Remember all those times you swooned over a new seasonal drink at Starbucks, and then you found out it’s not vegan? Enter: Starbucks’ “secret” menu, which allows you to mix and match its various milks, syrups, powders, and add-ins to create a drink sans animal ingredients. Canadian Starbucks lover and vegan Kaylin Lynett has customized the following hush-hush holiday drinks after thoroughly researching the ingredient lists of the popular coffee company’s options. Often, it’s just one aspect of a Starbucks drink that isn’t vegan (such as the java chips, caramel sauce, or cinnamon dolce topping, all of which contain dairy), but the drink can be made vegan by taking advantage of the chain’s secret menu to create your own. “Unfortunately, many baristas do not know which drinks contain milk or honey, as such, I highly recommend reading [the ingredients] for yourself on the website,” Lynett told VegNews. “Every time I see a new drink on the menu, I do this to learn if it is vegan on its own or if I need to make some modifications to veganize the drink.”
To order these secret (but not-so-secret) menu items, you’ll need to explain to your barista exactly what you want in it, rather than just ordering the drink by name. For all of these drinks, be sure to pass on the whipped-cream topper, which contains dairy.
1. Butterscotch Latte
The flavors of this classic holiday flavor is achieved with sweet caramel and toffee nut to create the ultimate seasonal beverage. Order a plain Latte (which is vegan) made with non-dairy milk, and ask for equal parts of caramel and toffee nut syrup and no whip.
2. Coffee Cake Latte
Starbucks doesn’t offer a coffee cake latte, so why not create one? Order a Cafe Latte made with almond milk. Ask for an extra espresso shot, three pumps of cinnamon dolce syrup, three pumps of toffee nut syrup, and one pump of vanilla syrup.
3. Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino
Just imagine the comforting fragrance of freshly baked cinnamon rolls, and pack that directly into a reusable Starbucks cup. Order a Vanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino made with non-dairy milk (coconut would be fun) and ask your barista to add cinnamon dolce syrup.
4. Vegan Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Starbucks offers a pumpkin spice latte for a limited time during the holiday season, but sadly, it isn’t vegan (unless you live in Europe). Don’t fret, because you can make your own. Order a Cinnamon Dolce Latte made with almond milk. Ask your barista to add pumpkin spice topping before adding the foamed milk.
5. Candy Cane Latte
Instead of sucking on those sickly sweet (yet totally vegan) striped peppermint sticks, why not consume one in liquid form? Order a Cafe Latte with scoops of vanilla bean powder made with non-dairy milk, and ask for a pump of peppermint syrup.
6. Snickerdoodle Latte
Treat yourself to a batch of sweet cinnamon-sugar cookies with this snicker-loaded latte. Order a Caramel Latte made with non-dairy milk but be sure to ask for no caramel sauce topping. Instead, add one pump of cinnamon dolce syrup.
7. Nutella Cafe Misto
Transport yourself to childhood when you ate Nutella from a spoon with each sip of this steamy chocolate-hazelnut beverage. Order a Cafe Misto made with non-dairy milk. Ask for one pump each of caramel syrup, mocha sauce, and hazelnut syrup.
8. S’mores Hot Chocolate
Combine the best of summer (hello, s’mores!) and winter (hey there, hot chocolate!) with this decadent hot drink. Order a classic Hot Chocolate made with non-dairy milk. Ask for one pump each of toffee nut syrup and cinnamon dolce syrup.
Nicole Axworthy is the Associate News Editor of VegNews and a big fan of sweet Starbucks drinks.
Want more of today’s best plant-based news, recipes, and lifestyle?
Get our award-winning magazine!