Why You Should Make This Delicious DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Using A Real Pumpkin

Because a store-bought PSL can contain up to 50 grams of sugar!

October 11, 2017
pumpkin spice latte
Larell Scardelli

I’ll admit I never really considered making treats from pumpkins. For me, they were giant orbs you sought out in a patch, artistically carved, and enjoyed on the front porch until their toothy smiles started to droop. But when I learned how artificial and sugar-loaded commercial pumpkin spice lattes are, I was happy to shift my attention from goofy faces to making my own healthy version of this fall beverage. 

“To give you an example of just how high some latte’s sugar content can be—if you order a 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte in a coffee chop made with whole milk and finished off with whipped cream, you will be consuming 50 grams of sugar,” writes Dr. Josh Axe, certified doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, and founder of Ancient Nutrition. (Here are 12 healthy sugar substitutes you can bake with instead.)

(Brag your love of gardening with the Organic Life 2018 Wall Calendar, featuring gorgeous photographs, cooking tips and recipes, plus how to eat more—and waste less—of what's in season.)

A safer bet is to indulge the season with this low-sugar (under 10 grams) DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe. “Just one spoonful of pumpkin puree can provide over a third of most people’s daily vitamin A requirements,” says Axe. Not to mention the healthy fats in coconut milk and antioxidants of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. You’ll be bypassing more than a crazy sugar content, as most artificial pumpkin spice flavoring syrups contain high-fructose corn syrup, artificial food dye, and synthetic preservatives. Leave that all behind, save a few bucks, and have some fun being your own barista this fall with our recipe below.

Larell Scardelli
Pick up a sugar, cheese, or baking pumpkin

To start, I called around to my local organic farms and learned that it’s pretty difficult to grow baking pumpkins without pesticides, because of the high sugar content. And the farm that did grow them only grew a few to make ravioli (YUM). So do a little digging to see if an organic farm near you sells pumpkins. Otherwise, question small non-organic farms about their practices (sometime they just haven’t gone through the paperwork to get certified), or ask a gardener friend to spare a pumpkin!

Related: 10 Key Tips For Growing Pumpkins And Squash

Also, there is a huge difference between the spooky, jack-o-lantern pumpkins and the smaller kind. Baking pumpkins are known for being sweeter, having more flesh, and containing less water. Look for specific names like Cinderella, Fairy Tale, Lumina, and Autumn Gold. Some of them will look different than the ones pictured above, no worries. They’re all yummy. (Here's more on what you need to know when you're buying pumpkins this year.)

If you have a sweet tooth, watch the video below for a recipe for homemade whisky caramel sauce.

pumpkin puree
Larell Scardelli
Make pumpkin puree

A good rule of thumb when making pumpkin puree is one two-pound pumpkin yields the equivalent of one 15oz can of puree. So, this simple recipe will yield about 45oz of pumpkin puree, which is a lot considering we only use two tablespoons per latte. “I like to roast off a few pumpkins and make extra puree that can be frozen,” says Becky Geisel, executive chef at Fell Stone Manor and developer of the below puree. It will last in the freezer for 6-8 months. “That way when you want a spiced pumpkin latte or pumpkin cookies, the puree is ready for you.” If you’re only in the market to try this latte, make one pumpkin.

roasting pumpkin
Larell Scardelli

2-3 small sugar, cheese, or baking pumpkins (about 2-3 pounds each)
Two large baking trays lined with parchment paper
Spoon for scooping pumpkin guts
Bowl for said guts

1. Heat your oven to 350F degrees. Using a sharp knife, slice the stem off the top of the pumpkin. I did this project outside on a big cutting board, true to my Jack-o-lantern days. Since these are smaller pumpkins, I found the skin to be tougher.

2. Once you’ve de-stemmed all your pumpkins, cut each in half. Then remove the seeds and guts with a spoon. Note that pumpkin flesh is stringy through and through, so don’t carve out too much of the good stuff. I saved my seeds to roast and snack on, but that's totally optional.

3. Place pumpkins onto parchment-lined baking sheets facing cut-side up. Don't use oil or butter as it will change the flavor of the pumpkin. Roast for 45-50 minutes, but check to make sure they’re tender all the way through (try sticking them with a fork) before removing.

blending pumpkin
Larell Scardelli

Allow the halves to cool, then with a knife carefully remove the skin. It’s a bit of a pain because they’re mushy to hold, but try getting an edge started. I found that the more the pumpkin is cooked, the easier the skin peels off.

Now you will have just the flesh of the pumpkin left. Chop into cubes. Place the cooled pumpkin cubes into a food processor or blender. You may have to do a few rounds, as it’s a lot of pumpkin. Puree until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Now you have your puree! Just place in small quart-sized freezer bags and label, date, and freeze. But of course, keep one jar refrigerated for your morning PSL.

Related: Make These Gourd And Pumpkin Centerpieces For Your Home This Fall

pumpkin spice latte
Larell Scardelli
Whip up your own homemade pumpkin spice latte

Now that you’ve done the dirty work, it’s time to whip up a PSL. This latte recipe from Dr. Axe has simple fall ingredients and takes less than five minutes to make. But if you’re a flavor genius, play with ingredients like ginger, vanilla bean, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to make it your own.

1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons cooked organic pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup organic brewed coffee or espresso (optional)

Pour the coconut milk in a small pot over low heat. Stir often until heated through. Add the milk and remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until well-combined. Pour your warm cup of frothy heaven into a mug and sprinkle extra pumpkin pie spice, if desired.

Related: This Crustless Slow Cooker Pumpkin Pie Is The Easiest Pie You'll Make All Fall