For lovers of coffee and pastries, the Starbucks® holiday launch 2023 is one of the most highly anticipated days of the season. Each year, the menu gets a makeover to welcome new holiday additions or welcome back well-loved, festive favorites from years before.
Ready to sip the season? Join us as we explore the seasonal Starbucks® holiday drinks, cult-favorite cups, and tasty holiday-themed treats—plus, tips for turning your top picks into low-calorie Starbucks® holiday drinks!
Starbucks® Holiday Launch 2023
For many, Starbucks® is more than a coffee chain—it’s a way of life. This becomes especially true when holiday drinks hit the menu. Plus, brightly-designed holiday cups make the drinks seem even more festive (if that’s somehow even possible)!
When holiday flavors hit the menu, it can be tricky to tell what’s new and always there. Between toppings, syrups, and even more customizable ingredients, deciding what to add and leave off can be challenging.
To make matters even more complicated, there are multiple sizes to choose from! Luckily, you can choose a beverage that aligns with your lifestyle and health goals with simple tips.
Tasty Holiday Treats
In addition to delicious holiday drinks, Starbucks® also offers pastries and treats to pair your drink with. Returning favorites include:
• Cranberry Bliss® Bar
• Gingerbread Loaf
• Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop
• Snowman Cookie
• Sugar Plum Cheese Danish
Remember that these treats may not necessarily be “healthy,” but as part of a balanced diet, they can be consumed healthily. Try opting for the smallest size possible or counting your drink and treat combo as your dessert for the day.
Returning Starbucks® Holiday Drinks
Out in with the old…Returning seasonal favorites! Read on for drinks so good, Starbucks® had to bring them back, including peppermint mocha, caramel brulée latte, chestnut praline latte, and more!
Caramel Brulée Latte
Brulée refers to a “burnt” (hardened) layer of sugar on top of a sweet, creamy dessert. Reminiscent of toffee, Starbucks® Caramel Brulée does not disappoint. It captures the caramelized sugar flavor by combining espresso roast, steamed milk, and caramel brulée sauce.
It’s typically topped with caramel brulée bits and whipped cream, although you can ask for no bits, “light whipped cream,” or “no whipped cream” to cut down on calories, sugar, and fat. To keep calories at a manageable level, under 250, order a Short (8 fl oz). To further reduce sugar content, you can ask for one pump of caramel brulée sauce instead of two.
As with most returning favorites, this brulée beverage is available hot, iced, and as a Frappuccino blended beverage. Frappuccinos use a milk and ice blend to create a chilly version of this tasty drink.
Also keep in mind that while the Tall (12 fl oz) contains only about 20 calories more than the Short hot coffee version, it contains a couple more grams of sugar and fat.
Chestnut Praline Latte
Few foods evoke more of a Christmas-y feeling than “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” Like the Caramel Brulée Latte, the Chestnut Praline Latte uses a base of espresso roast and steamed milk. With hints of caramelized chestnuts and spices and a topping of whipped cream and spiced praline crumbs, it’s a perfect nod to the holiday season.
Similar to other holiday favorites, it’s available hot, iced, and as a Frappuccino blended beverage. Although higher in sugar, the Short size surprisingly contains only 190 calories. In line with the above advice, you can further decrease calories by leaving off the toppings, or asking for one pump of chestnut praline syrup instead of two.
Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte
The Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte is so well-loved that it’s returning for its third season. Although iced, it remains a favorite on the Starbucks® holiday menu, even when cold weather strikes. Its signature flavor comes from a blend of blonde espresso (lightly roasted coffee beans), almond milk, and sugar cookie flavored syrup poured over ice. Instead of whipped cream, it’s topped with festive red and green sprinkles!
It’s available hot and as a Frappuccino blended beverage, too, although the Frappuccino version can contain more than double the amount of sugar and fat as the iced coffee version. To keep calories on the lower side (150 calories), order a Grande (16 fl oz). If you’re looking for a less sugary drink, leave the sprinkles off, and ask for one or two pumps of sugar cookie syrup (instead of the four it usually comes with).
Another returning favorite, for over two decades, is the Peppermint Mocha, declared by Starbucks® as a “festive all-star” sure to “brighten the holidays.” It features an espresso steamed milk base, accompanied by both peppermint syrup and mocha sauce. Typically, it’s topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls, although you can leave toppings off to reduce calories.
The magical peppermint Mocha is available in hot, iced, and Frappuccino blended beverage form. Since it can be higher in sugar, you’ll want to order it in the smallest size possible. Ordering a Short for a hot coffee or a Tall in iced or as a Frappuccino blended beverage keeps calories at 310 or under.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
If you’re not a big coffee drinker, there are two festive favorites on the menu for you. Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Peppermint White Hot Chocolate are rumored to be available at some locations year-round, but for most stores, they appear on the holiday menu starting in early November.
