Easy Vanilla Caramel Affogato Recipe

affogato recipe

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have just recently discovered the delightful dessert called an affogato. Ice cream drenched in freshly brewed espresso makes for a super easy and delicious dessert that is perfect for summer. 

Initially, I thought maybe the coffee would be too strong, since I don’t drink espresso shots straight, but really –  the espresso immediately begins to melt and blend with the ice cream, creating the freshest, best tasting coffee ice cream ever. 

So, if you’re a fan of coffee ice cream or coffee flavored desserts, get ready, because I’m about to share the best affogato recipe ever and you can have one ready to go in just a few minutes. 

What’s in an affogato?

affogato recipe

A classic affogato is a super simple coffee desert with just two ingredients. But, you can add some more things to take it up a notch if you want. 

I’ve tried it with just espresso, with espresso and caramel, with a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top, and even with different flavored ice creams (some of those recipes coming soon, too). 

But, really, you just need freshly brewed, hot espresso shots and ice cream to have an affogato. Here’s a little bit more about these easy ingredients: 

  • Espresso – For this, you need an espresso shot. I used my Nespresso to brew Starbucks espresso pods, which made it super easy. You can use espresso made with an espresso machine, really strongly brewed fresh coffee or even hot instant espresso coffee. The goal is to have a nice strong, rich, hot coffee that will melt with the ice cream. Cold coffee will not melt the ice cream enough and coffee that is not super strong will create an affogato that is too watered down. 
  • Ice Cream – A couple scoops of ice cream is all you need. I use two scoops of vanilla ice cream in this recipe, but you could use chocolate chip, chocolate, vanilla bean, or really any kind of coffee flavor that you think would pair well with the flavor of strong coffee. I like Haagen Dasz because it’s a harder ice cream that takes longer to melt, which holds up well to the heat of the espresso. 
  • Toppings – I use Ghirardelli caramel sauce here and it was SO GOOD. I’ve seen this done with chocolate shavings, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, etc., so really, the sky is the limit here on the toppings. I’ve even treated my affogato like a sundae and added all kinds of topping. You’re just using espresso instead of hot fudge. 
  • *Affiliate links are used above for products I use and recommend. If you make a purchase through my link, I may receive a commission at no cost to you!

How to make a vanilla caramel affogato: 

I’m telling you, this is so easy and almost completely foolproof. All you need to do is start with a couple scoops of ice cream, like this delicious vanilla ice cream. I like two scoops, because similar to a root beer float, most of it is going to melt. Don’t let the ice cream melt anymore than you have to to scoop it, because the espresso will turn soft ice cream to mush. 

Then, after you brew some fresh espresso, one shot is plenty, two is good if you want a little more. Slowly pour the espresso over the ice cream. Yummmm.

I topped my affogato with a heavy pour of caramel sauce. The caramel, vanilla, coffee pairing is perfect. If you’re a fan of caramel macchiatos or caramel frappuccinos, you are going to LOVE this, because that is almost exactly what it tastes like!

That’s it, folks. You’re ready to serve. Make these right before serving, because they melt quickly. 

Tips for making an Affogato: 

affogato recipe

  • Use a dessert dish designed for ice cream or a mug. If the sides are too shallow, it’ll melt all over the place. Because you’re pouring hot espresso, don’t use a paper cup or something that will melt under the heat. 
  • You can drink this like a milkshake if you stir it until it’s smoothly mixed, but it’s really best eaten with a spoon, like a hot fudge sundae.

Why is it called an affogato?

Affogato is Italian for “drowned” and that’s what you essentially do – you drown the ice cream or vanilla gelato in shot of espresso. 

What is an “affogato shot” at Starbucks?

Before you order this at Starbucks, know what to expect. An affogato shot at Starbucks means to pour an additional espresso shot over the top of your drink. 

Can I order an affogato at Starbucks?

You can, but it likely won’t be what you think. Starbucks pours an extra shot over a frappuccino to recreate the sweet coffee dessert. A few locations do serve them with ice cream, but not every location has ice cream. 

Can I add alcohol to my affogato?

Yes! You can make this an adult dessert by adding a splash of Kahlua, Bailey’s, Frangelico, a splash of liqueur or whatever you like. 

More Coffee Recipes: 

I hope this inspires you to get some ice cream or gelato and espresso shots and enjoy your own coffee dessert. 

Get roasted, 


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