Want to make a  Pumpkin Spice Latte but don’t want to drive to the very famous place who has them? Maybe you don’t wanna pay the price or have to give your name.  Make your own copycat Pumpkin Spice Latte at home. One EASY, “Wow, that’s pretty good recipe!”  And one “WOW that tastes exactly like the very famous Pumpkin Spice Latte.” recipe.  Your choice. :)

This post is LONG with a lot of research so you can …..    Skip right to the recipe.

Where do I start? The hours spent skulking around that famous coffee shop? The days and nights spent hunched over my kitchen counter suppressing a constantly threatening feeling of throw uppiness?  The morning I woke up to find a centipede dead in the middle of my kitchen floor, his legs tangled up in the sticky, pumpkin spice residue on my floor, a tiny smile on his face, drunk with spicy goodness?

Those are all good places to start, but I think I’ll begin with Vancouver.  This fall I took a trip to Vancouver to visit my nephew.  He had us doing all manner of questionable things including surfing, climbing mountains and using port-a-potties on the side of the road.  I really broadened my horizons.

Skip right to the recipe.

But the biggest eye opener I had on the entire trip wasn’t hiking 7 km straight up the side of some stupid mountain, it was drinking my very first Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I don’t drink specialty drinks.  I drink coffee.  Plain, strong coffee.  With lots of cream and sugar so it’s barely recognizable as coffee. Which could explain why I nearly passed out like a claustrophobic in a clown car when I tasted a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Let me try to describe the taste to you in case you’ve never had one.  It tastes delicious.

It’s like liquid pumpkin pie with nutmeg and whipped cream on top.

As soon as I had one I knew I was going to spend a lot of time at home trying to copy the recipe.  I just didn’t know how much time.  I figured the best place to start was the Internet to see if someone else had already come up with a copy.  As it turns out, there are 720,000 Google results for “Copy of Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe”, which makes me the 720,001st person to try to replicate it.

To the 720,002nd person?  Put down your spice jar and simple syrup.  You don’t need it. Because this is …


If there are hundreds of thousands of recipes for this online already, why come up with another one?  I’ll tell you why.

I tried a few of those online recipes and they didn’t do it for me.  The majority of them call for making a simple syrup (water & sugar boiled to liquid), adding pumpkin pie spices, simmering it and calling it a day.  It isn’t enough.

I sleuthed.  I hunted and searched and mixed and spied and tested until I was sure I had come up with something that really could be confused with an actual store bought Pumpkin Spice Latte.  If  you were in famous coffee shop in Southern Ontario on October 20th of 2016 and spied a small girl, dressed in black, hanging by suction cups from the ceiling, that was me.

From those visits I ascertained that the coffee place uses 4 shots of pumpkin spice syrup in a 16 ounce Grande cup, on top of 2 shots of espresso, topped with 12 ounces of steamed 2% milk and then whipped cream.  I think.  I was hanging from a ceiling so my perception may have been a bit skewed due to lack of blood flow to my brain. Luckily, I procured a small sample of the actual pumpkin pie syrup on one of those visits when I dropped off of the ceiling and directly onto the pumpkin pie syrup dispenser.  I carried it home in my suction cup.

Now that I had a sample of the actual syrup I could test it.  First I tested it just by taste. It was very pumpkin-pie like and very strong.  It was incredibly sweet had a bit of bite to it which I figured was ginger.  Testing it with my Brix Refractometer I discovered it had a sweetness level of 69.  Brix refractometers test how sweet a liquid is.  People use them for testing maple syrup or honey or … $6 specialty drinks.


In layman’s terms a Brix level of 69 is sweeter than Maple Syrup.  It basically equates to as sickly sweet as a big caramel covered bowl of sweetened condensed milk.

Speaking of which …

The secret ingredient in a store bought Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup is, Sweetened Condensed Milk.  

In fact, it’s the second highest volume used ingredient, only behind sugar, in the sauce.  So yeah, it’s a sweet sauce.  But it has to be sickly sweet because you only use a bit of it in a huge cup.  It needs to be strong.  Punchy. That’s why the ginger and cinnamon and other pie flavours are so strong in it too. It’s a super-concentrated syrup.


I won’t bore you with every single variation and combination of ingredients I experimented with over a 24 hour period, but I can tell you that you can get a reasonable effect either with the easy way or get the full-on GUARANTEED tastes like that world famous Pumpkin Spice Latte by putting in a little extra effort.

The simple version is simple.  I don’t even need to write up a recipe for you.  It’s easier than the other online versions and tastes way more like an actual Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Mix 2 parts canned Pumpkin Pie filling with 1 part Sweetened Condensed Milk. (The famous coffee shop uses condensed Skim Milk … I could only find Partly Skimmed Condensed Milk so that’s what I used)

Add 3 Tablespoons of this mixture per 1 ounce of espresso and fill with 6 ounces of steamed 2% milk.  Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with either Pumpkin Pie spice or cinnamon.  Done.

Or you can make a **real** Pumpkin Spice Latte, call yourself a winner and walk (speed walk probably if you’ve had enough of them) into the specialty coffee hall of fame.


