As of yesterday, fall is officially here. If you follow any food websites on social media, get ready to see an ungodly amount of pumpkin recipes, last-minute Halloween hacks, and videos explaining how to cook a turkey without burning down your house. Yep, it's that time of year, and to be honest I'm pretty darn excited.


When October rolls around, I normally pull the typical basic white girl Instagram move and post a perfectly staged shot of my long-awaited first sip of a PSL (that's a pumpkin spice latte if you're not a basic white girl). This year is different, though. I recently read an article explaining how pumpkin spice lattes from chain coffee shops are actually quite lacking in the pumpkin category. They get away with having no real pumpkin in their beverages by calling them "pumpkin spice", which technically means there is just pumpkin pie spice in there along with some artificial flavorings. I was hurt. All these years, I'd been fooled into thinking the barista was back there gutting a pumpkin and tossing it in a blender with some milk (okay, I didn't really think that, but a girl can dream). Turns out, the average chain shop PSL lacks in pumpkin what it makes up for in sugar. Boatloads of it, unfortunately.

Thus began my mission to find a homemade version of my favorite fall beverage, and one that didn't require any icky store-bought syrups because that's not how I roll. It was easier than I thought!


This one was full of warm spice and real pumpkin flavor, and not too sweet. Just how I like it! Freshly ground black pepper may seem like an odd ingredient, but it cuts through the sweetness and adds a little depth. I tend to like things less sweet, so this was perfect, but you could up the sugar to 2 full tablespoons if you want it sweeter. I use a Nespresso U to make espresso (and LOTS of it), but you could substitute strong coffee if you don't have an espresso maker.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

Serves 2

What you'll need:

2 tablespoons canned pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus extra for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk

2 shots espresso or strong brewed coffee (about 1/4 cup)

How to make it:

1. Place the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat for 2 minutes or until it smells cooked, stirring constantly.

2. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir until the mixture looks like a thick, bubbly syrup.

3. Whisk in the milk and warm gently over medium heat. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't boil over.

4. Process the hot milk mixture in a blender, carefully holding down the lid with a wad of towels, until frothy and thoroughly blended.

5. Make the espresso or coffee and divide between two mugs. Add the frothed milk and sprinkle with extra pumpkin pie spice.


Frothy pumpkin milk + espresso =


If you want to get really crazy, top it off with homemade bourbon whipped cream. This was my husband's addition, and it was amazing.

Bourbon Whipped Cream

What you'll need:

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon bourbon

How to make it:

1. Place the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Fold in the bourbon.

2. Use the whipped cream to top your PSL!

**This recipe makes more than you'll need for the lattes, but that's okay! Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate until you find a good excuse to use it. Trust me; it won't last long.

Happy fall, everyone!