13 Best Starbucks Drinks For Vegans

Navigating Starbucks can be challenging or intimidating for plant-based coffee and tea drinkers. Vegans, the lactose intolerant, and folks who just don't care for milk or animal products have to be diligent about double- and triple-checking a drink recipe before ordering. Even then, you run the risk of residual dairy ending up in your coffee because of the shared preparation areas (via Starbucks allergen disclosures) or an ingredient containing sneaky dairy/animal products. For example, the Starbucks chai concentrate contains honey, so even making a chai tea latte with alternative milk wouldn't be a vegan drink. There's also some mixed information out there over whether Starbucks sprinkles contain the animal product gelatin, notes The Vegan Review and Treehugger, so opting out of sprinkles altogether is the safest option for a plant-based Starbucks order.

A flurry of conversation sparked around vegan Starbucks options after the announcement of the fully-plant-based Applecrisp Oatmilk Macchiato in this year's fall lineup, and with many newer products on the chain's menu already animal-product-free as a default, it's a perfect time to start curating a list of vegan S-bucks favorites. (Keep in mind that while Starbucks doesn't offer certified vegan beverages, they're vegan friendly.) Our amazing baristas are often running 100 miles per hour — so if you are nervous to ask about what's vegan at Starbucks and hold up the line, we've compiled a list of our favorite vegan drinks, plus a few recommendations from other plant-based Starbucks lovers.

Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

The Starbucks Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso is a permanent Starbucks item released earlier this year, and is fully vegan right off the menu, confirms Econo Times. The tasty-toasty drink is made with the signature Starbucks blonde espresso, a caramelized vanilla-flavored syrup, and oatmilk — all animal-product-free components. This shaken espresso recipe is a great option when you want a simpler flavor profile, like no brown sugar or cinnamon, both popular components of other iced espresso drinks.

Oatmilk is the newest dairy alternative on Starbucks' lineup. The brand announced the introduction of Oatly's product last spring and was quickly inundated with a tidal wave of interest, per The Beet, leading to an oatmilk shortage at locations nationwide. The supply and demand imbalance leveled out before the Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso was released, but if your local Starbucks happens to be out of the fan-favorite alt milk, we recommend coconutmilk as an alternative. The toasted vanilla and coconut flavors are a great flavor duo — and you can add a pump of mocha sauce to the shaken espresso for a (vegan) Mounds-like taste.

Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato

The Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato is a tweaked version of a longtime favorite. Before this year's fall menu, the drink was actually the Apple Crisp Macchiato and made with cow milk as a default. When it launched the product last year, Starbucks admitted that the exploration of fruit and coffee flavors combined is "a new territory" for the brand and that the drink's development was in response to a clear needs-more-apple message from customers. The new 2022 recipe is made with all the same components — apple brown sugar syrup, blonde espresso, spiced apple drizzle — except it replaces the default cow's milk with dairy-free oatmilk, denoting it as Starbucks' first official fall vegan drink (via Brightly).

We tried the plant-based reinvention of the autumn favorite when the seasonal menu dropped on August 31, and the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato received positive marks in its hot, iced, and blended forms. The recipe is tailored around the inclusion of oatmilk, but if you'd like to use a different alternative, we'd recommend almond first and then soy.

Veganized Iced Cookie Butter Latte

This secret vegan drink, dubbed the Iced Cookie Butter Latte, is a creation shared by a Canada-based vegan Starbucks lover on Instagram. It modifies a non-vegan secret menu trend that saw popularity last year, the secret cookie butter latte. According to POPSUGAR, the original hush-hush drink could be made one of two ways: One recipe calls for a soy white chocolate mocha with toffee nut and cinnamon dolce syrups added, and another suggests ordering a chai latte, substituting oatmilk, and adding brown sugar syrup.

The plant-based Instagram user chose the chai recipe to modify, presumably because the white mocha sauce is not vegan and there are really no alternatives that recreate its distinctive flavor. Because Starbucks' chai concentrate contains honey, this vegan-ized recipe suggests ordering an iced custom tea latte made with the Teavana chai tea sachets instead. You should also substitute brown sugar syrup in place of the classic syrup, and ask for your non-dairy milk of choice (oat will have the least disruptive flavor, we think). We haven't tried this one, but it sounds like a scrumptious sipper.

Cinnamon Dolce Oatmilk Latte

Cinnamon dolce is a warm, comforting permanent Starbucks flavor perfect for cold-day pick-me-ups. The default Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte recipe, though, uses 2% milk as its base and tops the drink with whipped cream. The cinnamon dolce syrup is, fortunately, animal product free, so all you need to do is choose your favorite alt milk and forgo the whipped cream. The cinnamon dolce sprinkles are also made with a butter product, so you'll sadly need to skip those too.

