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The Starbucks menu contains a vast array of impressive treats. Although it’s simple enough to order your favorite drink at the counter, there are many reasons why this isn’t always possible. Time and money get in the way of enjoying a Starbucks treat every time you get a notion for it but what if you could whip up your favorite drink, right from the comfort of your own home?
The Starbucks sweet cream recipe is simple and delicious. With half a cup of heavy cream and half a cup of 2% milk, simply add three pumps of vanilla syrup, and there you have it! Use this to top your cold brew coffee and enjoy!
If you need a little more encouragement, here’s a complete guide to the Starbucks sweet cream recipe and all the adaptations you can do, to get it just right for you.
What Is Starbucks Sweet Cream?
The clue is in the name! Starbucks sweet cream is a wonderfully smooth mixture of 2% milk, vanilla syrup, and heavy cream. It hasn’t been blended or whipped to create a foamy texture so the result is silky smooth. It’s a thick liquid creamer that cascades down through your iced coffee, creating a beautiful swirling pattern as the ingredients mix together.
Starbucks vanilla sweet cream is a key ingredient for their vanilla sweet cream cold brew recipe. As delicious as it is, if you’re like me, you likely don’t have the time or funds to be ordering one of these whenever you fancy a pick-me-up. You can make this coffee drink at home using my copycat recipe. It doesn’t take long and you don’t need any fancy equipment or barista skills to do so.
I like to keep things as adaptable as possible so no matter what your dietary requirements are, you can make this drink suitable for your needs.
How To Make Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
The Easy Option
If you want a Starbucks vanilla sweet cream cold brew coffee at home, without having to do any prep work then here is the easiest way to do this.
Combine 1 cup of heavy cream with half a cup of 2% milk in a glass jar. Add 3 tablespoons of vanilla syrup to this mix and stir or gently whisk to combine.
Dilute the cold brew concentrate with cold water (ideally filtered) to the strength you prefer. Add 1-3 tablespoons of vanilla syrup (depending on how sweet you like it).
Fill a tall glass with ice, if possible use pebble ice (nugget ice) as this creates a wonderful cascading effect when you mix the coffee and creamer. Add your cold brew to the glass and fill it leaving space at the top for your vanilla sweet cream.
Pour the vanilla cream over the coffee and watch as the coffee creamer swirls and mixes with the cold brew. Give it a gentle stir and enjoy.
Homemade Cold Brew Coffee Recipe
You can swap out the store-bought cold brew for a homemade option to help save costs and also gives you a lot of control over the coffee flavors. Your own cold brew can be made using your favorite coffee beans. If you prefer richer, chocolate, and burnt caramel notes then choose a dark roast. If you like the lighter, citrus, and floral flavors to shine through then choose a lighter roast bean. Not sure which you prefer? Try a medium roast.
Cold brew coffee is easy to make at home. All you need is ground coffee, cold water, and something to mix them in like a mason jar.
How To Make Cold Brew
To make cold brew at home you will need to make sure you have the correct equipment to hand. It’s always best to use whole coffee beans to give the best flavor and aroma to your coffee. You will need a coffee grinder that uses burrs not blades to get a coarse grind. If you’re buying beans fresh from a local roaster they often have the option to grind the beans for you so opt for a coarse grind or french press option.
You’ll need a large pitcher or jar to brew the coffee, ideally, one that fits in the refrigerator. Lastly, you’ll need a cheesecloth or tea strainer or something similar to remove the coffee grounds. A French press works well for this.
When you brew coffee cold and slow it works well to make it very concentrated and then dilute with cold water to taste after it has been strained. A 1:7 ratio of coffee to water works well but feel free to adjust this over time to suit your preferences.
Once you’ve combined your coffee and water (filtered water gives a better flavor) you need to leave it to steep for at least 8 hours to extract enough flavor. I think 12 hours is about the optimal time to leave it but some people like to give it 18-24 hours. If you leave it longer than this it can end up over-extracted and bitter.
Strain away the coffee grounds and store your coffee in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week. The cold brew concentrate can be enjoyed over ice or topped up with cold water to taste.
Homemade Vanilla Syrup
Vanilla syrup is easy to make at home. All you need is water and sugar to create a simple syrup and then a vanilla pod, vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste to flavor it. White caster sugar works well for this recipe but you can use any sugar or sugar substitute you like.
Combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Stir until the mixture is all combined and take off the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract or paste or a vanilla pod. Allow the mixture to cool and store in a glass jar or bottle in the fridge ready to use when needed. This syrup should keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Sweet Cream Recipe
These are some recipe ideas for the dairy base for sweet cream and I’ll leave it up to you to decide which works best.
