I love the caramel macchiato from Starbucks and I enjoy making this tasty beverage at home.
Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Recipe
Let me know what you think in the comment section after you make this! What follows is a great Starbucks-esque caramel macchiato. It does require steamed milk, but you can steam milk in a microwave if you don't have an espresso machine. I'll show you how to make the drink and steam milk below.
- 1 Cup Steamed Milk
- 3 Tbsp Caramel Sauce
- 3 oz. or 2 Shots light espresso or coffee
Caramel Sauce Ingredients
- 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1/8 Cup Corn Syrup
Caramel Sauce Directions
- Pour heavy cream, corn syrup, and brown sugar into sauce pan on medium-high. Whisk until all ingredients are mixed well together, and the sauce becomes a nice, rich brown color.
- Bring to boil and let boil for 10-15 seconds. Take off heat and set aside.
- Brew 3 oz. of espresso or coffee. I recommend using plain coffee in your espresso machine for the light flavor. Set aside. Steam milk (see milk steaming directions below) and make a light layer of foam.
- Grab cup and add 3-4 tbsp of caramel sauce. Add the steamed milk and pour espresso over the top.
Don't Have an Espresso Machine?
Substituting Espresso for Drip Coffee:
This is not impossible to do without an espresso machine; however, your coffee will taste a little different due to the different process of extracting the coffee from the beans. You honestly probably won't even notice the difference because a traditional Starbucks caramel macchiato has a really weak coffee flavor.
It's subtle enough where I decided to actually use coffee instead of espresso grounds to make this taste right. I used Starbucks Breakfast Blend coffee, which has a much lighter flavor than their French roast—feel free to use any coffee you want. I used about 1 tbsp of coffee, which yielded 3 oz. of coffee.
Making the Steamed Milk:
Another issue you'll come across is steaming the milk. Luckily, there is a way you can do it—as long as you have a container with a lid and a microwave. Leaf has an excellent and short tutorial on how to steam milk with a microwave. Basically, you pour the milk into a container and shake vigorously, making bubbles. Remove the lid and place in the microwave until the desired temperature. The froth will rise to the top. However, as you know, the caramel macchiato from Starbucks has a low amount of foam at the top. So, it's kind of flat, but that won't affect the flavor too much. Steaming the milk does make the milk a bit sweeter though. I'm not sure how this will turn out in the microwave.
Though it's up for debate, because it varies by location, the difference between a latté and macchiato and other kinds of espresso drinks is the order of how you pour your components. Macchiatos are supposed to be topped with espresso; however, there area differently defined versions of a macchiato. For instance, some versions just have your espresso, with a dollop of froth over the top—"stained." It's all really country dependent, and even chain-, store-, and brand-dependent.
Bringing It Home
Whenever I go to Starbucks and order a hot caramel macchiato, it is very sweet and milky, with a weaker coffee flavor. I think this homemade (and much cheaper version) of a macchiato really hits the nail on the head.
I wouldn't call a Starbucks macchiato a macchiato in the traditional sense. It's actually more of a latté, just with the shot of espresso poured over the top, instead of the milk poured on top of the espresso. Whatever you want to call it, if you want it to actually taste like the Starbucks version, you'll have to brew a weak version of espresso. It's also super quick to whip this sauce up. No more than 15 minutes, depending on your pace.
You Don't Have to Go Big
Luckily, for this recipe, you don't have to go out and buy the $25 Starbucks Caramel Sauce—the brand they actually use is called Fontana, and you don't even have to buy some cheap version of caramel sauce or syrup that you'll wonder if it will come close enough to the actual taste of Starbucks.
You may not have corn syrup on hand or heavy cream, but it's likely you'll have brown sugar, milk, and coffee. I adjusted the recipe for a small batch because this copycat Starbucks caramel sauce doesn't keep for too long. This is the reason why I don't recommend buying the Fontana sauce from Starbucks. It is a gigantic, 1 oz short of half a gallon, honking thing of caramel sauce. Unless you can consume a half a gallon of caramel sauce in a month or less, it's going to go bad and likely get moldy. And unfortunately, they offer no smaller options.
Also, making a small batch of this sauce will allow you to decide if you like it or need to adjust it. It won't be a big loss if you decide that you don't care for it. My boyfriend agrees that this tastes indistinguishable from the real thing. He made me make him one, of course.