Velvety Pumpkin Spice “Latte” and Five Other Kid-Friendly Seasonal Hot Beverages

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

You may have noticed that “Latte” is in quotation marks. That’s because this is a non-coffee version of the ever popular, seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte. That means it’s enjoyable for even the non-coffee drinkers, who these days are mostly just young children … and me. We don’t have to miss out on the fun any longer though. And we’ve never been sad not to part with our lunch money for a cup of latte at Starbucks.  

There’s also the whole issue of whether Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is gluten free or not. They no longer list it as a gluten-free menu item and many folks report issues. There’s a great post over at Kim Bouldin’s (Gluten Free is Life) on this topic. The post is over a year old, but it’s still receiving comments and some interesting ones at that. You’ll want to read all here. I’m mentioning this because not only is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte discussion germane to today’s post, but almost every day I read about folks continuing to have digestive issues and other symptoms that could be related to gluten exposure. However, most fail to see a connection. I often hear that folks are completely gluten free, but when you quiz a bit more you find there may be some gluten culprits that they are failing to acknowledge.

Some of us have immediate symptoms that we can tie to what we just consumed—like a pumpkin spice latte that may be unsafe on its own or cross contaminated (e.g., one of the folks who commented on Kim’s post said that if she stays away from the sprinkles and whip, her pumpkin spice latte is “safe” for her). Others of us do not have immediate symptoms and may not connect a few days of digestive or other symptoms to the Pumpkin Spice Latte that we treated ourselves to a few days earlier or perhaps even every day of the fall season.  

Dr. Cynthia Rudert practices internal medicine and gastroenterology in Atlanta and is considered one of the top speakers on celiac disease and gluten intolerance. She spoke at the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) conference this past summer in Orlando. While I did not attend that conference, I was privy to a summary of her presentation and I’ve heard Dr. Rudert speak before. She repeated a finding that I have heard her share many times over the years.

“Continued symptoms mean accidental gluten ingestion over 50% of the time.”

Take a moment to think about that fact and the percentage. One out of two people who have continued symptoms are still getting gluten. That’s huge! If you’re “the one” in that statistic, maybe it’s from one of your favorite daily “treats” out. Maybe it’s from cross contamination in your own home (if there’s gluten in your house, read Alta’s tips on staying safe). Maybe it’s from airborne gluten (read what both Linda and Heidi share). The likelihood of gluten causing your continued symptoms is certainly worth investigating.  

Finally, don’t misunderstand me on this particular topic … there are other reasons that folks continue to have digestive and other symptoms after going gluten free, and Dr. Rudert addressed those in her GIG presentation, too. Her list and comments included: “bacterial overgrowth (extremely common, usually not suspected, no diagnostic testing necessary, easy to treat with probiotics such as Lactobacillus GG and yogurt with live cultures); lactose intolerance (deficiency of the enzyme lactase, lactose is present in many foods, spreads and medications, no diagnostic testing necessary, treatment with the enzyme lactase such as Lactaid caplets (Shirley’s interjection here: or simply eliminating dairy); fructose intolerance; infections (giardia, B. Hominis, bacterial, and viral); antibiotic-associated conditions (C. difficile; stool testing available); pancreatic insufficiency; adrenal insufficiency; lymphocytic colitis; and refractory sprue.” But it makes sense to be sure that one is absolutely NOT getting gluten in some form first before looking at other causes. 

So let’s get to a hot beverage that you can make yourself and be 100% certain that it’s gluten free. I love hot drinks. On a daily basis, I’m a tea drinker (ensure that your tea is gluten free, too), but holding and sipping from a mug of hot cocoa in the early morning when camping or at home when chilly weather hits is one of my very favorite simple pleasures. Quirky perhaps, but I like saying hot cocoa more than I do hot chocolate. I think it’s just sounds so much more comforting and fun. Ironically today is National Chocolate Day and moi, who loves all things chocolate, is sharing a pumpkin recipe, but I do adore pumpkin, too. Clearly, I’m digressing here, but all of this is important stuff, right? Just nod your head. Thanks.

