Vegan Holiday Drinks at Starbucks – How To Order Vegan

Vegan Holiday Drinks at Starbucks 2021 – it is the most wonderful time of the year. I mean, come on, does the Holiday season even start before Starbucks releases those red cups? Fun fact, the red cups were introduced in 1997 as a way of drumming up interest in their seasonal drinks. I think it is safe to say as marketing campaigns go this was a successful one. If you are interested in the red cups, come in four “gifting-inspired” designs this year – holiday lights, ribbon, wrapping paper, and candy canes. People literally count down to the release of the Starbucks seasonal drinks. Well, that day (finally) happened on 3 November when Starbucks announced its 2021 holiday drinks. The drinks were officially launched into stores on 4th November. So, as I did for Dunkin’ Donuts in my piece Vegan Holiday Drinks at Dunkin’ 2021 – it is time to find out what are the 2021 Holiday Drinks at Starbucks and most importantly are they vegan.

What Holiday Drinks Are Vegan At Starbucks?

As a general rule, out of all the Starbucks 2021 Holiday Drinks, one is vegan as-is (the Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte). Vegan versions of the Peppermint Mocha, Irish Cream Cold Brew, and Chestnut Praline Latte can be ordered with substitutions. The Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino and Caramel Brulee Latte cannot be ordered vegan even if ordered with plant-based milk.

Oh, and if you are looking for a complete breakdown of the Starbucks menu you can find it in my article: How To Actually Order Vegan Starbucks Drinks. This piece will focus solely on the 2021 Starbucks Holiday Drinks.

Vegan Holiday Drinks at Starbucks 2021

Starbucks 2021 Holiday Drinks – Vegan AS-ISStarbucks 2021 Holiday Drinks – Vegan with SUBSTITUTIONSStarbucks 2021 Holiday Drinks – CAN NOT BE MADE VEGAN
Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk LatteIrish Cold Brew – Substitute vanilla sweet cream cold foam with plant-based milkToasted White Coffee Mocha Frappuccino (white chocolate sauce contains dairy)
Peppermint Mocha – substitute dairy milk for plant-based milk and hold the whip and chocolate curlsCaramel Brulee Latte (Caramel Brulee sauce contains dairy)
Chestnut Praline Latte – substitute the dairy milk for plant-based milk and hold the whip

The Big News

Let’s start with the Big News. For the first time in history Starbucks has released a completely as-is vegan holiday drink i.e., you do not need to make any substitutions OR pay extra for dairy-free milk. You can simply walk up to the counter and say, “can I have a Venti Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte”. Hand over some moola, collect your drink, and enjoy. This is exciting for vegans and hopefully a step forward, but I digress.

Let’s look at what all six drinks are then separately break down each one to see if it is vegan, and if not, how it can be ordered vegan.

Do You Love Coffee?

Do you love coffee and just want an easy and complete guide that tells you all the rules of thumb on how to order vegan coffee or drinks at any coffee chain or restaurant? If you do – great then check out my complete guide to ordering vegan coffee below:

Vegan Holiday Drinks at Starbucks 2021 - Starbucks Green Cup

What are the Starbucks 2021 Holiday Drinks?

These are the six Starbucks Holiday Drinks released for 2021. They are:

1. Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte

2. Irish Cream Cold Brew

3. Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino

4. Peppermint Mocha

5. Caramel Brulee Latte

6. Chestnut Praline Latte

A Word About Sugar and Natural Flavors

Before I investigate each of the six drinks, I have a warning. All the below drinks, even if they can be ordered dairy-free, will contain sugar and natural flavors. It is hard to know if sugar (that isn’t marked as organic, raw, or beet) or natural flavors are vegan or not.

Sugar can be processed with bone char here in the US. Natural Flavors can be derived from plants or animals (most of the time it comes from plants though). I covered Natural Flavors in-depth in my pieces: Is Root Beer Vegan? Unlock The Hidden Root Cause and Is Cream Soda Vegan? Unlock All You Need To Know.

As sugar and natural flavors are so hard to avoid (and they are not necessarily non-vegan) many vegans are comfortable consuming them. Some stricter vegans, however, are not comfortable with sugar or natural flavors.

A Solution to Sugar and Natural Flavors

If sugar and/or Natural Flavors are an issue for you, there is some good news. You can buy a bag of Starbucks’ Christmas blend to take home and whip up your own vegan Christmas cup of java. Starbucks 2021 Christmas blend consists of Sumatran beans, along with dark roasted beans from Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, and Colombia. The Christmas blend has notes of herbs and baking spices and a chocolate finish.

Let’s start with looking at the “as-is” vegan holiday drink being offered by Starbucks this year- the Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte. Despite the name, this drink can be ordered either hot or cold. Inspired by German holiday sugar cookies – called Spritz. The drink is made of Starbucks Blonde Espresso, Sugar Cookie Flavored Syrup, Almond Milk, and topped with green and red cookie sprinkles.

