Spotting your first Starbucks holiday cup and knowing deliciousness is headed your way, can be an exciting time of the year. For many, sipping a signature holiday coffee drink feels like a quintessential part of the fall and winter season, but if you’re committed to keto, it may be hard not to experience some serious FOMO when you realize that a Pumpkin Spice Latte doesn’t exactly fit into your diet.
Thankfully, you can still get your Starbucks holiday fix even if you’re going keto — you just have to be willing to get creative with your order. Since most holiday drinks are full of sugar-filled syrups and carb-laden milks, you’ll want to make a few substitutes to ensure your favorite drink is a little more keto-friendly.
Start With Black Coffee As Your Base
It might not seem obvious, but milk is actually higher in carbs than heavy cream. If you are going to order a holiday drink, have the barista use heavy cream. Since Starbucks makes their own whipping cream, they should always have heavy cream on hand for this swap. Although Starbucks does carry almond milk or coconut milk which are both lower in carbs than regular milk, they are typically sweetened and high in sugar so simply using heavy cream is the best bet.
Skip the Whip
A typical Starbucks holiday drink will come with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Although it’s a tasty sweet touch, their whipped cream contains a flavored syrup which will load your drink with sugar. So skip the whip, and just stick to adding plain heavy cream to your beverage instead. Ordering a “skinny” version of your drink will leave out the whipped cream.
Get Sugar-Free Syrup
A Starbucks holiday drink isn’t complete without its signature flavored syrup — after all, what’s a Peppermint Mocha without the peppermint flavor? Unfortunately, the standard issue syrup is essentially a sugar bomb. But there’s good news: Many of the syrups that give the holiday drinks their festive flavor now come in sugar-free versions, such as mocha, peppermint, and cinnamon dolce. Ask your barista to make a “skinny” version, which uses these sugar-free syrups, or add the syrup to a black coffee with heavy cream. Even if you’re going sugar-free, opt for only one to two pumps, as the Starbucks sugar-free syrups still contain ingredients such as sucralose and maltodextrin that you don’t want to have too much of.
Skip The Sauce
Most holiday drinks are finished off with an added touch of sauce, whether it be a Pumpkin Spice Sauce, Caramel Drizzle, or Sweet Mocha Sauce. These are made predominantly with sugar and condensed milk, making them a no-go for keto. Ask your barista to leave these off.
Add Your Own Cinnamon & Nutmeg
If you want to top your drink off or add some more flavor, add your own dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Both of these spices are available at the Starbucks milk and cream station, and they can add some holiday zest to help get you into the spirit. Cocoa powder is also available and can add some flavor to your holiday drinks without any more added sugar.
Although you won’t be able to just go to a Starbucks, order a Gingerbread Latte, and walk right out the door, you can still enjoy the magic of a Starbucks Holiday Drink if you’re willing to get crafty. The key is to avoid consuming too much sugar or milk, and you can do this by making some of these swaps or starting your own drink from scratch. There’s nothing like sipping a hot Peppermint Mocha on a cold December day, and there’s no reason you should have to miss out on all the holiday fun just because you’re doing keto.