I know I might be prone to exaggeration a time or two (but honestly, when something’s the best it truly is the best at that moment in time!)…but when I said that my homemade vanilla bean syrup was the best, I kind of meant it.

Vanilla latte with whipped cream next to sugar and croissants

When I took one sip of my homemade vanilla latte made with that syrup, it was a utopia.

Hands down, truly the best latte I’ve had. Or, maybe even the best vanilla latte that I’ve had of all time?

Either way, let’s just say you’ve got to make it, even if you’re typically an iced latte kind of person, you’re going to love cozying up with this warm, sweet, ultra-comforting latte.

Even better? My easy at-home latte method makes it super quick (we’re talking 5 minutes…even if you have to make the syrup) and a breeze!

Looking for a cold version? Get the recipe here: how to make an iced vanilla latte.

What is a Vanilla 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 little bit of fine foam.

A vanilla latte is a latte made with the addition of vanilla syrup. If you are wondering if vanilla lattes are sweet, they are a little sweeter from the addition of the syrup, but generally not overly sweet.

Oftentimes at coffee chains like Starbucks, vanilla lattes can include whipped cream and vanilla drizzle on top, which can be a fun and delicious addition, but that can make it sweeter. Overall, it’s easy to customize the sweetness level by making a DIY latte.

Vanilla Bean Syrup

A homemade vanilla latte is all about vanilla syrup, which is easy to make with a few ingredients right at home. It’s sweet with a slightly woody, somewhat earthy flavor.

In my homemade vanilla bean syrup recipe, I use vanilla bean paste.

Vanilla bean paste essentially combines the best of both vanilla extract and vanilla bean pods, without the mess of dealing with the pods themselves. A jar will last you a long time (unless of course, you’re making vanilla syrup on the reg…or vanilla bean cake…or creamy fruit dip…).

Vanilla syrup next to coffee mug.

You can also purchase vanilla simple syrup.

Can I use vanilla extract? I don’t recommend using straight vanilla extract in place of the syrup, because it won’t have the added sweetness. However, I have used it in a pinch and it will do better if you add it to some regular simple syrup instead.

Let’s make a Vanilla Latte

Making a classic vanilla latte is really not much different than making a regular homemade latte, we’re just adding that delicious vanilla bean syrup to it!

The three components we’ll need are espresso, frothed milk, and vanilla.

  1. Add the espresso to a mug.
  2. Heat milk, stir in vanilla syrup, and froth.
  3. Pour the vanilla milk over the espresso.
  4. Top with foam, and whipped cream if desired.

Let’s dive into the details, beginning with the espresso.

Vanilla latte in glass mug.

Make Espresso at Home Without a Machine

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: this is my go-to option to be honest because it’s easy and super accessible. 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.

Find more options for espresso options at home in my homemade latte post!

Frothed Vanilla Milk

My favorite way to froth milk at home is to heat milk in a mason jar.

Add the milk to the jar and heat it in the microwave without the lid until hot. Add the vanilla syrup, then top the jar with a lid and shake it vigorously (while dancing…because happiness makes better lattes) until it’s doubled in size and foamy.

Adding vanilla syrup to milk and shaking in jar.

Please keep these tips in mind when you use the mason jar method for frothing 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, as needed.
  • 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.

Once the vanilla milk is frothed, pour it on top of the espresso in your mug, spooning out any foam that remains in the jar.

Pouring frothed milk into espresso.

Topping a Vanilla 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 on vanilla lattes. I recommend making a batch of homemade whipped cream and topping the latte with it.

A drizzle of vanilla bean syrup is also delicious on top of the whipped cream!

Vanilla latte with whipped cream.

Questions & Tips

  • Can I make a dairy-free vanilla latte? Yes! I recommend using oat milk for a creamy dairy-free option. Almond milk works, too.
  • How sweet is a vanilla latte? This latte has a hint of sweetness, but it isn’t overly sweet by any means. If you are looking for a sweeter latte, you can always add more vanilla syrup. And of course, the opposite is true as well; reduce the amount of vanilla syrup for a less sweet drink.
  • Make a stronger latte by reducing the milk to 2/3 cup instead of the full 8 ounces.

More Coffee Drink Recipes

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!

Vanilla latte with whipped cream next to sugar and croissants
5 (6 ratings)

Get the Recipe Homemade Vanilla Latte (5 Minutes!)

Making a luxurious vanilla latte at home has never been easier – or more delicious – thanks to this easy homemade latte method that requires no special equipment, and vanilla bean simple syrup!

Ingredients

Vanilla Syrup

Latte

  • 6 ounces whole milk, or milk of choice
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla syrup
  • 3 ounces espresso (2 shots), or ½ cup strong coffee

Instructions
 

  • Vanilla Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla paste (or extract). Use immediately or let cool and store in a jar in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Brew espresso or strong coffee as desired. Pour milk into a mason jar and 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. Add 2 tablespoons of vanilla bean syrup. 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. Pour the milk over the espresso, topping with any foam that remains in the jar. Serve immediately with whipped cream if desired.

Notes

  • 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.
Calories: 166kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 86mg, Potassium: 340mg, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 367IU, Calcium: 279mg
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!

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.