The truth is that I’ve been wanting Pumpkin Spice Latte for a while now. It always sounds and smells fabulous when my friends order it out. But there’s that darned coffee factor. I just don’t like coffee in its liquid form. In cookies? … yes. In ice cream? … yes. In Chocolove bars? … yes. But no coffee in liquid form for me, please. Sure, I drink coffee made from those powdered International Coffees back in the day, but those don’t really count, do they? 

I made this Pumpkin Spice Latte shortly before leaving for work. I sipped on some and mmm’d my approval to myself and Sonny, our dog. Then I set it aside to do a few additional morning chores and shower. Honestly, I enjoyed my shower even more knowing that this Pumpkin Spice Latte was waiting for me. In fact, I took my mug into the bathroom. Hot shower followed by still hot enough Pumpkin Spice Latte. A little bit of fall-flavored heaven, let me tell you! And I’m excited to once again have an entry for Ricki’s (Diet, Dessert and Dogs) weekly roundup, Wellness Weekend.

This latte is so easy to make that you can hardly call it a recipe, but there is a catch. You do have to have pumpkin butter, and I highly recommend my pumpkin butter (made in the slow cooker; overnight works great!) or another healthy, refined sugar-free version. But trust me, it’s worth making a pot of pumpkin butter to be able to enjoy some Pumpkin Spice Latte for days on end (and it has many other great uses, too). 

Non-Coffee Pumpkin Spice “Latte” (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)


About 1 ½ cups of unsweetened almond milk (or any milk of your choice; see notes)

About 3 tbsp pumpkin butter (I used this gfe recipe, which uses honey, but as stated in the recipe maple syrup or agave nectar can be substituted for an equally delicious vegan option) 


Stovetop method: Add milk to saucepan. Heat over medium to medium-high heat. Slowly stir in pumpkin butter. (I use my mini whisk, which is great for mixing single servings of beverages.) You want the latte mixture to steam, but not boil, so be vigilant. Fill mug. Enjoy! 

Microwave method: Fill mug to almost full; leave about ¾ to 1 inch at the top. Whisk or stir in pumpkin butter. Microwave on HIGH for about 2 ½ minutes, hitting PAUSE to stir about halfway through. Enjoy! 

Makes one serving. 

Shirley’s Notes: I love this non-coffee pumpkin spice latte made with almond milk. The texture is perfection—velvety smooth. It actually looks like pumpkin pie “batter,” too. If you want to substitute full-fat coconut milk, you’ll want to use a mixture of full-fat coconut milk and water. If you have a mug that holds 1 1/2 cups, I recommend using about 1 1/4 cup of full-fat coconut milk and 1/4 cup water. Cashew milk is another great option. And if you consume cow dairy, then regular milk would be fine, but I would use regular milk or 2% milk. If you drink Vanilla Almond Milk, you may not need as much pumpkin butter, but your Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Latte will no doubt be equally delicious. You may top your latte with some of my gluten-free, dairy-free Honey Whipped Cream (agave nectar may be used instead of honey) or Diane’s “original” gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan Whipped Cream for a truly decadent delight.

More seasonal hot beverages that work for the non-coffee drinkers among us: 

Stephanie’s Slow Cooker Witch’s Brew—“Green slimy, sweet and sour, with a sprinkle of “tiny spiders.”  

Stephanie’s Wassail—I shared my review of this hot beverage here. Do NOT wait for the holidays to enjoy this warming, flavor-filled apple cider-based beverage.  

Paleo Parents Kid-Friendly Pumpkin Cider Latte—Even created by a kid. Mostly. You can even see his handwritten recipe. The beginning of gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo recipe creation genius! 

Valerie’s (City | Life | Eats) Spicy Hot Chocolate shared in a guest post at The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s blog—This recipe uses both almond milk and coconut milk and while I’m a wimp when it comes to anything spicy, I loved this recipe! (You can totally omit the chipotle if no spiciness is desired.) 

