We Pimped a Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

Tis’ the season to consume many, many, many pumpkin spice lattes. A now ubiquitous beverage of fall, this Starbucks flavored java is loved the world over.

Last month there was a reported pumpkin spice syrup shortage at hundreds of Starbucks around the country; lovers of this beverage were outraged! It was the Pumpkin Spice LattePOCALYPYSE! Happily for the PSL fans (that’s what they affectionately call this fall beverage) the syrup was replenished and drinking resumed.

But wait! I am so sorry to burst your pumpkin bubble, but do you know really know what you are drinking? Espresso, steamed milk, and pumpkin spice syrup, yes, but what is in that pumpkin spice syrup? I for one, wanted to know. Starbucks isn’t terribly forthcoming about ingredients. Their website is extremely helpful with fat and calorie counts, but when it comes to actual ingredients one must dig deeper to come up with the truth.

I emailed them (which quite honestly, is very simple to do on their website) and asked for the ingredient breakdown. I received this:

Sugar, Condensed Nonfat Milk, Sweetened Condensed Nonfat Milk, Annatto (E160b, Colour), Natural and Artificial Flavours, Caramel Colour (E150D), Salt, Potassium Sorbate (E202, a preservative).

This list did not make a holistic nutritionist very happy. The first ingredient is sugar, then more sugar in the form of sweetened condensed milk, and numerous coloring agents and preservatives. Then the big whammy, under the guise of “natural and artificial flavors” are hidden health disastrous ingredients that legally do not have to be listed. Ingredients like Vanillin instead of Vanilla (synthetic vanillin primarily comes from wood pulp, a bi-product of the sulphite process. Yum!) are considered “natural ingredients.”

Well fear not pumpkin addicts, this is a truly simple and luscious drink to make at home. You will save calories, fat, and yucky franken-food ingredients, AND save yourself a pretty penny!

Consider the Pumpkin Spice Latte Pimped!

An aspect of “pimping,” or making over these beloved recipes, is deconstructing flavor and simplifying the process. That was the focus with this recipe.

I opted to make it vegan for our dairy-free friends (I must point out, I was completely unaware that Starbucks Pumpkin syrup was made with milk, this now explains my belly ache after consuming one).

Making a homemade pumpkin spice latte is as simple as:

  • Brewing delicious strong coffee (bonus: if you really, really love the pumpkin flavor, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Coffee is quite delicious).
  • Making a “pumpkin milk” (full recipe below)
  • Blending and/ or whisking your milk until frothy
  • Voila! Pumpkin heaven.

Allow me to point out one more major bonus. The traditional pumpkin spice latte has no actual pumpkin in it. The pimped version does.

The benefits of adding real pumpkin are many. Pumpkin is a rich source of beta carotene, potassium and zinc. Pumpkin has anti-inflammatory properties which can aid in the healing of arthritis symptoms, and is a fabulous food for prostate cancer prevention.

So ditch that store-bought latte. Whip one of these up. You will never go back. I promise!

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte


1/2 cup strong coffee
1 cup unsweetened organic almond milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine, choose organic if possible)
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
stevia to taste (or sweetener of your choice)
dark chocolate shavings, optional


In a blender or Vitamix, combine the almond milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and stevia (I used 1/4 tsp) until frothy. Heat in saucepan until warm and steamy. Pour over hot strong coffee. Top with chocolate shavings.

Wondering what you are going to do with your leftover pumpkin? Try these healthy and delicious pumpkin recipes:

Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Spice Protein Balls

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