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The Best Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe


Where I live, autumn inevitably brings cooler temperatures, fuzzy sweaters, an abundance of root vegetables and a frenzy for pumpkin spiced everything - especially the pumpkin spice latte.

Pumpkin spice, if you make it at home with actual spices, is an incredible mix of nutrient-dense aromatics like cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Problem is, many of us aren't actually using real spices for our pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pies or pumpkin baked goodies - or real pumpkin, either. Instead, we're grabbing pumpkin-flavoured processed foods and cruising by coffee shops to grab a $7 pumpkin spice latte. (I also just learned the horrifying fact that pumpkin spice hair colouring is a thing. Make it stop!)

Let's take a look at a couple of coffee shop pumpkin spice latte menu items and see what we find.

Exhibit A:

Milk, Pumpkin Spice Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% or Less of Fruit and Vegetable Juice for Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Salt, Potassium Sorbate), Brewed Espresso, Whipped Cream (Cream {Cream, Milk, Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan}, Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid), Pumpkin Spice Topping (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Sulfiting Agents).

This is a concoction of sugar, preservatives, imitation flavours and dairy - all of which we know are detrimental to our health. Processed white sugar is a highly addictive substance linked to weight gain, dental caries, blood sugar imbalance, diabetes and cancer. Dairy, in all its conventional forms, can cause allergies, digestive issues, antibiotic resistance and deplete our bone health. Carrageenan is inflammatory, particularly in the digestive tract, while those other 'natural flavours' and food additives are anything but natural.

Exhibit B:

Espresso, Pumpkin Spice Flavored Syrup (Fructose, Water, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Nonfat Milk, Annatto Extract {color}, Caramel Color, Potassium Sorbate {preservative}, Xanthan Gum, Salt, Sucralose), Whole Milk (Milk, Vitamin D Added).

With the first example, at least there was some pumpkin puree and spices in the topping. Here, there isn't any pumpkin puree or pumpkin spice at all - just a pumpkin-flavoured syrup loaded with fructose, artificial flavours and colours, and artificial sweeteners that are way, way worse for us than white sugar (you can read Part 1 and Part 2 of my series on artificial sweeteners for more info).

We can definitely do better.

Ultimate Pumpkin Spice Latte: The Spices

Spices are an important part of any dairy-free pumpkin spice latte. I like to buy my spices in small amounts to ensure freshness, and purchase them whole and grind them myself wherever I can. Even though spices are dried, they will still contain volatile, potent compounds that can dissipate with age (or if you aren't buying decent spices, they won't be there in the first place).

Another thing to watch out for in your spices is irradiation. Food irradiation is a growing problem and it damages the nutrients found in our foods, destroys helpful bacteria, and hasn't been proven safe for human consumption. Ask your local grocer or health food store for non-irradiated spices, or check them out online at My Spice Box, a great business that one of my students at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition recently launched.

If you love adding pumpkin spice to everything you make from October through December, try making your own batch of pumpkin spice mix and use it throughout the fall.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Mix

Pumpkin Spice Mix

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Yield: ¼ cup

DIY your own pumpkin spiced creations with this simple spice mix

  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground anise
  • 1 tsp turmeric (super optional and not traditional but I love it!)

Make It Like So
  1. Measure out all ingredients.
  2. Add to a small mason jar and shake shake shake.

Ultimate Pumpkin Spice Latte: The Pumpkin

A good pumpkin spice latte has to include actual pumpkin! So many pumpkin recipes call for pumpkin puree and most of us hop over to the store and buy a can of pumpkin. But pumpkin doesn’t grow in cans. It grows from the ground and grows a-plenty locally. It really isn’t that much trouble to do the right thing by your pumpkin and make your own pumpkin puree from scratch.

Fresh pumpkin has an abundance of outstanding nutritional benefits. Pumpkin is:

  • Abundant in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps maintain our skin and vision and prevents oxidative damage.
  • Rich in carotenoids that help regulate blood sugar.
  • Rich in dietary fibre to keep us pooping regularly.
  • High in lutein and zeaxanthin. These funny sounding guys are potent antioxidants that prevent free radical damage in the lenses of our eyes.
  • Rich in Vitamin C, which keeps our skin, hair, and nails glowing throughout the winter.
  • High in potassium – this is helpful for those concerned about blood pressure.
  • About 90% water, making pumpkin very hydrating.
  • You can even eat the flowers. If you grow your own pumpkin, make squash blossoms!

Try roasting or cooking your own pumpkin - it doesn't need to be a gigantic one, you can find smaller versions - and then save the puree in the fridge or freezer to use in pumpkin spice lattes, smoothies, soups and even chili or hummus. One can of pumpkin is equivalent to about 2 cups of fresh pumpkin puree if you're using a recipe that calls for the canned version.

Here is one of my favourite dairy-free pumpkin spice latte recipe. With fresh pumpkin and spices, Dandy blend (a herbal coffee alternative) and natural sweeteners, this is a wonderful elixir that will fuel your day, rather than detract from your health.

Best Ever Pumpkin Spiced Lattes

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Yield: 1

A delicious pumpkin spice latte using whole and unprocessed ingredients.

  • 1½ cups hot water (for a more decadent option, try almond milk or coconut milk)
  • ¼ cup fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp Dandy Blend
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin Spice Mix
  • Pinch of salt
  • For a chocolate version: add 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • For extra decadence: add coconut whipped cream on top (recipe below

Make It Like So
  1. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

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Dairy-Free Coconut Whipped Cream

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Yield: ¾ cup

You won't miss cow's milk at all when you dollop your elixirs with this dairy-free coconut whipped cream.

  • Coconut Cream (this is the thick solidified top layer from a chilled can of full fat coconut milk).
  • 2 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Make It Like So
  1. Chill your can can of coconut milk for about 8 hours in the fridge, and then remove the thick cream from the top and place in large mixing bowl.
  2. Add your sweetener and vanilla extract.
  3. Use an electric hand mixer or some serious muscle and a whisk until soft peaks start to form. If it's too thick, you can add back some of the remaining liquid in your coconut tin, 1 Tbsp at a time.

And, if you're looking for more pumpkin inspiration:

Images: iStock/nata_vkusidey , VeselovaElena

5 Responses to “The Best Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe”

  1. ilana said…
    Is the dandy blend necessary, or could I omit or use something else? What flavor does it give?
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Dandy blend is not necessary, but it definitely adds flavour. It gives the "coffee" flavour to the drink.
  2. Heidi Tanninen said…
    I had a pumpkin spice tea latte made with Organic English breakfast tea (concentrated) and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever drank. I had mine with part oat milk and part almond milk - no sugar but I added just a tip of a spoon of honey. I’m very excited to experiment with this recipe on my own. Thank you
  3. Pat said…
    What is Dandy Blend? I don't see a recipe here...thanks, the latte sounds wonderful!
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Pat! Dandy Blend is a brand name for a herbal coffee alternative. You may be able to find it at your local health food store depending on where you live, or you can find it online.

Before you post your comment, please note that I am unable to offer nutritional advice or recommendations via my blog.

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