How to Order Vegan Drinks at Starbucks

It’s no secret that Starbucks drinks aren’t made with real caramel or fresh fruit. Each Frappuccino, a sweet and refreshing latte, gets its signature flavor from concentrated syrups, sauces and powdered mixes. However, not all Starbucks syrups and sauces are dairy-free, and that can be confusing. Example: caramel syrup is vegan, but caramel sauce is not. Here’s everything you need to know about these flavor enhancers so you can order with confidence the next time you walk into a Starbucks.


Are Starbucks syrups vegan?

Starbucks drinks down to a formula, creating a perfectly crafted product by combining caffeine with a sweet approximation of vanilla, caramel nut, or chocolate. In a way, the artificial roots of these sweeteners are a boon for vegans because they recreate the taste of dairy foods without using dairy. Here are your options for dairy-free syrups and sauces at Starbucks:

1 mocha sauce

The key to any Starbucks chocolate drink, whether it’s mocha or hot chocolate, is a few pumps of that thick, chocolatey sauce. It is used to flavor drinks and is often drizzled for an extra splash of deep chocolate flavor.

Pro tip: For a sweet ending, ask your barista for a pump of mocha sauce at the bottom of a dairy-free Coffee Frappuccino. That last sweet sip is similar to finding the chocolate center at the end of a Trader Joe’s mini ice cream cone.

2 Strawberry puree sauce

This fruity and thick sauce is present in the Strawberry Crème Frappuccino. It’s made with real strawberry puree, white grape juice concentrate, xanthan gum, citric acid, and fruit and vegetable-based food coloring.

Pro tip: You can make the Strawberry Crème Frappuccino vegan by ordering it with oat, almond, coconut or soy milk and not asking for whipped cream.

3 Coffee Frappuccino Syrup

Yes, in addition to espresso, Starbucks adds coffee flavored syrup to select beverages. Just kiss her.

Pro tip: For a caffeine-free treat that still tastes like coffee, order a Decaffeinated Coffee Frappuccino with your favorite plant-based milk.

4 Frappuccino Cream Syrup

In full transparency, we can’t really tell what this syrup looks like or what it’s used for, except that it’s found in Frappuccinos made with caffeine-free cream. We know, however, that he is completely vegan.

Pro tip: We do not recommend adding it to a drink without complementary syrup. It’s sickeningly sweet on its own.

5 Classic syrup

In other words, it is simple syrup, the same thing used to sweeten cocktails. It’s used in everything from Frappuccinos to iced coffee. Simple syrup has no flavor other than sweet, so use it sparingly.

Pro tip: Baristas typically use three pumps of syrups for a tall glass. For a less sweet option, ask for one or two, tops.

6 vanilla powder

Granted, it’s not a syrup or sauce, but it’s a common flavoring agent found in top-selling drinks such as Caffé Vanilla Frappuccino. Fun fact: it’s not that artificial. It really contains vanilla bean.

Pro tip: Ask for a scoop of vanilla powder in a dairy-free hot chocolate for a more complex flavor.

seven Matcha tea blend

Luckily, there are no hidden animal-derived ingredients in Starbucks Matcha. The mix does contain sugar though, so it’s not quite for matcha purists.

Pro tip: If you haven’t hopped on the matcha train yet, this sweet version can be a tasty first step if you want to get into matcha like the cool kids.

8 Chocolate malt powder

Malt traditionally contains dairy, but in a plant-based kick, Starbucks launched this new ingredient without using animal products. You’ll find it in summer’s new favorite drink: Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso. It’s a long story to say, but it’s one of our first favorite drinks in a long time.

Pro tip: If you like a less sweet drink, keep the same amount of malt powder, but ask for an extra shot of espresso. In our humble opinion, this is the perfect ratio of coffee flavor to chocolate flavor.

9 Flavored syrups

Ready for the list? These vegan syrups can be added to any drink for a hint or a tidal wave of sweet flavoring. They include Dolce Cinnamon, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Hazelnut, Peppermint, Raspberry, Caramel Nut, Caramel and Sugar Free Vanilla.

