How to Make Frappuccino Blended Coffee Drinks

Vitamix FrappuccinoPeople have been asking me how to make Frappuccinos at home. They tried, but got disappointingly separated ice and liquid, even using a Vitamix. I looked up the Starbucks list of ingredients, and found the secret ingredient: xanthan gum. In this post I will cover how to use xanthan, and also give a whole-food alternative for making satisfying Frappuccinos.

If you are a frequent drinker of Frappuccinos, you can save a lot of money by making them at home, plus you can customize them to be exactly how you like. They’re super easy too: a Vitamix will blend one in about 20 seconds.

Xanthan is made by fermentation, and it is used in a variety of foods, including sauces, dressings, and ice cream. Xanthan thickens without affecting flavor, and its liquid mixtures have the interesting property of being shear-thinning. In addition to stabilizing the ice-liquid mixture, xanthan also gives a Frappuccino a more satisfying mouthfeel.

Xanthan is available as a powder, and you may be able to find it in your grocery store in the baking section, as it is a common ingredient for gluten-free baking. Or you can get it online. A little goes a long way, so a jar will last a long time (that ~$9 linked jar is enough for ~340 Frappuccinos).

A small percentage of people report intestinal distress with xanthan, and I’ve read that some people prefer konjac glucomannan instead. However, xanthan has been used in foods for decades without any serious problems, and you’ve probably eaten plenty of it already (for sure if you’ve had Starbucks Frappuccinos). If you’d prefer not to use any isolated powders, I also have a whole-food recipe, which you can find below.

I made a side-by-side comparison, blending identical Frappuccinos with and without xanthan. Here they are: with xanthan on the left, without on the right: Frappuccinos with and without xanthan gumThe difference is striking, both in terms of separation of liquid and ice, and mouthfeel.

The Starbucks ingredients also have another slightly unexpected ingredient, which is salt. A little salt helps balance flavors, even in sweet things.

Here’s the recipe that approximates the standard Starbucks Blended Coffee Frappuccino:

Traditional Frappuccino Ingredients

½ cup milk
½ cup strongly brewed coffee (double-strength), chilled
tsp xanthan gum
2.5 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt (¹⁄₁₆ tsp)
1 cup ice

Makes just over 12 oz, equivalent to the Starbucks ‘Tall’ size. (You can easily scale it up if you prefer. I’ve made a double batch, and you could easily go up to a quadruple batch with a Vitamix.)

Blend on high for about 20 seconds, and use the tamper if it stops circulating.

Be careful when pouring, because the ice-liquid mixture can slide out in a big clump, spilling outside your glass. (Ask me how I know.) You can avoid such a mess by using a spatula to ease it into your glass, or by shaking the container side-to-side immediately before pouring.

Flavorings and Toppings

You can of course also add your favorite flavorings and toppings. Vanilla, chocolate, caramel, whipped cream... The sky’s the limit!

Adjustments

You can adjust the recipe as much as you like. All it requires is a balance of liquid and frozen ingredients (roughly 1:1 by volume, exact ratio will depend on preference, temperatures of ingredients, size/shape of ice cubes, etc.).

Milk

You can obviously use your choice of milk. One of the times I made Frappuccinos I didn’t have any milk around, but I had some raw cashews. Cashews plus water blend up to a smooth milk, even without filtering. To make 1 cup of cashew milk I put 1/4 cup of cashews in the blender, then fill water to the 1 cup mark and blend on high for ~1 minute.

Coffee

I’ve been using normal hot-brewed coffee that I let cool. I’ve always used it within the first day, but I’ve read that some people keep coffee in the fridge for a week or longer.

You could also use cold-brewed or instant coffee. Or you could use a latte/cappuccino powder, which would take care of all the ingredients except the ice. (Those powders tend to have cellulose gum, which plays a similar role to xanthan.)

Stabilizer

The recipe uses xanthan, but as I mentioned above you can use glucomannan. Other alternatives include pectin and guar gum. If you want to read more about xanthan, glucomannan, and related ingredients, check out this extensive compilation of hydrocolloid information and recipes. For the whole-food recipe I used a slice of avocado.

Sweetener

To my taste, the Starbucks version is excessively sweet, so I prefer 1 Tbsp of sugar. You can also use your choice of other sweetener, including non-calorie sweeteners. (The sugar in Frappuccinos is not important for texture the way it is in things like sorbet.) In the whole-food version I used dates.

Ice

If you want your drink more frozen, add ice; less frozen, blend longer (use the tamper if it’s not circulating). If you want a more concentrated drink, you can freeze your milk or coffee into ice cubes so that you don’t use any water ice cubes.

Whole-Food version

Avocado Date Vitamix Frappuccino Ingredients2 pitted dates (I used Medjool)
½ cup milk
½ cup strongly brewed coffee (double-strength), chilled
small avocado (slightly under ripe)
pinch of salt (¹⁄₁₆ tsp)
1 cup ice

Blend everything but ice first, ~30 seconds. Then add ice and blend another 15-20 seconds.

The avocado is slightly under ripe to minimize avocado flavor. It may seem weird to have avocado with coffee, but you don’t taste the avocado. You can peel and slice the rest of the avocado and freeze it in a bag for future blended drinks.

The avocado stabilizes the mixture well: the Frappuccino in the photo at the top of this post was made with avocado. Not surprisingly, the flavor of this one is a bit different than the standard version; I’d describe it as more full. It is still totally satisfying though.

Update:

Make it Mocha!

You can add some cocoa powder plus a bit more sweetener or chocolate syrup to make a Mocha Frappe. I’d recommend starting with the above recipes plus 1 Tbsp cocoa & 1 Tbsp sugar or 1.5 Tbsp chocolate syrup.


Did you enjoy this post?

Enter your email below to receive updates when new posts are published so you never miss new content. Emails are usually not more than once per week.

Or follow along on Twitter or Facebook: Twitter_logo Facebook_logo_29px


Comments

How to Make Frappuccino Blended Coffee Drinks — 5 Comments

  1. I make mine at home in the vitamin because I like to know what’s in my food, but also I add a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder. This makes it creamier and higher protein, like a meal replacement. I do the same with matcha instead of coffee to make a green tea frap.

  2. I just love your website, Thank you for all you do to keep us healthy. I cook, so I know how many hours you spend doing this. While I’m not a vegan or vegetarian I do love the way one considers food differently when you are. Veggies have always been my favorite food, along with nuts, so these recipes are such a blessing.

    Cheers,
    Lynn Cardi

  3. After really enjoying this recipe, I tried a chocolate version. I used cocoa powder and sweetener in the amounts I use for hot chocolate, but with half milk/half water. Outstanding as well. Thanks for sharing the secret.

  4. Just made a double batch of this today. Very good recipe! I was able to find xanthan gum at one of our local grocery stores that carries a large amount of the Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods products. They offer an 8 oz package of xanthan gum. Just hoping that the package lasts as the amount needed for the recipe is quite small.

    • Awesome! My understanding is that as long as you keep it dry, xanthan gum should last at least a year, and probably multiple years. I gave half of mine to my mother because you’re right—recipes like this don’t use much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *