Pumpkin spice season continues! While I don’t go as crazy about the flavor as some people, I still make sure to get some treats every year. Seasonal cereals, pumpkin spice cookies, and of course: the lattes. I limit myself to just one or two per season, since we don’t usually visit a Starbucks or really any coffee shops, so I don’t have many opportunities to pick one up.
So, I wondered. How difficult would it be to make my own pumpkin spice latte? I already make pumpkin spice treats every year, how much harder could it be to make a syrup?
I was thinking about a while back (gosh, 2015? Wild.) that Starbucks revealed that, until then, their pumpkin spice syrup didn’t have any pumpkin in it at all. I never knew, and I’m sure neither did many people. Really, it’s the spice mix we’re all after anyway, isn’t it?
So, I decided to experiment. I found a few recipes for pumpkin spice syrups, with and without pumpkin, and gave them a shot.
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
One thing you’ll find with recipes for pumpkin spice anything online is that a lot of times, they just call for store-bought “pumpkin pie spice.” I had some in the cupboard, but it was probably a decade old and smelled more like dust than spice, so I got rid of it and made my own mix instead. You can use a store-bought mix if you prefer, but I just like making things from scratch, you know? Here’s what my mix (pictured in my images, and used in my recipes) includes:
- 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
- 1.5 Teaspoons Ground Allspice
- 1.5 Teaspoons Ground Cloves
All of these spices can be bought whole and ground in a spice grinder except ginger, which needs a bit more preparation. I’m not that crazy about my spices (though I’ve used them before), so I just keep the ground stuff on hand. This recipe makes more than enough pumpkin pie spice to use in a bunch of different treats and goodies, so it should last you quite a while.
When you see my recipe call for pumpkin pie spice, this is what it uses. Now you know!
Recipe 1: No Pumpkin, All Spice
The first recipe I tried out did not use pumpkin. It’s a simple four-ingredient recipe, though the 4th ingredient is a pumpkin spice mix (see above) so it’s not technically just four if you’re making your mix from scratch like I did.
- 1 13.5oz. Can Condensed Coconut Milk
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1/4th Teaspoon Salt
The instructions for this recipe are simple too. Heat the coconut milk until it’s melted, then add in the sugar and spice. Heat over medium-high until it boils, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Once it’s thick and syrupy, remove form the heat and add the salt.
So, hey. Don’t follow this recipe. Why not?
I don’t know who wrote this recipe or if they made a mistake writing it down, but this is very much not a syrup. It has the consistency of a piece of caramel candy. Which, to be honest, it basically is. It tastes great, very spicy, sweet, and caramel, but it’s very much not a usable syrup.
Recipe 2: Starbucks Imitation Pumpkin Syrup
The second recipe I found was made to be an imitation of the new Starbucks syrup recipe that actually uses pumpkin. My partner was skeptical that anything with pumpkin puree in it would make a syrup, but I tried it out. It calls for:
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 2/3 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1 14oz Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1/2 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Again, it’s pretty simple to make. Mix the sugar and water over medium heat, until it dissolves, making a simple syrup. Turn the heat to low and add in the pumpkin, condensed milk, spice, and salt, and stir it up. Heat it over low for a few minutes, then remove and let it cool.
Given that this recipe is largely liquid ingredients (especially compared to the previous one), I was hopeful it wouldn’t harden up as much.
It worked out pretty well! Mostly. It barely thickened, and was still pretty runny even after chilling in the fridge. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a syrup, but it’s certainly usable as part of a drink mix. I think the original recipe says to use four tablespoons per latte, though that would depend on the size of your latte, I would hope.
My one complaint is that it had a little too much pumpkin and not quite enough spice. I wanted something that split the difference, so, I made my own version of the recipe.
Recipe 3: The Real Deal
My turn! Taking what I learned from the other two experiments, I split the difference and made my own variation of the recipe. I think it came out a lot better. It’s like some kind of Goldilocks story; one too thick, one too thin, and one juuuuuust right.
I chose to use brown sugar rather than white, because I like the flavor more. I split the difference with liquids, and used condensed milk instead of coconut milk. You can swap them 1:1 if you want, and it should still work the same way. I also cut back on the pumpkin. I like a little of the flavor, but I want the spice more than the gourd, you know what I mean?
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup
- Sauce Pan
- Mason Jar
- 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk One standard can
- ¼ Cup Water
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Spice Mix
- ½ Tsp Salt
- In your saucepan, mix the condensed milk and water. Heat over medium until hot, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar and whisk until blended.
- Whisk in the pumpkin pie spice, salt, and pumpkin puree.
- Whisk continually to avoid burning, and heat the mixture until it starts to thicken. Don't quite get it to boiling.
- Remove the syrup from heat to let it cool. Pour into a mason jar or other vessel for storage.
- To use, add about 1-2 tablespoons of syrup to a coffee drink (depending on size) and stir to dissolve and mix.