For many of us, the fall simply isn't complete without the legendary Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. First launched in 2003, the seasonal drink has catapulted into fame within its first autumn. And like many trendy drinks, it has drawn the ire of the health-conscious. Why wouldn't it? That thing is LOADED with sugar. Moreover, its first iterations didn't even contain real pumpkin puree. How shocking.
How unhealthy is the typical pumpkin spice latte?
There is nothing healthy at all about the pumpkin spice latte from coffee chains and big brands. In fact, 16 ounces of the drink has 50 grams of sugar and that's the recommended intake of sugar daily by the FDA! No matter how you slice it, you'd be going over the limit unless you don't eat anything else for the day.
On top of all that sugar, this drink is also carb-heavy. The same 16-ounce cup has 52 grams of carbs. Plus 14 grams of fat. Whew. If there is one upside though, it's that the regular pumpkin spice latte has a high protein count: 14 grams which is around 28% of the recommended daily value.
It's fine as an occasional treat but you definitely shouldn't make a habit of it even for just a season.
A healthier pumpkin spice latte
So the bad news is store-bought pumpkin spice latte is bad for you. The good news? You can make your own version at home that is just as delicious but minus the extra refined sugar and fat.
The vegan pumpkin spice latte recipe that I'm sharing with you uses real pumpkin, non-dairy milk, and spices -- all of which are easy to find. And because none of the ingredients is ultra-processed, there are actual health benefits to enjoying this drink!
For starters, pumpkin is loaded with fiber, carotenoids, vitamins, and minerals. Consuming pumpkin can help you feel full for longer, boost your immunity, and may even lead to better eyesight.
Then you have your spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. All of which are known for having anti-inflammatory properties that can help provide relief from arthritis pain and help improve heart health. Cloves and cinnamon are also antimicrobial and can help prevent tooth decay or treat bad breath.
What's the best milk to use for a vegan pumpkin spice latte?
The best non-dairy milk for making pumpkin spice latte, or just lattes in general, is soy milk. Soy milk is stable in high temperatures and doesn’t curdle when boiled. If you don’t like the taste of soy milk, oat milk is the next best thing! If you're still on the lookout for a good brand, I suggest you try Chobani's Extra Creamy Oat Milk (it's what I use for my vegan chai masala).
Some people also use almond milk or coconut milk or a combination of the two and that’s fine! Just know that there is a high possibility of curdling if you use these plant-based milks. So research solutions to prevent curdling if you decide to go with these two.
And now for the fun part. Just because you're vegan doesn't mean you can't enjoy a bit of whipped cream. If you want the whole work, top off your pumpkin spice latte with whipped coconut cream!
How to make pumpkin puree
Because pumpkin puree is the star ingredient of this pumpkin spice latte recipe, I strongly advise that you make it from scratch. It's super easy! And it's also a lot tastier than the canned ones from the supermarket. To make pumpkin puree at home, just peel the pumpkin, chop it into small cubes, and steam it until it's soft enough to mash. Simple, isn't it?
But if you're truly pressed for time, canned pumpkin puree will, of course, do the trick.
Because I don't want to have to learn how to make my own espresso just to enjoy my own healthy pumpkin spice latte at home, I use instant coffee. However, if you own a coffee machine or a Nespresso and would like to use espresso for the recipe, then, by all means, go ahead. As with any milk-based coffee drink, dark or medium roast coffee works best.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice powder
- Add non-dairy milk, and all the rest of the ingredients to a saucepan and place on medium heat.
- Use a electric handheld frother to whisk the latte.
- Pour into a cup and serve it hot.