Pro tip: Although not promoted, Starbucks offers peppermint year-round. Good to know if you’re craving a dairy-free peppermint mocha in July.

ten Flavored Refreshing Bases

Every fruity Starbucks refreshing base, from the pink drink to the new Paradise drink, is vegan. They contain a blend of water, sugar, natural flavors, citric acid, natural green coffee flavor, white grape juice concentrate and Rebaudioside-a, an artificial sweetener derived from stevia, but 240 times sweeter.

Pro tip: Remember that refreshments contain caffeine!


What’s not vegan at Starbucks?

Ordering vegan at Starbucks often comes with necessary customizations. Here are the sauces to avoid:

1 Caramel sauce / drizzle

Stay away from drinks containing this sauce. You can also request that the caramel sauce be replaced with caramel syrup inside your drink.

2 White chocolate mocha sauce

Like most white chocolates, this sauce contains dairy products. Sorry, old white chocolate mocha lovers. At Starbucks, stick to regular mocha.

3 Chai tea concentrate

Alas, look for the chai elsewhere. This spicy concoction contains honey. It is found in both Chai Crème Frappuccino and Chai Latte.

4 Honey mix

Found in Honey Almond Flat White as well as any seasonal honey-flavored drink, this blend contains real honey.

5 Pumpkin Spice Sauce

After years of consumer outrage when the secret was revealed that Starbucks’ cult Pumpkin Spice Latte didn’t contain pumpkin, the company pivoted and added pumpkin puree. Unfortunately, Starbucks didn’t omit dairy while changing the recipe, keeping the Pumpkin Spice Latte out of reach for vegan customers. But if you’re in the UK, you have the green light, because UK Starbucks’ PSL is dairy-free when ordered with plant-based milk. In the USA ? When fall rolls around, seek out Peet’s Coffee for a taste of this iconic beverage.

6 Sweet cream

Introduced to add a subtle sweetness to the coffee chain’s line of cold brews, this creamy stuff is non-vegan and made with dairy-based cream. Each flavor iteration – Sweet Cream, Irish Cream, Vanilla and Salted Caramel – all contain dairy. When ordering cold brew or nitro, it is best to taste it black.

Which Starbucks Toppings Are Not Vegan?

1 Whipped cream

Sometimes it is necessary to state the obvious. Starbucks has made great strides in providing a blend of non-dairy milk options (soy, coconut, almond, and oats), but the company has yet to introduce vegan whipped cream. However, hope is on the horizon. In September, the company teased a plant-based whipped cream made from… wait… lentils. No sign of his return in the summer of 2022, but we are looking.

2 Frappuccino Chips

Found in Double Chocolatey Chip and Java Chip Frappuccinos, these chocolate chip pieces contain milk. Omit them to vegetate these drinks.

3 Cinnamon dolce filling

Made exclusively for the warming Cinnamon Dolce Latte, this edible drink set is non-vegan – it contains buttery extracts made from cow’s milk. Vegans can still enjoy this drink year-round by ordering it with plant-based milk, no whipped cream, and no toppings. The syrup used to make the drink is flavorful enough to produce an exceptional pick-me-up.


Vegan toppings and supplements at Starbucks

While there are some restrictions on the types of supplements you can get at Starbucks, there are also a few choices for herbal supplements.

1 Caramel sugar filling

This crispy and caramelized powder is vegan! Ask it on a hot drink that has foam in it – it just dissolves if there’s nothing to suspend it over the drink. Try it on a warm caramel nut latte made with your favorite dairy-free milk.

2 Cookie crumble

Tossed in the Java Chip Frappuccino (which can be veganized by not asking for Frappuccino Chips or a whisk), these tiny cookie pieces are accidentally vegan. Whether we should consume cookies in our coffee is an entirely different discussion.

3 Freeze-dried fruits

A staple of refreshing beverages, all Starbucks freeze-dried fruit is free of animal-derived ingredients, so you can combine them however you like.

For more vegan drink guides, read:
The Essential Guide to Starbucks Summer Drinks
How to Order Summer Drinks at Peet’s Coffee and Tea
The 5 Best Vegan Milks for Making Lattes at Home

Vote for the 2022 awards for the best vegan ice cream in the United States.


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