11 Ways To Upgrade Starbucks Spicy Refreshers

In mid-April 2024, Starbucks introduced a sizzling twist to its beverage lineup with the release of Spicy Refreshers. These unique drinks were infused with a bold kick of chili powder and teased on social media with playful fiery graphics. Unlike the fruity and mild flavors offered by standard Refreshers, the delightfully tasty Spicy Lemonade Refreshers blend the tart sweetness of lemonade with a spicy finish to create a vibrant and flavorful experience.

Now, the Spicy Refreshers were always intended as a limited-time seasonal item, and have been discontinued as a standalone option as of May 2024. However, with a little customization in the Starbucks app — or some assistance from your barista — you can still order the Spicy Refreshers as long as the key ingredient remains available: the spicy chili powder blend. Simply customize a Refreshers order by adding the tongue-tingling ingredient to your drink.

The option to customize your beverage doesn't stop with the ability to tailor the heat level to your liking. There are numerous additional ways to enhance Starbucks Spicy Refreshers and explore new flavor combinations; you can even use these iced drinks as a base for some crafty adult beverages. Since the chain is willing and able to accommodate any requests — as long as the chili powder blend remains in stock, of course — we've gathered some hacks and tips to upgrade the Starbucks Spicy Refreshers.

Stir in tequila to make a cocktail

When you think about a trip to Starbucks, you likely imagine a morning visit to get your caffeine fix. However, given the various drinks and food items Starbucks has come out with over the years, the A.M. isn't the only time when the chain shines. With that in mind, the Spicy Refreshers provide the perfect base to transform your Starbucks order into an adult beverage thanks to tequila.

To enjoy a Starbucks-arita (so to speak), order your favorite Spicy Refreshers flavor — any will work — then pour in a shot of tequila. Stir the ingredients well, and you've got yourself a delicious mixed drink. Now, incorporating tequila may be an effective way to upgrade this Starbucks beverage, but remember: the Refreshers contain caffeine. In other words, you may want to approach this cocktail with caution given the risks of consuming caffeine and alcohol together.

Furthermore, be sure to wait until you arrive at your destination before adding tequila, rather than doing so at the store or on the way home. This Spicy Refreshers hack may be the perfect way to use one of those tiny 50-milliliter bottles of tequila sold near the checkout area at liquor stores, but it's best to wait until you're no longer traveling to mix it in.

Add some peach or apple juice to Spicy Refreshers

One easy way to boost the taste of the Starbucks Spicy Refreshers is through one of the restaurant's many fruit-centric options, including juices. In fact, the simple augmentation of adding peach juice to your order can greatly enhance these tingly beverages.

This juice addition works well with any Spicy Refreshers option, though it really shines with pineapple passionfruit as a base. If you're ordering your spicy iced drink in the store, ask your barista to replace any added water with peach juice, or to split the lemonade portion in half and swap in peach juice. Whichever option you choose, this new flavor will accentuate the heat already present in your drink. You can also opt for a simple splash of peach juice if you'd prefer just a hint of peachiness.

Additionally, Starbucks has apple juice available for consumers who aren't interested in peach. Treat the addition of apple juice the same way you would treat peach juice, and you'll no doubt find this simple, sweet addition helps even out the spice, as well. This one is especially enjoyable when included with the strawberry base.

Blend it up like a Frappucino

Few drinks are more iconic to the chain than Starbucks' line of Frappuccinos. Of course, you don't have to order a Frappuccino to utilize the benefits of a blended beverage — and that's a big plus for anyone ordering a Spicy Refreshers drink.

A major concern with the Spicy Refreshers is that the ingredients can separate after mixing, leaving powdery remnants at the bottom of your cup. If this happens, it's hard to get everything reintegrated as it should be, and a great solution is blending the drink. This is an easy request to make of your barista at checkout or in the app.

The wonderful thing about this upgrade option is that it mimics the Frappuccinos the chain is known for while making the flavors easier to enjoy in each sip. Not to mention, if you enjoy a classic frozen margarita, this is an ideal way to get your drink prepped for adding tequila (once you've arrived at your destination, of course). Additionally, we should note this blended option does not come with whipped cream as a default, and though we don't think it's an ideal addition in this case, if you must have whip with your blended concoction? You can request it.

