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4 Healthier Versions of Starbucks Holiday Favorites

As the seasons change and the weather gets cooler, collegiettes across the country are headed to Starbucks to enjoy delicious holiday beverages in those adorable red cups. Summertime may be out of sight, but our taste buds can now delight over these yummy drinks that are totally Instagram-worthy.

For collegiettes looking to save some cash and calories, we’ve found a few of our fave DIY drink recipes to enjoy all season long. Get ready to obsess over the healthy twists on these classic drinks and relish in a caffeine fix like no other!

1. The Treat: Pumpkin Spice Latte

The Healthier Alternative: BrokeAss Gourmet’s DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

After realizing how expensive purchasing a PSL on the regular could be, chef Gabi Moskowitz came up with her own DIY recipe that contains healthier substitutes. A grande Starbucks PSL contains 380 calories when made with 2-percent milk. Chef Moskowitz’s recipe substitutes the syrup for honey and is affordable, since you may have these ingredients already.


  • 3 tablespoons strong ground coffee 
  • 2/3 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • 2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar 
  • 2/3 cup milk


  1. Brew the coffee with the water in a regular coffee maker, French press or drip cone.
  2. While the coffee brews, stir the pumpkin pie spice into the honey or agave nectar until completely blended and set aside.
  3. Pour the cold milk into a microwave-safe bowl. The edges of the bowl should come up a bit higher than the milk.
  4. Keep the bowl slightly tilted so the milk is gathered more towards one side. Using a wire whisk, quickly and vigorously whisk the milk in this bowl for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. If the milk isn’t frothy after about 2 1/2 minutes, keep whisking it for an additional 30 to 60 seconds. At this point, the milk should be very frothy.
  5. Microwave the milk in the bowl on high for 8-10 seconds. It should puff into a high foam immediately.
  6. When it’s time to serve the latte, pour the hot coffee into a mug and stir in the honey/agave and spice mixture until it’s completely dissolved. Top it off with the hot milk, spooning the thick foam on top, just like your favorite barista does. For a special touch, add a dash of additional pumpkin pie spice or some ground cinnamon.
  7. The beverage should be served immediately, but since it’s this good, we don’t think we’ll have to tell you twice.

2. The Treat: Peppermint Mocha

The Healthier Alternative: Snack Girl’s DIY Peppermint Mocha

Nothing says winter quite like peppermint. When you combine this sweet flavor with mocha, it’s practically heaven. However, with the Starbucks version clocking in at 410 calories for a grande with 2-percent milk, it’s easy to overindulge. Thankfully, this recipe is healthier and only contains 79 calories.


  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 1 tablespoon dark chocolate syrup
  • 1 drop peppermint extract


  1. Brew the coffee and heat the milk in a microwave until hot.
  2. Mix the chocolate syrup and peppermint extract into coffee.
  3. Foam milk with a milk frother, or just pour hot milk into cup.
  4. Sit down with your yummy treat and enjoy!

3. The Treat: Gingerbread Latte

The Healthier Alternative: The Kitchn DIY Gingerbread Latte

When the weather gets colder, it’s time for warm gingerbread cookies by the fire. If gingerbread cookies aren’t your style, you can enjoy the yummy gingerbread taste in this DIY version of the gingerbread latte from Starbucks. Say goodbye to artificial syrups, since this recipe will allow you to craft your beverage from scratch with quality ingredients that are better for your health and wallet.


  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot espresso
  • 1 cup hot milk or soy milk


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer slowly for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Combine the espresso in a mug and add 1/4 cup of the gingerbread syrup.
  5. Top off with the heated milk. Garnish a dash of grated nutmeg, if desired. 

4. The Treat: Eggnog Latte

The Healthier Alternative: Skinnytaste Eggnog Latte

When eggnog returns to store shelves, it’s a sign that the holiday season is underway. Your favorite holiday beverage from childhood can now be turned into a delicious, caffeinated latte with this tasty recipe. A grande-sized eggnog latte at Starbucks is 460 calories, but this recipe contains 73 calories and only takes a few minutes to prepare!


  • 2 shots espresso or 1/2 cup of strong concentrated coffee
  • 1/4 cup skinny eggnog
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg


  1. Brew your coffee or espresso.
  2. Heat the eggnog and combine with milk.
  3. Use a frothing wand in the mixture, up and down and side to side slowly until the eggnog and milk is thick and foamed. You can also put this into a blender if you don’t have a frothing wand.
  4. Pour your coffee or espresso into a mug and pour the hot eggnog mixture over the top. 
  5. Sprinkle with nutmeg and indulge.

The next time you’re craving a holiday drink from Starbucks, test out one of these simple recipes to save money and calories. Before you know it, you’ll be your own expert barista, and your friends will be coming to you for drinks!

Jen is a 2016 graduate of Messiah College, where she majored in journalism and minored in gender studies. She's a proud Bostonian who is obsessed with tattoos, puppies, magazines and Sephora. She's been reading Her Campus since high school and was thrilled to join the HC team as a National Contributing Writer in September 2013. She became an HC Beauty Blogger in February 2014 and continued to write on-trend beauty posts until July 2016. A few highlights from her time writing for HC included attending and writing about two BeautyCon events and Cosmopolitan's Fun Fearless Life in 2015. You can follow her on Twitter @JenFlanagan14 and on Instagram @jenlea14.
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