You can use whatever alternative milk you prefer to make the Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte vegan, but we recommend oatmilk. It smells and tastes like the crumbly streusel on top of a baked good or a comforting bowl of oatmeal. Almondmilk goes great in this latte, too, for a taste like cinnamon-roasted almonds. The only thing you'll miss out on, of course, is the toppings — you can ask for extra foam and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder on top of your drink if you want something comparable to sip on.

Brown Sugar Cookie Frappuccino

We have an Instagram vegan Starbucks lover to thank for this recipe. Plant-based coffee drinkers don't have to miss out on those indulgent, dessert-like frozen beverages that everyone loves; all you have to do is ask for your preferred alternative milk to be used as the Frappuccino base instead of the default whole milk. According to the online recipe, order this drink by asking for a Coffee Frappuccino (you could choose the Espresso Frappuccino instead for an extra caffeine jolt). To the frap, ask the barista to add toffee nut, vanilla, and brown sugar syrups, adjusting the number of pumps to your sweetness preferences.

The Instagram user recommends oatmilk, but there are a lot of flavors going on in this one so you'll probably get away with any alternative milk without changing the taste too much. The Espresso and Coffee Frappuccinos don't come with whipped cream as a default, but you can still specify no whip in your order to be certain that no dairy is added to your drink.

Iced Almondmilk Toffee Nut Mocha

Since mocha is the only Starbucks sauce free of animal products, building several favorites off this ingredient will expand your vegan Starbucks menu. You can add any syrup to the mocha that you'd like, but we recommend ordering an iced mocha made with toffee nut syrup and almondmilk. This beverage is the perfect level of sweetness and tastes like a decadent candy bar. Be sure to indicate no whipped cream, too, since that is a default part of the recipe.

Here are some other vegan ways to variate the iced mocha that we love: substitute coconut milk and add vanilla syrup (tastes like Mounds); substitute almondmilk and add hazelnut and caramel syrups for a Turtle/Snickers latte; substitute oatmilk and add cinnamon dolce for an iced mocha inspired by the spicy Mexican chocolate mole; or use soymilk in an iced mocha with raspberry for a chocolate-raspberry tart flavor. There are infinite ways to personalize any drink made with mocha sauce, but keep in mind that Starbucks' other three sauces — pumpkin, white mocha, and caramel — contain milk products in the United States.

Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

The Starbucks Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso has been a plant-based mermaid coffee favorite since it launched last year. This vegan drink is made with blonde espresso, brown sugar syrup, a dash of cinnamon, and oatmilk. It's also a low-calorie Starbucks favorite, with a 24-ounce venti being only 190 calories. We think this shaken espresso recipe is perfect as-is: The blonde roast is mild and smooth, the brown sugar is the perfect amount of sweetness, and the oatmilk is creamy and indulgent without the need for dairy. If you wanted to, though, you could replace the oatmilk with soy or almond if those are preferred.

If you're as big of a fan of the Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso as we are, Starbucks has an easy guide to making this drink at home. The main thing you need is a Nespresso, Moka pot, or another at-home brewing machine with espresso-like capabilities, as well as a cocktail shaker, your favorite blonde roast, a few teaspoons of brown sugar, cinnamon, and oat milk. Making the drink at home can ensure that no cross-contamination with animal products occurs while saving you a few bucks, too.

Veganized Caramel Apple Spice

Until the pumpkin sauce is made dairy-free in the US, or at least until a plant-based pumpkin syrup alternative is released (cough cough, Starbucks), vegan customers must sadly find other autumnal drinks to enjoy in the September-October season. The Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato remains a leading choice, but if that one is a bit too heavy or sweet for you, try a veganized Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice instead. This steamy, comforting fall pick is normally made by combining steamed apple juice with cinnamon dolce syrup, then topping the creation with whipped cream and caramel drizzle.

Sadly, the best part — the caramel sauce — is made with dry milk and heavy cream, so to vegan-ize Starbucks apple cider, you'll need to ask for caramel syrup in the drink instead. We have to be honest — we find this preferable, since a little bit of drizzle on top isn't enough to get a caramel apple flavor, anyway. You'll be missing out on the whipped cream, but there's a chance your barista will be willing to whip up cinnamon almondmilk hot foam to top the cider with instead. It's perfect for an afternoon of apple picking.

