Copycat Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino

Copycat Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino
The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serving: 1 to 2 servings
Yield: 1 to 2 drinks

A delicious iced coffee drink, it's easy to recreate the taste of a Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino. It is one of the coffeehouse's most popular beverages, though there are a few tricks to replicating the sweet caramel and coffee smoothie. With this recipe, you can whip up a caramel Frappuccino at home for a fraction of the cost of one at the coffeehouse.

Not all Frappuccinos require a shot of espresso. If you ask baristas who make this delicious drink at the coffeehouse, they'll tell you that there's a "secret" ingredient. The Frappuccino concentrate base includes the coffee flavoring and stabilizers that ensure the blended drink comes out perfectly smooth.

To replicate that at home, make a coffee concentrate from instant coffee and use a paste of xanthan gum. You can skip the latter ingredient, though the drink will be slightly chunky or separate in the glass (easily fixed by mixing the drink well after pouring). It's actually quite simple once you have the ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons water (divided)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons caramel sauce or syrup
  • 6 ice cubes
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  • Garnish: caramel sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for a Copycat Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  2. In a small dish, add the instant coffee and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix until the coffee is dissolved.

    Mixing Instant Coffee Concentrate for a Caramel Frappuccino
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  3. In a separate dish, combine the xanthan gum and 1 tablespoon of water, mixing it into a lumpy paste.

    Mixing Xanthan Gum Paste for a Caramel Frappuccino
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  4. In a blender, add the instant coffee concentrate, xanthan gum paste, milk, caramel sauce or syrup, and ice cubes.

    Blending a Copycat Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  5. Pulse a few times then blend until smooth.

    Blended Copycat Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  6. Pour into one or two glasses.

    Blended Copycat Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  7. Garnish with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Serve and enjoy.

    Copycat Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

Tips

  • If you like a stronger coffee flavor, dissolve 2 tablespoons of instant coffee into 1 tablespoon of water.
  • The recipe yields about 2 cups of the coffee drink, which is equivalent to two "tall" or one "grande" at Starbucks. It keeps well in the fridge for a day and can be frozen then left to thaw until drinkable.
  • Whole milk is preferred because the extra fat creates a thicker, more luscious drink. Half and half is a good alternative.
  • When switching to lighter milk or non-dairy alternatives (e.g., almond, coconut, rice, or soy milk), start with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the milk and 4 ice cubes, then adjust the consistency. To make it thicker, add ice and blend again; add milk to thin the drink.

Recipe Variation

If you're craving a caramel Frappuccino but don't want to run out for specialty ingredients, there is an alternative. It's not quite as perfect but it is delicious and more like the bottled Frappuccinos that are commonly found at convenience stores.

  • Blend 3/4 cup each of strong coffee, whole milk, and 4 tablespoons of caramel syrup or sauce with about 10 ice cubes until smooth. This mix tends to separate in the glass, so stir it to incorporate everything.
  • It's a great make-ahead option that yields about 4 cups and can be stored for a couple of days in the fridge for a quick grab-and-go coffee drink.
  • For the best taste, brew coffee with a stovetop espresso pot or use cold-brew coffee. Alternatively, add an extra tablespoon or two to your drip coffee machine.

What's the Difference Between Caramel Sauce and Syrup?

Caramel sauce tends to be thicker and richer than caramel syrup because it includes cream, milk, or butter. It's popularly used as a dessert topping. Caramel syrup is simply caramelized sugar mixed with water that's reduced into a syrup. It's more often used to sweeten drinks or as an alternative to pancake syrup. Both ingredients can be homemade or purchased at grocery stores and will work in this recipe. You may want to use 6 tablespoons of caramel syrup for extra flavor.

What Is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is a natural, flavorless thickening agent. The white powder is a vegan alternative to gelatin, a key ingredient in many gluten-free foods (such as bread), and one of the additives in the Starbucks Frappuccino base. You can typically find xanthan gum in natural food stores or specialty baking sections at grocery stores, as well as online stores.