Hot Vanilla Steamer – This kid-friendly Starbucks vanilla steamer recipe couldn’t be easier! It’s a great alternative to hot cocoa & warms you up in no time.
My kids are both obsessed with All The Cozy Things–fluffy blankets, soft jammies, twinkle lights, candles, etc. (They come by it honestly–I’m the same way!) When the weather turns cold or rainy, they’re both ALL about a cozy warm drink. We LOVE homemade hot chocolate, but when we need a change of pace, one of their favorite hot drinks is a warm vanilla steamer.
So, what is a vanilla steamer? It’s basically hot vanilla! (Instead of hot chocolate.)The Starbucks vanilla steamer is one of their kid-friendly, caffeine-free offerings. It’s made from steamed milk, sweetened with vanilla syrup (like Torani vanilla syrup), frothed and topped with whipped cream.
You can certainly go get one at a coffee shop when the craving hits, but it’s also REALLY easy to make a vanilla steamer at home. Here’s all you need to get started on our homemade Vanilla Steamer recipe…
Homemade Vanilla Steamers, At A Glance:
Here’s What You Need To Make A Hot Vanilla Steamer At Home:
- Milk. You can use whatever you typically drink and enjoy at home. We only drink dairy-free milk, so we make ours with almond milk. Feel free to swap in 2%, whole, skim, oat, soy milk…whatever you drink!
- Sugar or Pure Maple Syrup. I don’t *love* the vanilla syrups common at most coffee shops/drink places, so instead, I’m using a combination of sugar (or maple syrup, if you must), and vanilla bean paste. I feel like you get a richer flavor, and it’s a bit easier to control the sweetness. That said, if you’d rather use vanilla syrup, go for it!
- Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract. If you can, I recommend using vanilla bean paste. You’ll get those gorgeous little vanilla bean flecks and lovely vanilla flavor! (Trader Joe’s carries it every once in a while for a great price, but check the spice & baking sections of your regular grocery stores. The prices always seem to be better in-store!)
- A *Tiny* Pinch Of Salt. Just a teensy tiny bit. It adds a little something and balances the flavors for me!
- Whipped Cream or Whipped Coconut Cream. When you’re feeling a bit extra, some whipped cream, whipped topping, or whipped coconut cream can be such a fun way to top off a vanilla steamer!
- BONUS POINTS: A Milk Frother or Mini Whisk. The Starbucks vanilla steamer is foamed a bit, which makes for a fun finish. Milk frothers are remarkably inexpensive and low profile, so they’re easy to store. It’s a great way to add foam and a touch of barista polish to things like hot cocoa, chocolate milk, coffee, or a vanilla steamer!
How To Make A Hot Vanilla Steamer At Home:
- Combine The Ingredients. In a small pot, heat milk, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt.
- Heat Until Steaming Hot, stirring regularly to avoid any scorched spots. (Do NOT let the milk boil or simmer, or it can curdle and throw off the taste.)
- Pour milk mixture into a mug, leaving extra room at the top if possible to froth the milk.
- Use a milk frother or mini whisk to froth the milk. Work carefully and slowly, holding the frother at the bottom of the cup.
- Top & Garnish! Dollop your vanilla steamer with whipped cream or coconut cream and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg or a drizzle of caramel sauce, if desired.
- Combine The Ingredients. In a 2-cup heat-proof liquid measuring cup or large mug, combine milk, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt.
- Microwave In 30-Second Intervals Until Steaming Hot, stirring in between each interval to avoid any scorched spots. (Do NOT let the milk boil or simmer, or it can curdle and throw off the taste.)
- Use a milk frother or mini whisk to froth the milk, and pour the milk mixture into a mug to serve.
- Top & Garnish! Dollop with whipped cream or coconut cream and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg or a drizzle of caramel sauce, if desired.
Yummy Toppings To Try On A Vanilla Steamer:
- Whipped Cream or Coconut Cream – Store-bought or homemade! This is my favorite, since it’s so easy an fun. Whipped cream makes anything feel more special, doesn’t it?
- A Sprinkle Of Ground Cinnamon Or Nutmeg. You’ll feel like a barista, for sure!
- A Drizzle Of Caramel Sauce. When you’re feeling a bit extra or fancy–I LOVE the flavor, this adds!
- A Sprinkle Of Cocoa Powder. It’s unsweetened, so go light, but this looks lovely!
FAQ + Tips For The Best Hot Vanilla Steamer:
Can I Use Vanilla Extract Instead Of Vanilla Bean Paste? Yes. You can use equal amounts of vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste in this recipe. You just won’t get those pretty little vanilla bean flecks. (Depending on the quality of your vanilla, you may want to add extra. Just follow your tastebuds!)
Could I Use A Vanilla Bean Instead? Yes! This works best on the stovetop, but you can scrape out 1/4-1/2 a vanilla bean and add the seeds to the milk to infuse as it heats.
Can I Use Something Besides Sugar? If you’re looking for a natural sweetener option, I recommend a teaspoon or two of pure maple syrup. Some vanilla steamer recipes call for honey, but in my tests, the honey flavor comes through too strongly and overpowers all the other flavors too much for my taste.