How to make Starbucks-Style Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam

If you’ve ever been to a chain barista place, you’ve tasted the vanilla sweet cream cold foam made famous by Starbucks. This elegant drink topping is made with nonfat milk and vanilla syrup, with the idea that the milk will seep into the drink while the foam sits at the top.

Sounds luxurious, doesn’t it?

Classic Vanilla Sweet Cream Iced coffee with Vanilla Sweet cream cold foam on top

That’s why below, we’re going to explore some of the best ways you can copy Starbucks’ foam recipe at home, with nothing but a container of half-and-half, some vanilla syrup (and some ice if you’re the ice-coffee type).

First, what is cold foam?

Cold foam is a chilled dairy topping made famous by everybody’s favorite coffee place. Order a cup of ice coffee with foam, and it sits on top of the coffee and seeps into the drink slowly, giving it that gradual vanilla flavor (and gives you one of those cute little milk mustaches you see on TV).

Plain cold foam, however, doesn’t contain any vanilla extract or syrup from the get-go. Instead, the vanilla syrup is added when you ask for sweet vanilla cold foam. The best part is that both plain cold foam and sweet vanilla cold foam are made from recipes that can easily be copied at home.

What are the ingredients used for sweet vanilla cold foam?

The cold foam on a vanilla latte makes the drink genuinely memorable. You can also make the foamy topping on its own, which looks great in a glass jar. Add a few tablespoons of this to your latte, or just drink it by itself. Some people even use it in their iced coffee in place of cream.

Making your vanilla cold foam at home requires four easy-to-get ingredients you can find in most supermarkets:

  1. Vanilla Syrup: One of the essential parts of vanilla syrup is what gives it that not-overly-sweet taste of vanilla that makes this drink topping work. You can even make your vanilla syrup at home: mix equal amounts of sugar and water (we’re talking small amounts, about 70ml here) and about a teaspoon of vanilla extract from the grocery store.
  2. Heavy Cream: The best would be heavy whipping cream or just going for a container of half-and-half (mixture of equal parts whole milk and cream) to take the headache off your shoulders. Remember, though, that heavy whipping cream, while a little more expensive, will turn out the best.
  3. Milk: The foundation of the cold foam recipe. You can use any brand or type of milk, (except soy milk, that’s a straight-up no), but we’d recommend going for a standard 2% off-the-market shelf. 
  4. Sugar: Plain old sugar. You’re bound to have some at home, right? 

Now, there’s some wiggle room in there. You can add extra sugar if you’re used to adding sweetener to your drinks, or use one of those healthy fruit sweeteners like Stevia or Monk Fruit.

Making the Sweet Cream Cold Foam

Step 1: Make sure you have the right equipment 

We weren’t kidding when we said sweet vanilla cold foam was easy to make at home. However, you’ll need one of two different pieces of equipment: a French press (which is ideal for making foam and produces the best results) or a hand frother (which is the more cost-effective option).

Both are equally good, but it’s worth noting that a French press is usually worth the price. It’s the premium tool for making cold foam at home and does the entire job in just a few minutes.

Step 2: Combine the ingredients

People using a French press can just pour the ingredients into their press and move on to the next step. 

But if you’re using a hand frother, taking the time to mix your ingredients first helps your foam be smoother. Just pour the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract into a small jar. Screw the lid in and shake vigorously to combine the ingredients.

Step 3: Start making the foam.

Now that your mixture’s ready grasp the handle of your French press or hand frother and start making the foam. A French press takes about 30 seconds of moving the little handle on the side up and down, and a hand frother about the same. The latter’s a little harder to use, though. 

Using a whisk for the same results

Hand frother, French press, all of that sounds complicated, right? You’ll be glad to know that there’s a more straightforward way to make cold foam, too (we indeed were), and all you’ll need are the same ingredients and a regular whisk. Here’s a simple way to make cold foam with a whisk:

  1. Pour your heavy cream, 2% milk, sugar, and vanilla syrup this time into a large bowl. 
  2. Blend for a minute or two until it thickens. The texture should look cloudy and foamy- precisely what you want to see on top of your morning coffee.
  3. A great tip is to whip the heavy cream first until it thickens, and then add the milk, syrup, and sugar while slowly whisking. Otherwise, the milk and cream settle in different places. 

Serving Sizes for Cold Foam

Typically, you want to use ¼ cup of sweet vanilla cold foam per cup of coffee. That number will change a little depending on the size of the cup, though: large mugs can take as much as a ½ cup of sweet vanilla cold foam. Just pour it on the top with a teaspoon; if your foam’s thick enough, it’ll rest there at the top while the cream seeps into your coffee. 

Where to Use Your Cold Foam

This part’s way more a personal choice than anything else. That’s because if it’s cold and somewhat sweet (or even if it isn’t), the cold foam will go great with the drink. The list goes on and on, but here are some of the highlights for us:

  1. Plain iced coffee: It’s the morning, and the only thing getting you out of bed is the thought of a cup of coffee. Shake things up by putting your pot in the fridge while you freshen up, and then add a generous serving of cold foam on top of the coffee. The foam stays on top while the milk seeps into the drink, creating an experience nothing short of heavenly.
  1. Soft drink floats: You’ve seen them before, right? Usually, it’s a glass of Coke with a serving of vanilla ice cream on top. Cold foam isn’t too different; for some people, it’s way better. Put a serving of sweet vanilla cold foam on top of a glass of Coke with dinner, and it’s like eating out at an old ’90s diner!
  1. Iced tea with cold foam: This one’s a little controversial, but the fans of iced milk tea out there (yes, all five of them!) will love a little scoop of sweet vanilla foam on top of their cuppa tea. Here’s a tip: since most tea is already made with sugar, you probably won’t want to add extra sweetener to this one. 

Storing Your Cold Foam: The How-to’s You Need to Know

You’ll need a jar to store your cold foam. To make sure you get that perfect thickness, follow these steps: 

  1. Pour the heavy cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract or sugar into the jar, and put it into the fridge.
  2. This will usually keep for a whole week. When you want some cold foam on your coffee, pour some of the mixtures into another cup and whisk until it thickens. 

More Recipes:
Vanilla sweet cream nitro cold brew

Recipe Card for Sweet Cream Cold Foam

Sweet Cream Cold Foam

Course Drinks
Calories 253 kcal


  • Mixing Bowl
  • French press/ Hand Frother/ Whisk
  • Storage Jar
  • Teaspoon


  • 200ml of heavy cream
  • 120ml of 2% milk of your choice
  • 70ml of vanilla syrup/ 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar


  • Pour the heavy cream into a large bowl.
  • Whisk or beat the mixture until it thickens into a cloudy texture. 
  • Slowly add the milk, sugar, and vanilla syrup into the bowl while slowly whisking.
  • Continue whisking for another half a minute until it takes a soft, cloudy texture. 
  • Your sweet vanilla cold foam’s ready! Use ¼ – ½ cup foam per cup of coffee. 
  • Store mixture in a jar for up to a week, pour into another cup, and whisk until it’s ready to use.


  • You can spice up your morning iced coffee with more than just foam. Crushed ice cubes give your iced coffee with cold foam a slushie-like texture. 
  • Don’t use mixtures older than a week to get the best texture from your foam. Make sure to store the mixture in your fridge too!
Keyword Sweet Cream Cold Foam

I'm a coffee lover, foodie, and blogger - passionate about coffee and all the things that go with it. I write about coffee, and news, learn about new coffees from across the world, do some home roasting, and share my thoughts on various other topics.