Caramel Vanilla Iced Latte (With Homemade Syrup)
April 19, 2022
Get that coffeehouse feeling at home when you make your own homemade syrup, perfect for mixing into hot and cold coffee drinks. This version, a caramel and vanilla iced latte, has the cozy flavors and cool temperature, perfect for spring days and summer mornings.
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I have a coffee shop addiction. Any time I go grocery shopping, I stop and grab a latte. If my husband and I are out anywhere that we are driving past a coffee place, I’ll beg him to stop so I can grab a fancy drink. Honestly, it’s a good thing I work from home now, because the office was way too close to plenty of coffee.
So sometimes I want that feeling midweek. Sure, it’s not quite the same as someone else making your coffee, but the flavor is all there when you have the right homemade syrup, good espresso, and frothy milk. In this version, I combine two classic coffeehouse flavors: caramel and vanilla, into an iced latte.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for this caramel vanilla iced latte at your grocery store:
- Pantry: Sugar, Corn syrup, Espresso
- Spice Rack: Vanilla extract, Sea salt
- Fridge: Milk of choice, Ice
- Equipment: Saucepan, Thermometer, 8 oz Mason jar, Espresso maker, Milk frother
Let’s Make Caramel Vanilla Coffee Syrup
Making a caramel syrup for coffee is a lot like making regular caramel for candies or drizzling over ice cream, but the ingredient list looks just a little bit different. You won’t find any cream or butter here, just more water to get that perfect syrup consistency.
Using a syrup, whether it’s caramel vanilla flavored like this one, or is just a simply solution of sugar and water, is perfect for making iced coffee drinks. When you just add regular sugar to your cold coffee, it can be difficult to dissolve, making your drink a little gritty. But there are no issues if you have a syrup with pre-dissolved sugar ready to go.
To get started, you’ll want to combine granulated sugar in a small saucepan with some corn syrup and just a little bit of water. You’ll be cooking this water off, but it can be a lot more forgiving to have it at the start as opposed to making a dry caramel with just the sugar.
As for the corn syrup, this helps keeps the caramel from crystallizing, which means you can store it in the fridge for a long time. That’s perfect for a whole season of iced lattes! This is because corn syrup is an invert sugar: it contains glucose and fructose. When these are present with the sucrose in your granulated sugars, it helps keeps all those sucrose molecules from sticking together.
Use a medium-high heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar and corn syrup into the water as it starts to heat up. Once the mixture starts boiling, stop stirring, and just let it do its thing. After about five minutes, start taking the temperature. When your instant-read thermometer is between 325F and 330F, that means it’s caramelizing.
Immediately turn off the heat and add in the warm water very carefully. Even though the water is warm, it’s not anywhere near the over 300 degrees of your caramelized sugar. This mixture may seize up a little bit, bubbling and popping violently. That’s totally okay and expected. Add the vanilla and salt at this point as well.
As soon as you can, stir it all up. The seizing will make it a little difficult to stir, as some of the caramel that touches the cooler water will want to solidify. But the overall temperature is hot enough that this will dissolve with some good stirring. Keep going until it’s all smooth and liquidy.
Transfer the hot caramel sauce to an eight-ounce mason jar, loosely cover and set it aside to cool. You can use the syrup warm, but if you are storing it for later, be sure to let it cool all the way to room temperature. Then seal the jar, and store it in the fridge for up to a few months.
How to Make a Caramel Vanilla Iced Latte
Iced lattes are one of my absolute favorite drinks as the weather starts to warm up, so I have written an entire guide to how to make yours absolutely perfect. For this version, get started by freshly brewing your espresso.
I like to start with whole beans and grind them for each use. An espresso grind is extra fine, so if you buy pre-ground coffee, be sure it is for an espresso maker. Fill up the portalizer for your machine and gently tamp down the espresso.
Be sure you are following your machine’s instructions to pull the perfect shots of espresso. Some espresso makers have pre-measured settings, while others require you to manually start and stop. Either way, be sure you are getting two one-ounce shots.
