9 Items On The Starbucks Fall 2023 Menu, Ranked

For Starbucks fans, nothing says fall quite like the first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season. Having made its debut in 2003, the iconic fall beverage is celebrating its 20th year at Starbucks stores nationwide as it returns to the fall menu. It's not the only seasonal drink making a comeback, either — the beloved Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato are joining the classic PSL.

This year at Starbucks, the fall menu also features some new menu options making their debut. Drawing on the popularity of the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato, the Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso delivers familiar autumn flavors in a refreshing, chilled form. There's also the addition of the Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea latte, a drink that fuses the delicious, comforting spices of two fall favorites in one.

The Baked Apple Croissant is the only new arrival on the Starbucks fall food menu, but fans of the coffee chain will be pleased to learn that several bestsellers from previous years are returning, including the adorable Owl Cake Pop. Want to know which menu items are worth exchanging for Starbucks rewards? Whether sticking with a regular order or looking to savor something new, we've got you covered. At Tasting Table, we've tested each item to uncover the best and worst of this year's fall menu options at Starbucks. Now, let's leaf through the rankings.

Owl Cake Pop

The first owl cake pop we received was a little disheveled, to say the least. It must have come into contact with one of the other warmed bakery goods in our carrying bag, and its eyes melted like a psychedelic '60s painting. Fortunately, the second owl was fully intact, even if it did arrive with a terrified expression on its face.

The Owl Cake Pop comes covered in a thick layer of purple icing, a dollop of orange for its nose, and blue, panic-stricken eyes. The purple frosting has a glossy, almost mirror-like finish, and it's tough enough to hit a plate with a loud clunk.

We should have known by his expression that there was something amiss under his candy-coated shell. The first bite was overpoweringly sweet, especially coming from the icing portion, which is essentially pure sugar. As we nibbled its face off, we were met with a dense, sticky interior. It tasted bland in comparison to its sugary coating and a bit gluey, like uncooked dough. After we'd finished chewing, we noticed the Owl Cake Pop had a strange, salted aftertaste. As sympathetic as we felt for this frightened little guy, he was one of the most unpleasant options we sampled from Starbucks' fall menu.

Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte

One of two new additions to the fall drink menu, this riff on the beloved Chai Tea Latte unfortunately didn't quite live up to expectations.

Like many iced concoctions from Starbucks, the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte must be thoroughly stirred for optimal flavor. It's topped with a fluffy layer of pumpkin cream cold foam, which is suspiciously similar to whipped cream in both texture and flavor. Although the pumpkin cream cold foam is quite tasty, the drink itself fell a bit flat. There are so many options for chai tea on the market these days, ranging from super-spicy to overly sweet. Regrettably, Starbucks' Chai Tea Latte resembled the latter.

The Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte is cloyingly sweet without any strong tea element or spiciness to support it. Though chai tea recipes vary, the Starbucks iteration seemed very heavy on fennel and cinnamon flavors, making its sweetness almost unbearable. At times, the licorice notes from the fennel even came across as tasting slightly medicinal. While there's plenty of potential for this drink, it wasn't among our favorites. Perhaps more black pepper tea flavor could have rounded things out.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin

The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin is a bakery case favorite at Starbucks that only appears on the fall menu. After enjoying the Dunkin' limited-edition pumpkin muffin, we were curious to see how this Starbucks version of the popular autumnal treat would compare.

Unlike your average pumpkin muffin, the Starbucks one boasts a tempting, creamy filling in the center of its muffin top, similar to that of a classic cheese Danish. It has crushed pumpkin seeds scattered around its rim, adding both visual and textural appeal. As we peeled back its festive orange muffin liner, we couldn't help but notice how sticky it was, leading us to believe it would be extra soft and chewy inside.

To our chagrin, we found that the muffin was actually on the drier side — that is, until we reached the upper level. Its moist muffin top tore off with ease, cleanly decapitating the muffin in one fell swoop. While we tasted the welcome flavors of pumpkin spice throughout the muffin, we weren't quite as pleased with the top. The muffin top is arguably the best part of the muffin, but this tasted rather eggy. Its cream cheese filling was far more enjoyable, but it's hard to get past its slightly yolk-scented crust. Its egg-brushed surface may not bother everyone, but it proved off-putting enough for the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin to rank near the bottom.

Baked Apple Croissant

The Pumpkin Scone may not be back on the fall menu this year, but the Baked Apple Croissant has made its big debut in bakery cases across the nation. Of all the fall-themed food options available at Starbucks this season, the Baked Apple Croissant stands out.

Interestingly, the Baked Apple Croissant doesn't look anything like the product image displayed in the Starbucks app at the time of this writing. The official product photo of the Baked Apple Croissant appears to be a square, flat Danish, whereas the real thing is more of a croissant-muffin hybrid (or "Cruffin"). After giving it a whiff, we didn't detect any apple aroma, which should have been the first sign that something was amiss with this new fall baked good.

Our first instinct was to tear the Baked Apple Croissant apart to examine its lamination (thanks, "Great British Bake Off"). As we dove into it, we realized there weren't many to speak of. Compared to other Starbucks croissants, the Baked Apple is compacted enough to resemble more of a biscuit or bread-like interior. Sadly, the apple filling doesn't do much to lift its stodgy spirits, either. There were only a few bits of apple, gelled in a tiny amount of filling. While the flavors were all there, the croissant itself was underwhelming.

Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato

As avid Pumpkin Spice Latte fans, we never paid much attention to any apple-themed menu offerings from Starbucks. But after a recent encounter with the chain's Caramel Apple Spice, a permanent menu fixture, we became instant converts. Therefore, we expected more of the same from the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato. While it wasn't quite up to snuff with the Caramel Apple Spice, it was a worthy contender.

The Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato launched at Starbucks last fall and, evidently, proved popular enough to make another appearance. According to Starbucks beverage developer Harvey Rojas Mora, it features a base of Blonde Espresso, meant to provide "a soft and smooth foundation that ties all the flavors together."

We weren't the biggest fans of the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato, but those who enjoy creamier, sweeter beverages will certainly approve of this returning fall favorite. It has the most pronounced apple crisp flavor of any beverage on the seasonal menu, and it's very sweet, though nowhere near as saccharine as the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte. Being a Starbucks Macchiato, it's also super rich and creamy, thanks to the milk-heavy composition of the drink. We would have preferred a richer base, but think this is the perfect choice for Starbucks fans who aren't keen on strong coffee, yet still want to enjoy the chain's fall beverage menu.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

It's hard to believe that Pumpkin Spice Latte is only entering its twentieth year of Starbucks existence, given the onslaught of pumpkin spice everything that now dominates fall. Many Starbucks fans wait all year for this iconic beverage's arrival, and we bore witness to this phenomenon at our local Starbucks as customers clamored to grab their first PSL of the season.

There have been some changes to the old recipe over the years. In 2015, the chain announced the addition of real pumpkin to its recipe, and it's widely known that the same beverage can be prepared in many different ways, depending on which Starbucks location you visit.

As we lifted our latte's lid, we were taken aback by the vivid orange color of the drink — undoubtedly due to the real pumpkin in its recipe. It had just the right amount of foam, and tasted creamy and sweet with a subtle pumpkin spice flavor. It wasn't quite as potent as we would have liked, but this could be due to overexposure to artificial pumpkin spice in general. All in all, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is still a notable menu offering, even if it has undergone a few changes.

Pumpkin & Pepita Loaf

The Starbucks Pumpkin & Pepita Loaf is a featured seasonal item, but it's actually available year-round. Starbucks is known for its charming assortment of baked goods, from the Iced Lemon Loaf to the Banana Walnut & Pecan Loaf, but the abundance of pumpkin in this slice makes it feel right at home on the fall menu.

The Pumpkin & Pepita Loaf is huge in comparison to other fall food options. At 390 calories per slice, it's also the most energy-filled option of the bunch. If it wasn't so perfectly shaped and cut, we'd say it looks a bit like a piece of homemade pumpkin bread. The Pumpkin & Pepita Loaf is incredibly moist, with a golden hue to its crust. It also sports a sugary glaze running along its surface, accented by crushed pumpkin seeds.

As we tore off a piece, it felt tender, though it wasn't sticky like the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin. It melted in our mouths and had a delectable pumpkin spice flavor, though we didn't detect much true pumpkin or squash in the mix. The crust was soft and chewy, and the pumpkin seed fragments provided a decent amount of crunch. Overall, we felt it was the most pleasant of the fall food offerings at Starbucks, and a wonderful accompaniment to any drink order.

Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

Initially, we were met with some difficulty while attempting to order the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. This chilled Starbucks beverage is a beloved member of the fall drink family, but we were told it was "out of season" on the app. Fortunately, our friendly barista assured us all was well with the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, and we got our hands on one of the most popular fall menu items.

The Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is pretty simple as far as Starbucks drinks go, consisting of vanilla-sweetened cold brew topped with a layer of the chain's signature pumpkin cream cold foam. It doesn't look quite as stunning as some of the other beverages on the menu, but it makes up for this in its taste.

Visually, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is reminiscent of cheese tea, thanks to the pumpkin cream cold foam that swirls along the sides of the cup. This refreshing drink has a smooth coffee flavor that pairs wonderfully with sweet, pumpkin-infused cold foam. Some may find the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew to be a tad too sweet — but this can easily be remedied by removing the vanilla syrup from the equation. It may not have as many years under its belt as the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but it could someday achieve an equally long run on the Starbucks fall menu.

Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

One of the newest additions to the Starbucks fall drink menu, the Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso shows promise as a potential returning favorite. This chilled beverage is made with Starbucks classic espresso, providing a richer flavor for bold coffee enthusiasts.

In an unusual twist for an iced beverage, we picked up an apple scent emanating from the Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk's cup. However, the first sip tasted strongly of espresso with a very subtle sweetness. After it subsided, we detected a hint of apple crisp coming out to play. While it was very faint, it worked in perfect harmony with the rest of the drink. In a sea of seasonal drinks with syrupy sweet flavors, the Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso was a refreshing change of pace.

The Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso was truly surprising — it isn't a drink we'd typically order, but it leads the pack in our fall rankings. It's the perfect drink if you're looking for something festive yet nuanced from the Starbucks fall drink menu.