Absolute Best Starbucks Caramel Drinks, Ranked

Everyone might think it's officially pumpkin spice season when the colder weather rolls around. But for those of us who aren't huge pumpkin fans, it's time for another flavor to make its appearance: caramel. There's something about this ingredient that's so comforting, especially during the fall and winter. But if there's one thing we know about the caramel-forward selections at Starbucks, it's that there are many options to choose from. Yes, there are plenty of warming drinks at the coffee chain, but there are plenty of iced versions for those on the caramel train all year round.

Chances are, if you're a caramel lover, you have a standard beverage that you go back to again and again. But why not switch things up? There are so many different caramel options available at Starbucks on the official and "secret" menus. There really is something for everyone out there. Let's look at the absolute best caramel drinks from Starbucks, ranked worst to best.

20. Caramel apple spice

Now, we love that there are caffeine- and coffee-free drinks at Starbucks. Whether you're trying to find a suitable beverage for your little one or just want to avoid feeling the jitters, having these options available is great. That being said, we would never suggest ordering a caramel apple spice from Starbucks. It's quite simple: It starts with steamed apple juice, to which the chain adds cinnamon syrup, whipped cream, and a caramel sauce drizzle. So, basically, you're just getting sugar, sugar, and more sugar.

Indulge if you love the sweet stuff. But for us, this is just too much sugar with absolutely no other flavors to balance it out. This drink might be appropriate for the kids, but most adults will likely find it's way, way too sweet.

19. Caramel pumpkin macchiato

For those who can't get enough of their pumpkin spice lattes but also want to indulge in a caramel-spiked treat, Starbucks' secret caramel pumpkin macchiato might be the way to go. According to Starbucks Secret Menu, to get this beverage, you should ask for a caramel macchiato. However, instead of getting it with the traditional vanilla syrup, ask for the pumpkin spice syrup instead. Then, ask for pumpkin spice topping sprinkled on top.

There's just too much going on in this macchiato to really be enjoyable. Are you supposed to focus on the caramel or the pumpkin? The two different flavors clash, both trying to assert their dominance over the small amount of actual coffee you'll find in the drink. This one is definitely not our favorite caramel option of the bunch, but pumpkin spice lovers are sure to adore it.

18. Caramel snickerdoodle macchiato

If you ask us, the caramel snickerdoodle macchiato sounds unappetizing before you even learn what's in it. According to Starbucks Secret Menu, if you want this drink, you'll have to order an iced soy caramel macchiato upside down. This is where the problems start for us. First of all, the soy milk is not our favorite choice. Of course, you definitely don't have to go with dairy milk if you don't want to, but we prefer coconut or oat milk in lieu of it.

Then, you'll have to ask for vanilla syrup and cinnamon dolce syrup. Because you're mixing these two different types of flavors, you don't really pick up on the individual ingredients that well once they come together. Mostly, this drink is just sugary — drinking the caramel and syrups in tandem is less than appealing for those who don't have a super-active sweet tooth.

17. Caramel ribbon crunch crème Frappuccino

Here's another coffee-free offering, and it's safe to say that we're not huge fans of this one, either. It's the on-menu caramel ribbon crunch crème Frappuccino, and as is probably expected, it's unpleasantly sweet. In fact, it's best that we avoid calling this one a coffee drink and just call it out for what it really is: a dessert.

First, Starbucks blends caramel syrup with milk and ice (alas, no coffee). Then, the brand adds dark caramel sauce on top, along with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle. Why are both dark caramel sauce and a caramel drizzle necessary? Don't ask us. Then, if it weren't already sweet enough,  a caramel-sugar topping is sprinkled on. Admittedly, the addition does add a nice crunch to the drink, but otherwise, it's just more unnecessary sugar. Of course, all of that sweetness could be balanced out by the bitterness of coffee, but it's noticeably absent here.

16. Raspberry caramel macchiato

We wanted to like the raspberry caramel macchiato — we really did. But when it comes down to it, it's just not among the best caramel drinks you'll find at Starbucks. One thing we do love about this secret menu item is that it's not very difficult for the baristas to make (and the last thing you want to do is slow down their flow with an overly complicated order). But when it comes to the flavor? We're not huge fans.

According to Starbucks Secret Menu, all you have to ask for to get this drink is a caramel macchiato with raspberry syrup instead of the standard vanilla. You can get this beverage hot or iced. Although the color does come out looking beautiful, we just can't get over the clashing flavors of the raspberry and caramel together.

15. Butterbeer Frappuccino

Why are we not fans of the secret butterbeer Frappuccino? First, there's a lot you have to remember if you're going to ask for this at the drive-thru. It just makes ordering more complicated for both you and the barista. But there's also the fact that the combo of all the different flavors is just too intense together.

Starbucks Secret Menu says you should first ask for a drizzle of caramel sauce to line the cup (though this is optional — if you're going for less sweetness, don't ask for this). Then, get the crème Frappuccino base made with whole milk, which is important if you want to get the right consistency. Ask for 3 pumps of toffee nut and caramel syrup, each. (Yes, that's a ton of syrup.) Caramel drizzle goes on the top. 