The main difference between the regular Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Peppermint White Hot Chocolate is that the regular version uses chocolate mocha sauce. Conversely, the white chocolate version uses white chocolate mocha sauce.
By nature, hot chocolate tends to contain quite a bit of sugar. So, you may want to opt for a size Short, and ask for one pump of peppermint syrup instead of two. Like other drinks, you can also leave off the whipped cream and chocolate curls to make the number of calories more manageable.
The Newest Starbucks® Holiday Drinks
Wondering what’s new? Here are the most highly anticipated drinks of the year, both including oatmilk and some surprising ingredients.
Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai
A new frosty drink will be available this year called an Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai. Sure to be a favorite among those avoiding dairy, this oat milk-based beverage contains a blend of chai spices to create a tasty tea latte.
Surprisingly, some gingerbread flavor comes from a blend of warming spices in the pumpkin spice topping. In other words, this drink is perfect for the transition between winter and fall and an excellent pick for those not ready to part with pumpkin. Ordering a Tall will keep calories under 300.
Although it’s unavailable in hot coffee or Frappuccino form, you can try the old albeit delightful standby—the Gingerbread Latte—available hot or iced. Even though it was discontinued for a short time, it’s been on the menu for nearly 20 years. Like the Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai, the Gingerbread Latte combines gingerbread and pumpkin spice to create its signature flavor.
Oleato™ Gingerbread Oatmilk Latte
Especially exciting is Starbucks® new line of Oleato™ beverages, infused with Partanna® extra virgin olive oil, is especially exciting. While olive oil and coffee don’t sound like the most intuitive combination, adding this healthy fat creates a smoother taste.
The Oleato™ Gingerbread Oatmillk Latte uses a blonde espresso base and steamed milk to help create a gingerbread taste. In addition, it’s topped with a “dusting” of ginger and citrus.
Unfortunately, the Oleato™ drinks are only available at select Starbucks® stores. Using the Starbucks® store locator, you can find out if your local Starbucks® serves Oleato™, and it may be worth stopping for this intriguing blend on your holiday road trip. As the first Oleato™ holiday beverage, it’s making history!
The Oleato™ Gingerbread Oatmillk Latte is higher in fat, although many are healthy (thanks to the olive oil). It’s surprisingly low in sugar, with only 3 grams in a Short. The Short also keeps calories at 210.
Low-Calorie Starbucks® Holiday Drink Tips
Did you know you can still enjoy the holiday season (and year round) without gulping down the calories? With some simple tips, enjoy the healthiest Starbucks® drinks to satisfy any craving.
Skip the Whip
A tablespoon of whipped cream contains about 50 calories, and it’s easy to get carried away. When ordering your drink, asking for “light whipped cream” can help you keep calories under control. Alternatively, you can ask for “no whipped cream” to reduce the total calorie count of your drink.
Swap the Syrup
The added syrup (essentially added sugar) may be available in a sugar-free variety for some drinks. Ask for sugar-free syrup to make your beverage a bit healthier. If your syrup isn’t sugar-free, you can ask for fewer pumps, such as one to two pumps instead of the two to four pumps the drink typically uses.
Opt for Smaller Sizes
Another easy tip for making your Starbucks® healthier is simply ordering a size smaller than you’re used to. Typically, the larger the drink, the more calories you’ll drink. Some drinks in size Grande (16 fl oz) or Venti (20 fl oz) can contain upwards of 400 or 500 calories, equivalent to the amount of calories in some meals.
Remember, the smallest size available when ordering drinks is Short (8 fl oz) for some beverages. For others, the smallest size available is Tall (12 fl oz). If you’re nervous about using the Starbucks® lingo, ask the barista, “What is the smallest size this beverage is available in?”
Make it “Skinny”
Most espresso-based and Frappuccino blended beverages can be made “skinny,” or with nonfat milk, no whipped sugar, and sugar-free syrup (some specialty syrups may not be available in sugar-free).
When ordering your drink, you can ask to “make it skinny” in order to reduce the overall number of calories, sugar, and fat.
Starbucks® Holiday Drinks: Cheerful Takeaways
Including Starbucks® drinks as part of your holiday can be a joyful experience. Be sure to check out returning favorites and new creations as you participate in the festivities.
To make the drink in your brightly branded cup more aligned with your health goals, make it “skinny,” or go light on the whipped cream, syrups, and toppings. Alternatively, savor a smaller size (Short or Tall).