A friend who is on the ketogenic diet told me he once asked a Starbucks barista for a cup of heavy cream and proceeded to chug it in front of the befuddled employee. But if you’re keeping keto, you know that the high-fat, low-carb diet often leads to unconventional eating and drinking choices.
It’s at places like Starbucks that the keto diet can lead to the most head-scratching questions regarding what to order. You may already know there is a keto-approved version of the Pink Drink, as well as a Frappuccino hack. There are even a bunch of slight twists on standard faves like the Americano.
1. Low-Carb Mocha
Mr. Skinnypants has a great rundown of keto-friendly Starbucks beverages. His low-carb mocha seems like one you’d order on the regular to get a sweet fix while still staying close to your dietary restrictions. It uses sugar-free mocha sauce, half heavy whipping cream and half water. Peace, Love and Low Carb has some other mocha hacks, too.
2. Keto Chai Tea Latte
Starbucks isn’t just about the coffee beverages! Keto Connect recommends this keto-adaptation of a chai tea latte that uses brewed chai tea bags, sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup, heavy cream and a sugar substitute. Yum!
3. Iced Tea
There are lots of ways to enjoy Starbucks iced tea beverages in a keto-friendly way. Ketogenic says to take any of the unsweetened teas, get them iced, add some heavy cream (or not) and then include sugar-free vanilla syrup or a packet of sugar substitute for a sweet and keto-hacked Starbucks drink.
4. Low-Carb Caramel Macchiato
This will be a higher carb drink, but you can make it more keto-friendly. A Starbucks barista on Reddit suggested ordering a tall or grande size to keep the carbs down, plus using almond milk (which, please note, still has carbs) and only a touch of caramel drizzle (or no drizzle, as the latter has a few carbs!). Add ice to make it an iced (duh) low-carb caramel macchiato.
5. Doubleshot On Ice
Sometimes you just need caffeine … lots of it. Hip2keto has got you covered: This unsweetened doubleshot on ice features three shots of espresso. Add almond milk or a bit of heavy cream and/or your choice of sugar-free syrup or artificial sweetener for an extra refreshing beverage.
6. Low-Carb London Fog
Ever tried a London Fog? It’s Earl Grey tea with steamed milk and just a splash of vanilla syrup. You can make a low-carb version of a London Fog by adding heavy whipping cream and sugar-free vanilla to an unsweetened, steeped cup of Earl Grey tea. You can also add some cinnamon or nutmeg if you please!
In fact, adding spice in general to Starbucks drinks is a great, low-carb way to add flavor for a keto-friendly beverage.
7. Keto Strawberry Creme Frappuccino
Vroom Fitness explains on YouTube how you can adapt a Strawberry Creme Frappuccino in two ways (warning: video contains expletives starting at 2 minutes in). First, ask your barista to use heavy cream, sugar-free vanilla syrup, ice and freeze-dried strawberries instead of Starbucks’ normal strawberry base and puree (which both likely contain hidden sugars). Adding Starbucks’ whipped cream is up to you as it contains sugar.
You can also make a chocolate strawberry version by adding sugar-free mocha syrup and blending that into your drink. Both look delicious!
8. A Correctly Ordered Keto Frappuccino
Over on Hip2Keto, writer Angie revealed that she thought she’d regularly been enjoying a Starbucks coffee Frappuccino that was keto-friendly, as she had specified “no syrups” and Splenda as a substitute when ordering it. She later found out that all Frappuccinos use a frap base that has sugar in it.
So, to make sure you’re ordering a truly keto-friendly Frap, ask for a tall unsweetened iced coffee with extra ice, two pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup and two shots of heavy whipping cream. Then, have it blended Frappuccino-style but without any Frappuccino base or other syrups. You can add a sugar-free sweetener packet if you want extra sweetness.
9. Keto White Drink
Starbucks recently did away with some of its unsweetened tea infusion options. So the newest take on the keto-friendly “White Drink” uses iced white tea with no liquid cane sugar added and then adds sugar-free vanilla syrup plus heavy cream.
You can also make this same iced white tea drink horchata-style by adding sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup instead of the vanilla, heavy cream and cinnamon.
10. Black Coffee/Espresso
That’s right, coffee and espresso are 100 percent keto-friendly along with all their caffeinated goodness. If your palate can handle a more bitter drink, go ahead and order one. It’s definitely the easiest keto-friendly drink you can order at Starbucks or any coffee shop!
11. Sous Vide Egg Bites
As you might have guessed, most of the Starbucks food menu — which is heavy on pastries, bagels and breakfast sandwiches — isn’t keto-friendly. However, there are a few items that will work with your diet.
Start with the sous vide egg bites. The bacon and gruyere variety is lowest in carbs at just 9 grams. Both the ham, cheddar and peppers egg bite and the egg white and roasted red pepper egg bite have 11 grams per bite. They’re not carb-free but not too bad overall.
12. Other Food Options
The reduced-fat turkey bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, minus the bun, is another good option. Same goes for the turkey pesto panini, also sans bun, and some of the other meat and veggie sandwiches, depending on how many net carbs you still have left in your daily keto count.
Other no- or low-carb Starbucks food options may vary from store to store depending on what they stock. But Taste of Home points out several you’re likely to find including dehydrated Moon Cheese, cheese and meat trays, turkey jerky, trail mix and the chain’s cauliflower and tabbouleh salad.
Limiting yourself to the nuts, eggs and cheese in the Starbucks protein boxes is another keto hack when you need something to nosh on.
Ordering Tip: Use the Mobile App
This article features a lot of substitutions and special preps on drinks, meaning it might just be easier to order your keto-friendly Starbucks drink on the Starbucks mobile app. That way you won’t accidentally be flummoxed as you talk to a barista. Plus, mobile ordering means your drink is often waiting for you when you show up, no standing in line necessary.
Remember, the keto diet is controversial and does not necessarily lead to long-term weight loss success. Before you begin such a diet, talk to your physician or a registered dietician about the best options for your body.