milk. Whisk in the milk and vanilla and warm gently, stirring often and watching carefully to make sure it doesn't boil over.

  4. Blend the milk. Carefully process the mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender (hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels!) until frothy and blended.

  5. Mix the drinks. Make the espresso or coffee and divide between 2 mugs. Add the frothed milk and pumpkin mixture. Top with the whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make a big batch of pumpkin spice base: If you like, you can make a big batch of the pumpkin spice base, and refrigerate. To make 8 full servings, cook 1/2 cup pumpkin purée with 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup vanilla extract. Refrigerate for up to 1 week and use as desired. To serve, blend 1/3 cup pumpkin spice base with milk until frothy, and add 1 or 2 shots of espresso. Top with whipped cream and serve.


  • Vanilla: Yes, this recipe calls for 2 tablespoons (not teaspoons) of vanilla. This sounds like a lot, but it does more than anything else to mimic the intense, even artificial, taste of the syrups used in coffee shops. But feel free to start with less and bump it up as needed.
    Milk fat:
    This recipe is most satisfying when made with whole milk, but 2% and skim can be substituted.
  • Canned pumpkin substitution: You can substitute 1 teaspoon Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup for the canned pumpkin if you have it on hand.
  • Sugar substitute: You can use a sugar substitute in place of the sugar if desired. Add to taste.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)
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