Deanna’s Hot Cider Smoothie—This recipe was one of the entries for the D-Tox January event hosted by Nicola (G-Free Mom) earlier this year. Most of us were making cold smoothies and juices as our submissions, but to Deanna who lives in Wisconsin, a cold beverage did not seem like a reasonable option! Her recipe is super simple and delicious. A brief heads up … all of the recipes from that month-long event have been compiled into an e-book; more details here soon! 

pumpkin spice latte, gluten-free pumpkin spice latte, coffee-free pumpkin spice latte, gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegan, beverage, pumpkin recipe, pumpkin butte

Mug of Pumpkin Spice Latte

Enjoy your warming beverages. It could even snow here tomorrow and I haven’t even had a fire in the wood stove yet. Surprise! Okay … it’s unlikely to snow here, but only 45 minutes away and further west at our mountain property, it’s very likely to snow. No end-of-season camping for us this year. Mr. GFE is supposed to be in a sailboat race tomorrow. Hmmm. Wonder  if that’s going to happen? I better have some hot Velvety Pumpkin Spice Latte waiting for him when he returns! (He’s not a coffee drinker either.)

This post is linked to Wellness Weekend and 5-Ingredient Mondays.  

Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


50 Responses to “Velvety Pumpkin Spice “Latte” and Five Other Kid-Friendly Seasonal Hot Beverages”

  1. Heather @ Life, Gluten Free on October 28th, 2011 1:22 pm

    Those sound good! You know what Sophie loves, is for me to heat up coconut milk with cinnamon and honey. Simple but tasty. That’s her favorite request after coming in from playing in the snow :)

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:33 am

      Hi Heather–Thanks! Oh, I can see Sophie coming in from wonderful snow time to delicious coconut milk, cinnamon, and honey. :-) That sounds like perfection to me! Sounds like a non-recipe worthy of a blog post, too. ;-)

      I tried this non-recipe using coconut milk yesterday and didn’t like it as much as the almond milk, which surprised me. Of course, I know you guys can’t consume tree nuts and maybe I made a mistake, by adding a little water to my coconut milk. Right out of the can might have made a much better pumpkin spice latte. ;-)


  2. Cheryl on October 28th, 2011 1:31 pm

    I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m intrigued!

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:34 am

      Hi Cheryl–Make it with almond milk, you’ll absolutely love it! Promise.


  3. Claire on October 28th, 2011 1:38 pm

    I’m definitely going to try Stephanie’s Wassail! Yum :-)

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:35 am

      Hi Claire–Warning: You will seriously become addicted to Stephanie’s Wassail. I get all warm and happy just thinking about that wassail! ;-)


  4. Tina @madame gluten-free vegetarian on October 28th, 2011 3:47 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    This pumpkin latte sounds absolutely perfect for this weekend! I am a tea person too, so I appreciate you leaving out the coffee. :)

    I thought I was the only one to take a hot beverage up to the shower so it’s waiting for me when I get out! How did you know??

    Happy Friday & Happy Halloween –
    :) Tina.

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:38 am

      Hey Tina–Haha on the hot beverage out of the shower. It’s a fantastic treat, isn’t it? ;-) Try this one with the almond milk and you will be over the moon. A Halloween moon!

      Thanks for the good wishes! A happy Halloween Eve to you, my dear!

  5. Alta on October 28th, 2011 3:56 pm

    I am very much a coffee fan, but regardless, this sounds delicious! I could very well sneak in some strong coffee in it too… ;-)

    I’m thinking I need to whip up some of Shirley’s cushaw/pumpkin butter.

