Made with a simple homemade butterscotch sauce and a salty-sweet topping, this version is far superior to the coffee shop variety. 

By Grace Elkus
January 17, 2018
Grace Elkus

If there's one thing for certain about Starbucks, it's that there's no shortage of creativity on their beverage development team. In the past year, we've seen everything from Chestnut Praline Chai Tea and Maple Pecan lattes to a Zombie Frappuccino we could only hope wasn't for real (it was).

Most recently, Starbucks has re-introduced their Smoky Butterscotch Latte (it made its original debut in 2016), a flavor so far from what we typically crave in a coffee drink we were certain we wouldn't be interested. And though the latte, as expected, didn't appeal to us ("it tastes like the burnt bits of crème brûlée—and not in a good way," one staffer said), we could appreciate the savory notes the coffee chain was attempting to achieve. 

It didn't take long to successfully re-create a tastier version (with no additives or preservatives) in our kitchen. Here's how to do it: 

The 5-Minute Version: Drizzle store-bought butterscotch sauce (or melted butterscotch chips) around the sides and into the bottom of a mug. Add a long shot of espresso (or a cup of strong coffee) and top with steamed milk (no, you don't need a frother). Finish with a sprinkling of equal parts smoked flaky sea salt and turbinado sugar. 

The 15-Minute Version: Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses (helps contribute to the "smoky" flavor) and cook, whisking frequently, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly add 3/4 cup heavy cream. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked sea salt (Maldon makes a good one) and whisk to combine. Remove from heat (this yields about 2/3 cup butterscotch). Follow the instructions above, using your homemade smoky butterscotch sauce. Leftovers would be delightful on ice cream. 

RELATED: How to Make a Latte Like a Barista

In the mood for a more traditional frappuccino? You can make that at home, too. Serve to friends for an instant crowdpleaser.