Make your own caramel iced coffee at home with this easy recipe. This sweet and creamy DIY version tastes just as good as (if not better than!) any iced coffee drink you can buy at Starbucks, Dunkin', or anywhere else. Plus, making your coffee at home is guaranteed to save you time and money - it's a win-win!
I love a good caramel iced coffee. I don't love spending $5 on a glass of ice topped with what feels like five sips of coffee. And while I love a local coffee shop, I usually don't spare myself 20 minutes to stop for coffee in the morning before work. This recipe is the answer to my dilemmas -- and maybe to yours too! It's a super easy, sweet, creamy iced coffee, swirled with homemade caramel sauce, and made in under 5 minutes. IT IS SO GOOD.
- Why you'll love this recipe
- Ingredients for this homemade iced coffee
- How to make a caramel iced coffee (that's better than Starbucks!)
- Make it your own
- Best types of coffee for this recipe
- Does making this drink at home really save money?
- Recipe FAQ
- More homemade coffee drinks
- Recipe Card
- 💬 Comments and Reviews
Why you'll love this recipe
In case you need more convincing, here are a few of the perks to making your own caramel iced coffee:
It's cheaper. The most expensive items you'll need for this recipe are coffee and cream, and I guarantee that you can purchase both for the cost of 3-4 iced coffees from a coffee shop. And with those two ingredients (plus some milk and caramel sauce), you can make WAY more than 3-4 drinks!
It's convenient. Going to a coffee shop involves - at a minimum - getting dressed, walking or driving somewhere, waiting in line, ordering, waiting some more, and finally getting your drink. Making this homemade caramel iced coffee involves walking into your kitchen and pouring 4 ingredients into a glass filled with ice. If your cold coffee and caramel are already prepped, it literally takes 2 minutes.
It's customizable! Like your coffee a little less sweet? Just add less caramel sauce. Looking for something extra-creamy? Add an extra tablespoon of cream. Love a salty-sweet treat? Use salted caramel in your drink. Make it work for you!
Ingredients for this homemade iced coffee
You'll need 5 super-simple ingredients for this caramel coffee recipe:
- Ice - If you plan ahead and make coffee ice cubes, all the better - because nobody likes a watered-down drink!
- Cold coffee - I typically use brewed coffee that's been chilled in the refrigerator, but you can also use store-bought or homemade cold brew if you want to be a little fancier about it. If you own a Chemex, you can even try brewing flash-chilled (Japanese-Style) iced coffee!
- Milk - Whether I'm making this drink, a chai latte, or anything in between, my preference is always whole milk. That being said, how would you order a caramel iced latte at Starbucks? Ask yourself that question, and let that guide your choice of milk for this drink.
- Heavy cream - I LOVE the addition of heavy cream in this recipe. You only need a splash of it! It gives it a bit of extra creaminess and rounds out the flavors in a way that milk alone doesn't. If all you have on hand is half-n-half or regular/light whipping cream, go ahead and use it though. OR, try your favorite dairy-free alternative, like coconut cream!
- Caramel sauce - My homemade caramel sauce recipe is my #1 recommendation here. It'll knock the socks off any caramel syrup you'd typically see being used to make iced coffee, and one batch will be enough for plenty of drinks. That said, feel free to use any caramel sauce you'd like, as long as it's fluid enough to stir into your coffee.
How to make a caramel iced coffee (that's better than Starbucks!)
Now that we've talked ingredients, let's dive into how to make this homemade caramel iced coffee:
Start by pouring chilled coffee or cold brew over ice.
Pour in your milk of choice and cream.
(This swirl action is the best part!)
Add caramel sauce.
You can see here that the caramel sauce I make isn't super thick - it's easy to pour, and mixes in smoothly.
Stir it all together and you're good to go! It's THAT simple. But don't be fooled - it's one of the best iced coffee recipes you could possibly make!
Make it your own
In true Starbucks style, you can modify (and amplify!) this caramel iced coffee almost any way you please. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Add a swirl of caramel syrup to your glass before assembling your drink.
- Use a different type of milk - 2%, oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc.
- Add a complementary flavor of syrup, like chocolate or coconut, or even a splash of sweetened condensed milk.
