How to Make Starbucks Holiday Drinks a Little Healthier

Holly Riddle

By Holly Riddle

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Whether or not you think it’s too early to play Christmas tunes or hang up some tinsel, the holiday season has inarguably kicked off — at least for Starbucks fans. The chain introduced its holiday drink lineup today, with a mix of new and favorite beverages.

A row of Starbucks holiday drink cups on a counter.
Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks 2023 Holiday Drinks

The highlight new addition to the holiday drink menu is an Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai, a festive beverage that a Starbucks rep called “a love letter to gingerbread and ginger.” The drink blends oat milk, black tea, and warm spices like cinnamon.

Additionally, a new Oleato Gingerbread Oatmilk Latte marks the first Oleato-based holiday beverage for the brand. Those who discovered Starbucks’ Oleato beverages when they released in the U.S. earlier this year and fell in love with the olive oil-infused coffee will definitely want to check out this new holiday drink, which a Starbucks rep described as “reminiscent of freshly baked gingerbread and olive oil cake.”

Don’t worry, though, if you’re not a chai fan and you’ve heard too many Oleato horror stories to give either of the above new drinks a try, you’ll still find lots of classics on the Starbucks holiday menu, including the:

How to Make Starbucks Holiday Drinks a Little Healthier

But let’s be real. All these tasty beverages are tasty for a reason — dairy and sugar. While your occasional Peppermint Mocha indulgence certainly won’t hurt anything, if you’re ordering a holiday favorite on the daily, you might notice a few negative effects.

Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to make Starbucks’ holiday drinks a little healthier.

1. Opt For A Dairy Alternative

A good rule of thumb at Starbucks? If the menu item doesn’t specifically say “Almond milk” or “Oatmilk,” the drink includes regular 2% milk. So, make a point of asking for your lower-calorie dairy alternative of choice when ordering. You likely won’t be able to tell a difference as far as taste.

According to the American Society of Nutrition, while oat milk contains just about as many calories as regular milk, almond and coconut milk have less. All three have less fat and all but oat are lower in sugar. (And if you’re trying to get your calcium, opt for the almond milk, which has more than regular milk.)

2. Ask For No Toppings

Some of the holiday drinks at Starbucks come not only topped with whipped cream, but other sprinkles of sugar, drizzles of caramel, and similar toppings that can add unnecessary sugar and calories to your drink. Go without the toppings — or just ask for less toppings than the barista might normally use.

3. Think About Those Flavors

Some of Starbucks’ holiday-flavored drinks come packed with syrups and sweeteners that make for a big burst of flavor. If you already think that some of these drinks are a little over the top, tasting more like a Christmas candle than a Christmas treat, you won’t have any problem asking for the barista to cut down on the flavored syrups. You can also ask the barista to use sugar-free syrups in your drinks instead.  

4. Make Smart Choices

But if you don’t want to dilute the flavor of your holiday beverages or change the perfect Starbucks concoction in any way, just make a smarter choice. Opt for one of the lower-fat, lower-sugar drinks on the holiday menu.

  • Grande Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai: 10 grams of fat and 45 grams of sugar
  • Grande Peppermint Mocha: 16 grams of fat and 54 grams of sugar
  • Grande Caramel Brulée Latte: 14 grams of fat and 48 grams of sugar
  • Grande Chestnut Praline Latte: 14 grams of fat and 38 grams of sugar
  • Grande Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte: 3.5 grams of fat and 25 grams of sugar.