This drink lacks coffee and has enough syrup to throw anyone into an active sugar rush. We'll pass.

14. Caramel apple Frappuccino

Although it's still not our favorite, we have to admit that the caramel apple Frappuccino is certainly a step up from the butterbeer version, although it's still obnoxiously sweet. Starbucks Secret Menu calls for apple juice to be poured to the first line on the cup, then 3 pumps of cinnamon dulce syrup and the cream base. Add in 2 additional pumps of dark caramel, and embrace the chaos with whipped cream, cinnamon dolce topping, caramel ribbon crunch, and an additional caramel drizzle.

This drink sounds completely over the top, and it is. But admittedly, taking a sip of this Frappuccino does taste like fall. It's the kind of beverage we wouldn't order after October, but for those hot days in September when you want to get into the fall spirit, there are worse drinks to order.

13. Caramel Frappuccino

Now we come to one of the simplest caramel drinks Starbucks offers. It's the caramel Frappuccino, and it's a classic. There's nothing too fussy about this beverage, and blessedly, you won't have to ask for any substitutions (unless you want them, that is). Caramel syrup, ice, and coffee come together to form the base of this drink, and whipped cream and a caramel drizzle grace the top. It's a nice departure from some of the wilder options on this list, for sure.

If you really, really love caramel and want to keep things simple, then this is a great drink. However, for those who want a beverage with slightly more complexity, there are definitely more interesting options on the menu. If you know you already like this blended iced coffee, you may want to give yourself a chance to branch out and try something new.

12. Caramel macchiato

Another classic Starbucks drink is the caramel macchiato. This beverage is elegant and simple albeit a bit too sweet for when we're looking for an understated cup of coffee. The barista will start by steaming your milk until it's piping hot, and then they'll add caramel syrup to it. (If you want this drink to be less sweet, you can ask if they can go light on the syrup.) Then, they drop in the espresso and add a caramel drizzle to finish it all off. It's nothing too fancy, but it's a classic coffee with a caramel spin, and we love that.

This macchiato is perfect if you're looking for a basic, low-key drink. But if you're going to Starbucks to try a coffee beverage you may not get the chance to experience everywhere, you may want to keep reading further down this list.

11. Butterbeer cold brew

If there's one thing millennials love more than Starbucks, it has to be Harry Potter, so it makes sense that these two early-2000s icons would join forces in the form of this secret menu item: the butterbeer cold brew. Totally the Bomb says that you should start with a venti cold brew, then ask for 3 pumps of white mocha sauce, 3 pumps of toffee nut syrup, and 2 pumps of caramel syrup. The most important ingredient of them all, in our opinion, is the vanilla sweet cream cold foam on top, which is what gives the drink its appropriate milky consistency. A caramel drizzle on top completes the recipe.

Yes, there's a lot going on here, and it does seem a bit overwhelming, which is why it's not ranked higher on our list. But that vanilla sweet cream cold foam adds such a lovely consistency that we can't help but like this one.

10. Twix Frappuccino

For those who love chocolate-flavored beverages just as much as they love caramel, there's nothing quite as delicious as a Twix Frappuccino. Although the intensity of all these different flavors may be too much for some Starbucks-goers out there, we think it's a fun drink to try out on occasion.

Hack The Menu says you'll want to ask for a caramel Frappuccino with 1 to 2 pumps of both caramel and hazelnut syrup. The real magic ingredient, though, is the java chips. They're just slightly bitter, which balances the sweetness of the caramel in the best possible way. Caramel and mocha drizzle go on top to finish off the recipe.

It's easy to order, delicious, and it'll meet your chocolate needs for the day. What's not to love about that?

9. Churro Frappuccino

Calling all cinnamon lovers! If you're looking for a drink that satisfies your need for both caramel and cinnamon at the same time, look no further than the churro Frappuccino. Starbucks Secret Menu says that this one starts with, surprisingly, a vanilla bean Frappuccino. Add 1 to 2 pumps of cinnamon dulce and white mocha syrups. Even though this is a lot of syrup, these two combinations are pretty unique together, so we're into it. Next comes the cinnamon. Finish it with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and even more cinnamon.

Honestly, it's a little bit shocking just how much this one actually tastes like a churro. If the fried dough is one of your all-time favorite treats, then there's an excellent chance you'll love this drink.

8. Salted caramel white mocha cold brew

Does this drink's especially long name sound intimidating to order? A bit. But, in reality, the salted caramel white mocha cold brew isn't all that complicated. Provided you want a large coffee, ask for a venti cold brew, and then get 4 pumps of white mocha, says Totally the Bomb. Add the salted sweet cream cold foam on top, and finish it with a caramel drizzle for an extra touch of sweetness.