Swap in some iced tea

Like many Starbucks beverages, the Refreshers line is caffeinated to give a little boost of energy. Now, you can increase the caffeine count by adding a little iced tea to your drink, but that's not the only reason to consider adding tea to a Spicy Refreshers beverage — whether it's the strawberry açaí base, pineapple passionfruit, or mango dragonfruit. If you enjoy the taste of tea in other iced drinks, you may appreciate how it complements the Spicy Refreshers, as well.

Though black tea certainly works, your best options with these spicy iced drinks are likely passion or green tea. The passion tea will add a floral and fruity element to the drink with its notes of hibiscus, while the green tea brings more of a leafy touch. You can ask for tea as a replacement for the water normally included in Refreshers or add a splash of the tea to your beverage. Both passion and green tea mesh well with all three Spicy Refreshers options.

Alternatively, if you prefer iced tea, try adding the chili powder blend to one of Starbucks' many tea drinks instead. In this case, we highly recommend going for a green tea or passion tea offering, though one of the chain's tea lemonade options will bring an interesting mix of flavors.

Have Spicy Refreshers with a splash of coconut milk

Added to barista fridges in February 2015, coconut milk seems to be the very best friend of the Spicy Refreshers drink line. Although you can create a completely different kind of drink with this plant-based milk, if you want more subtlety, a splash will do the trick.

Coconut milk is a quality addition for those who are especially nervous about the spice level of their iced drink, as it can take a bit of the sting out of the chili powder blend. Adding a little coconut milk also helps by bringing a creamy feel to the beverage. Of course, if you do decide to include this ingredient, don't be surprised if you see some white flakes floating about in your drink — especially if your barista doesn't shake the drink well or long enough.

These white flecks won't impact the flavor of your beverage, but they might not be the most aesthetically pleasing to look at, either. To help remedy this issue, try giving the drink a few good swirls before sipping it. More than anything, though, it's important to recognize this frequently occurs with this item and isn't a reason to be concerned about your drink.

Make it a spicy Pink Drink

Starbucks' secret menu offers a sandbox of flavors for those in the know to customize their drinks, turning ordinary options into personalized favorites that are innately sharable and incredibly popular on social media. One such customization allows you to transform the beloved Pink Drink into a zesty new concoction by including the chili powder blend.

The Pink Drink – a fan-favorite that evolved from a secret menu item to a staple on the main menu — is a pastel blend of the strawberry açaí Refresher and coconut milk. Coconut milk replaces water to give the beverage a creamy texture and gorgeous hue. While this drink is a refreshing choice on its own, it serves as an excellent base for the hot powder, and you're apt to love the Spicy Refreshers Pink Drink.

The contrast between the fruity undertones of the strawberry açaí and the bold kick of the chili powder is a true treat. The creamy coconut milk helps balance the heat, as well, creating a uniquely satisfying sweet and spicy beverage. Plus, this upgrade illustrates how Spicy Refreshers can be seamlessly integrated into existing Starbucks drinks — offering new twists on popular items while encouraging individual customization from adventurous customers.

Add some heat to a Paradise Drink

We imagine the Paradise Drink and Pink Drink are akin to best friends. After all, what happens with the Pink Drink is also what's happening with this beverage: replacing water with coconut milk. Now, pineapple passionfruit Refreshers may become pale yellow rather than pink in this option, but it still works splendidly with the addition of the spicy chili powder to create an ad hoc Paradise Spicy Refreshers drink.

Actually, this variety could very well be even more delicious considering how well pineapple and spice work together. The tartness and sweetness of the fruit mixed with that heat (plus some coconut milk to smooth it all out) make for a delicious option in the spring or summer.

We think any fans of Dole Whip frozen desserts would find this to be a great starting point for a spicy sip. You can even add tequila to this upgraded beverage — like with the base Spicy Refreshers — though rum may be a better choice given this drink's tropical vibes. The spirit plays particularly well with pineapple flavors, after all.

