The Starbucks iced caramel macchiato might be one of my favorite iced espresso drinks ever. I know I say that about a lot of drinks, but that’s because it’s true. I genuinely love all of them.
But, the way that Starbucks makes their macchiatos is different than the traditional way and – in this case – I like the Starbucks way better. The layers of vanilla, espresso and caramel are perfect together and you can sip it just the way they make it, or you can mix it up and shake it to get a delightfully vanilla, caramely latte (not too different from a Golden Eagle at Dutch Bros).
So, since I just made a new batch of vanilla syrup and had picked up some Starbucks espresso pods for my Nespresso, I figured it was time to try my hand at my own version of the Starbucks caramel macchiato at home.
Turns out – it’s pretty easy.
What’s in a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato:
The iced caramel macchiato is one of the most popular drinks at Starbucks during the warmer months. It’s a sweet, creamy drink with tons of flavor, so it’s highly addicting. Starbucks uses just a few ingredients: vanilla syrup, espresso shots, milk of choice, and caramel drizzle on top.
The goal here was to get as similar a flavor profile as possible to the Starbucks caramel macchiato, so to do that, I needed to know exactly what was in their version of this coffee drink.
Here are the ingredients that Starbucks uses in their coffee:
- Vanilla syrup: vanilla syrup is added to the bottom of the cup. They have a pump to cup size ratio that they use, which for the size I order, would typically equal 3 pumps (or tablespoons) of syrup. For more on Starbucks cup sizes, read this post. To replicate this part of the drink, you can buy pre-made vanilla syrup (I like this one) or you can make it with just 3 ingredients at home. I show you how in this post.
- Espresso: For a grande, they would add 2 shots of espresso, so I decided to use two espresso pods for my Nespresso. You can use any kind of espresso shots that you have available to you, but I will say that if you have a Nespresso, these espresso pods are my new fave. They taste really similar to the Starbucks espresso shots at Starbucks and gave this drink an incredibly close flavor profile to the original drink. I buy mine here.
- Milk or milk substitute: You’ll also need about 8 ounces of cold milk or milk substitute. I use oat milk now in all my drinks and I find that it really accentuates the flavors in coffee and chai tea. You can use whatever milk you like here.
- Caramel syrup – My ride or die caramel sauce is this one by Ghirardelli. It’s seriously so good. Highly recommend. I fell in love with it when I went to a Ghirardelli’s shop and got the salted caramel fudge sundae. It was the most delicious sundae I’ve ever had in my life and I’m pretty sure I was embarrassing moaning while I was eating it. I’m not ashamed. It was delicious.
- Ice – Pretty straightforward on this one. I like to use smaller ice cubes in drinks like this, but use whatever you have!
- Milk frother – This part is optional. You can use just cold milk here and be just fine. I like my milk frothed and use the cold froth function on my Nespresso Aerooccino alllll the time. So good. It just lightens up the milk and gives the whole coffee a more creamy, velvetty vibe. You can use any kind of milk frother here. I wrote a post with options from $20 and up.
That’s it. 4 main ingredients, no fancy tools unless you want to use them.
How to make the Starbucks caramel macchiato:
Putting this together is going to be a breeze, folks. I made you a little video to show you just how easy it’s going to be and here’s the play by play:
- You’re going to start with a glass of ice.
- Then, you’ll pour in two tablespoons of vanilla syrup and up to 4 depending on how sweet you’d like your drink.
- Then, froth your milk and pour that over the vanilla syrup.
- Now, it’s time to brew those espresso shots. I used two capsules of the Starbucks espresso pods and my Nespresso Vertuoline machine. It makes it super easy, fast, and less messy to whip up espresso shots in a flash. To read more about Nespresso machines, check out this post. When finished brewing your espresso shots, pour those over the top of your drink.
- All you have left is to add that caramel sauce to the top. Give your drink a nice helping of caramel drizzle right on top of the foam. You are using caramel sauce here and not syrup. Syrup is more watered down and is not think like a sauce is going to be. Be generous here, you want the caramel to start working its way down into the drink. Starbucks is notorious for using a crosshatch pattern with their drizzle, which coats the entire top of the drink evenly and allows for all that delicious drizzle to sink down into your drink.
