Starbucks Sauce vs. Syrup: Which one should you choose for your drink?

Although I am a coffee enthusiast, I am not a fan of the bitter taste of a Starbucks cup, so I always enjoy asking for extra condiments to personalize my coffee; it also helps that I love experimenting with foods and drinks.

Chances are high that you may also wonder about the differences between Starbucks syrups and sauces, how they affect your drinks, and which option works better for certain drinks over others. Based on my experience, I will answer these questions and give you a better idea of what to add the next time you make your order.

What are the differences between Starbucks sauce vs. syrup?


Starbucks sauce

Starbucks syrup


Sugar, water, flavoring, puree, condensed milk/heavy cream/honey, potassium sorbate (preservative)

Sugar, natural flavors, water, citric acid, potassium sorbate (preservative)

Taste profile

Very sweet and rich profile, with specific taste dependent on the flavor

Sweet and thin profile, with specific taste dependent on the flavor


High viscosity and very thick

Versatile, and fluid liquid

Nutritional value (calories per pump)

30 calories

20 calories


You cannot purchase them from Starbucks, though you can buy comparable brands

You can purchase them from Starbucks to use at home

Vegan options

A few are vegan, many contain honey or dairy for added thickness

Most syrups are vegan, the thicker ones may or may not contain dairy

Starbucks sauce vs. syrup – How they compare

Starbucks Sauce vs. Syrup


The ingredient lists of both sauces and syrups are quite simple. However, the sauce adds slightly more ingredients, namely cow’s milk and/or honey. Seasonal sauces such as the pumpkin spice sauce may also include puree and condensed milk. The result is the improvement of flavors in anything you put them in, including non-Starbucks products like ice creams and chocolates.

On the other hand, syrups have a lighter, thinner consistency due to the use of sugar and water in their ingredients. They also have potassium sorbate and citric acid for preservation as well as flavorings to achieve the classic tastes that customers want.

It is difficult to pick a winner here, but the syrup wins here due to the fewer ingredients in use that are mostly safe for vegans and lactose-intolerant individuals.

Taste profile

Starbucks syrups tend to have a sweet and thin taste profile, with the specific taste dependent on flavor. The flavors you can get include sugar-free vanilla (the only sugar-free option currently available), Cinnamon Dolce, Mocha, Hazelnut, Toffee Nut, Funnel Cake, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Classic, Pineapple Ginger, Raspberry, Caramel, Almond, Gingerbread, and Peppermint.

Sauces at Starbucks have a dense, creamy, and rich flavor, with the specific taste dependent on the flavor you order; it is worth noting that many of their options tend to be seasonal. These sauces include Mocha, Caramel, White Chocolate Mocha, Dark Caramel, and Pistachio, with seasonal options including Caramel Brulée and Pumpkin Spice.

If you want variety in flavors, syrups are the way to go. Their taste profile is lighter than sauces, but they have a greater variety of tastes and options for vegans and dairy-free consumers.


Sauces have a thicker consistency due to the thickening ingredients of dairy or honey, which are also responsible for their richer taste. Their consistency makes them a challenge to use in most cold drinks because they tend to clump at the bottom and change the drink’s texture. However, they work excellently in hot drinks as the higher temperatures will allow for efficient blending and dissolving.

Starbucks syrups have a fluid consistency that allows them to work well in hot and cold drinks, as well as non-drink options like ice creams and cakes. Keep in mind that they will tend to dissolve in hot drinks, so it is best to use them in cold ones because they will preserve the flavors in the coffee or tea.

Syrups are the best choice for consistency because they are versatile enough to work for multiple products.

Nutritional value

The nutritional value here is in terms of calories, with syrups containing an average of 20 calories per pump and sauces containing an average of 30 calories per pump. These calories are mainly due to the sugar content in both cases, and the sauces are more on the calorie count due to the addition of dairy, honey, puree, and/or condensed milk.

Syrups are the healthier choice due to their lower calorie count, but you must be mindful of their sugar content, which tends to be quite high. Both are best consumed in moderation.