Starbucks does not label the drink as vegan due to cross-contamination concerns, but no modifications need to be made to order it dairy-free. 

2. Is Starbucks Irish Cream Cold Brew Vegan

The Irish Cream Cold Brew consists of cold brew coffee swirled with Irish cream syrup and topped with a cloud of vanilla sweet cream cold foam and a hint of cocoa.

The vanilla sweet cream cold foam contains milk and is not vegan. The Irish cream syrup and the cocoa do not contain dairy.

If you wanted to order this drink you could order the Irish Cold Cream Brew but substitute the vanilla sweet cream cold foam for your choice of dairy-free milk (I would recommend oat for creaminess). It would not be the same as the original, but it will be close (plus it will be vegan which is the main thing). Also, if you feel like you are then missing out on the vanilla from the cold foam, you could always add a shot of vanilla syrup to your drink.

Vegan Holiday Drinks at Starbucks 2021 - Starbucks Cups

3. Is Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino Vegan?

The Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino is made up of coffee, milk, ice, and flavors of caramelized white chocolate, topped with whipped cream, holiday sugar sparkles, and crispy white pearls.

The White Chocolate Mocha sauce contains dairy so the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino cannot be ordered vegan.

It is the case at every coffee chain I have investigated that the white chocolate sauce always contains dairy. It is also the same, for example, with the two white chocolate holiday drinks at Dunkin’ – see my post: Vegan Holiday Drinks at Dunkin’ 2021. No huge surprises there.

4. Is Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Vegan?

The Starbucks Peppermint Mocha is made of espresso combined with steamed milk, mocha sauce, and peppermint-flavored syrup, topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls. The Starbucks Peppermint Mocha is not vegan as-is. You can, however, order a vegan version.

The peppermint syrup and mocha do not contain dairy, whereas the whip and chocolate curls do contain dairy. If you order the peppermint mocha with your choice of plant-based milk and minus both the whipped cream and the dark chocolate curls your peppermint mocha will be vegan.

Interestingly, the Peppermint Mocha at Dunkin’ is the only drink that can be made vegan (the other two contain white chocolate). Again, you can read more about it here – Vegan Holiday Drinks at Dunkin’ 2021.

5. Is Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte Vegan?

Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte consists of signature espresso, steamed milk, and caramel brulee sauce finished with whipped cream and caramel brulee bits. The caramel brulee latte is not vegan (even if ordered with plant-based milk) as the caramel brulee sauce contains milk. 

If you still are hankering for at least a smidgen of caramel brulee vibes in your cup of java the caramel brulee bits sprinkled on top do not contain dairy. You could see if a barista will sprinkle some on top of your vegan latte.

6. Is Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte Vegan?

The Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte is made of espresso, and milk, with flavors of caramelized praline and spices—all topped with whipped cream and specially spiced praline crumbs.

The good news – the chestnut praline syrup and the chestnut praline topping do not contain dairy. That means as long as you order the Starbucks Chestnut Praline with plant-based milk and hold the whip it is vegan.

Does Starbucks have vegan whipped cream?

Talking of whipped cream this begs the following question – Does Starbucks have vegan whipped cream?

Most Starbucks do not have vegan whipped cream. However, Starbucks has been testing a vegan whipped cream—made from a lentil base—at two Seattle locations since September. Fingers crossed it is a success and rolled out Nationwide.

Vegan Holiday Drinks at Starbucks 2021 - Enjoy Coffee

Vegan Holiday Drinks at Starbucks 2021 – The Final Sip

Whether you love Starbucks or truly don’t (in which case you probably wouldn’t even be reading this article) there is something special about the Starbucks “red cups”. Okay, yes, I know that it is complete marketing brainwashing, but I guess it has worked. In terms of vegan offerings, Starbucks is owed a lot of credit for creating an as-is vegan holiday drink. This is something that its fellow mainstream coffee competitors have not done (yet). As with most coffee drinks if it contains anything white chocolate-related will usually be not vegan. However, four of the six drinks released can be made vegan with substitutions or are vegan as-is. As to what is the best Starbucks Holiday Drink for 2021 – well come on is that a serious question. The best has to be the Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte – it’s vegan from the get-go.

Vegan Holiday Drinks at Starbucks 2021

…now you know

Beverage makers may change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes. Always double-check ingredients before purchasing any beverages.

Like What You Are Reading

Want to know what is and is not vegan at other coffee chains and restaurants, such as Dunkin’ Donuts (including all of their 2021 Holiday Drinks), Coffee Bean, Dunkin’ Donuts, Peet’s, Philz, or Dutch Bros. If you do, then check out my other posts below:

Editorial Team

The Vegan Bev HQ Editorial Team - helping you find the best vegan drink out there!

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