Starbucks drinks use a combination of heavy cream and 2% milk. Equal measures of these are used so half a cup of cream and half a cup of milk and mixed with 3 pumps of vanilla syrup (3 tablespoons).
A simpler option uses half and half instead of the cream and milk combination and this seems to mix better with the coffee as heavy cream can end up clumping. 1 cup of this plus 3 pumps of vanilla syrup is a really simple Starbucks copycat recipe.
The final recipe is an ultra-sweet, super smooth, and satisfying combination. 1/4 cup of condensed milk is added to 1 cup half and half and a tablespoon of vanilla extract to seal the deal. A gentle whisk helps combine the ingredients and gives it a thicker, creamier texture to compliment your cold brew coffee.
Sweet Cream Cold Foam
There is a degree of confusion around sweet cream vs sweet cream cold foam. Starbucks cold brew coffee is sometimes served with a bubbly, frothy cold foam on top. This is essentially just non-fat milk frothed up to give it a foamy texture.
Sweet cream cold foam is the vanilla sweet cream recipe added to a milk frother to create froth. You can create this at home using a milk frothing jug or wand or a spiral whisk to aerate the sweet cream recipe. It doesn’t mix with the coffee in the same cascading manner but does create a rich texture.
You can enjoy this on hot coffee or even use it to top up espresso to make a vanilla sweet cream latte. It’s sweet, satisfying, and just generally delicious.
There are loads of ways to adapt this recipe to suit different dietary needs. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Lactose intolerant or vegan? You can make this recipe dairy-free by swapping out the milk/cream mix for a plant-based option.
Try soy milk and soy cream substitute mixed together at a 1:1 ratio as the base for your vanilla sweet cream.
Another great combination is almond milk and coconut cream. The almond milk balances out the strong coconut flavor to give a mild flavor that pairs perfectly with your cold brew. You can buy this on Amazon, already vanilla flavored which cuts down on prep time.
If you’re watching those calories and trying to minimize any unnecessary extras in your coffee then you can start by opting for sugar-free vanilla syrup. You can make it at home using xylitol and xanthan gum in place of sugar.
Use single cream in place of heavy cream to save some calories and non-fat milk in place of 2%. If you’re using non-dairy milk, make sure you choose the unsweetened option.
Cold-brew coffee itself is pretty much zero calories and 0g sugar so you don’t need to modify this recipe at all.
It’s surprisingly easy to transform the Starbucks sweet cream recipe to make it keto. Opt for just heavy cream as the base to minimize carbohydrates. Use a sugar-free vanilla syrup that can be bought online or made at home.
To make keto-friendly vanilla syrup add 3/4 cup xylitol and 1/8 of a teaspoon xanthan gum to a cup of water. Add this to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer it gently for 2-3 minutes until it starts to thicken and then remove from the heat. Add your vanilla extract or a vanilla pod and let the mixture cool. This recipe contains 0g of carbs.
For a dairy-free keto, option try this vanilla, unsweetened keto creamer instead of heavy cream.
If you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine then brewing your own cold brew coffee comes with even more benefits. Swap out regular coffee beans for a de-caffeinated blend and follow the rest of the steps for making a cold brew. You end up with all the delicious coffee flavor and none of the anxiety to follow.
Nitro Cold Brew
Starbucks offers their vanilla sweet cream cold brew as a nitro cold brew option. This is essentially cold brew coffee served through a nitrogen tap like stout beer at a bar. This gives the coffee a thick, creamy texture and a sweet taste without added sugar.
You can make nitro cold brew at home using a nitrogen keg or whipped cream dispenser charged with nitrogen canisters. You can even buy nitro cold brew coffee in cans sweetened with vanilla sweet cream or unsweetened ready to add your own touch.
Other Uses For Sweet Cream
Vanilla sweet cream isn’t just for cold brew. You can use it as a creamer for hot coffee or hot tea. Earl grey tea pairs really well with the vanilla flavor. It can go on an iced tea as well.
This sweet cream makes a really good topping for hot chocolate or mocha or even just over a dessert as an ice cream substitute. Why not drizzle it over pumpkin pie or hot chocolate fudge cake?
You can use it to sweeten oatmeal or add a sweet touch to a smoothie.
Starbucks vanilla sweet cream is a delicious, silky smooth creamer that can enhance any coffee recipe. It’s simple enough to buy the ingredients from your local grocery store to make at home and there are loads of tweaks you can do to get it to suit different dietary requirements. If you have any other recipe adaptations or other great uses for vanilla sweet cream, let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.
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