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:40 am

      Hey Alta–I’m still so excited about you getting the cushaw! Yes, definitely you should use some of it to make some cushaw butter. YUM! And I bet you’d be quite happy making this latte with almond milk AND some coffee. I’d love to hear some feedback if you do. ;-)


  6. Kim (Cook IT Allergy Free) on October 28th, 2011 5:21 pm

    Okay that has to be the simplest gfe recipe ever! I am doing lots of stuff with pumpkin this weekend, so I just have added 1. your pumpkin butter and 2. this “latte” to the list. We are having a Halloween/Fall-style weekend carving pumpkins, decorating for the trick-or=treaters, and baking.
    This would be a great alternative to drink at night since I cannot have any form of caffeine once the afternoon rolls around.

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:46 am

      Hehe, Kim! Two ingredients does qualify, but like I said the fact that one has to have pumpkin butter on hand is a bit of a catch. ;-) I tried this latte with coconut milk yesterday and while I’m a coconut milk lover, almond milk rules when it comes to this recipe! Almond milk gives it the velvety smoothness, which I adore!

      Your Halloween/Fall weekend sounds truly wonderful. I’m imagining how excited your kiddos are about all of that! Happy weekend and Halloween to all! I’m absolutely thrilled to be back in baking mode after this summer’s heat. :-)


  7. Ricki on October 28th, 2011 7:49 pm

    Totally ingenious! And I wouldn’t miss the coffee at all since I don’t drink it anyway. I can’t wait to give this a try! Thanks for all the info on hidden gluten in beverages–I’d never have thought to check out my TEA. And so glad to see you on Wellness Weekend again! :D

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:50 am

      Hi Ricki–Now I didn’t remember that you didn’t drink coffee, but I’m happy to have another partner in coffee-less “crime”! Make this with almond milk and you will be fabulously happy. :-)

      I always want to scream when I see gluten in tea … it’s just WRONG! ;-)

      And, finally, I love being part of your Wellness Weekend, Ricki. Now I just need to get back over to the roundup and check out all the other recipes. They have been incredible to date! You have really created something wonderful with that event, Ricki!


  8. Jen @ The RA Vegan on October 28th, 2011 8:41 pm

    Oh Yum! I don’t drink coffee either and I love pumpkin so this sounds wonderful for me!

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:51 am

      Hi Jen–Another anti-coffee buddy–yippee! Well, as I was saying to the others, make this with almond milk and you will feel so pampered. :-)


  9. Ina Gawne on October 29th, 2011 8:24 am

    Anything pumpkin has my vote! Great information here Shirley. When I first went GF, it took me a while to figure out I was getting cross contamination, now, the symptoms would be instant. Thank goodness it very rarely happens anymore! :)

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 9:57 am

      Hi Ina–Thanks, dear! Yes, that’s something that most folks aren’t told … that their reactions may become more instant and more severe. Mine certainly do. I still see a lot of folks attributing their symptoms to everything but gluten (e.g., virus, other foods, being too hot, being too cold, stress) and while sometimes other factors do come into play, of course, often gluten is the true culprit. And I believe it’s a culprit in processed foods that folks think are safe because they are labeled “gluten free,” but may not be gluten free enough, so to speak. But that’s a post for another day. A long delayed one. But anyway, I hope you enjoy this latte and I’m so glad you’ve been able to stay uncontaminated. :-)


  10. Kim on October 29th, 2011 9:03 am


    First, thank you for linking to my blog & post. I still think about Starbuck’s when I go in to get black coffee from them. I prefer to frequent other places, but sometimes I “need” my caffeine! LOL! I am thankful that Tim Horton’s is building a place right next to my gym where there is currently only a Starbuck’s.

    I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Rudert speak last year when she was here in Columbus for the Celiac Conference. That is a great point – 1 out of 2 ppl. are still getting gluten somewhere. I know there are times when I become complacent, start to feel ick and wonder. We don’t have a completely GF house, so I suspect that is usually my issue.

    I can’t wait to try this non-coffee version of the pumpkin spice latte. I am also going to give your pumpkin butter a try! How simple that sounds!!

    Have a great weekend!