- You can stir if you like the flavors more combined or sip it straight and experience the many layers of this flavorful coffee drink.
If you don’t stir it, I would not recommend a straw, because tipping the drink will help everything start to merge together. If you prefer straws, I would say go ahead and give it a stir so you don’t slurp up a bunch of vanilla syrup.
Other than that, really make this your own and customize it to exactly what you want.
Your questions about the Starbucks Caramel Macchiato recipe answered:
Can you make this drink hot?
You sure can. Just use warm frothed milk and you’re in business, baby.
Do you have to use espresso?
Don’t have an espresso machine? No worries, you can still make this delicious drink at home using whatever you have available to you. Here are some more options for you: strongly brewed coffee, cold brew coffee, nitro cold brew coffee, or even iced coffee. If you are using regular coffee, you may notice a less strong coffee flavor than with espresso shots, but it will still be delicious.
What kind of milk does Starbucks use in their iced caramel macchiato?
By default, Starbucks uses 2% milk in all of their drinks, but you can request many types of milk or milk substitutes, including: coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, whole milk, nonfat milk, and oat milk.
What does upside down mean at Starbucks?
Whenever I order this drink hot, I always ask for it to be made “upside down” which reverses the order. So, caramel on the bottom, espresso, milk and then vanilla syrup on top. I do this because the caramel melts into the coffee and all the ingredients mix together to make it sweeter. I find the hot version to be more on the bitter side when made the usual way. I don’t bother to do this when ordering it iced, because it mixes much easier.
How can you make the Starbucks caramel macchiato taste better?
If you’re making it home, you can customize the ingredients to your liking – and you can do the same at Starbucks. Try playing with the amounts of vanilla and caramel to get it just right for you.
Should you stir a macchiato?
Traditionally, they are not stirred by the barista, but you can do whatever you want! It’s your drink! If you don’t stir, you’ll first sip the caramel and espresso flavors together and the espresso will be strong. Then as you move through the drink, it’ll taste more like a vanilla latte. If you stir it, it’ll taste like a vanilla caramel latte, which is delicious, too!
Does a caramel macchiato have foam?
When Starbucks makes it hot, there is definitely foam. When they make iced drinks, they do not froth the milk first. I love doing this at home, though, by using a cold milk frother, to get a similar lightness to the drink as when it is hot. It is easy to do and just takes an extra minute or two.
Can I get a keto Starbucks caramel macchiato?
You can make some adaptations to the drink to make it keto, but because Starbucks does not have a sugar-free caramel sauce, you won’t be able to replicate that part of the drink. Check out this post for Keto options at Starbucks. If you are making this recipe at home – you totally could make it keto by swapping out the syrups for sugar-free and using a keto approved milk substitute.
How much caffeine is in a Starbucks caramel macchiato?
Each espresso shot will have approximately 75mg of caffeine and the average drink will have 2, so you’re looking at 150mg of caffeine. If you use a different kind of coffee, this amount will vary. To find out exactly how much caffeine is in your coffee, read this post.
What are the nutritional facts in the Starbucks caramel macchiato?
Since we are creating a similar recipe here, the calories and nutritional info is going to be similar. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect:
- Tall: 12 ounces, 2 pumps of vanilla, 1 shot of espresso. 180 calories, 75mg of caffeine, 26g of carbs and and 24g of sugar.
- Grande: 16 ounces, 3 pumps of vanilla, 2 shots of espresso. 250 calories, 150mg of caffeine, 37g of carbs and 34g of sugar.
- Venti: 24 ounces, 5 pumps of vanilla, 3 shots of espresso. 350 calories, 225 mg of caffeine, 53g of carbs and 49g of sugar.
More Starbucks copycat recipes:
I love recreating my favorite coffeehouse drinks at home. Here are some more copycat recipes – and other favorite drink recipes on the blog you might like:
- Delicious Sweet Cinnamon Iced Coffee at Home
- Vanilla Coffee Cream Soda Recipe Perfect for Summer
- Starbucks Chocolate Cream Cold Brew Copycat
- Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew Copycat
- The Definitive Guide To Starbucks Chai Tea Latte
- Best Starbucks iced London fog latte ever
Hope this inspires you to try making your favorite coffee drinks at home.