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What’s better than a milky sweet vanilla iced coffee? It’s so simple to make this Starbucks classic at home, and it tastes even better.

Vanilla iced coffee
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Love a good iced coffee? Welcome to a drink that’s one step better: vanilla iced coffee! The bitter, dark notes of coffee shine with a hint of milk and deliciously sweet homemade vanilla syrup. The best part: it’s so simple to whip up this Starbucks special in your home kitchen! All you need are a handful of ingredients and just a few minutes. This drink is built on cold brew, which we always have a jar of in our refrigerator. It’s perfect in summer but honestly, we drink it year round and I adore it in the winter, dreaming of summer afternoons to come.

Ingredients in vanilla iced coffee

Vanilla iced coffee is simple to make at home, so there’s no need to even leave the comfort of your own home for the coffee shop! Even better, in the long run it’s less expensive than a daily Starbucks run (especially if you make your own cold brew at home). Here’s what you need for vanilla iced coffee:

Vanilla Iced Coffee

Best coffee methods for iced coffee

There are lots of options for coffee when it comes to iced coffee. Our favorite is cold brew, because it has the best strong coffee flavor and it’s easy to find at your local grocery store. You can also make it at home, which saves loads of money. Here are the best coffee methods to try:

  • Buy or make cold brew. Purchased cold brew is of course the easiest, but it can get pricey. You can also make your own cold brew, which takes just 24 hours. All you need are 1 ½ cups ground dark roast coffee and water, and it will brew in your refrigerator. Go to How to Make Cold Brew.
  • Make a double strength pot of coffee using your favorite method and double the grounds. Dark roast coffee beans work best for iced coffee.
  • Make regular strength Moka Pot coffee. The Bialetti makes a nice bold, strong flavor for iced coffee.

How to make vanilla iced coffee: basic steps

Iced coffee is much simpler to make than espresso drinks, since you don’t have to worry about making espresso or frothing milk! Instead, you can just pour cold milk into coffee with ice. Here is an overview of the steps to make vanilla iced coffee (or jump to the recipe below):

  • Step 1: Make the vanilla syrup.
  • Step 2: Fill a glass with ice.
  • Step 3: Add ½ cup strong coffee or cold brew, ¼ cup milk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla syrup to the glass. Stir and enjoy! You can adjust the level of sweetness to taste by adding another teaspoon of vanilla syrup.
Vanilla Syrup

Making vanilla syrup at home

It’s not worth going out to find a store-bought vanilla syrup for your vanilla iced latte (unless of course you already grabbed one at Starbucks!). It takes just minutes to make and uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Here’s how to make vanilla syrup:

  • Combine sugar and water: Place ½ cup each granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan on the stove.
  • Heat until dissolved: Heat over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until fully dissolved. Do not simmer!
  • Stir in vanilla: Remove from the heat and add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Cool to room temperature before using.

Store homemade vanilla syrup refrigerated for up to 1 month, though the flavor is best in the first few weeks.

Vanilla iced coffee

More iced coffee drinks

We hope you think this vanilla iced coffee tastes just as good as Starbucks: or better! You can control the sweetness and milk level to taste, making it endlessly customizable.

This vanilla iced coffee recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Vanilla iced coffee

Vanilla Iced Coffee

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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What’s better than a milky sweet vanilla iced coffee? It’s so simple to make this Starbucks classic at home, and it tastes even better.




  1. Make the strong coffee and let it cool to room temperature, or purchase or make cold brew coffee
  2. Fill a glass with ice. Pour in the cold brew coffee concentrate (not diluted), milk, and vanilla syrup. Mix and taste; adjust milk and vanilla syrup as desired. 
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Coffee
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Julia says:

    I’ve been making homemade iced coffee for years, and this 2-minute vanilla version is a game-changer! 😍 For those interested in a similar taste to Chick-fil-A’s iced coffee, check out this recipe. It captures that rich flavor perfectly and offers great customization tips!

  2. Sabrina says:

    thank you and maybe the best thing about it is making vanilla syrup from scratch, very nice!