    Kim (who is really behind on her blog reading, writing & such)

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 10:07 am

      Hi Kim–I was happy to share your post! It’s telling that it’s still getting comments. It’s an important topic as Starbucks is frequented by so many. The concern comes into play with any establishment though. We must do our due diligence.

      Yes, 1 in 2 is kind of like a big whomp on the side of the head, isn’t it? What concerns me is when folks’ former symptoms creep back and because it’s a gradual thing, they don’t realize they are getting glutened … that that’s the cause of their issues. So, as a result, they don’t know they can fix their issues, by doing the detective work and eliminating the gluten source. As I was just stating, I firmly believe that folks are getting glutened (even daily) by products with gf labels that they think are safe. I have immediate, severe reactions to gluten, but Mary, John, and Susan may not. But over time, old symptoms and conditions return. That’s another reason that I really embrace whole foods and recipes from whole foods.

      I think you will love the pumpkin butter and the latte. Being a coffee drinker, you may even want to add some coffee and make yours a true latte. ;-)

      Love the postscript! I’m with you, sister!

  11. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat on October 29th, 2011 4:44 pm

    Shirley, I love this recipe!!! It was a warm day here, so I actually made it into an iced latte, and it was delicious! Love that pumpkin butter recipe. It’s so versatile. I’ll be finding ways to use it all week now!! Thank you!

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 10:14 am

      Hey Heather–I love that you made yours an iced latte and that you made another version using So Delicious Coconut milk, too! I actually don’t have So Delicious products near me, but would love to try this latte using their coconut milk. I tried canned full-fat coconut milk yesterday and, sadly, it didn’t make the cut. Almond milk still rules for me for now!

      Woohoo on being a pumpkin butter convert! I really should make it once a month. I use it in so many things now. :-)

      Thanks and big hugs! I’m looking forward to my adoption post. ;-)

  12. Debi on October 29th, 2011 4:50 pm

    I love it! I’m going to have to make myself some pumpkin butter when we get back from vacation. :D And I had to chuckle while reading. You never cease to amaze me with the things you don’t like. Then again, coffee isn’t everyone’s thing. I have a friend who asked how I drink it black since he has to have lots of cream and sugar in his. My response, “Easy. Pour. Drink.” lol

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 10:17 am

      Debi–I know you would love this pumpkin butter and would have so much fun creating recipes and non-recipes using it!! Yep, I’m a “special case,” aren’t I? :-) But your example shows how we are all so different. The hated food/menu item of one is the most beloved one of another! ;-)


  13. Maggie on October 29th, 2011 6:07 pm

    Now THAT is gfe :) What a delightful morning treat Shirley. I’m off to revisit the pumpkin butter recipe! Thanks for being an amazing source of information with a delicious side of recipes! xoxo

    • Shirley on October 30th, 2011 10:19 am

      Hi Maggie–Thanks, dear! I thought and thought about that recipe making it so complicated in my head and then in the end, I created this non-recipe, and I couldn’t be happier. ;-) Four words … MAKE. THE. PUMPKIN. BUTTER.

      Oh, and thanks so much for the other feedback, too! xo,

  14. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat on October 30th, 2011 9:44 am

    FYI, just had my morning cup of pumpkin spice “latte” but used Unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk. It was delightful!!!

  15. Linda on October 30th, 2011 7:58 pm

    I like coffee but don’t drink it often for a couple of reasons. This sounds like a great substitute, and it’s caffeine free which is a plus for me.

  16. Diane-thewholegang on October 30th, 2011 9:04 pm

    YUM! I’ve always wanted to try one of these at Starbucks but I don’t like coffee and they don’t have any type of milk I can drink. This is brilliant! Adding pumpkin butter to my shopping list. Wait, do you have a recipe for that too. Must check.

