Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha

Edited 10/1/13: Instead of the caramel syrup listed below, you could also use my 7 minute salted caramel, which is incredibly easy and quick to make.

Salted caramel has been a big trend for a while. I’m all for jumping on a bandwagon if it’s a delicious one, and it doesn’t get better than sweet and salty in one package. A while ago I made this wonderful salted caramel cupcakes recipe and on Friday I’ll share my recipe for salted caramel pears (like caramel apples, but with pears and a sprinkle of sea salt).

Starbucks has had a set of salted caramel beverages on its menu this fall but have you seen how many calories is in one of those things? They range from something like 300-600 calories, but the sugar content is what really made me pause (50-70 grams!). Now, you could skip dessert and have one of these instead (my coworker actually calls them “dessert in a cup”). But at $4-5, it’s one expensive drink and still a lot of sugar in one sitting.

Instead, let’s just make our own! That way you can control all the ingredients and adjust the amount of sugar to your taste, plus save a lot of money. I don’t know about you, but even my massive sweet tooth can’t handle that kind of sweetness in one cup – I tried a short size (smaller than a tall) and could feel the sugar rush. I created recipes using either coffee or espresso, so no matter what your setup at home you can make a (better) version of Starbucks salted caramel mocha.

If you don’t drink coffee, you can omit the coffee/espresso, add more milk and make yourself a salted caramel hot chocolate. Either way, these drinks are rich, decadent and a nice balance of sweet with a hint of salty. Plus, you’ll save $5 – treat yourself to something else instead!

I’ve made two other homemade versions of Starbucks drinks in the past: homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe and homemade frappuccino recipe. I love making homemade versions of store bought foods like this (and Goldfish, Funfetti cake, Hostess cupcakes, chocolate syrup, etc.). What would you like to see me make next?



Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha

  • 1 shot of espresso or 3/4 cup coffee
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons caramel sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder (the hot chocolate kind, not the unsweetened baking kind – I used Archer Farms dark chocolate cocoa and loved it)
  • Pinch of sea salt (Starbucks uses a blend of smoked sea salt and turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Extra caramel sauce and sea salt to drizzle/sprinkle on top

With an espresso maker:

Prepare espresso. Place caramel sauce, cocoa powder and sea salt in a mug and pour espresso over them. Froth milk and slowly pour into mug, stirring to combine everything. Taste and add more caramel, cocoa and/or salt to taste. Top with whipped cream, drizzle caramel sauce, and a tiny pinch of sea salt.

Without an espresso maker:

Prepare coffee. Place caramel sauce, cocoa powder and sea salt in a mug. Pour coffee into mug, stirring to combine everything. Heat milk in microwave or on the stove and add to mug, stirring everything to combine. Taste and add more caramel, cocoa and/or salt to taste.  Top with whipped cream, caramel sauce and a tiny pinch of sea salt.

Salted Caramel Syrup (edited to add: OR try this easy 7 minute salted caramel recipe)

Makes enough for around 3-4 salted caramel mocha or hot chocolate beverages

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

In a medium saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a spatula (if it becomes lumpy, reduce heat and refrain from stirring). When it turns a deep amber color, add the butter and stir until it is melted. Add the heavy cream and whisk until the caramel is smooth (be careful, it will bubble up when you add the cream). Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate extra syrup.

83 Comments on Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha

  1. Angie @ Bigbearswife
    October 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm (4 years ago)

    I love the salted caramel mocha at starbucks, it quickly became a new favorite of mine. thank you for this recipe tho!

    • Stephanie
      October 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm (4 years ago)

      @Angie – I tried it and liked it too, but I can’t believe how expensive it is! I got a short (even smaller than tall) and it was still $3.55. For espresso, milk and some flavored syrups and salt, that seems like too much too me.

  2. Lia
    October 14, 2011 at 10:15 am (4 years ago)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been slightly addicted to Starbucks salted caramel mocha and need to stop… this is perfect! Can’t wait to try it!

