Skip the drive to Starbucks and make your own Caramel Macchiato at home for a fraction of the cost! If you enjoy a variety of coffee and espresso-based drinks, it’s really worthwhile to learn how to make your favorite drinks at home. You only need 3 ingredients to make this simple drink!

Caramel Macchiato - With Espresso, Foamed Milk, and Caramel Sauce

I like to splurge at Starbucks on occasion, but I must admit that I’m far too cheap to go to a coffee shop on a regular basis and shell out $5 each time for what’s little more than coffee, milk, and sugar. 

Yes, I realize that I pay an absurd $24/lb for my parmigiano-reggiano, but that’s because there’s really no substitute and it’s not something I could realistically make at home. 

A Caramel Macchiato on the other hand is quite easy to make yourself, if you’ve got a way to make espresso. There are machines like the uber popular Nespresso (affiliate) that make this super easy. There are also more “fancy” ways to make espresso yourself, and my coffee and espresso crazed husband favors this Mypressi Twist handheld espresso maker.

Once you’ve got the espresso taken care of, really all you need is some foamed milk and caramel sauce. I like to make it myself, but you can certainly buy a jar of caramel sauce from the store as well. It keeps really well in the fridge.

Caramel Macchiato in White Cup with Drizzle

Just to be clear, this is a “coffeehouse style” caramel macchiato, like the one that you’d pick up at a Starbucks. A real macchiato is just espresso with steamed milk (my husband made me put that in here).

Tips for Best Results

Use fresh caramel sauce – I know you can pick up a jar of shelf-stable caramel sauce at the grocery store, but that stuff can’t hold a candle to freshly made buttery caramel sauce. And it’s really not as hard to make as people say. If you read the comments on my post, you’ll see a lot of people are happily surprised by how easy it is, and the flavor is unmatched.

Use whole milk – Skim milk and whole milk are the best for frothing, and the one you use depends on personal preference. Personally, I like whole milk for a richer and more creamy experience. A Caramel Macchiato is already an indulgence, so go all the way!

Step by Step Overview:

To get started, place a tablespoon of caramel sauce into the bottom of the cup:

Adding Homemade Caramel Sauce and Milk to White Cup

A true Starbucks Caramel Macchiato uses vanilla syrup in addition to caramel sauce, but using just caramel sauce gives the best flavor, plus then you don’t have to bother with preparing yet another ingredient. What I like about the caramel sauce instead of the simple syrup is that instead of just adding sweetness, the caramel adds a ton of flavor too from the caramelization process.

Additionally, most caramel sauce already has vanilla in it, providing hints of vanilla flavor in each sip. But if you wish, you may add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract here to your cup.

Next, you’ll need to add your espresso to the cup, a doubleshot, in particular:

Mypressi Twist Handheld Espresso Maker - Making Fresh Espresso

We use this Mypressi Twist handheld espresso maker (affiliate), but there are machines that make this even easier for you, like the Nespresso machine.

If you prefer less caffeine, you may also use only one espresso shot, but I recommend reducing the amount of milk by half.

Next, you’ll need some foamy hot milk.

There are lots of different methods you can use like a jar in the microwave or with a pot with an immersion blender, but if you want to make yourself some elaborate coffee drinks at home, it may be worthwhile to get an actual milk frother. Otherwise, here are 8 ways to froth milk.

Whole milk and nonfat milk tend to foam the best. Also, I will note that I have never tried this with milk alternatives like oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk, but my guess is they would not provide enough froth power.

After you’ve added the espresso to your cup, pour the hot milk in:

Adding Fresh Steamed Milk to the Espresso and Caramel Sauce

Then you can spoon the remaining milk foam on top of the drink:

Adding Foam Milk to the Fresh Espresso

Finish with a caramel drizzle on top for extra flavor and a nice look:

Drizzling Caramel Sauce on Top of Drink to Finish

That little drizzle of caramel on top of the milk helps add that flavor to every sip.

Now, enjoy one of the most tasty coffee drinks of all time in the comfort of your own home!

How to Serve It

Any decorative caramel on top of the foamed milk will start to sink as it sits, and the bubbles in the frothed milk will start to dissipate, so try to serve the Caramel Macchiato as promptly as possible. It’s definitely best enjoyed fresh!

I like to serve some homemade baked goods with this, especially when I have company over. I bake some fresh Scones or make a hot plate of Crepes

These Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping are also incredible, with Chocolate Muffins as a close second favorite.

Also, this takes it out of caramel macchiato territory, but this is delicious with a scoop of ice cream added, kind of like a homemade affogato!

Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.

Recipe FAQ

Can you make an iced caramel macchiato?

Yes. Mix all ingredients together while the espresso is still warm, then chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

Can you use caramel syrup?

Caramel syrup is usually just a simple syrup, equal parts sugar and water, with fake caramel flavors added to it. It will never compare to the real thing. Use a true caramel sauce, or even a salted caramel sauce.

Can you use regular coffee instead of espresso?

Not really, as it doesn’t have the strength of espresso. One shot of espresso has the equivalent caffeine of a 12 ounce cup of brewed coffee. Some people try to work around this by concentrating extra instant coffee granules, which I’ve never tried. A better choice is to purchase espresso pods.

Caramel Macchiato In A White Teacup with Foam

Coffeehouse Style Caramel Macchiato

For a fraction of the cost, you can make coffeehouse style Caramel Macchiato at home!

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  • 2 tbsp caramel sauce divided
  • 1 doubleshot espresso (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup milk steamed with foam*


  • In the bottom of a mug (I recommend at least 8 ounces in capacity), add 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce.
  • Add the espresso directly on top of the caramel, then pour in the hot milk. Spoon the remaining milk foam on top.
  • Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of caramel over the milk foam. Enjoy promptly!


*A dedicated milk frothing device is best, but there are other ways to foam milk. Here are 8 other ways. Skim milk and whole milk are regarded as the best milks for lots of bubbles.


Calories: 160kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 195mg, Potassium: 165mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 120IU, Calcium: 163mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post updated in November 2019. Originally published March 2012.