Iced Caramel Macchiato

Learn how to make an Iced Caramel Macchiato at home. This delicious Starbucks copycat drink is easy to learn, refreshing and crushable.

Two iced coffee drinks on a white tray next to several green and white striped straws.

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Copycat Starbucks Iced Caramel Macchiato recipe

Making restaurant recipes at home is a great way to save money and improve your cooking skills.

An iced caramel macchiato is one of the best drinks to order at a coffee shop. The beautiful colors of this refreshing iced coffee and occasional slurps of sweet caramel syrup are unmatched. It’s no wonder why it is such a popular drink! 

I have loved this drink since I was in college when I used to frequent a certain coffee shop that carried this drink. I could never get enough, but my wallet sure could!

Once I learned to make it, I haven’t looked back. It’s even better when I make my own homemade caramel sauce.

More coffee recipes: Irish Cream Cold BrewCinnamon Dolce LatteGingerbread LatteWhipped CoffeeIrish Coffee

An Iced Caramel Macchiato on a white surface next to a green dish towel.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Caramel and coffee lovers will adore this easy recipe:

  • The Caramel Macchiato can be served hot or iced. 
  • It is easy to make at home — especially if you have an espresso maker (but you’re not out of luck if you don’t have one.
  • They are delicious, refreshing and a great afternoon pick-me-up.

What is a macchiato?

In Italian, the word “macchiato” means “marked” or “stained.” When it comes to coffee, it means espresso coffee with a little milk. 

The caramel macchiato is a coffee drink sold at Starbucks coffee shops. It is made inverted, so the milk and syrup are added first and then the espresso is added on top.

This means the drink is a little bit sweeter at the bottom and gets less sweet as you sip, unless you stir it up with your straw or a spoon to equalize the sweetness.

Starbucks also carries other flavors of macchiatos, including: 

  • ​Coconutmilk Mocha Macchiato
  • Iced Cinnamon Almondmilk Macchiato
  • Hazelnut Macchiato
  • Apple Crisp Macchiato
  • Espresso Macchiato
An overhead view of ice cubes floating in an iced coffee.

Ingredients

The caramel macchiato is made with simple ingredients. Here’s what you want to get from the grocery store to make any Caramel Macchiato at home:

  • espresso 
  • milk or half and half
  • vanilla simple syrup
  • caramel sauce

Espresso

Next you’ll need espresso shots. I recommend a darker or medium roast to pair with this sweet drink.

In a pinch, you can use any strong coffee such as instant espresso, instant coffee or cold brew coffee instead. 

Milk

Choose your favorite milk for your caramel macchiato. I usually use whole milk or 2%, but you can use half-and-half.

Non-dairy milk works as well. Almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, soy milk or any other plant-based milk would also be just fine.

Some caramel sauces do contain dairy, so that is something to look out for if a dairy allergy is at play.

If you are making an iced macchiato, use cold milk. If you are making a hot drink, use steamed milk.

Vanilla syrup

Vanilla simple syrup adds a touch of sweetness and vanilla flavor. It’s what Starbucks uses to sweeten this drink, in addition to the caramel sauce.

You can make your own vanilla syrup at home with just sugar, water and vanilla extract.

If you want a stronger caramel flavor, use caramel simple syrup.

a spoon dripping caramel sauce into a jar

Caramel sauce

The key ingredient of the caramel macchiato is the drizzle of caramel! It’s what makes the drink so pretty but also gives the drink its caramel flavors. 

You can use store-bought caramel syrup or you can make your own. (My favorite is bourbon caramel sauce.)

Whatever you use, the sauce should be thick, creating a pretty pattern in the glass as it sinks to the bottom. 

You can also experiment with other types of flavors, like chocolate syrup.

Variations and substitutions

You can make this drink hot if you like. Just skip the ice!

Hot caramel macchiato: Use steamed milk and no ice to make this a hot drink.

Salted caramel macchiato: Add a pinch of sea salt, to taste, to give the drink a dreamy salted caramel flavor.

Dairy-free caramel macchiato: Use your favorite non-dairy milk and be sure your caramel sauce is dairy-free.

Sugar-free caramel macchiato: Use sugar-free caramel sauce and sugar-free syrup with vanilla extract.

Decaf caramel macchiato: Stock up on decaf espresso if you need your afternoon pick-me-up to pack less of a punch.

Coffee ice cubes: Freeze coffee into ice cube trays ahead of time . When added to a drink, it becomes infused with more flavor as the ice melts. 

Espresso dripping out of an espresso machine into a glass espresso shot glass with a handle. .

