Starbucks Sauce vs Syrup: Flavor, Texture, & Versatility

Last updated on September 30th, 2023 by Alex Praytor

starbucks sauce vs syrup

A good cup of coffee has a deliciously rich, well-balanced flavor with a distinct aroma. Many coffee lovers bring out the flavor of this popular hot drink with a splash of cream or a spoonful of sugar at home.

However, at Starbucks, the sky is the limit with the varied drink options available on the menu. For sweet flavored coffees, you can choose from a variety of sauces, and syrups to make your ordinary coffee drink extraordinary. 

The words “sauce” and “syrup” are often used interchangeably by bloggers and customers when referring to Starbucks drink ingredients. However, when you compare a Starbucks sauce Vs. syrup, you should notice distinct differences in texture, viscosity, calorie count, and flavor.

Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between Starbucks sauces and syrups so you can choose (or create!) the best drink option the next time you order at Starbucks.

What is Starbucks sauce?

What is Starbucks sauce
Add sauces to add flavor and texture to your coffee drink.
Photo by Aliona Gumeniuk

Starbucks sauces have a thick viscosity and add body to coffee drinks. They are generally too thick to dissolve in cold drinks, so you don’t see sauces as the main sweetener in a cold brew recipe.

Instead, Starbucks sauces are used to line cold cups for Frappuccino drinks, whipped into a cold foam, used as a “drizzle” topping, blended into Frappuccinos, or pumped into hot drinks. 

While Starbucks sauces are best for hot drinks and toppings, you can order iced latte, iced macchiato, iced mocha, or iced cappuccino flavored with a sauce. Before adding ice, the barista adds the flavored sauce directly to the hot espresso shot so it melds seamlessly into your coffee drink recipe. 

Starbucks sauces include flavors such as:

  • Mocha Sauce
  • White Chocolate Mocha Sauce
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Dark Caramel Sauce
  • Pumpkin Spice Sauce
  • White Chocolate Mint Sauce
  • and Pistachio Sauce

These can be pumped into drinks or put in a squeezable bottle for a drizzle topping.

Are Starbucks sauces Vegan?

Most of these sauces are not vegan because they include whipping cream, butter, another dairy milk derivative, or honey in the recipe. In fact, the only vegan sauce currently at Starbucks is Mocha Sauce.

Most Starbucks sauces are not available in a sugar-free option either; however, you can ask for sugar-free Mocha Sauce at Starbucks.

Starbucks sauce calories

Depending on which sauce you choose, one pump can add 25 calories or as many as 60 calories to your drink. For reference, a tall Mocha includes three pumps of sauce, a grande uses four pumps, a venti includes five pumps, and an iced venti has six pumps.

What is Starbucks syrup?

What is Starbucks syrup
Try different syrups and explore coffee flavors.
Photo by Kristian Angelo

Unlike Starbucks sauce, Starbucks syrup has a much lighter texture. These syrups also come in a wider variety of flavors, including:

  • Classic
  • Vanilla
  • Brown Sugar
  • Toasted Vanilla
  • Caramel
  • Cinnamon Dolce
  • Toffeenut
  • Macadamia
  • Peppermint
  • Chestnut Praline
  • Honey Blend
  • Sugar-Free Vanilla
  • and lots more!

Starbucks syrups are often the main flavor ingredient in lattes, macchiatos, and cold brews

Are Starbucks syrups Vegan?

Vegan-friendly syrup options include:

  • Cinnamon Dolce
  • Vanilla
  • Brown Sugar
  • Hazelnut
  • Peppermint
  • Raspberry
  • Peppermint
  • Toffee Nut
  • and Caramel. 

Sugar-free Vanilla Syrup and Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce Syrup are the two sugar-free syrup options at Starbucks. Sugar-free peppermint syrup at Starbucks is discontinued and no longer available.

Starbucks syrup calories

The calories in Starbucks syrups range from 10 to 21 calories per pump depending on the syrup. Most flavored hot drinks contain three pumps of syrup for a tall size, four pumps for a grande size, and five pumps for a venti size. 

Where to buy Starbucks syrups and sauces

Where to buy Starbucks syrups and sauces
Where can you buy different syrups and sauces to add to your coffee drink?
Photo by Hiroko Nishimura

To make Starbucks drinks at home, you can purchase authentic Starbucks syrups in-store. You may not find bottles of syrup on shelves next to Starbucks coffees, cold cups, mugs, and other merch.

However, if you ask a Starbucks barista, they can let you know which syrups are available for purchase. 

Starbucks syrups come in one-liter bottles. You can also ask to purchase a pump to make it easier to portion the syrups for recipes. Sauces and seasonal syrups are not usually available for purchase. 