    • Stephanie
      October 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm (4 years ago)

      @Lia – you’re welcome, enjoy!

  3. Jenn
    October 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m not a big coffee fan, but I’d love to try the caramel hot chocolate version! yummy! Thanks for sharing!

    • Stephanie
      October 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm (4 years ago)

      @Jenn – I think it’d be great just as a hot chocolate! Enjoy :)

  4. Jen at The Three Little Piglets
    October 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm (4 years ago)

    I just tried one the last time I was at Starbucks! I loved the flavor, but it was cloyingly sweet. I’d much rather make my own. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  5. mjskit
    October 14, 2011 at 7:01 pm (4 years ago)

    A friend of mine bought one of these this morning at Starbucks on our way out of town. I tasted it and it was quite tasty but still a little too sweet even though she had them cut back on the “pumps”. Your recipe sounds perfect! I’ll definitely be making it and then passing this link to my friend. She’ll love it as well.

  6. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time
    October 15, 2011 at 6:56 am (4 years ago)

    I don’t go to Starbucks (spending $4 for a cup of coffee is ridiculous) so seeing recipes like this is fantastic and gives me the opportunity to give them a try at home. Thanks for taking the time to re-create this. I’ll definitely give it a try.

  7. Lindsey@Lindselicious
    October 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm (4 years ago)

    Oooh love that drink. Salted caramel anything is always a winner. YUM! Cant wait to try this at home. =)

  8. AlishaMichelle
    October 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm (4 years ago)

    Looks great! I’ve been trying to find drinks to make at home that will cut down on my Starbucks costs!

  9. Andrea
    October 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm (4 years ago)

    This looks so so so so so so so so good.

  10. genevieve
    October 27, 2011 at 4:43 am (4 years ago)

    My husband has been making us fancy coffee drinks at home for a while now. We’re trying this one next!

  11. Torrie B
    October 29, 2011 at 10:14 am (4 years ago)

    OMG, THANK YOU!!! I’ve been looking for a homemade salted caramel mocha ever since Starbucks came out with theirs…and I finally found this one on Pinterest! Sounds wonderful :)

  12. carolyn
    October 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm (4 years ago)

    Could you use pre-made caramel sauce that is used for ice cream topping?

    • Stephanie
      October 30, 2011 at 5:50 am (4 years ago)

      @Carolyn – you might need a touch more of salt to really get the salted caramel flavor, but it should work fine. I think Starbucks uses a caramel flavored Torani syrup.

    • Lynette
      November 30, 2011 at 8:29 am (4 years ago)

      Trader Joe’s sells a salted caramel sauce my husband is addicted to over ice cream. It is a little pricey though.

  13. Emily
    November 1, 2011 at 10:21 am (4 years ago)

    I feel like I missed something important here, but I made the caramel “syrup” yesterday and then kept it in the fridge to use today and it is completely hardened in the container. Did I do something wrong? I followed all of the directions! I’m not really sure it’s usable now as syrup (although I guess it would probably make a tasty candy or something-ha!). Is this how it’s supposed to be??

    • Stephanie
      November 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm (4 years ago)

      @Emily – try reheating it in the microwave. It should turn back into syrup.

    • Emily
      November 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm (4 years ago)

      I ended up carving some out and trying that today and it worked. The drink was delicious! What a treat. Thanks!

  14. heidi
    November 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm (4 years ago)

    do we cook that sugar with no water, when making the caramel syrup??

    • Stephanie
      November 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm (4 years ago)

      @heidi – yes, you cook the sugar by itself until it caramelizes.

  15. Sara
    November 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm (4 years ago)

    This is the best!!! My hubby and I love it!

  16. Jen
    November 27, 2011 at 9:20 am (4 years ago)

    Thank you soooo much! I tried the Starbucks salted caramel for the first time this week and it was so good except it was far too sweet. I came home and immediately found your recipe. It’s perfect! I can make it as sweet or not sweet AND save $4. My family loves it.

