Let’s settle this debate once and for all: what the heck is the difference between a sauce and syrup at Starbucks?
If you’re like me, who loves ordering secret menu drinks at this coffee chain, you’re probably familiar with syrups and sauces.
To do that, you need to have an idea of what they are and how to use them for customizing your drink.
Don't worry; I already did the research for you, so here's what you need to know about the Starbucks sauce vs syrup.
What Is The Difference Between Starbucks Sauce & Syrup?
Starbucks sauce and syrup differ in their consistency, versatility, taste, and more.
You've probably used sauce and syrup interchangeably at Starbucks. That's okay; it's quite common to do so.
These things are like magic. They make plain and boring (sorry, Starbucks!) coffee beverages more interesting. You can even use them to create your concoction at Starbucks.
However, Starbucks sauces and syrups are two different things. Below are their most notable differences:
Consistency & Texture
Two of the most obvious things that set these two apart are their consistency and texture.
Let’s start with Starbucks sauces. This coffee add-on is thick and viscous. By nature, it’s dense and has a rich texture that is prone to creating clumps.
This is why it is recommended to only use a sauce with Starbucks hot beverages.
At hot temperatures, the sauce dissolves slowly, allowing the thick consistency and rich texture to melt properly without creating lumps.
This allows the sauce to mix with the hot drinks properly, evenly distributing the flavor in your cup.
On the other hand, cold beverages freeze the sauce, resulting in a clumpy consistency that often gets stuck on the bottom of the cup.
With Starbucks syrups, you get a fluid-like consistency. This makes this ingredient perfect for hot and cold beverages, like Starbucks iced coffee drinks.
Versatility & Uses
Now, let's discuss their versatility and uses. You want to avoid using the wrong ingredient if you're planning to create your own Starbucks recipe, right?
If you love flavored traditional lattes (the hot one), Starbucks sauces are a perfect addition to these coffees.
As mentioned, their consistency and texture are made to be added to hot drinks. At the same time, this same reason makes them less versatile.
Although you can use them for cold beverages, they’re mainly added for aesthetic purposes, especially if you need some clump of sauces into the Starbucks drink.
When it comes to versatility, the apparent winner is Starbucks coffee syrups. This is because you can add them to both hot and cold drinks.
They can easily be mixed at any temperature, making them great for all beverages, even those that aren’t coffee-based, such as Starbucks Refresher drinks.
Okay, this is probably the most important difference you should know about: the flavor options.
Because of the versatility of Starbucks coffee syrups, they have more flavor options.
While there are still some choices with Starbucks coffee sauces, the flavor options are limited compared to Starbucks syrups.
I’ll list the available flavors for sauces and syrups in the following sections.
When it comes to ingredients, both the sauces and syrups contain sugar, water, natural flavor, and Potassium Sorbate (preservative).
However, Starbucks sauces have other different ingredients like corn syrup, puree, and milk, depending on the flavor of the sauce. In general, they contain more ingredients than syrups.
For the Starbucks syrups, the only additional ingredient they have apart from those mentioned is citric acid.
That’s why most syrups are dairy-free and vegan, but we’ll get to that later.
Whether you add sauces or syrups, both of them can add more calories to your beverage. However, the exact amount depends on what flavor you’ll add.
In general, a serving of sauce contains 30 calories, while a single pump of syrup has approximately 20 calories.
Dairy Free & Vegan Options
Do you have any dietary restrictions? Are you lactose-intolerant or switching to a vegan diet? If so, you need to be very careful when ordering sauces and syrup, particularly sauces.
Starbucks sauces contain cow’s milk. This is why they have a thicker consistency and creamy flavoring.
I highly recommend eliminating them from your hot and cold drinks, especially if you have strict dietary restrictions. But don’t fret. You can still enjoy flavored beverages with syrups.
Most Starbucks syrups are vegan and dairy-free.
Here are the vegan syrups:
Note: Do note that some flavors, like pistachio and pumpkin spice, are not vegan and dairy-free.
