Struggling to figure out what and how to order gluten-free at Starbucks? Below are Starbucks Gluten-Free Drinks to order and how to order to manage cross-contact.
NOTE: This was written with USA Starbucks fans in mind. As always, do your own research to determine safety and suitability for yourself. And if you need help with this, I teach you how to read ingredient lists and food labels to identify gluten in my FREE label-reading class, check it out here!
Based on Spring 2019 Allergen Sheet (if you find a more recent one please contact me!)
The following drinks are gluten-free at Starbucks with out asking for cross-contact precautions:
Basically anything that is made in a cup without flavoring can be gluten-free but always double check with your barista. You can also request your drink be made in a cup to reduce cross-contact if needed (more on that later).
Cross-contact is important to take seriously if you have celiac, and in some cases of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This is something I coach all of my clients on getting comfortable with. If you have celiac, here are the cross-contact precautions to ask for when ordering from Starbucks!
For blended drinks: If you’re ordering anything blended ask them to wash the blender before preparing your drink because the frappuccino chips are not gluten-free.
For shaken drinks: If you’re ordering anything shaken (which includes iced tea lattes) ask them to wash the shaker before preparing your drink because the new Chocolate Almond Milk Shaken Espresso has malt making the shaker a potential point of cross-contact.
With drinks with cold foam: ask them to wash the blender first again, because not everything made in the blender is gluten-free.
If you’re not sure if something will be blended or shaken, ASK!
If you are ordering during a busy time, consider telling them you have an allergy and ask them to prepare your order in the cup. I say this because a few Starbucks employees told me that they weren’t sure how likely they’d be to wash a blender or shaker during busy hours so it might be better to play it safe. Also, it feels easier to ask for to me, than to ask them to stop their flow and go wash something.
For flavored drinks: ask are your syrups gluten-free? Most of the time the classic, vanilla, white mocha, mocha, and hazelnut syrups are gluten-free at Starbucks but it’s good to double-check, especially since Starbucks hasn’t been super forthcoming on the gluten-free status of drinks.
Want to know what’s definitely off-limits if you have celiac at Starbucks? Here’s what’s not gluten-free at Starbucks:
Some seasonal drinks and other drinks may contain gluten too. Be sure to check the ingredients before ordering as the menu changes often.
Additionally, be mindful of the drinks with Oat Milk if you’re sensitive. Starbucks uses Oatly in the USA which is certified gluten-free by the GFCO. However verify this is the oat milk your Starbucks uses because some Starbucks are switching their source.
Starbucks is really playing it safe when it comes to making gluten-free claims about products and I think that’s because their drinks change so often it’s hard to have a plan to minimize cross-contact.
That being said, Starbucks directs your to their online menu on their App and Website to check the status of allergen in different menu items.
The problem is a lot of Allergen sections for their drinks on the Starbucks menu come up with “Not available for this item” which can make it hard to know the status. However, on the website you can see the ingredients to determine the safety on.
You can see in the attached picture the struggle I’m talking about. The main questionable ingredient in drink items is “Natural Flavors” which can contain a gluten-containing grain but usually is safe.
What’s interesting to me is that in the Ice Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso Drink is not gluten-free and the ingredients specifically declare that it’s not gluten-free because of the natural malt flavor derived from barley. Which implies to me, they’d likely declare other gluten-derived ingredients in the ingredients too. That’s just my thought process.
The Fall 2021 Seasonal Drinks at Starbucks are gluten-free. Yes, this even includes the Apple Crisp drinks. Let me explain!
Many people think that the Apple Crisp Starbucks drinks are not gluten-free due to the Spiced Apple Drizzle having an ingredient derived from wheat.
When contacting Starbucks about this, they confirmed that the “Caramelized sugar (for color)” was derived from wheat. Now caramelized sugar is literally just sugar heated to a high temp to create caramel.
So what they are saying is the sugar is derived from wheat. However, currently, the sugars derived from wheat on the market are all considered gluten-free due to high levels of processing (we see this in the Haribo Gummy Bears).
Additionally, “caramelized sugar (for color)” is really just caramel color, which can be considered gluten-free regardless of starting material in the USA. So… even though this product contains an ingredient derived from wheat, it does not contain any gluten, and so it is gluten-free.
So currently, the fall 2022 Pumpkin Spice and Apple Crisp drinks are considered gluten-free. Just be sure if you’re ordering the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino that they are washing the blender before making your drink and if you’re ordering anything with cold foam, they are washing the frother/pitchers with soap and water.
All of that said, it’s understandable if drinking something that is derived from wheat (but is gluten-free due to processing) makes you uncomfortable, so if you’d rather be more conservative, just order the Apple Crisp drinks without the drizzle on top!
When ordering gluten-free drinks at Starbucks, make sure you’re skipping out on the Chocolate Cream Cold Brew as this new flavor has Chocolate Malt Powder, which is not gluten-free.
And if you’re ordering gluten-free drinks with cold foam, this is one of the many reasons you’re asking to have the blender washed to prevent cross-contact.
Gluten-free Starbucks drinks might not be super obvious so when if in doubt, order something simple like a coffee with cream and sugar.
What’s your go-to Starbucks order?
Disclaimer: As always, this post is not to take the place of you doing your own research to determine appropriateness, suitability, and safety of drinks ordered from Starbucks. Always confirm with the Barista and do your own research on the safety.