Top with some spicy cold foam

The various cold foam flavors from Starbuck have quickly become a staple for cold coffee enthusiasts, bringing a creamy, ice cream-like texture to many beverages. With the introduction of its spicy chili powder, the chain's cold foam now offers a spicy (rather than sweet) way to enhance your drink, as well, with its spicy cold foam. Unsurprisingly, the spicy cold foam is particularly well-suited for Spicy Refreshers — at least for any customers looking to further amplify the heat while adding a velvety finish.

Whether the drink is enriched with coconut milk or prepared in the traditional style, fans of spiciness will enjoy a Spicy Refreshers order topped with the spicy cold foam. Of course, for those exploring other beverage customizations, the versatility of Starbucks cold foams extends beyond what you might expect. 

While you can certainly use spicy foam with any Spicy Refreshers flavor (and you should), if you love the zesty taste all on its own? Consider adding the cold foam to other drinks, too. The spicy cold foam opens up a whole new avenue of flavor options; for example, with very smooth flavors, like white mocha, it helps enhance that spiciness rather than overpowering it. 

Adjust the spiciness of your drink

The biggest question after the Spicy Refreshers line came out was regarding the actual spice level. Were they supremely spicy to the point that the flavor was nearly indiscernible, or was the heat at a reasonably enjoyable level? Of course, like nearly every customizable element of a Starbucks drink, your feelings likely depend on your overall mindset toward spiciness. Thankfully, if you find the Spicy Refreshers heat level needs adjustment, you can easily do so in the app or at the counter.

When you add the spicy chili powder blend from the customization menu on the Starbucks app, you're given the choice of light, extra, or regular. Though it's unclear exactly how many scoops this amounts to for each size, you can always ask a barista if you're ordering in person.

In fact, baristas are always a great resource if you need guidance when determining where your preferences lie on the spice spectrum. No one is apt to know their way around Starbucks Spicy Refreshers quite like a barista who works at the store, after all.

Tame the heat with a sweet cold foam

When making customized Starbucks drinks, the key is balance. You want to find the proper scope of interesting flavors, value, and ease of customization, which is why we prefer simple tips for making your drinks better. On that note, if your Spicy Refreshers order is still a bit too hot after you've adjusted the spice level? There's another option to help mellow everything out: adding a sweet cold foam.

The addition of a sweet foam — like the vanilla sweet cream cold foam — brings together two completely different flavor elements to create a more enjoyable beverage. It's also exceptionally easy to do, as you simply select the additional topping on the Starbucks app or ask a barista to customize your order. The addition will incur an extra cost, so be aware you'll need to pay more for this upgrade.

Additionally, while there are other sweet cold foams to play with here, not all options work nearly as well as the vanilla sweet cream cold foam. You may be able to achieve something of a spicy chocolate cold foam when paired with the right base (perhaps the strawberry açaí), but most cold foams will directly conflict with the spicy flavor.

Change out the fruit in Spicy Refreshers

Another great way to customize Starbucks Spicy Refreshers (without altering the spice level) is to change the fruit pieces added to the beverage. This can be useful if you enjoy the flavor of the drink, but not the accompanying fruit bits. For instance, if the strawberry açaí is one of your favorites, but you could do without the strawberry pieces, opting for pineapple instead can alter the overall flavor profile for the better in your Spicy Refreshers order.

Found under the Fruit Add-Ins section on the Starbucks app, there are four options: dragonfruit inclusion, freeze dried pinapple, strawberries, and strawberry purée (you'll probably only want to use that last option for frozen drinks). Of course, swapping one fruit option for another option can significantly alter your drink for the better. But adding extra fruit — like including both freeze dried pineapple and strawberries in a Spicy Refreshers drink — is another viable avenue.

For a real burst of color, the magenta-colored dragonfruit inclusion pieces bring a striking, incredibly photogenic element to some lighter-hued options. You can even request the beverage sans fruit entirely if that's your least favorite part of the drink — perhaps substituting it for another flavor element like one of those cold foams we mentioned.