How To Make Pumpkin Spice Lattes Even Better than Starbucks

updated Sep 1, 2023
Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

How to make the best-ever PSL in your own kitchen — no milk frother or special syrup required.

Makes2 drinks

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pumpkin spice lattes with whipped cream on marble surface
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

Even if the arrival of PSL season has you rolling your eyes, there’s no denying the deliciousness of a pumpkin spice latte. But you can do better than Starbucks. Our homemade pumpkin spice latte is even better than what you can get at the coffee house chain.

Here’s how to make an easy extra-frothy pumpkin spice latte at home. You’ll have enough to share with someone you truly love.

Key Ingredients in a Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • Pumpkin puree: It’s key for a richer, truer pumpkin flavor. For two PSLs, you’ll need two tablespoons of puree. If you freeze the leftover pumpkin puree in two tablespoon portions, your pumpkin spice-loving future self will thank you.
  • Pumpkin pie spice: The iconic blend of classic fall spices — cinnamon! ginger! cloves! nutmeg! — perfectly compliments the pumpkin. If you don’t want to buy a jar, its’ easy to make your own pumpkin pie spice.
  • Whole milk: The milk gets heated with the homemade pumpkin syrup then blended until extra frothy.
  • Espresso: You’ll need about 1/4 cup. Or, you could sub in 1/3 to 1/2 cup strong coffee.
  • Whipped cream: Whatever you do, don’t skip the whip. It’s classic in a PSL.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte vs Starbucks

When we originally created this recipe, Starbucks’ version of the PSL didn’t contain any real pumpkin. Now, their “pumpkin pie sauce” contains pumpkin puree. In a Starbucks PSL, you’ll get two shots of espresso if you order a grande. Our recipe isn’t quite as strong, but you can adjust the caffeine level to your liking.

One key benefit of an at-home pumpkin spice latte is that its cheaper than those coffee shop drinks. Plus, you can enjoy them year-round.

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

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

How to make the best-ever PSL in your own kitchen — no milk frother or special syrup required.

Makes 2 drinks

Nutritional Info


  • 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

    cold heavy cream, whipped into firm peaks


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

  • Saucepan

  • Wooden spoon

  • Whisk

  • Blender

  • Espresso maker or coffee maker


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  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.