Don’t feel like leaving the house? No problem.
If you wait all year for red cup season, then you’re likely a fan of many Starbucks holiday drinks. The December menu is a fan favorite, perhaps for its limited-time-only appeal, while the holiday joy and nostalgia the drinks are designed to evoke, and the general sweetness and pleasant flavors of the dessert-themed coffee beverages don’t disappoint.
But even for gold card holders, buying festive-flavored lattes everyday adds up. Luckily, holiday-themed drinks can be made at home exactly to your liking—no fake name or alt-milk upcharge required. Special equipment isn’t even necessary.
First, start by brewing Arabica beans, which are sweeter and have a higher sugar content than Robusta beans, suggest Mitalee Bharadwaj and Lisa Yala, founders of Transcendence Coffee. And you don’t need an espresso maker to create lattes at home. Use a pour over, French press, or stovetop moka pot to make a rich pot of coffee and top it off with the flavored syrup of your choice, typically in 1 teaspoon increments to determine your desired sweetness. Finish with frothed milk. “If you don’t have a frother, simply warm some milk and whisk it in a bowl until frothy and the milk doubles in size,” Bharadwaj and Yala say.
Here’s how to make your favorite Starbucks holiday drinks at home. Red cup optional.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
The key to flavored lattes is the syrup, which can be purchased online in various sizes. Though Starbucks doesn’t sell its pumpkin spice syrup commercially, a similar syrup can be purchased from Torani, which is used by coffee shops across America. If you want to make your own, Starbucks at Home provides the following recipe: 1 cup water, ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, 6 Tbsp pumpkin purée, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice should be simmered for about 4 minutes until everything is well combined. Strain and keep covered in the fridge for up to two weeks. Add by the teaspoon to a latte or iced latte at home. Top with whipped cream and additional pumpkin pie spice.
Though Starbucks sadly discontinued its gingerbread latte a few years ago, it can still be recreated at home. Monin sells a popular gingerbread syrup to stir into lattes, which can be garnished with whipped cream and nutmeg.
A mocha is just your standard latte, but with chocolate syrup (called mocha, to be fancy). Add peppermint syrup for a festive flair. To make your own peppermint syrup, make a simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water. Then, add a few dashes of peppermint extract.
Toasted White Chocolate Mocha
Of course, white chocolate syrup would work for this drink, but that can be hard to find. Instead, Starbucks recommends melting 4 ounces of white chocolate chips or broken white chocolate directly into your coffee. Stir with a shot of espresso or 1 ounce of brewed coffee, and then top with steamed 2% milk. It’s a drinkable dessert!
Caramel Brulée Latte
Starbucks’ signature caramel sauce is made by melting 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp butter, 1/4 cup half-and-half, plus a pinch of salt, for about 10 minutes on low heat. Then, use it in a latte as desired. For that special holiday touch, infuse some homemade whipped cream with the caramel sauce and use it to top the latte.
Eggnog has been axed from Starbucks’ current holiday menu, but there are a few ways to re-create the drink. The most obvious is to heat eggnog, and froth with some milk before pouring over espresso or strong coffee. You can also make an eggnog latte with coffee, frothed milk, and eggnog syrup, such as Amoretti’s version.
Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino
Though Starbucks doesn’t release its official Frappuccino recipe to consumers, it’s essentially a coffee smoothie. The Starbucks At Home recipe for a Frozen Blended Coffee starts with one packet of instant coffee or 1 ounce (one shot) of espresso. Blend with 3/4 cup whole milk, 1 1/2 cups ice, as well as 1 Tbsp peppermint syrup and 1 Tbsp White Chocolate syrup (or white chocolate chips). Add or deduct syrups to adjust sweetness, and throw in 1/8 tsp salt for balance. Once blended, top with whipped cream, if desired.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Any hot chocolate can be peppermint hot chocolate! Pick your favorite mix, heat as directed with milk, alternative milks, or hot water with a splash of cream, and add a pump of peppermint syrup. Top with whipped cream and crushed candy canes or peppermint candies.
Irish Cream Cold Brew
The heart of this drink is the cold brew, which needs to be prepared at least 12 hours in advance. Easily make cold brew at home by soaking 12 ounces of coarsely ground coffee beans in six cups of water for up to 24 hours, and then strain. Cold brew and cold brew concentrate can also be purchased pre-made at most grocery stores, and would work for this drink. Combine cold brew with equal parts water in a glass over ice, and make your foam.
Starbucks’ Irish Cream is vanilla-flavored and can be made by frothing 1/4 cup 2% milk, 1 Tbsp powdered sugar, and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract. Spoon over cold brew and enjoy.
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