Are you ready for the most delectable, irresistible, and satisfying homemade caramel latte that there ever was?!
I tend to go in phases when it comes to food (or drink) and lattes are no exception. First, it was the vanilla latte, but things changed, and I became more of a caramel latte girl (ok, until I made my own homemade vanilla syrup…but that’s another story).
Who’s to say a girl’s gotta have favorites though?
This caramel latte definitely fits the bill when you’re in the mood for a rich, buttery, creamy latte. Using my easy at-home latte method, which requires no fancy equipment or machines, you can DIY lattes whenever your mood strikes.
What is a Caramel Latte?
Otherwise known as a caffe latte, a latte is a coffee beverage made with 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk, with a layer of fine foam.
A caramel latte is a latte made with the addition of caramel syrup, which means they are a little sweeter than a regular latte. Oftentimes, at coffee chains like Starbucks, caramel lattes can include whipped cream and caramel drizzle on top. A delicious addition!
Looking for an iced version? Check out my iced caramel latte recipe here.
A homemade caramel latte is all about the caramel! There are a few routes to take when considering which kind of caramel you’ll use in your homemade latte, and one that I think stands out above the rest.
- Classic Caramel Syrup: this syrup is a basic simple syrup, made with a rich caramel base. It has a thin consistency, making it perfect for drinks.
- A store-bought caramel syrup can be found and is usually what is used in coffee shops to make caramel lattes.
- Caramel Sauce: thicker than syrup, it’s better used in hot lattes because the warmth melts it into the drink. Caramel sauce is the best option for drizzling on top (like on ice cream), so it’s definitely worth having around. There are so many options, too, like salted caramel and you could even try a bourbon caramel latte!
Let’s make a Caramel Latte
Making a caramel latte is really not much different than making a regular homemade latte, we’re just adding that delicious caramel sauce (or syrup) to it!
The three components we’ll need are espresso, frothed milk, and caramel sauce. Of course, whipped cream if you really want to take it to the next level.
- Add the espresso to a mug. If using strong coffee, consider adding more for a more authentic latte flavor.
- Heat milk, add caramel, and froth. Especially important if using caramel sauce so it’s melted with the hot milk.
- Pour the milk over the espresso. Pour on the side of the glass to help it combine.
- Top with foam, whipped cream, and caramel drizzle, if desired. C’mon, who doesn’t want whipped cream?
Let’s dive into the details, beginning with the espresso.
Espresso is traditionally made using an espresso machine, which sends pressurized water through very finely ground coffee that is packed together, resulting in rich espresso coffee with crema.
But can you make espresso at home without a machine? There are a few ways you can still achieve espresso – or espresso-like coffee – at home for your homemade lattes!
- Strongly Brewed Coffee: an easy option! You will need less water in your coffee-to-water ratio when brewing coffee. The general recommendation is a 15:1 ratio of water to coffee for a strong brew. Ultimately, it depends on your preferences.
- Instant Espresso
- Stovetop Espresso: make espresso on the stovetop using a Moka pot, which is a classic Italian method for brewing strong coffee.
- Aeropress: makes strong, concentrated coffee.
- Nespresso: ok, this is a machine but it’s not an official espresso machine (IMO) but rather an easy, at-home option for making espresso without the pricey, fancy machine. So if you have one, of course, use it!
Frothed Caramel Milk
First things first, I recommend using whole milk for the best froth!
My favorite way to froth milk at home is to heat milk in a mason jar. Heat the jar of milk in the microwave without the lid until hot. Once it’s ready, add the caramel sauce to the jar, top it with the lid, and shake it vigorously (while dancing…because happiness makes better lattes) until it’s doubled in size and foamy.
Please keep these tips in mind when you use the mason jar method for making frothed milk:
- Do not microwave the lid. It’s metal and cannot go in the microwave.
- Carefully remove the jar from the microwave, and use a towel or potholders to prevent burning your hands.
- Carefully remove the lid from the jar, removing it slowly in case any pressure has accumulated. I like to use a towel to remove it, just in case there is any splatter or excess heat.
If you don’t have a lid for your jar, heat the milk in a small saucepan, then use a whisk to froth the milk, vigorously whisking until foamy.
See my homemade latte post for more ways to foam milk at home.
If you want to have extra caramel, drizzle more in the mug before you pour your latte!
Once the milk is frothed, pour it on top of the espresso in your mug, spooning out any foam that remains in the jar.
Topping a Caramel Latte
If we’re looking at technicalities, then technically speaking, there isn’t whipped cream on lattes.
However, whipped cream is an exceptionally delicious topping in this case. I recommend making a batch of homemade whipped cream and scooping a big dollop on top. Then, add a generous drizzle of caramel sauce, of course!
Questions & Tips
- Can I make this dairy-free? You can, as long as you find dairy-free caramel sauce or use store-bought caramel syrup (just double-check it’s dairy-free, as simple syrup should be).
- I prefer using oat milk in dairy-free latte recipes. Almond milk will work, too.
- Make it a salted caramel latte just by using salted caramel sauce!
- Is this a caramel macchiato? So, Starbuck’s macchiato is a latte with vanilla syrup, and espresso, and is topped with caramel drizzle. A true espresso macchiato (meaning ‘stained’ in Italian), is an espresso drink with a short espresso with a dollop of foamed milk.
- To make this into Starbucks’ version of a caramel macchiato, take a look at my vanilla latte recipe and add whipped cream and caramel drizzle to it.
- Can I make it decaf? Yep, just use decaf espresso.
More Coffee Drink Recipes
- Iced Caramel Latte
- Homemade Latte
- Vanilla Latte
- Mocha Latte
- Iced Honey Lavender Latte
- Vietnamese Egg Coffee
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe How to Make a Caramel Latte
- Brew espresso or strong coffee as desired. Pour milk into a mason jar. Microwave for 1 ½ minutes. Depending on your microwave, you may need to continue heating in 30-second increments up to another minute. You want the milk hot, but not boiling.
- Carefully remove the jar of milk from the microwave; you may need to use a towel or potholder as it will be hot. Stir in the caramel sauce, then put the lid on the mason jar, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds to 1 minute. See notes below for additional frothing methods.
- Continuing to use a towel or potholder, remove the lid carefully, being aware of any pressure that may have built up in the jar. Drizzle caramel in the mug you'll be using (optional), then add the espresso and pour the milk over, topping with any foam that remains in the jar. Serve immediately with whipped cream and additional caramel drizzle, if desired.
- Caramel: you can use the classic caramel syrup (like simple syrup) or caramel sauce – like the ice cream topping. Both can be store-bought if needed.
- Use caution when shaking and opening the mason jar! Make sure the lid is on tight, use a towel or pot holder to hold the jar as needed, and open the lid carefully (I again, use a towel in hand).
- Additional frothing methods:
- Use a milk frother wand
- Shake the jar of milk before microwaving. Make sure the milk doubles in size before microwaving, then once heated, immediately pour it into your espresso.
- Heat milk in a saucepan on the stovetop (or again in the microwave) then use a whisk to froth the milk.
- Strong Coffee: if using strongly brewed coffee instead of espresso, consider using more coffee/less milk for a more latte-like coffee-forward flavor.
The post “4 Ways to Make a Homemade Lattes” was originally published in March 2017; in May 2022 each latte was re-published as individual posts.