  17. Christine
    December 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm (4 years ago)

    This is a life changing recipe! I got tired of the salted caramel mocha after about the 10th one :-) and realized that you can also use the caramel syrup to sweeten coffee or a fake latte (half coffee and half warm milk foamed with my Aerolatte). Thanks so much for the recipe.

  18. Carollynn
    December 21, 2011 at 7:13 am (4 years ago)

    I tried to make the caramel sauce twice and both times were a fail. Sugar, butter, and especially heavy cream are expensive ingredients to throw away. The first time I thought I might even have to throw the pan away! I think more detailed instructions would be helpful. For example, is the sugar supposed to be completely melted (ie: syrup) before adding the butter? And if not, what am I suppossed to do about all the lumps (even when I “reduce heat and refrain from stirring”? The lumps never got all the way melted even after adding the butter and cream. I think I’m just going to buy caramel sauce from the store. It would be cheaper and less of a headache! But thanks for the overall recipe. I’m gonna try it with the lumpy sauce I made! LOL!

    • Stephanie
      December 22, 2011 at 10:24 am (4 years ago)

      @Carollynn – caramel can be really tricky. The sugar should liquify and turn a deep amber color before you add the butter. If you get lumps and they don’t go away when you reduce the heat and don’t stir, you can always strain them out later.

      This guide to making caramel from David Lebovitz is really helpful if you’re struggling with caramel.

  19. blah
    December 28, 2011 at 9:34 am (4 years ago)

    starbucks actually use toffee nut syrup..not caramel syrup. so if you want it to taste like the the one at starbucks buy a bottle of that.

  20. blah
    December 28, 2011 at 9:36 am (4 years ago)

    this is coming from a starbucks employee =)

  21. Tanya
    March 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm (4 years ago)

    How much caramel sauce does this recipe make? Does it need to be refrigerated? How long does it keep for? Thank you so much for this yummy recipe!

    • Stephanie
      March 21, 2012 at 10:13 pm (4 years ago)

      @Tanya – it’s been a while, but based on what I wrote, it sounds like it makes around 6-8 tablespoons (3-4 servings in the beverage recipe). Keep leftovers in the fridge – they should keep for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

  22. Munk
    April 25, 2012 at 9:04 am (4 years ago)

    First, thank you for the recipe — we’ve recently re-located overseas and while they do have Starbucks in England, a) they don’t have all beverages, b) I don’t have that kind of money, and c) we don’t even have a Starbucks in this village. (Did I mention no money?)

    I went with the “all hot chocolate” version since husband hates coffee and it came out really, really nicely. I thought the flavor was great and it really took me back to my last Salted Caramel in the States. (Then, sadly, husband got sick — but that’s just him and trying to get adjusted to dairy over here; everything seems to make him sick. The recipe was perfect and I gladly drank his as well, so I kid him that this works out well for me.)

    Thank you again, this definitely goes into rotation.
    Munk recently posted Keeping Guys Down on the Farm: Oven-baked Sweet Potato Fries

  23. priya
    August 3, 2012 at 3:58 am (3 years ago)

    loved the salted caramel syrup recipe …I also made vanilla pannacotta and topped it with this syrup..yummm :) thanks for the recipe

  24. Jenn
    September 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm (3 years ago)

    The salted caramel mocha is my absolute favorite drink from Starbucks!! They actually use their brand of Toffee Nut syrup for the flavoring & then drizzle caramel sauce over the top & sprinkle with the sugar/smoked sea salt. I can’t wait to try your recipe.

