How to Make an Easy Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte with Plant-Based Milk
It's true— you really can create a delicious pumpkin spice latte without leaving the house. Since its first debut around 2003, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL) has become a seasonal staple that millions wait in anticipation for each year, with its appearance on coffee shop menus and grocery store shelves now marking the unofficial start of fall. But now, there’s no need to keep asking your barista when pumpkin spice is coming back or to make specific requests to make sure your coffee shop uses vegan ingredients because you can be in total control when you make your own at home. This recipe is dairy free, requires no fancy espresso machine, and most of all, makes this beloved beverage available any time of the year.
What is a Pumpkin Spice Latte?
A pumpkin spice latte tastes like heavenly, caffeinated pumpkin pie in a cup - but in latte form. Just what is a latte? This popular coffee shop drink comes from the Italian word for "milk" and is an espresso-based drink that contains a healthy amount of steamed milk and foam. A pumpkin spice latte simply throws pumpkin spice and pumpkin puree into the equation.
What is pumpkin spice? It is a cozy blend of spices that are in the traditional pumpkin pie. You can experience an array of flavors like cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and ginger that harmonize into a seasonally festive palate.
Are pumpkin spice lattes vegan? Unfortunately, the standard PSL is high in sugar, fat, and contains dairy products. However, you can get your barista to substitute the traditional dairy-based ingredients with plant-based products like nut milks. But, when you order your drink vegan at a standard coffee shop, many of the dairy-free or vegan options will use unnecessary gums, emulsifiers and other food thickeners. Some even sneak in vegetable oils to attempt to recreate that creamy, velvety texture people crave. So, while this recipe might still be a bit of a treat, it’s often a better for you option when you make it for yourself at home.
How to Make a Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte at Home
Pumpkin is one of nature's wonderful foods that is packed with nutrients that are good for the body and it doesn’t have to just be a ‘fall food’. When consumed with other healthy ingredients, you can regularly enjoy its benefits. Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, antioxidants, immunity-boosting vitamins, and lutein while boasting a low calorie count. At the beginning of cold and flu season, consuming foods like this that benefit your immune system can help keep you healthy.
While you can use canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling in your latte, we recommend making your own pumpkin puree. It’s simple to do and you can control everything that goes into it, eliminating unnecessary sugar and other additives or preservatives.
To make your pumpkin puree, roast two halves of a seeded pumpkin until they are fully cooked. Then, scoop out the cooked pumpkin and put it into a blender. Add some salt to taste if you prefer, or leave it out completely. To substitute for canned pumpkin, simply use the same amount of puree you would use. You can also freeze portions of unused puree for easy retrieval later. Try putting your puree in ice cube trays to freeze, then transfer them to an airtight container or freezer safe bag until you’re ready to use them. Pumpkin typically stays good in the freezer for 6 months and about 1 week in the fridge.
How to make a latte: What if you don't have an espresso machine? Don't worry — you can still make a good PSL. Make some strongly brewed coffee first. Now time for the milk. First, make sure you’re choosing a milk that will froth and pair with your coffee best like any of our Barista Editions. If you have a hand frother or blender, heat the milk through first and then you can use either of these to get that foamy, dreamy texture you’d expect from a latte.
You can even get great froth simply using a jar. Heat the milk separately from your other ingredients and then add to your jar, close and shake until you get your desired amount of foam. Pour the milk into your coffee and add your desired amount of foam on top. Easy!
Quick tips for brewing stronger coffee: If you'd like a stronger coffee, brew your coffee twice-over in a traditional drip machine or select the smallest setting on your instant one-cup brewer. You can also use a French press with a high concentration of coffee with a smaller amount of water. If you do have an espresso machine, use 2 shots of espresso in place of the brewed coffee.
Will plant milk curdle in my coffee?
If you’re a long-time plant milk user, you have most likely added a splash to your coffee and experienced it breaking apart or splitting at least once, resembling a lava-lamp more so than a creamy cup of coffee. Although it may look like it, the plant milk isn’t actually curdling though. So, what is happening?
To answer this simply - the proteins and natural fats in your plant-based milk are separating out.
Because most coffee is very acidic, plant-based alternatives like almond milk (even those with gums and emulsifiers) can have a hard time staying combined when added to it. When this happens, it is still safe to drink and will usually come back together with a stir, but you’ll likely have to continue stirring until you’ve finished your cup. Some plant milks also have a hard time frothing, because they don’t have enough of those same natural proteins in them.
Which is why, for this recipe we chose to use our Oat Barista Edition. Much like our Elmhurst Unsweetened Milked Oats™, you won’t find any added oils or gums in our barista oat milk and it’s still made with whole-grain oats (you can learn more about oat milk here) all while giving you that velvety texture you expect from a latte. Our entire Barista Series was specifically made to complement your favorite coffee and with foaming, steaming and frothing (and even latte art) in mind and any of them can be used in this recipe. Combined with the pumpkin and spices, you’ve got everything you need for a perfectly creamy, dairy-free Pumpkin Spice Latte.
- 2 cups Elmhurst® Oat Barista Edition
- ¾ cup Coffee, brewed strong
- 2 ½ Tbsp. Fresh Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup (or sugar of choice)
- 2 tsp. Vanilla
- ¾ tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (plus extras for topping)
Prep Time: 5 mins
- Brew coffee and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, add the Barista Edition Oat Milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Cook on medium-low, stirring constantly until all ingredients are completely blended together. For a frothier consistency, try using a hand frother to combine or frothing the milk separately from the pumpkin mixture.
- Add coffee, and finish stirring until desired drinking temperature is reached.
- Serve as is or with dairy-free whipped topping and extra pumpkin pie spice, if desired.
Make it and Share it!
Tag us on social media if you try it @elmhurst1925 or with #ElmhurstRecipes on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our page! Need the milk to get started? You can find our Oat Barista and any of our other products on website and order today!