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How to Make a Caramel Macchiato (The Starbucks Classic in your Own Home)

Most of us love a Starbucks when you’re out and about or on the way to work. It’s quick, easy, and delicious and they have so many drinks to choose from you’ll never get bored of the options. Their caramel macchiato is a customer favorite. It’s super sweet and ultra-decadent and satisfies all the coffee cravings.

Although the drink seems quite impressive, brewed fresh by the barista, you can make this recipe from the comfort of your own home, without any specialist equipment needed! The benefit of the homemade version is you can adapt it to suit your taste preferences and any dietary requirements you have. It’s also a much cheaper option in the long run!

It’s quite easy to make a caramel macchiato as all you need is coffee, milk, and flavored sauces. Simply add espresso coffee to a cup of steamed milk mixed with vanilla syrup. Drizzle caramel sauce over the top and enjoy!

The key to any great recipe is understanding the drink itself. Once you get to grips with the basics you can mix and match ingredients until you have a drink that’s unique to you. We will look at the key ingredients as well as a macchiato coffee itself so you can make your own caramel macchiato to taste even better than Starbucks!

how to make a caramel macchiato

What Is a Caramel Macchiato?

Starbucks is the creator of this delicious coffee drink that combines rich espresso coffee with steamed milk, vanilla syrup, and caramel syrup with the option of whipped cream on top. The sweetness of the milk and syrup balances out the bold coffee flavor and makes a delicious and decadent treat. This drink can also be enjoyed as an iced caramel macchiato where the same ingredients are mixed but with cold milk and served over ice to make a refreshing iced coffee drink.

What Is a Macchiato?

The base of this drink is the Macchiato. Translated from Italian, the word means ‘marked’ or ‘stained’. There are actually two variations of this coffee recipe so it’s handy to know the differences. The espresso macchiato is created by adding a dollop of milk foam to the espresso to create coffee stained with milk. The latte macchiato is where you add a shot of espresso to the top of a glass of steamed milk. This gives you milk stained with coffee. The caramel macchiato is simply a latte macchiato but with flavored syrups added.

The Starbucks Caramel Macchiato

As delicious as this drink is to sip on, it can be handy to know what you’re consuming. The venti (20 oz) option, made with 2% milk, a double shot of espresso, and no whipped cream added has 310 kcal per cup. 9g of fat, 35mg cholesterol, 190mg sodium, 44g carbohydrates (42g from sugars), 13g of protein, and 150mg of caffeine. 42g of sugar is equal to around a quarter of a cup or just over ten teaspoons of sugar so that’s worth considering when you order the venti option.

For a quick comparison, the grande option has 210 calories, the tall has 190, and the short has 120 calories.

Caramel Macchiato Recipe

The wonderful thing about making this drink yourself is you get to control the ingredients to suit you. You can adjust the volumes used and swap out/substitute options until you get a drink that’s as unique as you are. I’ll start with a basic copycat recipe using simple ingredients then we will look into all the variations you can try,

Caramel Macchiato Copycat Starbucks Recipe

To create a drink that’s as close as possible to the drink your barista would serve at your local coffee house, here’s how to do it. There are links to all the products needed so you can order them from Amazon. The total time to make this drink is around 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the coffee machine you use.

Using the Starbucks espresso roast coffee (or any coffee beans you enjoy best) add these to an espresso machine and brew a double shot of espresso. This step can also be done using a stovetop espresso maker or an Aeropress.

You can also use Starbucks coffee pods if you have a Nespresso machine or K-cup pods for a Keurig or similar pod machine.

Set your fresh brewed coffee to one side.

Add a cup of 2% milk to a stainless steel jug and use a steam wand to add heat and texture to the milk. You could also use a milk frother jug or wand to do this step.

You want a nice thick texture to the milk with a layer of froth left on top. Add 2 pumps of Starbucks vanilla syrup (this equates to 1 – 2 tablespoons vanilla syrup) to the milk and stir.

Add your two shots of espresso to the milk and finish by drizzling Starbucks caramel sauce over the drink. You can always add a layer of whipped cream before the caramel sauce if you enjoy this.

It’s always an option to swap out the regular coffee for decaf as well so you can enjoy this drink after dinner or as a pre-bed treat.