    • Stephanie
      September 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm (3 years ago)

      @Pam – they’re a heavenly combo! Hope you enjoy :)

  25. deecochran
    October 4, 2012 at 6:57 am (3 years ago)

    I prefer my coffee black but every so often I just HAVE to have a fufu coffee drink and tried this one last week. OMG! I loved it! THANKS SO much for sharing your recipe, now when I have a craving I can whip one up at home! =)

    • Stephanie
      October 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm (3 years ago)

      @deecochran – so glad you enjoyed the recipe! :)

  26. Steph
    October 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm (3 years ago)

    I found you through a Google search. Yours looked like the easiest recipe, and I had all the ingredients on hand, so I gave it a go. My exact reaction to this was, “OH MAH GAWD.” I’ve been making my own mochas at home for a long time, but the salted caramel mocha is a special treat I get when we’re out and near a Starbuck’s. (The closest one is half an hour from here. This is a blessing for my bank account but a curse for my jonesing. lol)

    ANYWAY. I used your recipe to make my version (quad venti…yes, I’m heavily caffeinated), and it is SPOT ON. I’ve pinned it with a rave review.

    Also, I just read the “About” section, and it’s like we’re soul sisters. I’m also a baker not so much with the cooking, although I’ve been experimenting more lately. (Thanks, Pinterest!) And you’re a Stephanie, too! STEPHS OF THE WORLD REPRESENTING! :) Anyway, thanks for a killer recipe that is super, super easy to boot! :)

    • Stephanie
      October 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm (3 years ago)

      Steph, I’m so glad you came across my site! Your enthusiastic comment made my day :) I’m off to visit your blog now!

  27. SuperMomV
    October 21, 2012 at 10:28 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you so very much!
    With the ways things are tight right now (I think for every family), raising 5 kids in this economy is cRaZy and this is my most favorite coffee drink so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU (A million thanks!) for this recipe!
    It was perfect!
    I had everything on hand to make it and it saved me $5 a pop going through the drive thru!

  28. Katrina
    November 19, 2012 at 7:39 am (3 years ago)

    Loved it! Thank you, I was going broke at my local Starbucks’ location. Made these last night and they were a hit.

  29. Michael
    January 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm (3 years ago)

    Just tried your recipe, I made the syrup just fine but it didn’t stir into my coffee when I poured that in, I don’t have a espresso machine so I used the 3/4 coffe instead, I put my cocoa, salt, and syrup in the cup, and than my coffee on top, it was out of a kuerig so may not have been hot enough, i will try again in the morning, I was wondering, as my syrup had started to harden already if it would be better to just reheat it and pour it in with the fresh coffee? As what i had just gathered around what I as using to stir up the cup.

    • Stephanie Nuccitelli
      January 1, 2013 at 9:56 pm (3 years ago)

      Caramel will harden a bit in the fridge. Reheat it briefly in the microwave until it’s pourable and then add it to your coffee.

  30. Melissa
    June 6, 2013 at 8:26 am (2 years ago)

    Yum! I used 1/2 C dark chocolate almond milk instead of milk and skipped the powdered cocoa and I used 1% milk to make the caramel sauce instead of heavy cream. Great recipe! Thanks!

  31. Leilah
    September 15, 2013 at 7:46 am (2 years ago)

    Salted Caramel Mocha is one of my favorite drinks EVER (Another one is Passion Iced Tea, also from Starbucks, which I learned how to make at home this summer)! I just had my first one of the season :) I usually get it with White Chocolate Mocha sauce though. Last year, I bought a bottle of the Toffee Nut syrup they use, thinking I could make my own (I didn’t think to google it until now lol)…didn’t work out so well for me.
    I just made this recipe, using the Toffee Nut syrup instead of the caramel and I also used Almond Milk. It is so good! Sorry, Starbucks, I don’t need you anymore!! I love that I can make it as sweet or not-so-sweet as I want. Thanks for this!

  32. Verla monge
    October 20, 2013 at 10:41 am (2 years ago)

    You can buy salted Carmel syrup in regular or sugar free.
    Got mine at Cost Plus World Market!

  33. Eva
    December 3, 2013 at 10:05 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you! I just discovered the salted mocha caramel drink at Starbucks and I love it but I live 60 miles away from the nearest store. So I’ve learned to make my own at home, this recipe is perfect and so easy to make. I already had all the ingredients. I keep the bryers caramel syrup (no high fructose corn syrup) and hot coco mixes, the rest was easy.