To make the genuine Pumpkin Spice Latte you’re going to be using those same two ingredients, Pumpkin Pie Filling and Sweetened Condensed Partly Skim Milk and adding a simple syrup that you’ve made.  The simple syrup is a mixture of brown sugar (because the caramel tones more closely replicate the original Pumpkin Syrup), fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and ground nutmeg.


By taking the time to do this extra step your creation goes from “Yeah, that’s a pretty good copy” to, “Hey, You there!  You with the Brix refractometer … there isn’t a famous coffee shop within 100 miles of here, so where’d you get that one??!”

Here we go.

Copycat Pumpkin Spice Latte

The best Pumpkin Spice Latte copycat recipe on the 'net. Plus you can store it in your fridge for 2 weeks.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beverage
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 68kcal
Author: The Art of Doing Stuff


  • 1 cup of Pumpkin Pie filling this stuff is presweetened and spiced
  • 1/2 cup of Condensed Milk Partly Skim/Low fat if you can find it is best
  • 1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 " of fresh ginger sliced into 4 pieces
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg quickly toast over medium heat for a few seconds
  • Espresso
  • 2 % milk
  • Whipped Cream


  • Combine dark brown sugar with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Once sugar is dissolved add cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg and simmer until the syrup is the thickness of maple syrup. (it will thicken even more when it cools)
  • Put a lid on the saucepan and allow mixture to steep for half an hour.
  • Meanwhile, mix together 1 cup of pumpkin pie filling with 1/2 cup of condensed milk.
  • Once the syrup has steeped, strain out the whole spices, then mix it into the pumpkin and condensed milk.
  • Add 1 shot of espresso to coffee cup (1 ounce). Mix in 2.5 Tablespoons of the Pumpkin Syrup. Fill cup with 6 ounces of steamed 2% milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon.


Stores for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 68kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 33mg | Potassium: 30mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 949IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg


  • If you make this and it doesn’t seem *quite* right for your tastebuds just adjust!  More coffee, less coffee, more syrup.  I made one for my sister last week with a weak espresso and it was awful.  Just terrible, lol.  I made one for myself the next day with strong coffee and some extra syrup and it was ridiculously delicious.  I didn’t even use whipped cream, just frothed milk.
  • Don’t have an espresso maker?  No problem.  Just use 1 or 2 ounces of really, really strong coffee.
  • If you have $25 to spare, you can get one of the best espresso makers in the world.  A classic stovetop Bialetti.  
  • Don’t have a milk steamer?  No problem.  Just pour your milk into a mason jar with a lid, shake it until it gets bubbly and foamy, then microwave it until hot.
  • If you have $15 to spare you can get a little manual milk frother with a mesh insert that creates a pot of frothy goodness.
  • And finally if you want the king of all semi-automatic espresso makers complete with an automatic milk steamer start saving up for the Jura.  I’ve had one for years and it’s what I made these concoctions with.  It costs a fortune but it’ll last forever and the company even does yearly tuneups on the machine.



To be perfectly honest with you just typing the words Pumpkin Spice Latte activates my gag reflex.  I’m hoping that goes away.  But I tested and tasted this recipe so many times before I got it right that I probably could have unrolled my tongue into a glass of water and it would have tasted like a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

So forget those other copycat recipes on the Internet.  You have two choices;  the simple recipe or the I’m Proud of You recipe.

Or.  I mean, if you think you can handle it, there’s one other option.  It’s crazy, so prepare yourself.

You can order a jug of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Syrup online.

But where’s the fun in that?  Why take a gondola to the top of the mountain, when you can climb it?



  1. Mary W says:

    QUESTION: Does your ginger turn to mush after all that cooking? When I cook it, it just stays pithy. I cook it lots since I love ginger tea but seems you would have to remove the pieces after cooking or mince them before or something. What don’t I understand? I love spice pumpkin anything so thanks for all your hard work, hope you quickly recover so drinking it is a pleasure again.

    • Karen says:

      Hi MaryW! Yes the ginger turns to mush. Which reminds me that I need to amend the recipe to say to strain the spices out after simmering!! ~ karen!

  2. Miriam says:

    I’m confused: wouldn’t hanging from the ceiling cause *more* blood to go to your head rather than less?

  3. Marilyn says:

    My hair looks like that every Mom used to say if someone was a mess that they looked like a “birch broom in a fit” lol. Whatever that looks like…it was an east coast thing. But I digress, I still like plain old eight o’clock coffee just cream thanks.

  4. Liz says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE great copycat recipes! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Terri J. says:

    I laugh out loud. I shake my head. I need a poster of your cat fart pic. Your posts are some of the best/original on the internet.

  6. Cheryl says:

    Have you tried Balzac’s version? It’s heavenly, like pumpkin pie with maple sauce.

  7. Maureen Locke says:

    Don’t have time to be witty.. gotta get ready for work, just wanted to let you know that the link to the syrup doesn’t work.. not that I was going to buy it…. just being nosey. :)

  8. Cathy says:

    As the reigning Queen of kitchen gadgets, I must ask: What the hell are you doing with a refractometer?

