How to Make Homemade Starbucks Frappuccinos
I love working as a barista at Starbucks, and I've spent my time on Delishably writing a series of guides to help customers order the perfect drink. To learn more about the unique Starbucks language, check out this guide that covers the basics, such as the amount of caffeine in espresso, seasonal flavors, sizes, and temperatures. And if you're already a Starbucks pro, let's get straight to talking about these fraps!
These iced, blended beverages are incredibly popular, and since everyone can't always get to a Starbucks or afford the drink they're craving, there's a pretty big interest in recreating these recipes at home.
In this guide, I'll talk a little bit about Starbucks' standard recipes for frappuccinos, and I'll also make some suggestions for recipes to try at home. The ingredients that Starbucks uses are so specialized that it's hard to make an exact copy, but there are alternatives for each ingredient that can make for a tasty rendition.
What IS a Frappuccino Anyway?
The Definition of a Frappuccino
Wikipedia is good for a lot of things, including succinctly summarizing what a frappe is!
"Frappuccino is a portmanteau of "frappe," the New England name for a milkshake with ice cream, and "cappuccino," an espresso coffee with frothed milk."
So, now you know: a frappe (or frap or frappuccino, there's a million ways to spell it) is basically a blended ice cream/milkshake-type beverage that may or may not include coffee. Versions that don't include coffee are usually called "creme frapps."
How Do I Make a Frappuccino?
Starbucks Copycat Frappuccino Recipe (With & Without Coffee)
Here, I'm going to show you how to make a close equivalent of a 16 oz (a Starbucks Grande) frappuccino. I've given you a list of ingredients to choose from, as they'll all result in a delicious, but slightly different tasting, version of the drink. Mix-and-match based on your preferences and/or what you happen to have in the kitchen.
1) 1 shot of espresso
- or 1-2 tbsp instant coffee (based on brand instructions,) mixed with just enough hot water to make it dissolve
- or 2-4 tbsp double-strength brewed coffee to taste)
2) 3/4 cup any kind of milk
- or 1 scoop ice cream
- or 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- or 3/4 cup equal mix of milk and cream or heavy whipping cream
3) 2 tbsp vanilla smoothie/vanilla soft-serve ice cream mix
- or skip this step if using ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, or cream
- or 1/2 pack of vanilla flavored Jell-O instant pudding (other flavors are fine)
- or 2 tbsp maple syrup
4) 16 oz ice
5) Additional flavorings and toppings
This is the quick-and-dirty version of the instructions. If you're wondering what role each ingredient plays and how the substitutions affect the coffee, keep scrolling past the instructions for a detailed rundown of each ingredient, what it does, and how to accurately substitute different ingredients. I also share what my preferences are down below!
- Brew your coffee (it needs to be really strong and concentrated). If you're creating a creme frappuccino (meaning one without coffee), skip this step. Starbucks uses a concentrated coffee in their versions. Concentrated brews work well for blended drinks because you have a lot of other flavors, like milk, that soften the intense coffee flavor. I like to use one or two shots of espresso.
- If you want your drink blended, put the coffee and the ingredients that follow in a blender. If you want your drink iced without being blended, just throw everything in the cup that you want to drink it out of. You'll want to be able to stir (and perhaps vigorously shake) an unblended frappe so that you can mix up the ingredients.
- Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of milk to the coffee.
- Add your thickener (vanilla smoothie powder, Jell-o, ice cream, etc.)
- Add ice, shake or blend, and enjoy!
An In-Depth Look at the Ingredients, Alternatives, and Substitutions
First, let's talk about the coffee that goes into a blended coffee frappuccino. If you're trying to recreate a creme-based frappuccino, or you just don't want to add any coffee, you can skip this info.
- SB uses a special, not-publicly-available coffee blend. If you order a coffee-based frappuccino from Starbucks, the barista will use an ingredient called "frappuccino roast." It's a special blend of coffee created specifically to be stored at room temperature and used in iced beverages. It's very concentrated and does not taste great on its own, but it works perfectly when its blended with the other ingredients.
- Brew double-strength coffee. So, what kind of alternative can you use at home? If you have a coffee maker at home, you can to replace the frappuccino roast with double-strength, concentrated coffee. To make this, either double up on the amount of grounds you use or cut the amount of water in half. If you have to brew a full pot, you can store the extra in your fridge or at room temperature for a couple of days. For one frap, you'll only need two to four tablespoons of the coffee that you make this way, depending on how big you want your drink to be or how much coffee flavor you like. I recommend using a darker blend of coffee if you choose this option.
- You can use espresso as a substitute. Personally, I prefer making my homemade frapps with one or two shots of espresso. Using hot espresso makes the beverage runnier, but it adds a smoky, caramelly sort of flavor that I really enjoy. In fact, when I order frappes at Starbucks, I usually sub out the frappuccino roast for espresso. If you happen to like the taste but don't like the different texture, you can simply add more ice to thicken the drink.
- If you can't make espresso, give instant coffee a try. Of course, not everyone has an espresso machine at home. The simplest alternative to SB's proprietary blend is to use concentrated instant coffee. It's cheap, and it gets a very similar effect. The amount you use will depend on the brand of instant coffee you buy. (And it's worth mentioning that Starbucks has a line of its own instant coffee called Via.) For the frappuccino, measure out the same amount of powder you would for a normal cup of coffee. From my experience, it's usually a tablespoon or two. Instead of adding a whole cup of hot water, add just a little bit by bit until the coffee dissolves. This way, the flavor will be really concentrated. I use this same method whenever I'm baking a coffee-flavored cake.
The second ingredient in this drink is milk. At Starbucks, the standard is whole milk, with other options available on request (such as soy milk). You can use any kind of milk you'd like at home, including dairy substitutes. The consistency of the drink will vary a bit, but as a general rule, you can trust that the more fat in the milk, the creamier the result will be. Below is a table displaying how much milk SB put into each size; feel free to adjust according to the consistency that you prefer.
