Simple to stir up and so refreshing to drink, this homemade caramel iced coffee is a treat any time of the day, year ’round!

Small glass of coffee topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce and a polka dot straw.

If you do an internet search for “caramel coffee,” it’s likely my recipe that comes up first, and I’m pretty proud of it!

I love making fancy coffee house style drinks at home, like my mocha hot chocolate, affogato coffee and cardamom tea latte, and teaching others how to do the same.

I hope that I’ve convinced you to whip up a batch of caramel syrup for coffee by now.

Got that ready? Good. Let’s do this!

Small glass of java topped with whipped cream, brown sauce and a polka dot straw.

If you like the caramel iced coffee at Starbucks, Mcdonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts, you might like this home version even more!

Going through the drive through for a midday iced coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures. The Starbucks near me usually has a huge line, but I can get in and out of McDonalds for a cold treat in no time.

I don’t think I’ve ever had an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, but I know it has a lot of fans!

90% of the time, I get a very good drink from the drive through. But 10% of the time, something seems to go awry. Either I can barely taste the caramel or there’s wayyyy too much of it.

Well, 100% of the time, when you make your iced caramel coffee at home, it will be perfect, and exactly to your specifications. You can whip it up while you have a batch of bacon in the oven for brunch.

If you like it creamier or less creamy, you’re in charge. Just a touch of sweetness or so sweet you can barely taste the coffee? Hey, that’s your call.

Small glass of caramel iced coffee with metal spoon.

How to make caramel iced coffee at home:

First, you’ll need brewed coffee that isn’t still piping hot. Perhaps you have some brewed coffee left over from your morning pot. That’s perfect for this caramel iced coffee recipe.

Or, you could make a batch of cold brew. NPR has a very good easy cold brew method if you’re interested in doing that.

Then, fill a tall glass with ice (I used a short glass in these photos but the recipe below is for a 12 ounce drink (the size of a Starbucks “tall” beverage).

Pour the coffee and the caramel syrup over the ice, and use a long spoon or chopstick to stir until the caramel dissolves into the coffee. It should only take a few seconds.

Then, you’ll be adding the dairy or non-dairy creamer of your choice (more on that below), and stirring again.

If you want, top the whole thing off with whipped cream and caramel sauce, because it’s so sinfully delicious that way!

I even love to set up a caramel iced coffee bar when I have a brunch food buffet, and let people make their own drinks!

Small glass of espresso based drink topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce and a polka dot straw.

Can I make this caramel iced coffee with almond milk or oat milk?

Totally! I want you to use the dairy or non-dairy option you like best. Whatever you keep in the fridge will be great here.

I always have whole milk in the fridge because I have a toddler at home. I gotta say, sometimes I don’t mind always having whole milk around. It’s so good for baking and it makes a super rich s’mores hot chocolate.

But almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, cashew milk or literally almost any other type of milk you can think of will be delicious in this caramel iced coffee recipe.

If you want to keep the drink completely non-dairy, you may need to skip the whipped cream or use a non-dairy version.

From doing a quick search, it looks like Reddi Wip makes a non-dairy whipped cream, but I’ve never seen it at any local stores, sadly. Please let me know in the comments below if you have a good non-dairy alternative to whipped cream!

My special secret for jazzing this drink up even more:

I LOVE adding a pinch of sea salt (preferably Maldon brand) to this caramel iced coffee recipe. Salted caramel is a thing for a reason, and it’s because it’s absolutely amazing.

I think that almost anything sweet needs a pinch of salt to balance the flavor, and sea salt is my friend when it comes to this drink!

Small glass of coffee topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

A note on the difference between caramel syrup and caramel sauce:

So, Starbucks and every other fancy coffee place have two different things going on – syrups and sauces.

The syrups are the generally clear liquids that you see in large bottles with pumps on top. These pumps of flavor are the backbone of all of the flavored drinks.

If you watch closely, these pumps of flavor are usually the first thing the barista will add to your cup after you order.

But then, once the drink is complete, for the final garnish (usually drizzled on top of whipped cream), they are using something different, which is a sauce.

In the photos in this post, caramel syrup was used to make the flavored iced coffee, and caramel sauce was used as the garnish on top.

I have a homemade caramel sauce included in my apple and pecan tart recipe (linked in the box below) if you’d like to try your hand at that.

But I often use a store bought sauce (usually Torani brand), and I like that just as well.

More recipes for the caramel lover:

Whether it’s in easy sweets, fancy desserts, hot drinks or cold cocktails, caramel is irresistible!

Small glass of coffee topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce and a polka dot straw.

Caramel Iced Coffee Recipe

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Simple to stir up and so refreshing to drink, this homemade caramel iced coffee is a treat any time of the day, year 'round!


  • 8 ounces brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/2 to 1 ounce caramel syrup for coffee
  • Pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • 4 ounces milk
  • Whipped cream and caramel sauce, for garnish (optional)


Fill tall glass with ice. Pour coffee, syrup and salt (if using) over ice; stir until syrup is dissolved into coffee.

Add milk; stir until well combined.

Serve garnished with whipped cream and caramel sauce, if desired.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 57mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 0gSugar: 19gProtein: 4g

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Collage of images of iced coffee house style drinks with overlay: coffee house copycat! CARAMEL ICED COFFEE.