Is Starbucks Syrup Or Sauce Better For Customizing Drinks?
If you're planning to customize your Starbucks drink or want to try some of its popular secret menu drinks, this is the list you need to read.
In fact, I want you to bookmark this page right now.
This can serve as your cheatsheet for some of the most popular secret menu recipes at Starbucks and which add-ons are best for them.
1. Fruity Pebbles
If you love the popular cereal Fruity Pebbles, this secret menu recipe is for you! Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Barista HQ Tip: Ask the barista to splash some orange mango juice to achieve that fruity kick. You’ll be surprised how it will blend perfectly with the drink.
Harry Potter fans, this drink is for you. If you fancy trying its popular drink, Butterbeer, here’s what you need to tell your local barista:
If you want the hot drink version, here’s the recipe:
3. Caramel and Nut Chocolate Bar
Do you love Frappuccinos? If you do, you should try the Caramel and Nut Chocolate Bar Frappe. Here’s how you can get this customized drink:
4. Piña Colada
Another cold drink that you’ll surely love is the Piña Colada. Here’s how you can order this refreshing tropical drink:
5. Cookie Dough
If you’re looking for a chocolatey cold beverage, the Cookie Dough is a must-try! Here’s what you need:
6. Ferrero Rocher
I am a fan of Ferrero Rocher. So when I found out that you can have this as a Frappuccino, I immediately saved the recipe. This is how you can enjoy this drink:
Barista HQ Tip: Make this drink healthier by requesting almond milk instead of whole milk. The natural flavors of the almond make this drink even nuttier.
What Exactly Is Starbucks Sauce?
Starbucks sauce is a way to add creaminess and richness to your drinks.
Known for its thick and creamy consistency, this ingredient is mostly added to hot beverages like caramel macchiato, cappuccinos, cafe mochas, and other mocha-flavored lattes.
It can also be added to some iced drinks such as Frappuccinos and Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte.
Most of the time, you can see the available flavoring sauces on the Starbucks menu. Sometimes, they don't disclose this information.
Also, most Starbucks coffee shops have individual coffee sauce bottles that you can squeeze to add to your drink.
Barista HQ Tip: Do you want to elevate your coffee experience at home? If so, you can buy a Starbucks caramel sauce at selected Starbucks stores and grocery stores. The Starbucks caramel sauce can be added to any drink of your choice, like coffee and other beverages. This added flavor can level up even a simple cup of brewed coffee.
Starbucks Syrup Overview (How Best To Use It)
When you ask for "flavoring" in your drink, syrups are the default add-ons unless you state what flavor you want.
This is because Starbucks syrups are versatile, which means they can be added easily to any beverage, like iced coffee, without ruining the drink.
On top of that, most of them are suited for those on vegan diets and lactose intolerant.
Standard Syrups At Starbucks
Seasonal Syrup Flavors
Syrups For Home Use (Available In Grocery Stores!)
Frequently Asked Starbucks Sauce Vs Syrup Questions
Can you buy Starbucks syrups and sauces for home use?
Yes, Starbucks offers sauces and syrups for home use. For the sauces, the only flavor available is caramel. For syrups, you can get vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut flavors. Their website also has recipes for making your own flavored syrups!
Is caramel drizzle sauce or syrup?
The caramel drizzle is a Starbucks sauce that you can add to almost any drink.
How many pumps of sauce are in a venti?
There are four pumps of sauce in a venti cup for hot drinks and five pumps if it’s an iced venti.
How many pumps of Starbucks syrup are in a grande?
For a grande-sized cup, there are four pumps of Starbucks syrup.
Are syrups free at Starbucks?
Yes, syrups are free at Starbucks if the drink you're ordering comes with a flavored syrup in its recipe. However, you need to pay an extra $0.80 for any number of syrup pumps, regardless of the amount and number of flavors.
Now that you know the key differences between sauces and syrups, you can add them to any of your favorite drinks to achieve your desired flavor.
If you're like me and don't like the bitter taste of coffee, you'll surely be addicted to these two!a