You can also find Starbucks-brand syrups online. However, these often have a different taste than the syrups you find in-store. You won’t find Starbucks sauces online, but if you look closely at the sauces Starbucks uses, you may find that they are supplied by the Fontana brand. (Shh! That’s an insider secret!)

Flavors of Starbucks sauces and syrups 

how to find best coffee syrups
There is no shortage of syrup and sauce flavors to try at Starbucks!
Photo by Victor Rutka

While there is some overlap between Starbucks sauces and syrups, most sauces and syrups have entirely different flavor profiles. 

For example, Starbucks uses a pumpkin spice sauce to create their famous Pumpkin Spice Latte, however, there is no corresponding syrup. Likewise, mocha sauce does not come in syrup form, and you can’t find a vanilla-flavored sauce.

Even Starbucks mint flavor comes in two different forms: White Chocolate Mint Sauce, or Peppermint Syrup.

Caramel is the one Starbucks flavor that comes in both sauce and syrup form. So, when should you use the syrup and when should you use the sauce? Here’s how Starbucks does it…

Starbucks Caramel Sauce Vs. Caramel Syrup

You may be surprised to learn that Starbucks drinks such as Starbucks’ famous Caramel Macchiato and Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew use vanilla syrup as the main sweetener. The Caramel Macchiato is simply topped with Caramel Sauce drizzle, while the Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew uses Caramel Syrup as an ingredient in the cold foam topping. 

The Cinnamon Caramel Cream Cold Brew is sweetened with pumps of Cinnamon Caramel Syrup, the Caramel Frappuccino® Blended Beverage uses Caramel Syrup, and Starbucks Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino® Blended Beverage uses Dark Caramel Sauce for a more potent caramel flavor. 

Best Starbucks syrup combos

Starbucks sauces can add rich decadence to your regular coffee, while Starbucks syrups can add light sweetness and flavor. You can try a classic flavored drink from the menu, or create drink recipes by combining syrups and sauces. 

As a former Starbucks barista (and current customer), my favorite flavor combinations are Caramel Syrup and Mocha Sauce, Hazelnut Syrup and White Chocolate Mocha, or Hazelnut Syrup and Dark Caramel Sauce.

If you enjoy trying new coffee flavors, you can also check out Starbucks Secret Menu drinks and Starbucks TikTok recipes for inspiration. These exotic, fun-filled drinks include delicious combinations of syrups and sauces that will make your mouth water.

Speaking of fun, do you have your own favorite funny coffee memes? Here are some of my favorites!

Differences between Starbucks sauce vs syrup (At a glance)

Differences between Starbucks sauce and syrup
Seasonal Starbucks drinks are a must-try!
Photo by quan le

After looking at some of the key characteristics of Starbucks sauce vs syrup, there are clear differences between these two flavored sweeteners: 

  • Starbucks sauces are thicker than Starbucks syrups.
  • Starbucks syrups mix into iced coffee drinks more smoothly than sauces.
  • Starbucks sauces contain more calories than Starbucks syrups.
  • Starbucks syrups come in a wider variety of flavors.
  • You can buy Starbucks syrups from a Starbucks store; however, you cannot buy Starbucks brand sauces.
  • There are several vegan syrup options; however, the only vegan sauce is Mocha Sauce.

Final Thoughts

Starbucks sauces add body to hot drinks, make delicious toppings for cold drinks, and add a rich base to Frappuccinos. In contrast, Starbucks syrups blend nicely into cold coffee drinks and cold foam toppings. 

You can find a variety of syrups and sauces on the regular menu to sweeten your drink or wait patiently for seasonal options to come out. You can also create your own combos to achieve a festive flavor. 

Let us know what your favorite flavored drink at Starbucks is!

Was that yummy? Looking for more Starbucks Drinks ideas? Check out our list of favorite Starbucks beverages to try out!


Do you use caramel sauce or syrup for coffee?

Caramel syrup can blend nicely into cold or frozen drinks but doesn’t have enough body to top a drink. Caramel sauce doesn’t blend easily into iced coffee drinks.

However, it can add a rich base to a hot coffee drink or blended Frappuccino. If you want to copy a Caramel Macchiato recipe at home, you can use vanilla syrup as a sweetener with a caramel sauce drizzle on top. 

What’s in Starbucks Signature Breakfast Sandwich sauce?

Starbucks Signature Breakfast Sandwich is a yummy combination of smoked bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato relish, and Cheddar cheese. But what’s the fancy sauce they use to top it? This breakfast sandwich uses a bechamel sauce, which is a type of gravy that generally contains butter, flour, milk, and seasonings.

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