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How to make a Starbucks-style caramel Frappuccino at home

Skip the long drive-thru line and make your own light and airy Frappuccino.
Now's the time to learn how to make your own Frappuccino.
Now's the time to learn how to make your own Frappuccino.Katie Stilo

Given how long coffee drive-thru lines have been during the pandemic, it's the perfect time to learn how to make your own caramel Frappuccino.

The secret to the creamy, lighter-than-air mouthfeel of the Frappuccino comes from ... drumroll please ... xanthan gum. The ingredient may sound intimidating but is created naturally when sugar is fermented by a type of bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris.

The secret to the Frappuccino's airy texture is an ingredient called xanthan gum.Katie Stilo

In fact, take a look at the packaging of some of your favorite baked goods and you’ll likely see xanthan gum listed. It is most commonly used in gluten-free baking to help thicken products, and it is also used to help shelf-stable items from separating, such as mayonnaise or salad dressing.

Yes, you can buy your own coffee-flavoring syrups.Katie Stilo

A game-changing tip that I learned from a former Starbucks employee is that you can actually purchase the exact syrups they use to make the Frappuccinos. You heard that right: Your favorite flavors are able to be purchased and used in the comfort of your own home. Though the coffee chain doesn't sell its coveted seasonal flavors, you can still choose from the several other year-round options.

1. Make instant coffee

It all starts with instant coffee.Katie Stilo

To start, in a small bowl, combine instant coffee with 1 tablespoon of very hot water. Allow to dissolve and mix to combine. This is what will give you the subtle coffee flavor in your drink. Instant coffee is best here because the flavor is more concentrated and won't water down your drink. You can also use 2 tablespoons of strongly-brewed coffee but it might not have the same flavor.

2. Add all your ingredients to a blender

It's blending time!Katie Stilo

Using a high-speed blender, add ice, milk, dissolved coffee, caramel syrup and xanthan gum. The higher-quality the blender, the more smooth and creamy your drink will be. You can sub in any milk you prefer such as almond, soy or oat. If you want to make this into a salted caramel Frappuccino, add a pinch of flaky sea salt to the blender before blending.

You have total creative freedom to use your favorite flavor in this recipe. Try it with any syrup you like, such as vanilla, hazelnut, mocha or the seasonal favorite pumpkin. If you don't have xanthan gum, you can still make this recipe but be aware that the texture may be a bit icy as opposed to light and creamy. I suggest blending a bit longer if you don't use xanthan gum.

3. Blend until it's light and airy

Don't have xanthan gum? Blend it a bit longer.Katie Stilo

Blend on low speed, slowly increasing the speed to high. Allow to blend on high speed for at least 30 to 40 seconds. The Frappuccino should be creamy and well-blended, appear voluminous and have air bubbles throughout it. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender and re-blend if it still has chunks of ice in it.

4. Serve with your desired toppings

Feel free to get fancy with the garnishes.Katie Stilo

Transfer to a tall drinking glass and top with whipped cream and caramel syrup, if using. If you want to be extra fancy, make your own sweetened whipped cream. Simply whip heavy cream with a pinch of confectioners sugar until soft peaks form. The canned stuff we all know and love is perfect here, though! Feel free to get fancy with the garnishes, such as sprinkles, chocolate bits, flaky salt, crumbled cookies and more.