Once you’ve got your hot espresso, it’s time to put everything together to make yourself a latte. It’s pretty simple, but there are a few tricks to making everything extra tasty. First, I like to give the milk a little extra oomph by frothing it up just a bit.
You don’t want to steam the milk using your espresso maker, because that will also heat it up. Instead, use a handheld frother which will simply stir up the milk really fast and aerate it, which will give it a nice layer of froth on top.
Then pour the espresso shots directly over the ice, along with the syrup. I recommend two tablespoons of syrup, which is the equivalent of about four pumps from your favorite coffee shop. Feel free to use more or less as you prefer. I know everyone loves their coffee a little differently.
Stir with a long-handled spoon to mix the syrup into the espresso. The ice will start to melt here due to the hot espresso, which will slightly dilute that extra-strong espresso flavor.
Finally, pour the milk on top of the espresso. Use your long-handled spoon to hold back any foam at first, so you are just getting the liquidy milk. Then scoop out all the foam that’s left over and add it to the top of your iced latte.
If you’d like, you can add some fun extras at this point, like whipped cream and a caramel drizzle, some chocolate or white chocolate shavings, or a dusting of sparkling sugar, cinnamon, or seasonal sprinkles.
Personally, I prefer to add a colorful straw, and then just start sipping away. Because this latte is made with ice and fresh espresso, it doesn’t really work to make it in advance. But that’s okay, because it comes together so quickly once you have that syrup made.
If you do want to make a large batch for a coffee bar or brunch, you can mix the syrup directly into the milk for a flavored creamer effect. Or try mixing it into a bigger batch of freshly brewed espresso or coffee.
It’s like having the coffee shop right at home! Learn how to make the syrup to enjoy your own caramel and vanilla iced latte.
How to Serve a Caramel Vanilla Iced Latte
There’s something special about sipping an iced coffee for breakfast during a brisk spring or summer morning, as the sun just starts to peek through the windows. If you have the opportunity, enjoy this latte with a leisurely breakfast of something sweet and indulgent, like lemon curd challah rolls or a strawberry rhubarb crumble.
If you need something quicker, then serving your caramel vanilla iced latte in a mason jar is an easy way to take it on the go. Grab a couple of triple chocolate zucchini muffins for a healthy vegan breakfast on the run. You can make this latte plant-based as well by using any non-dairy substitute, like oat milk.
And of course, don’t underestimate having an iced coffee alongside a decadent dessert. I love the idea of sipping this drink with a slice of miso chocolate torte with butterscotch sauce, or enjoying it with some tasty rhubarb cakes with rhubarb jam and buttercream.
More Coffee Drinks and Coffee Flavors
Caramel Vanilla Iced Latte
Caramel Vanilla Syrup
- ⅔ Cup Sugar
- ½ Tbsp Corn Syrup
- 7 oz Water lukewarm, divided
- ½ tsp Vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt
Iced Caramel Vanilla Latte
- 6 oz Milk of Choice
- 2 Tbsp Caramel Vanilla Syrup
- 2 oz Freshly Brewed Espresso or other strong coffee
- 2 oz Ice
- In a small saucepan, add the sugar, corn syrup and 1 oz of the water. Cook on medium-high, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins bubbling.
- Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches 325-330°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Immediately turn off the heat and add in the remaining water, vanilla, and salt, carefully as the caramel may seize. Stir until smooth, then transfer to an 8oz jar to cool.
- If desired, use a handheld milk frother to froth up the milk. Fill a glass mug or jar with the ice, and pour the espresso on top. Stir in the syrup.
- Top with frothed or unfrothed milk, and serve immediately with a straw.
- Make ahead tips:
- Allow the caramel vanilla syrup to cool to room temperature loosely covered. Then seal tightly and refrigerate for 2-3 months. Use cold or warm.
- The prepared latte tastes best served immediately, because the ice will begin to melt. I do not suggest preparing them in advance. However, you can mix the syrup into milk or espresso for quicker preparation, and store for 1-2 days.
- Use remaining syrup in other coffee drinks, hot or cold.