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Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Casey Barber

Chef notes

The first signs of fall can only mean one thing — it’s officially pumpkin spice latte season. Every year, it seems like the craze for this festive treat starts earlier and earlier, and for good reason. It’s just sweet enough with all the classic flavors of fall like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Plus, it’s  the perfect drink to warm you up when the temperature starts to drop. 

The appeal of a drive-through is strong, but there’s nothing quite like having a homemade pumpkin spice latte. This copycat version of the coffee chain’s  drink leans on a few tips and tricks to make it stand out. 

While you could totally use pre-made pumpkin purée, this recipe starts out with a DIY version (don’t worry, it’s a lot less daunting than you might think). All you need to do is roast a sugar pumpkin with olive oil until the flesh is tender. Pulse it in a food processor until smooth and you’ve got pumpkin purée. For the base of the drink, whisk together the pumpkin purée with simple syrup and spices. 

To make the pumpkin spice latte, combine the pumpkin simple syrup with espresso or coffee and top off with foamed milk, caramel sauce and of course, a dusting of pumpkin pie spice. 

Technique Tip: Homemade pumpkin purée can be easily frozen so that you can enjoy your own pumpkin spice lattes year round. 

Swap Option: To make your own pumpkin spice blend, combine 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.


For the Roasted Pumpkin
  • 1 small sugar pumpkin or other large squash
  • olive oil (optional)
  • ground pumpkin pie spice (optional)
For the Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water, divided
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or fresh roasted pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
For the Garnish
  • whipped cream (optional)
  • caramel sauce, for drizzling (optional)
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To make the roasted pumpkin:


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.


Carefully cut the pumpkin in half horizontally around its "equator" and scoop out the seeds. (These can be roasted just as you would jack o' lantern seeds!). Place cut-side up on a baking sheet. Rub the cut sides lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, if desired.


Roast for 40 to 60 minutes, until the pumpkin flesh is tender enough that a fork or paring knife will pierce all the way through to the rind.


Let cool until the pumpkin can be easily handled without burning your fingers. Scrape the soft pumpkin flesh off the rind and into a food processor. Pulse to purée until smooth. Pumpkin can be roasted 2 days in advance of making the syrup.

To make the pumpkin spice latte syrup:


In 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat, add the sugar and 1/4 cup water. Stir just enough to wet all the sugar crystals. Continue to heat without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally to help the sugar dissolve completely, until the liquid comes to a rolling boil. Continue to cook without stirring, swirling the pan as needed as the liquid bubbles. Watch carefully and don't walk away, because the sugar will begin to caramelize within 10 minutes. You'll smell it first, then the bubbles will slow and the edges of the syrup will turn golden. Very quickly, all the syrup will darken to amber.


As soon as the syrup is amber, remove the pot from the heat and very carefully whisk in the pumpkin puree, spices and remaining 1/2 cup water. The syrup will hiss, bubble and give off hot steam as you add the ingredients, so wear an oven mitt for this part.


Transfer to a heatproof jar and cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

To make a pumpkin spice latte:

Add 1 tablespoon of syrup to a double shot of espresso or about 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee. Add 1 cup foamed 2 percent milk and top with whipped cream, caramel sauce, and/or a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice (make your own blend using the ratio above and keep it in the cabinet for the holidays).