How to Order a Healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks
Fall is in the air, which can only mean one thing: Pumpkin spice is on the brain. Perhaps there’s no place more popular to pick up this favorite autumn treat than the coffee chain that started it all – Starbucks. And while the brand’s signature blend of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove has garnered a cult following since its introduction in 2003, we can’t ignore its nutritional statistics, which are as frightening as spooky season itself. Read on to learn more about what you need to know about Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte and how to order a better-for-you version on your next coffee run.
Is Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte healthy?
We hate to burst your bubble, PSL lovers, but the answer to this question is: No, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte is not “healthy.”
A grande Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte made with 2% steamed milk foam has 390 calories, 14 grams of fat, 52 carbs, 14 grams of protein and 50 grams of sugar. Substituting whole milk bumps up the saturated fat and calories a notch. In other words, a classic PSL packs in a meal’s worth of calories and carbs, with more than two days’ worth of added sugar!
To put that in perspective, even a Starbucks Cheese Danish is lower in everything, including sugar, with 28 fewer grams than the Pumpkin Spice Latte. So, if you opt for this fall favorite drink, savor every sip, and think of it more as a dessert than a coffee.
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What’s in a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte?
The Starbucks website lists the ingredients in its “Pumpkin Spice Sauce” as sugar, condensed skim milk, pumpkin puree, 2% or less of fruit and vegetable juice for color, natural flavors, annatto, salt and potassium sorbate. It's great that Starbucks is using some all-natural additives, but the final ingredient is a common preservative.
Its “Pumpkin Spice Topping” contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove, along with sulfiting agents, which help to prevent spoilage and discoloration in foods.
In addition to the “Pumpkin Spice Sauce” and “Pumpkin Spice Topping,” other ingredients in the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte include: milk, brewed espresso, whipped cream and vanilla syrup (sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, citric acid).
How can I make my Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte healthier?
There are a few ways to make the traditional Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte a bit better for you. Here are some tips to make your PSL healthier.
- Ask for less syrup. What makes Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte so sweet is the syrup that goes into it. And trust us – a lot goes into it! A hot venti PSL gets five pumps of syrup, which adds a whopping 165 calories to the drink on its own, even before milk and whipped cream are added. Ask your barista to dial it back to just two or three pumps to cut back on calories and sugar.
- Swap out the milk. Starbucks generally makes its PSLs with 2% milk, but the chain also offers soy, coconut and almond milk alternatives. Soy milk provides a nice sweetness; coconut gives a unique flavor and frothy texture; and unsweetened almond milk is still creamy enough while keeping calories down.
- Omit the whipped cream. We get it, everyone loves whipped cream. But unfortunately, Starbucks’ whipped cream is made with vanilla syrup and heavy whipping cream; together, these ingredients pack a sugary punch at 80 calories per serving. Ask your barista to omit the whipped cream and the pumpkin spice topping, or if you must have it, ask for less.
- Opt for a smaller size. A tall PSL with all the fixings is still 300 calories, but without whipped cream and with almond milk, you can cut that count almost in half to 180 calories and make it a healthier and just as delicious version.
Is there a healthier version of the pumpkin spice latte?
Most pumpkin spice lattes are high in sugar and processed ingredients. From a nutritional standpoint, I haven't been able to find a coffee shop version that I would recommend as a daily habit. My advice: Choose the PSL you like best and enjoy it as an occasional treat.
As an alternative, you can also try making your own PSL with all-natural ingredients at home or try one of these better-for-you pumpkin spice drinks. You can also satisfy your craving for the fall flavor with one of these delicious and nutritious pumpkin spice finds. You won’t be disappointed!