This Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe Brings Starbucks To The Trails

The trick to this recipe? Dehydrated pumpkin purée and vanilla powder.

Photo: Roberto Caruso

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PSLs are synonymous with fall…and sugar crashes. Not good when you need the long-lasting energy to hike all day. This recipe’s nutrition profile has more protein and fat to offset the sugar, making it more balanced. In fact, it’s so balanced that recipe creator and thru-hiker dietician Aaron Owens Mayhew of Backcountry Foodie says you could use it as a meal replacement on your next trip. At 3.6 ounces per serving, you can bring a taste of fall into the backcountry without bringing the whole kitchen with you. And, this recipe is so tasty you’ll want to make it year-round, even after the coffee shops take it off the menu.

Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
3 min


  • 1 Tbsp. instant coffee (3 g)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk powder (64 g)
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla powder (12 g)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (14 g)
  • 2 tsp. dehydrated pumpkin purée, powdered (8 g)
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (0.9 g)


At Home

  1. Dehydrate pumpkin purée.
    1. Spread puree onto dehydrator trays using solid “fruit roll” sheet liners or parchment paper. Spread evenly about ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick.
    2. Dehydrate at 135℉ (57℃). After 6 to 8 hours, peel the bark off the tray and turn it over, so the other side gets exposed to the airflow. The bark is done when the sheet is dry and brittle, which may take 8 to 10 hours or longer. Before it gets brittle, it will bend like leather. Leather is OK to use within a couple of weeks but for long-term storage, keep drying until dry and brittle.
    3. Allow the bark to cool for 30 to 60 minutes, then package in an air-tight container.
    4. Break the dehydrated sheets into pieces and grind them into a fine powder using a coffee or spice grinder. It has to be a fine powder; you can’t add it to the mix in the “bark” (fruit leather) form.

2. Put all recipe ingredients in an air-tight bag or container to be used in the backcountry.

At Camp

  1. Add 8 ounces (240 mL) boiling water to the bag or container. Additional water may be added to reach the desired flavor.
  2. Stir to mix well.
  3. Let stand for up to 3 minutes allowing the pumpkin to rehydrate fully. We recommend putting the bag or container in an insulated cozy to keep the beverage hot while the pumpkin rehydrates.

Backcountry Foodie’s Notes

  • For a lower-calorie beverage, use nonfat milk powder.
  • Cook’s makes a vanilla powder that can oftentimes be found in grocery stores in the spice aisle or on Amazon.
  • The water must be boiling and remain hot if the pumpkin powder is going to rehydrate. Otherwise, it can be clumpy. Putting the cup or freezer bag in an insulated cozy seems to help keep it hot.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1 cup
  • Calories 429
  • Carbohydrate Content 52 g
  • Fat Content 17 g
  • Fiber Content 0.3 g
  • Protein Content 17 g
  • Sugar Content 24 g
From 2022

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