How Much Milk Is in a Starbucks Frappuccino?
Amount of Milk
Tall (12 oz)
Grande (16 oz)
Third, and the hardest ingredient to nail down, is a thickener. The ingredient Starbucks uses is called "frappuccino base," and it adds a bit of flavor, sweetener, and thickness to the drink. This ingredient isn't available for retail sale, which is why it is difficult to create an exact duplicate of SB's frappe. Here are my suggestions for alternatives:
- Vanilla smoothie powder or vanilla soft-serve ice cream mix. These powders might be a little difficult to find, but they make up for the added sweetness and thickness of the frap base. Any time I've used these, I've used between two and four tablespoons per drink. This is probably my favorite option. You can experiment with other flavors, but the vanilla is neutral enough that it mixes well with pretty much anything.
- Jell-O (or other brand) instant pudding. Use just half a package of any flavor you like, though I recommend vanilla. This is a great, affordable, and easy-to-find alternative to the powders listed above.
- Sweetened condensed milk. This isn't the healthiest option, but replacing the milk you'd normally use with sweetened, condensed milk will definitely make for a sweet, creamy treat. If you're using this, I would not add any other milk. If the result is too sweet, try using half regular milk and half sweetened, condensed milk. Another similar alternative is to use half milk and half cream or heavy whipping cream.
- Ice cream. Adding a scoop of ice cream to the mix instead of ice won't make you a frappuccino, per se, but it's a pretty delicious alternative. You can skip adding extra flavors or experiment however you like with ice cream.
- Maple syrup. This made sound like an odd option, but two tablespoons of maple syrup actually comes close to Starbucks' version of the drink.
Add ice equal to the size of the drink you want. I just fill whatever glass I'll be drinking out of with ice to measure it. If you're using ice cream, I'd recommend skipping out on adding any extra ice.
Adding Any Flavoring
Add any extra flavoring you'd like. Starbucks does offer a number of its syrups for retail sale, and they're just the same as the ones the barista uses in the store. You can also try out Torani's line of syrups. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative that you can pick up in the grocery store, Hershey's dark chocolate syrup is a great substitute for mocha.
Start Experimenting With Other Recipes!
I've gotten a lot of comments asking about how to make delicious alternatives. Most of these recipes include the somewhat vague measurement of "pump." Some coffee enthusiasts have figured out that a pump is about a tablespoon, give or take. With that said, here are some other recipes that you can try!
Ingredients (for a grande size)
- Three pumps of frappuccino roast
- Whole milk to the first line of the grande cup
- A grande sized scoop of ice
- Two pumps of mocha (I recently discovered that the retail version of the mocha powder we use in store is only available for purchase on the Starbucks website. Certain stores used to stock this, but now you can only buy it online. Our mocha is a semi-sweet chocolate, so you could try some alternatives, but you can definitely buy it online if you want to stick to the recipe.)
- Three pumps of the frappe base
- So, to make this at home, you would want to start with your coffee first. I recommend using shots of espresso if you have access to them. A grande size would get two shots. If not, you can use 1-2 tbsp of instant coffee (depending on the instructions,) or 3-4 tbsp of regular coffee brewed at double strength.
- Then, you can add 3/4 cup of any kind of milk you like. We usually use whole milk in the store, but any kind is fine!
- Next, add your frappuccino base. We use three pumps in a grande. I'm not sure what the exact measurement is without a pump, but I would guess somewhere around two to three tablespoons.
- Then, add about 16oz of ice.
- Finally, add in your flavoring: semi-sweet chocolate. You can buy the mocha powder or the premixed Fontana Mocha syrup from the Starbucks store, or you could always try using semi-sweet chocolate chips for something a little different.
Chai Creme Frappe
- Milk to the first line of a grande iced cup
- Pumps of chai concentrate (one in a tall; two in a grande or venti. We actually sell the chai concentrate that we use in our stores. It's not a particularly expensive item, so I would recommend picking up a box of it if you want to try this at home.)
- Optional: Thickener (I would definitely recommend trying the vanilla pudding mix. This should serve to thicken your beverage and should also add extra vanilla for those who like that flavor).
- Start with 3/4 cup of milk (any kind of milk is fine).
- Then, you add your chai concentrate. I'd suggest starting off with two tablespoons. If it does not taste strong enough, you can always add more!
- Next, add 16oz of ice. I measure this using the same cup I'm going to pour my drink into.
- Finally, add your vanilla pudding mix. One half of a pack usually works for me.
Java Chip or Chocolate Chip Frappuccino
- Frappuccino roast
- Java chips or chocolate chips
- Mocha syrup (For the mocha syrup, Starbucks does sell this through their website, or you can use a dark chocolate syrup, like Hershey's, or maybe a dark chocolate hot chocolate powder.)
- Brew your coffee.
- Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of milk to the coffee.
- Add your thickener (vanilla smoothie powder, Jell-o, ice cream, etc.)
- Add ice.
- Dust drink with java chips.
Caramel Frapp (Thanks to Summer for sharing this)
- Half a packet of the Starbucks instant iced coffee (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
- 1 cup of milk
- Cup I'm using of ice x2 (I like mine thick)
- 3 pumps of base (can be purchased on eBay)
- 2 pumps of caramel sauce
- 1/2-1 tbsp of caramel syrup (depending on how sweet)
- Pinch of xantham gum
- Pour ingredients into blender.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about trying to duplicate specific recipes, I'd be happy to answer them. I'd also love feedback on the recipes. If one of the suggested ingredients doesn't work out quite right, I'd love to know. If you have a version that you absolutely adore, please share it with us!