    • Shirley on November 1st, 2011 9:11 pm

      That’s right, Diane … I remember now that you don’t like coffee and, of course, that dairy-free part. Starbucks is missing out on that crowd for sure as they only have the soy milk, right? UGH. Anyway, make this with almond milk (or maybe the So Delicious that Heather liked it with) and you will feel so pampered! The pumpkin butter link is in the post. :-)


  17. Theophanie on October 31st, 2011 10:03 am

    Lovely post! I adore rambly* (in a good way) posts with lots of links – they match the way I think! ;) Although I don’t buy pumpkin spice lattes, I am eager to try yours and also to read up on the SBUX controversy (but why? that is a good question…).
    Anyway… Happy Monday!

    • Shirley on November 2nd, 2011 7:26 am

      Hi Theophanie–Oh, it’s so nice to have a reader who admires *good* rambling! ;-)

      But why is a very good question indeed. It stinks that the coffee lovers can’t enjoy their faves safely at Starbucks. But this recipe is great for all of us … in the safe comfort of our own homes. :-) Make this with almond milk … it’s out of this world good!


  18. Felicia on November 1st, 2011 3:24 pm

    This sounds delightful and I am off to make some momentarily! We received 22 1/2 inches of heavy wet snow Sat afternoon into Sunday, and lost our power about midnight Sat. It turned on today after lunch, so enjoying a warming pumpkin latte as soon as I get out of a nice hot shower sounds delish – thanks for sharing your recipe :)

    • Shirley on November 2nd, 2011 7:27 am

      Hey Felicia–Wow, you’re in one of those areas! So glad your power is back on. (That always takes the fun out of snow for sure.) I hope you enjoyed this recipe. I admit that I’m in love with it. ;-)


  19. Jeanette on November 1st, 2011 7:47 pm

    That pumpkin spice latte looks so nice, rich and creamy, and easy to make at home. I think my husband and kids would love it.

    • Shirley on November 2nd, 2011 7:29 am

      Hi Jeanette–This Pumpkin Spice Latte is truly as you described, particularly when made with almond milk. Hope you and your family enjoy it if you give it a try! Lamenting my own current lack of pumpkin butter. Must remedy as soon as I get back for a trip to Dallas. ;-)

      Thanks so much!

  20. Debbi Does Dinner Healthy on November 8th, 2011 7:53 pm

    I made the pumpkin butter and I just made a cup of this latte. It’s REALLY good! I just gave it to my daughter to try and she’s not giving it back! I used regular milk but I’ll bet it’s even better with almond milk.

    • Shirley on November 9th, 2011 12:45 am

      Hi Debbi–It’s great to see you again! :-) And I love your feedback, too—thanks! I’m really glad to hear this recipe works with regular milk, but I do encourage you to try it with almond milk for that thick velvet factor. ;-) I know I can’t wait to get some more almond milk so I can make a batch of pumpkin butter and enjoy this latte again!


  21. Kathy Veliz on November 15th, 2011 8:08 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your latte recipe. I don’t drink coffee or tea but wanted a warm pumpkin drink. Can’t wait to try it and I think just for fun I’ll try the pumpkin butter too. Sounds interesting.

    • Shirley on November 15th, 2011 8:11 am

      Hi Kathy–Welcome to gfe! :-) Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Well, you have to make the pumpkin butter to properly make the latte, so I hope you enjoy both! ;-)


  22. Sandi on September 14th, 2013 11:09 am

    Thank you so much for re-posting this. I had no idea Starbucks Pumpkin Lattes could be an issue. I used to drink these often, but since cutting out refined sugars, it has been a couple of years. It is a good reminder to always check ingredients because companies change their formulations.

    This looks delicious.

    • Shirley on September 15th, 2013 1:15 pm

      Hi Sandi–Welcome! I’m so glad that you found this info helpful. So many times we “save” ourselves from getting glutened when we cut out other problem foods like dairy, refined sugar, etc. Glad that was the case for you! Yes, unfortunately formulations do change, cross contamination varies per establishments, etc. It’s often like the gluten-free version (or should I say gluten version?) of Russian Roulette. :-(

      Hope you enjoy this latte if you give it a try! :-)

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