Sauces are difficult to purchase from Starbucks unless you buy them from specific retailers. Syrups are more widely available, and you can also make them at home if you want to recreate Starbucks-style drinks.

Syrups are more widely available, making them the winner of this round.

Vegan options

Starbucks syrups are mostly vegan-friendly, with a wide range of options catering to people following Keto and vegan diets, as well as lactose-intolerant individuals. These vegan syrups consist of both regional and seasonal options, and they include Toffee Nut, Caramel, Peach, Mocha, Macadamia, Gingerbread, Hazelnut, and Almond. Before ordering a vegan option, always check with the barista to ensure the drink and its toppings fit your needs.

Most Starbucks sauces, on the other hand, do not offer vegan-friendly options – even the seasonal options like the Caramel Brulée, because they mainly contain honey or cow’s milk. The only vegan sauce you can get is Mocha.

The syrup wins by a clear landslide because of the vast array of vegan-friendly options on offer.

Starbucks sauce vs. syrup: A comparison overview

Starbucks syrup – Overview

Starbucks Sauce

Syrups are a sort of “default” option that is included when you ask for flavoring in your drink unless you state otherwise. They work very well in multiple drinks, pastries, and baked items, as well as ice creams and even sparkling water. Similar to sauces, you only need them in small servings to achieve the flavor you want. They come in multiple flavors that you can also buy for DIY home use, and many are vegan-friendly except in certain options.

What I liked
  • Many options are vegan-friendly and do not include corn syrup in their ingredients
  • You can purchase identical flavors outside Starbucks stores
  • They can remain fresh at room temperature for months
  • Work well for cold drinks, pastries, and hot drinks
What I didn’t like
  • Very high in sugar, so use them sparingly
Who it’s best suited for

Because of their watery consistency, they are easy to mix with cold and hot beverages alike, and you can also add them to ice cream, cakes, and pastries to improve the aroma and flavor.

Starbucks sauce – Overview

Starbucks Syrup

This condiment adds body and intense flavor to a drink due to its characteristic thickness and viscosity. The drinks they are mostly added to include Hot Cocoa, Cappuccinos, Frappuccino Blended Coffee, most Caffé Mochas, and certain iced drinks like the Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte. When adding them to your order, you can find them in the Starbucks menu flavor section, though specific flavors will depend on the store you are ordering from.

What I liked
  • They use natural ingredients, so they are of high quality
  • Very creamy texture and sweet taste that works well in hot drinks
  • They have a very strong aroma and flavor, so you do not need to use much to improve the flavor of your drink
What I didn’t like
  • Most sauces are not vegan-friendly, as they use dairy and honey to thicken their consistency
  • You cannot purchase them for DIY drinks and pastries outside of certain suppliers
  • Do not go well with most cold drinks and pastries
Who it’s best suited for

Due to their thick, rich, and dense texture, they are best suited to hot beverages, as well as certain cakes, pastries, and ice creams. However, they do not work for cold beverages because they will clump inside the drink.

Final verdict: So, which is better? Starbucks sauce or syrup?

If you want versatility in your topping options, syrups are the better choice because they are mostly dairy-free and vegan-friendly. They also come in a wide range of flavors and options to add some interesting elements to your order, and they work well with both drinks and pastries.


What is the difference between sauces and syrups at Starbucks?

The main difference is in their consistency. Syrups have a thinner, watery consistency that works for both cold and hot drinks (though they are best in cold drinks), while sauces have a thick consistency that works better in hot drinks.

What goes better with cold coffee between Starbucks sauce and syrup?

Cold coffee always works best with Starbucks syrups because they preserve its flavor and distribute evenly without the clumping issues that happen with sauces or sugar.

Are Starbucks sauces and syrups used interchangeably at Starbucks?

Not in all instances – it is mainly in pastries and baked goods, as well as certain cold drinks, where they can be used interchangeably, despite sharing many of the same ingredients.

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