    • Karen says:

      Well, you know, it’s me so … I have one, lol. I used to have a basic model from Lee Valley. Now I have the digital fancy one. I use it for testing vegetables to see which varieties are sweetest, to compare tomatoes and the effects water or not watering have on their Brix levels (sweetness) and I use it for making maple syrup. Among other things. :) ~ karen!

  9. Donna Harvey says:

    Thanks Karen! Here I am up in the middle of the night trying to do some writing, but of course I have read your email first (I do that before I do anything). Now you give me the best copy of Starbucks pumpkin spice lattee ever, and I don’t have the ingredients! Now what do I do? My wonderful husband had bought me a bottle of pumpkin spice creamer so I proceed to spice it up, now I have about a gallon of this awful stuff. Send me your address I’d be glad to share, I’m not one for wasting things! We don’t even have a Starbucks in Meadville, Pa.
    Love ya, you old Cat Fart You!

    • Karen says:

      LOL, I can see that’s a phrase that’s going to catch on. As well it should. It’s quite elegant prose. ;) ~ karen!

  10. Connie says:

    LOL, I tried my first pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks exactly 1 year ago and had the same reaction , it was so good! I WAS HOOKED, Can,t wait to try your recipe Karen,the.

  11. Jenn Billesberger says:

    Thanks for the recipe Karen ~ can you give me a ballpark how many cups this recipe would serve? I’m going to a very fun Halloween party this weekend and had planned to bring PSL in a slow cooker for a crowd. Not as gourmet as a custom one off for myself, but would work?

    And now I’m looking sideways at my cat suspiciously!


    • Karen says:

      Yikes. I’m not sure how much this batch makes in terms of cups served. I’ll try to get a chance today to measure it out in tablespoons. I’m guessing 20 cups of coffee or more but that’s a total guess. ~ karen!

  12. JulieD says:

    Wow, does that ever sound delicious! I’ve never had the urge to try one at Starbucks, but your blog just made me want to make some at home. I have a question: Do I toast the nutmeg before or after grating it? After?

    • Karen says:

      Hi JulieD. Toast the nutmeg after grating it. And just a tiny bit. You’ll see it start to change colour almost immediately. :) ~ karen!

  13. Rick says:

    I expect you’ll be fascinated by the thermal decomposition of sugar

    • Karen says:

      I don’t have time right now (because I know how in depth those seriouseats posts are) but let me tell you, I CANNOT wait to read that! Thanks Rick. ~ karen!

  14. Edith says:

    Oh Karen……when you set your mind to something!

    I really should stop reading your posts when my husband is sleeping next to me in bed. He always wakes up to my belly laughs even when I keep it quiet. Guess it’s the shaking bed.

  15. Cynthia says:

    I so want a set of the glass reindeer cups that were in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

    I think we all talked about this last Christmas. I found some online and didn’t buy them.

    I just want to hold one as I stand in the gutter with a hose and yell to my neighbours “Shitter’s full”.

    Cracks me up every time.

  16. Amy says:

    So… I have to admit that i made a snorty laugh when I read the words ‘Brix Refractometer’. I thought you’d made it up… but then I saw the photo. Cool tool! Also, your recipe sounds yum – laborious… but I’m going to commit to the effort.

    I recently grabbed a box of the Starbucks VIA version of their Pumpkin Spice Latte to try at home. If I possessed a Brix Barf-o-meter it would have registered 99. It kinda reminded me of International Coffee – remember that sugary ‘coffee beverage’ mix in the rectangle tin straight out of 1978(ish)? The commercials had syrupy scenes of friends languishing over coffee in their polyester and chiffon. My mom used to say to me “Honey! Want a cup of ‘Friendly Coffee’?!” Luv ya mom.

    Anyway, off I go to grab the ingredients to whip up your version in the morning. I think I’ll call it ‘Friendly Coffee’ in honor of my mom, as she didn’t know what she’d be missing.


    • Karen says:

      I do remember those commercials, lol! Wow. And you know I thought this was a ridiculously labour intensive recipe too, because it took me 2 days to figure out, lol. But now that I’ve made it and I have a big jug of it in my fridge, it doesn’t seem like it was that big of a deal. No it’s not pour and stir, but it’s soooo much better than that. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      OH! And yes, it’s definitely a thing and now that you mention it, it definitely sounds made up. I *love* my refractometer and use it more than you would ever a normal human would. Relatively normal. ~ karen!

  17. Melissa says:

    Now I no longer have to wear my baseball cap and Grouch Marx nose glasses to drive through Starbucks for my pumpkin spice latte!!! My cat fart hair thanks you for all your hard work and dedication.

  18. skylor says:

    that long well thought out post on drink goodness and I take away “cat fart” as my new favorite descriptor.

    such a child am I

  19. Robert says:

    You do know how to commit to food don’t you?
    I didn’t understand the appeal of such a popular drink the first and only time I tried it maybe it’s time to revisit it.
    Is it me or does the rithm of this post feels speedier?

  20. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Girl you are crazy……the good kind of crazy! Thanks for the recipe. :-)

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