Better-than-Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

Yeah, I’m one of those “basics” who loves a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Starbucks’ version is waaaaay too sweet for my taste, and frankly too fakeola.  When I found Sonoma Syrup Co’s Pumpkin Pie Latte syrup last year I was psyched!  All natural and delicious – it delivers great flavor without overwhelming your drink with sugar.  I used it in lattes and my regular morning cuppa.  Problem is, it’s crazy expensive!  $13 for a 12.7 oz bottle – plus shipping!  Ouch.  There is nothing on that label that I don’t have in my pantry, so I thought “hey, I can make this for about a buck!”

You need only about a dollar's worth of all natural ingredients to make a bang-on Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

You need only about a dollar’s worth of all natural ingredients to make a bang-on Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

A quick trip to “the internets” revealed several sites with recipes that were all basically the same – lots of sugar & water, some spices and a modest amount of pumpkin.  Starting with the most common recipe I found and using all the spices listed on the Sonoma bottle, I whipped up a batch.  Eh.  Too sweet, and where was the pumpkin flavor?  For the next batch I halved the sugar and water, used a similar amount of spices and doubled the pumpkin.  Now we were getting close!  Next try was a fail (see special note below).  For my final batch I used my own blend of spices, added some vanilla and reduced the water a bit.  Voila!  I think this version has BIG pumpkin flavor, plenty of spice and not too too much sugar for those of us who don’t need a boatload of added sugar calories in our morning coffee (and fyi, that is all of us).

If you are interested in the sugar calories, I did the “maths”.  This recipe makes 1 ½ cups of syrup, containing ¾ of a cup of sugar.  I use 1 Tbsp in my 12 oz. lattes.  That 1 Tbsp. of syrup contains 1.5 tsp of sugar, or 24 “added sugar” calories.  Plus the real pumpkin and the spices are good for you – so enjoy those 24 “added sugar” calories!  In comparison, a 12 oz Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte with no whip has 85 “added sugar” calories or 3.5 times as much.  I always order mine with half the syrup, but even then I’m still getting about twice the sugar as my homemade version.  Zoinks!

Back to our recipe.  There are no magic amounts here – add more or less pumpkin, spices or sugar to suit your taste.  Remember, when you taste the syrup on its own, it needs to have BOLD flavor or it will get lost in your coffee.  This syrup is also yum in hot milk – just the thing for a beddy-bye treat, and I bet it would also work in a tea latte or to sweeten hot chocolate.   And I think pretty bottles of this elixir would make a fun, inexpensive holiday gift for your favorite coffee addicts.  Enjoy!

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 rounded tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp. citric acid (optional, brightens flavors)

In a small saucepan combine water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved.  Let syrup cool for 5 minutes.  Whisk in remaining ingredients.  Cool to room temp.  Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a 2 cup glass measuring cup.  The syrup is fairly viscous – use the back of a spoon to help press the pumpkin through, and don’t forget to scape off the underside of the strainer.  You only want to end up tossing out about a tsp. of spice bits and pumpkin fibers (see pic below).

As you can see, this syrup is thick with pumpkin puree

As you can see, this syrup is thick with pumpkin puree

Technically you can skip the straining step, but why would you want these spice bits and pumpkin fibers in the bottom of your cup?

Technically you can skip the straining step, but why would you want these spice bits and pumpkin fibers in the bottom of your cup?

Pour the filtered mixture into a 12-16 oz bottle.  I like to use one with a small opening to prevent accidentally dumping too much syrup into my coffee.  IKEA fans will recognize my bottle as a repurposed Lingonberry Vinegar bottle.  Btw, that stuff ROCKS!!!  Store in the fridge for about a month.  Mixture will settle a bit in the fridge, just shake well before using.  Let me know what you think and how you make it your own!  I’m off to get to work on a Gingerbread Latte syrup…

As you can see, the syrup settles a bit in the fridge - be sure to shake well before using. PS - coffee always tastes better in a cute mug!

As you can see, the syrup settles a bit in the fridge – be sure to shake well before using. PS – coffee always tastes better in a cute mug!

Special note on one failed attempt:  As a big fan of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice, I thought I’d save some time and make a batch using their spice blend instead of all those individual spices.  Big mistake.  I’ve tried before to make a flavored coffee syrup with this spice mix and every time it gelatinizes as it did when I tried it here.  My pumpkin syrup turned into a stringy, slimy sludge.  The mix contains citrus peels and I guess the pectin in them is the culprit.  Oh well.  I like the flavor in my own spice mix better anyway!

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