Soy London Fog Latte

It's a classic Starbucks tea drink that those with plant-based diets miss out on without some recipe tweaking. The Starbucks London Fog Latte is made by default with steamed 2% milk, vanilla syrup, and Teavana's Earl Grey tea sachets. The flavor is soft and delicate, and the drink is soothing and silky — but that's when it's made with cow's milk. It's possible to veganize a London Fog with an alternative milk, but because of how mild the tea is, doing so with the wrong option might derail the drink entirely.

That is why, while it does come down to personal preference, we recommend soy. It doesn't have a strong taste that could upend certain drinks as coconut milk or almond milk would. Oatmilk would be our runner-up recommendation, but we think soy goes better with Earl Grey's subtle tones of lavender and bergamot. However, if you changed your tea sachet to chai, oatmilk may work better with the tea latte overall. This is a good way to get a veganized chai latte, too — and you can add cinnamon dolce syrup to the drink if you need some sweetness.

Iced Coconutmilk Matcha Latte

We think matcha is magical; it's loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may regular blood pressure, help defend the body against cancer, regulate cholesterol, and boost energy, (via WebMD). But since the Starbucks Iced Matcha Tea Latte is made with cow's milk as a default, we have to tweak the latte a little to reap as much plant-based goodness as possible. We think matcha lattes are made best with coconutmilk; something about the two flavors together is irresistible, and we feel coconutmilk rarely harmonizes with other tastes rather than clashing with them. Plus, the fat content in coconutmilk helps mimic the silky-smooth texture of matcha made with dairy.

If you want to jazz up your matcha a little, try adding a pump or two of raspberry syrup. The tart fruitiness goes so well with the slightly-sweet matcha and rich coconutmilk. We think citrus and tart berries go best with matcha, but vanilla is another popular additive. Starbucks' Iced Matcha Lemonade is also vegan by default and not milk based at all if you're searching for a lighter fare.

Nitro Cold Brew with Cinnamon Oatmilk Foam

While the Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew with Cinnamon Oatmilk Foam is a feature menu item of old, its ingredients are regular stock staples (at participating nitro stores) so baristas are usually still able to accommodate the drink request. This fully plant-based option is made with the chain's velvety nitro cold brew, topped with a cap of frothed oatmilk, cinnamon, and vanilla syrup. The first few sips are full of tasty foam, but it melts into the drink over time, giving you slightly-sweet vanilla and cinnamon cold brew.

Baristas may also be willing to foam a different type of milk if you prefer one of the other alternatives, but we think oatmilk works well. And a non-nitro-participating Starbucks doesn't mean that you have to miss out; just ask for a regular cold brew topped with the cinnamon oatmilk foam instead. This drink isn't for the biggest sweet tooth, but it's great for plant-based coffee lovers.

Veganized Pistachio Latte

The Starbucks Pistachio Latte is a seasonal fan favorite, but since the drink is made with cow's milk and a dairy-based pistachio sauce, vegan coffee drinkers don't get to participate in this holiday-time delight. Vegan Starbucks fans on Instagram claim to have come up with a passable alternative: a matcha latte with no cane sugar, adding hazelnut and toffee nut syrups, and substituting in almondmilk. The recipe is an attempt to recreate the nutty pistachio flavor without the dairy-based pistachio sauce, but it does miss out on the salted brown butter cookie-flavored topping (which, according to the topping's ingredients, doesn't contain any animal products). We haven't tried the customer-created alternative, but it comes with positive reviews.

Pistachios have a unique flavor, however, so if you have the time to commit to a homemade vegan pistachio latte, we recommend going for it. All you'll need are pistachios, hot water, coffee or espresso, a date for sweetening, vanilla, and sea salt, (via Zestful Kitchen). The pistachios are easily made into milk by soaking in the water and then blending. Then the milk is combined with the other ingredients for a smooth latte that is both authentically pistachio and truly vegan.

Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso

Another easy vegan coffee right off the menu is Starbucks' Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso. This drink's sophisticated flavor profile is made with blonde espresso, chocolate malt powder, and almondmilk. Because the other shaken espressos on the default menu — including the Brown Sugar Oatmilk and the Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk — don't contain any chocolate elements, this one holds a lot of appeal to Starbucks customers that are both plant-based and chocoholics.

There's been some debate around the allergens of the chocolate malt powder used for the Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso, especially since malt powder is normally a dairy-based product. But, ultimately it's important to keep in mind that the powder, although vegan-friendly, is not gluten-friendly, (via VegNews and Reddit). We think it's perfect as is, but this drink will do well with oatmilk or soy, too, if you need to change up your substitutions. It's only moderately sweet, but an extra shot of espresso will cut out some of the sugariness while adding extra malt powder or some classic syrup will amplify it.