- Blend the coffee, milk, cream, and caramel sauce together before pouring over ice for a frothy finish to your drink.
- Top it with whipped cream!
Best types of coffee for this recipe
There are three basic "cold coffee" options you can use here: standard iced coffee, cold brew, and flash-chilled coffee.
Your second option is cold brew, which many people will insist is best since it tends to have a smoother and less acidic flavor than coffee that's simply been brewed and chilled. There are plenty of methods for making cold brew at home, or you can purchase it pre-made from the grocery store. (I personally love Chameleon cold brew.)
The third method - flash-brew - essentially entails brewing a bold batch of coffee directly over ice in a pour over, so that you retain the classic flavors of coffee brewed with hot water, without suffering the loss of flavor that comes with letting coffee sit in the refrigerator over a period of several hours.
Does making this drink at home really save money?
Let's do the math here! Here are current (average) prices for the ingredients used in this caramel iced coffee recipe:
- 12 ounce bag of coffee beans: $15 (This will brew roughly 192 ounces of coffee, which equates to $0.08/ounce of brewed coffee. )
- one gallon of whole milk: $4.38 ($0.03/ounce)
- 1 pint of heavy cream: $4.50 ($0.14/tablespoon)
- 1 ¼ cups of homemade caramel sauce: $0.86 ($0.04/tablespoon)
If you multiply these amounts by the quantities you'll need for this drink, you'll arrive at a final cost of $0.58 for one serving. Compare that to the current price of a Starbucks grande iced coffee with caramel syrup, whole milk, and a splash of cream ($3.95) - that's a savings of $3.37 per drink!
If you skipped Starbucks and made this caramel iced coffee recipe every day for a month instead, you'd save $101.10!! And this is a conservative estimate. If you live in a less expensive area than I do (which is easy to do since I'm in California) and/or buy ingredients in bulk, you'll definitely save even more.
While I strongly prefer cow's milk in all of my coffee recipes, you can substitute this with your favorite unsweetened, non-dairy milk. I would recommend oat milk!
To turn this into an iced latte, you need to use espresso instead of coffee, and frothed milk (in a larger quantity). Lucky for you, I have this all outlined in my caramel iced latte recipe!
Like hot lattes, iced lattes use espresso, contain a higher proportion of milk to coffee, and typically include a small layer of foam. Iced coffee, on the other hand, is made with chilled coffee or cold brew, and contains less milk.
Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, this drink is better categorized as the latter. I consider this a win since iced coffee is generally a little simpler to make and doesn't require any special kitchen appliances.
More homemade coffee drinks
If you're into this whole coffee-shop-at-home vibe, here are a few more recipes you can try (including a few Starbucks copycats)! Pair one with a coffee scone for the best coffee shop-style breakfast.
Caramel Iced Coffee (or Latte)
Make your own iced caramel coffee at home with this easy recipe. This sweet and creamy DIY version tastes just as good as (if not better than!) any iced coffee or iced latte you can buy. Plus, making it at home is guaranteed to save you time and money - it's a win-win!
- Prep Time: 2 minutes
- Total Time: 2 minutes
- Yield: 1 iced latté 1x
- Category: beverages
- Cuisine: American
- ½ cup (4 fluid ounces) chilled coffee or cold brew
- ¼ cup (2 fluid ounces) milk
- 1 tablespoon whipping cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons caramel sauce
- Combine all ingredients: Add ice to glass. Pour in coffee, milk, cream, and caramel.
- Stir: Stir until entirely smooth and enjoy!
- I prefer whole milk in this recipe, but feel free to use any kind (dairy or non-dairy). My top choice for a non-dairy option is oat milk.
- Any type of cream (regular, light, or heavy) can be used. Even half-n-half will work in a pinch.
- Store-bought caramel sauce can be used, although I recommend looking for one that is thin enough to easily stir into your coffee.
Turn this into an iced caramel latte:
- Swap the coffee for 2-3 shots of chilled espresso, and use a full cup of milk. Cold froth your milk for best results.
Keywords: caramel iced coffee, iced caramel coffee, iced caramel latte, iced coffee, Starbucks copycat recipe, Dunkin' Donuts copycat recipe
Quick Note: This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared on Bright-Eyed Baker in 2012, with a new and improved rendition of the original recipe.