How to make espresso

The easiest way to make this copycat drink is with an espresso machine. Personally, I use a Nespresso machine.

I love having this on hand for easy lattes and cappuccinos. It is definitely the easiest way to make espresso drinks at home.

But if you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use very strong coffee or you can brew espresso another way, such as:

  • With an Aeropress: Learn how to use this easy method for making coffee and espresso. I have tried this before and it’s really delicious!
  • With a stovetop espresso maker: You can make your pumpkin spice latte on the stove by making your espresso in this cute little pot!
  • Using Instant espresso powder: This is probably my least favorite method because fresh is better, but the instant stuff can still be good in a pinch, especially if you are traveling or can’t access these other methods.

Check out these tips for making a latte without an espresso machine.

How to make an Iced Caramel Macchiato

Ready to make your own own iced caramel macchiato? It is super simple! Here’s what to do:

Simple syrup is poured from a stainless steel measuring container into a glass.
Milk is poured from a glass measuring cup into a ribbed glass.

First, fill a tall cup or glass with ice. Add your vanilla syrup and milk to the glass and stir them together to combine.

Espresso is poured into a glass of milk.
Caramel is drizzled into an iced coffee drink.

Then add the espresso over top. If you are making an iced caramel macchiato, the espresso should be slightly cool. The espresso will sit on top and blend slowly into the cream layer to make a pretty gradient, ombré look.

The best part is adding the caramel drizzle. Drizzle some caramel over the top of the ice around the edge of the glass so that it drips down and creates a pretty effect.

A green and white striped straw in a caramel coffee drink.

Tips & tricks

For an iced drink, the espresso should be slightly cooled so that it doesn’t melt the ice.

Make sure that the caramel sauce is drizzled around the edge of the glass, not directly over top of the ice. You don’t want it to be stuck on the ice — you want it to drizzle between the ice and the glass.

Be sure to add the ingredients in the order described. To get the layered, ombré effect, you need to add them in the right order:

  1. Add syrup and milk first.
  2. Then add ice cubes. 
  3. Add your shots of espresso.
  4. Finally, add caramel sauce to the top of the drink.

If you wish you can decorate the glass with caramel drizzle before adding any of the other ingredients, but it’s not necessary as the caramel will drip down around the edges of the glass.

What to serve with Iced Caramel Macchiatos

For a morning treat, make a batch of blueberry crumble muffins or chai muffins.

In the fall, a slice of pumpkin loaf is the perfect afternoon treat to enjoy with this caramel coffee.

A good sweet-and-salty snack would be a batch of caramel popcorn.

Two Iced Caramel Macchiatos side by side with striped green straws and a green dish towel behind.

FAQ

What’s the difference between a caramel macchiato and iced latte?

An iced latte is made with espresso and steamed milk. The espresso goes into the cup first, then the milk, which forms a foamy layer on top. It can be flavored with syrups or enjoyed unsweetened. In a caramel macchiato, the milk goes in first, followed by the espresso and finished with a drizzle of thick caramel sauce.

What is in a traditional caramel macchiato?

The caramel macchiato from Starbucks is made with espresso, vanilla syrup, milk and caramel sauce. If the drink is enjoyed hot, it is made with steamed milk. If iced, it is made with cold milk.

More Starbucks copycat recipes

Here are some more of favorite Starbucks coffee drink recipes: 

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

An Iced Caramel Macchiato on a white surface next to a green dish towel.

Iced Caramel Macchiato

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Enjoy a sweet and refreshing Iced caramel macchiato.
5 from 52 votes
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ingredients

  • 1 shot espresso slightly cooled
  • ½ ounce vanilla syrup
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ice
  • 2 tablespoons caramel sauce for garnish

instructions

  • Prepare espresso and allow it to cool slightly.
  • To a tall glass filled with ice, add vanilla syrup and milk. Top with ice.
  • Pour cooled espresso over top.
  • Drizzle the top and inner rim of the glass with caramel sauce.

notes

For an iced drink, the espresso should be slightly cooled so that it doesn't melt the ice. For a hot drink, use steamed milk.
To get the layered, ombré effect, you need to add them in the order described.
If you wish you can decorate the glass with caramel drizzle before adding any of the other ingredients, but it's not necessary as the caramel will drip down around the edges of the glass once the drink is prepared.
Feel free to substitute the milk of your choice.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 8ounces Calories: 243kcal Carbohydrates: 43g Protein: 6g Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 3g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 18mg Sodium: 226mg Sugar: 43g
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