The best way to enjoy this drink is to use a double shot of espresso coffee. This kind of coffee is dark, rich, and thick and stands out well when paired with milk. True espresso is brewed under pressure so you need a machine that can create at least 9 bars to create that thick crema.

Make sure you choose espresso roast or very dark roast coffee beans as the extra oils help to create the crema that signifies a lovely espresso.

Espresso machines vary from manual options to fully automated bean-to-cup models so you can choose one based on how much control you like over the coffee brewing process. A lot of espresso machines come with steam wand attachments which are perfect for creating coffee shop quality, textured milk.

Moka Pot

The Moka pot, or stovetop espresso maker is an Italian piece of engineering that uses steam pressure to brew coffee. These devices work by placing them on a heat source and are very inexpensive compared to an espresso machine. The coffee they brew isn’t true espresso as the Moka pot can only reach 1-2 bars of pressure. It is, however, a very rich, dark brew that works extremely well as an espresso substitute for this recipe.

Strong Coffee

If you don’t have a device that can brew espresso, then a very concentrated cup of dark roast coffee works well. You can brew this using an Aeropress, french press, pour-over, percolator, or any coffee brew method you like best. Just use more coffee or less water than you typically would in order for you to get a really strong cup of coffee.

A good option is using cold brew coffee concentrate that you can make yourself or buy ready to use. You can gently warm this coffee up or use it cold to make an iced caramel macchiato.


To create the rich, creamy texture of the caramel macchiato it’s best to use a steam wand to create the bubbly, microfoam in the milk. A milk frother jug or wand can be used as well to create similar results.

There are other methods you can use to froth the milk like whisking it, shaking it in a jar, or using a french press to aerate it but these methods won’t add to the texture of the milk as a steam wand does.


Dairy is the standard choice with Starbucks choosing 2% milk for their recipe. Milk is packed full of calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin a and B12, and a cup of milk only contains 122 kcal.

If you’re trying to minimize your carb intake or stick to a keto diet then you can always swap out 2% milk for half-and-half or for heavy cream. Use sugar-free syrup alongside this to make the caramel macchiato keto-friendly.


If dairy doesn’t suit you or you’re sticking to a vegan diet then there are loads of great options to suit you. Soy milk and almond milk both work really well with this recipe but I would recommend using a barista-blend as these contain stabilizers to help create the thick texture when steamed.

Oat milk or any nut-based kinds of milk (cashew, macadamia) can also be used as well as coconut milk but these options can affect the flavor of the drink.

Vanilla Syrup and Caramel Sauce

Once you have chosen your coffee and milk, the final ingredients for creating this recipe are vanilla syrup and caramel drizzle. Of course, you can buy these ready to go, but it is cheap and easy to make syrup at home as well. The vanilla syrup is mixed into the milk to sweeten this and the caramel sauce is drizzled on top (and sometimes inside the cup as well) to finish the drink off.

Homemade Vanilla Syrup

All you need to make this syrup at home is one cup of water, one cup of sugar, and vanilla extract. You can add a fresh vanilla pod as well if you like.

It’s really simple to make, simply add the sugar to the water and gently heat the mixture over the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil. Remove from the heat and add three teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Let the mixture cool and then store in a glass jar or bottle in the fridge, ready for use when you need it.

Homemade Caramel Sauce

To make this at home you’ll need 1 oz unsalted butter, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Place a heavy-based pan on a ring over medium heat and gently melt the butter. Add the sugar, salt, and cream and stir the mixture well. Let the mixture come to a gentle simmer and cook for around 5 minutes, stirring well until thickened.

Remove the pan from the heat source and add the vanilla extract. Stir and allow to cool before transferring it to a glass jar and storing it in the refrigerator.

You may need to heat up the small amount you use before adding your drizzle of caramel to make it easier to serve.

Vegans – you can substitute the cream for dairy-free alternatives. Full fat coconut milk or coconut creams works best or soy versions also work well. Dairy-free butter can also be used but make sure it’s a good quality brand so it doesn’t affect the flavor. Be extra careful when using non-dairy milk as they can burn a lot easier than dairy!


It’s surprisingly easy to make a caramel macchiato at home and the recipe can be adapted with ease to suit anyone. No matter what equipment you have to hand you can make this drink with ease. If anyone has any more suggestions on how to make this drink more versatile, please let us know in the comments below. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your next caramel macchiato!


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