Truthfully, we like pretty much anything on the menu combined with the sweet cream cold foam, and the fact that this one is more focused on the coffee than the other ingredients makes it one of our favorite caramel options of the bunch. It still has plenty of sugar, but the slight bitterness from that cold brew balances things out nicely.

7. Caramel brulée Frappuccino

There are few desserts as perfect as a creme brulée. It's no surprise, then, that the caramel brulée Frappuccino is one of the best you can get at Starbucks. It's on the menu, which means it's easy to order. When you ask for one, you'll get coffee, milk, and ice all blended together and blessed with a sugary caramel brulée sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. The baristas add some much-needed crunch to the equation with the caramel brulée bits that make you feel like you're breaking into that slightly burnt crust on a top-notch creme brulée.

Yes, this drink is very, very rich and very, very sweet. But since it's basically a dessert, we don't totally mind it. It isn't something we'd order all the time, but it's perfect for when you truly want to indulge.

6. Caramel ribbon crunch Frappuccino

Another Frappuccino that's on our radar is the on-menu caramel ribbon crunch Frappuccino. It's basically like the standard caramel Frappuccino but taken to a whole new level. The classic base of coffee, milk, and ice is blended with caramel syrup, and then dark caramel sauce goes on top. Whipped cream is the next addition, followed by a caramel drizzle. It's all topped off with the crunchy caramel-sugar topping, which brings everything together with some texture.

In our opinion, this is what the caramel Frappuccino has always wanted to be (and is much better than its crème cousin). It's darker, richer, and, yes, a bit more sugary, but we love that sweetness when it's well-balanced by other flavors, as it is here. This is definitely one of the best Frappuccinos on the Starbucks menu.

5. Salted caramel mocha

Who doesn't love a mocha? If you're a chocolate lover, it's objectively one of the best beverage options on any coffee shop menu. It's no exception at Starbucks. But if you're also the type who loves caramel in their coffee, then you have to go with the salted caramel mocha. First, this one catches our attention because the caramel is salty. This balances out the caramel's intense sweetness very well, making it more approachable for those who aren't fans of a lot of sugar.

When you order this drink, you'll be met with mocha sauce, toffee nut syrup, steamed milk, and coffee, all combined to form the base of the beverage. Sweetened whipped cream and caramel sugar go on top, followed by the signature sugar and sea salt blend that makes it stand apart from the rest. We're big fans.

4. Iced caramel macchiato

Few coffee drinks are as iconic as the iced caramel macchiato from Starbucks, and it's no secret why. Every element comes together perfectly to form something that's simple and delicious. Coffee and the milk of your choice are layered in the cup, with vanilla syrup adding some sugar and flavor. The caramel drizzle that's added to the drink is the best part — you'll occasionally pull bits of that caramel drizzle into the straw and get a huge sip of sweetness.

When you want a standard caramel coffee beverage that you know is never going to disappoint, it pays to order the iced caramel macchiato. This is a classic Starbucks drink that definitely won't let you down when you need a sugar fix.

3. Caramel brulée latte

You already know we're fans of the caramel brulée Frappuccino, but how about the caramel brulée latte? Actually, we like this one even more. First, it's quite a bit simpler than the Frappuccino, which makes this drink more approachable. Second, it's not iced, so it's the kind of drink you can enjoy even during the colder months of the year (without getting a brain freeze). Essentially, baristas just make a latte, then add caramel brulée sauce and whipped cream (which you can ask to leave off if you prefer). The caramel brulée bits on top add some texture and just the right amount of additional sweetness.

This drink may be relatively simple, but we love that Starbucks can offer simplicity and novelty at the same time. This is definitely one of our go-to choices when the weather turns icy.

2. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Frappuccino

Does the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Frappuccino sound like the most appealing secret menu item you've ever heard of? Probably not, unless you're the kind of person who really, really loves cereal. But trust us when we say that it's actually a fantastic combination. According to Starbucks Secret Menu, you should ask your barista for a white chocolate mocha Frappuccino, then add 1 to 2 pumps of cinnamon dolce syrup. Hazelnut syrup adds another layer of complexity to the drink, as does the cinnamon sugar that's blended into it. Whipped cream and additional cinnamon sugar go on top to complete the final product.

There's something so delicious about the combination of cinnamon and caramel, and that's just what this Frappuccino delivers. It really does have the distinct flavor of Cinnamon Toast Crunch — if the cereal was doused in coffee.

1. Salted caramel cream cold brew

We've finally made it to the most delicious Starbucks caramel drink of them all: the salted caramel cream cold brew. It's no wonder this iced beverage has gained such a following. It combines two of coffee lovers' favorite things: cold brew and salted caramel. The resulting drink comes together so well that it's something we could easily order every day.

The cold brew, which is generally a bit intense, is rounded out with the addition of a small amount of caramel drizzle. The salted foam is the real hero here; it adds that savory note that balances the caramel so well and provides the drink with a creaminess that's hard not to love. This is definitely one of the chain's greatest inventions to date. Long live the salted caramel cream cold brew.