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A vanilla latte is a very classic espresso drink. Warmly scented with real vanilla and not too sweet it’s a great way to start making your own Starbucks dupe recipes right at home! Ready to get your caffeine fix? Let’s do it!
Ingredients for this recipe
- Espresso – Or strongly brewed coffee, more on that below.
- Vanilla Simple Syrup – I like to make my own, since it only requires three ingredients, but you can buy bottles of it too.
- Milk – Whatever variation you prefer. Whole milk, 2%, even oat or almond will work.
How to Make a Vanilla Latte
- Combine the espresso and vanilla syrup. Stir well to combine.
- Top with steamed milk. So easy!
That’s it. Less than five minutes and you’ll be enjoying this warm and comforting beverage! This is really one of the easiest espresso drinks out there and can even be made without an espresso machine or milk frother! Here’s how:
Making a Latte Without an Espresso Maker
Trying to make a Starbucks-inspired drink at home but don’t have an espresso maker? Never fear! There are methods to make a strongly brewed cup of coffee that work fairly well in a pinch.
If you don’t have an espresso machine at home, I recommend using 3 ounces of very strongly brewed coffee so it doesn’t taste weak.
In a drip maker – to brew an extra strong cup of coffee at home, I recommend 3 tablespoons of ground coffee per 6 ounces of water. This will get you about two servings of coffee to make two lattes.
Moka pot – A Moka pot is a great option if you don’t have an espresso machine! It will brew a beautifully strong cup of coffee right on your stovetop. I recommend 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per 6 ounces of water for a strong Moka brew.
Instant Espresso – you can find instant espresso powder at your higher end grocery stores or online.
Making a Latte Without a Milk Frother
While I love my Nespresso milk frother and use it daily, not everyone has one!
To make steamed milk on the stove:
- place 8 – 12 ounces of your preferred milk in a small saucepan and set over medium heat.
- Cook, whisking constantly, until milk is steaming hot.
- Remove from heat and whisk vigorously for 20 seconds before pouring over espresso and vanilla syrup.
To make frothed milk in a jar:
- Add your milk to a mason jar and microwave for 30 – 60 seconds, or until steaming.
- Cover the jar with a leak-proof lid and shaky vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Pour into your mug with espresso and vanilla syrup.
Using a Hand Frother for Lattes
If you make a lot of lattes at home, I highly recommend investing a few dollars into a hand-held frother. They are inexpensive, easy to store, and work like a dream!
To froth milk with a hand-held frother:
- Heat your milk in a microwave-safe jar for 30 seconds.
- Insert the frother at an angle into in the jar, nearly touching the bottom of the jar but not quite.
- Turn the frother on for 10 - 15 seconds, or until desired foam as been created.
How sweet is a vanilla latte?
The sweetness of this caffe latte comes from the vanilla syrup, as generally regular caffe lattes are just espresso and steamed milk.
My homemade vanilla simple syrup has 4 grams of sugar per 2 teaspoons. In a 12-ounce latte (which is the Tall size at Starbucks), there’s roughly 1 and a half ounces of syrup which equates to 3 tablespoons.
For me, personally, that’s too sweet. When I order a tall latte from Starbucks, I get half the amount of syrup, or the equivalent of 1 and a half tablespoons.
I recommend starting with between 1-3 tablespoons of syrup when you’re first making a homemade vanilla latte and adjusting the sweetness level according to your tastes.
Of course, if you use a plant- or nut-based milk you’ll want to make sure it’s not sweetened or adjust the amount of syrup if you prefer to use a sweetened milk alternative.
Making a stronger latte
If you like more coffee flavor and less milk, use 4-6 ounces of steamed milk instead of 8.
Can I use vanilla extract to make a vanilla latte?
While the scent and flavor of vanilla extract is to-die-for, it should be noted that it is not sweet on its own and cannot be used as an exact swap from vanilla-flavored simple syrup.
My homemade vanilla extract is studded with real flecks of vanilla bean, but not all vanilla extract or syrup is created equal. If you’ll be making your own syrup at home, I recommend a good quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste!
Iced Vanilla Latte
Interested in an iced version? Make sure you check out my recipe for an Iced Vanilla Latte!
Vanilla Latte – Ready in 5 Minutes
- Espresso Maker optional
- Milk Frother optional
- 1 - 3 tablespoons vanilla simple syrup (more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
- 2 ounces espresso (or 3 ounces strongly brewed coffee)
- 8 ounces milk of choice
- In a mug, combine 1 – 3 tablespoons vanilla simple syrup and 2 shots of espresso and stir well.
- Using a milk frother, or the stovetop method (see post), steam 8 ounces of milk and pour over the espresso mixture. Enjoy immediately.
- Recipe makes one drink, is easily multiplied.
- Refer to post for instructions on making a latte without an espresso maker or milk steamer.