  34. Alisha
    January 17, 2014 at 6:55 am (2 years ago)

    Yum! This looks so good. I’ll definitely be giving it a try!

    Stopping by via SITS!
    Alisha recently posted High Five for Friday

  35. Dana
    January 17, 2014 at 5:10 pm (2 years ago)

    Yum – it’s like dessert in a mug! Popping over from SITS – have a great weekend!
    Dana recently posted Spooning with Lisa

  36. Emma
    January 19, 2014 at 3:09 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi, I was wondering if you could make this in a frappuccino sort of form? How would you go about mixing it with ice? Thanks!

  37. shane
    March 1, 2014 at 4:42 am (2 years ago)

    Stephanie, please tell me how this recipe is less than the calories in the same Starbucks drink? Your caramel sauce alone is over 850 calories. Even if its divided into 3-4 drinks, its 200-375 per drink and that’s before adding milk, whipped cream and cocoa powder. You’re looking at a minimum 400+ calorie drink. Not very calorie friendly…

    • Stephanie Saunders
      March 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm (2 years ago)

      Shane, I never said it was fewer calories. By making your own, you can control how much sugar you add, the serving size, and the ingredients, so it’s up to you how many calories are in it. I believe it’s better to use whole foods and make your own version, rather than having several shots of syrup that contains “natural flavors,” citric acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and caramel color.

  38. shane
    March 1, 2014 at 4:52 am (2 years ago)

    Not to mention…who drinks a 5oz drink??? A half cup of milk is only 4oz combined with one shot of espresso equals about a 5oz drink. Doubling your ingredients for a normal serving (8oz drink), your calorie count is higher than Starbucks!!!

  39. shane
    March 2, 2014 at 7:52 am (2 years ago)

    Stephanie, your selling point was the fact that Starbucks drinks have so many calories and sugar in theirs when the fact is that your version is worse in both categories. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have mentioned in your second paragraph how many calories and sugar theirs has. I quote’…have you seen how many calories is in one of those things?’ Come on….

    • Stephanie Saunders
      March 2, 2014 at 10:09 am (2 years ago)

      Shane, I’m not sure why you’re so riled up, but I’m sorry that my post offended you so much – I’m just offering an alternative to the Starbucks drink.

  40. Steph
    March 2, 2014 at 10:33 pm (2 years ago)

    Don’t let people like Shane get to you, Stephanie. Those who can DO. Those who can’t become critics.
    Steph recently posted Size Acceptance

  41. Adria
    March 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm (2 years ago)

    I tried your recipie and it tastes amazing! Ignore shane, if all he has time to do is critique blog posts, his comments aren’t worth anything!

  42. Osh
    October 21, 2014 at 8:30 pm (1 year ago)

    I was a barista at Starbucks and they never use toriani syrup, that’s misinformation and the salted caramel mocha doesn’t use caramel syrup!!!! Mocha, toffee nut syrup and caramel drizzle.

    • Stephanie Saunders
      October 25, 2014 at 7:04 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for the info, Osh. Like I said, it was just a guess. Either way, I like to avoid processed syrups and choose the ingredients and the amount of sweetness in my drink.

  43. Emma
    November 8, 2014 at 12:41 am (1 year ago)

    Taking a break from homework and found this recipe online. Drinking it now -literally the best coffee EVER – and SO simple to make! I had everything in my pantry!!! :))


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  6. […] I get so excited for this time of year when they bring you back! Unfortunately my bank account can get a little too skinny from you, so I really need to start getting you in my kitchen. […]

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  8. […] drink at your local coffee shop, or you could make it at home and save yourself the expense! This Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha recipe is actually quite simple, with the show-stopping ingredients being sea salt and caramel […]

  9. […] on the bitter side in my opinion).  The sea salt really makes this and I highly recommend giving this recipe a try.  I am also going to have to try her Salted Caramel cupcakes, but in the interest of not […]

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