Sip Coffee House is reader-supported. If you purchase through a link on this site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

/ /
Coffee Shops

Starbucks Sauce VS Syrup: 5 Main Differences [Updated 2022]

There are days when plain bean-to-cup coffee tastes perfect. But there are also those moments when we crave sweet coffee beverages with the perfect balance of flavor and kick.

We have coffee syrups and sauces to thank for making the latter possible! 

But is there a significant difference between the two? 

Yes! Keep reading to find out what makes them each unique. 

sauce and syrup at starbucks

Starbucks Sauce

Starbucks sauces add bursts of flavors to drinks. It works on hot and cold beverages but blends amazingly well with hot drinks like mocha-flavored lattes.

You’re probably familiar with how sauces look; it goes the same with Starbucks coffee sauces. It has a THICKER consistency that you can easily mix into anything.

People and coffee shops also use the coffee sauce to top baked goods and desserts or even decorate the coffee glasses for aesthetic purposes.

Cold and Hot Drinks That Use Starbucks Sauce

You might be surprised that many of your favorite Starbucks drinks use coffee sauces. Some of which are:

  • Starbucks Caramel Macchiato
  • White Chocolate Mocha
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte
  • Caffe Mocha
  • White Mocha
  • Toasted White Chocolate Mocha
  • Cinnamon Dolce Latte

You get the gist!

The caramel-flavored drinks mostly use dark caramel sauce or the regular Starbucks caramel sauce. The white chocolate beverages use white chocolate mocha sauce.

When your local barista asks if you want caramel drizzle, they’re referring to adding caramel sauce to your drink. Now you know!

Related Reads: Hot Starbucks Drinks, Cold Brew Coffee Starbucks

starbucks illustration

Starbucks Syrup

Starbucks syrups provide added flavor but are NOT as thick as Starbucks sauces.

They also mix well on hot and cold beverages but work best on cold drinks like iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte.

Coffee syrups offer more than just flavor. They also make your iced drinks sweeter, so a little pump goes a long way. Of course, larger drinks will require more pumps.

Cold and Hot Drinks That Use Starbucks Syrup

There are more syrup flavors than sauces. Most Starbucks drinks use syrups to provide you the unique flavors. Some examples are:

  • Toffee Nut (all toffee nut-flavored drinks use the same syrup)
  • Hazelnut Raspberry Irish Cream
  • Pineapple Ginger
  • Apple Brown Sugar
  • Vanilla Latte

Starbucks Sauce VS Syrup: The Differences

Let’s further differentiate Starbucks sauce vs. syrup.

1. Sauce VS Syrup: Consistency

You can easily differentiate Starbucks sauces from syrups by looking at the consistency.

Starbucks Sauce

  • Thicker
  • More viscous
  • It easily blends into hot drinks (cold drinks, too)

Starbucks Syrup

  • More fluid and liquid
  • Distributes quickly for cold drinks

2. Sauce VS Syrup: Ingredients

Sauces contain dairy, while most syrups don’t. The ingredient composition of the two also differs, which is why there are these differences.

Starbucks Sauce

  • Made with powdered milk (explains the creaminess of coffee sauces)
  • Not dairy-free
  • More solid content
  • All-natural ingredients

Starbucks Syrup

  • Most are dairy-free
  • May use some coloring (i.e., caramel coloring for the dark caramel syrups)
large latte

3. Sauces and Syrups: Flavoring

Sauces offer more intense flavoring. Although both sauces and syrups enhance flavor, they do it differently and at different intensities.

Starbucks Sauces

  • Infuses with the drink
  • It has more intense flavors
  • Best for hot beverages

Starbucks Syrups

  • It kicks up the flavor but not as intensely.
  • Best for cold beverages (iced lattes, cold coffee)

4. Sauces and Syrups: Options and Availability

But regarding availability and options, syrups are more accessible than sauces.

Starbucks Sauce

  • Exclusive for Starbucks use (proprietary)
  • You can’t buy individual coffee sauce bottles outside; you can request sauces in Starbucks only.
  • No vegan options; fewer options to choose from

Starbucks Syrups

  • Coffee consumers can get these in grocery stores
  • Starbucks offers many syrup flavors
  • Has more vegan options

5. Sauces and Syrups: Purpose and Use

Both sauces and syrups have different uses. We appreciate both of them!

Starbucks Sauces

  • To infuse flavoring that changes the whole taste of the coffee
  • Added into the hot drink (in the beginning) so it can blend better
  • It doesn’t mix well with iced drinks

Starbucks Syrups

  • To enhance the beverage’s taste even over a cold drink (but also works on hot beverages)
  • Primarily for sweetening
  • Best added to a cold drink
  • More versatile use
2 venti cups

Customized Beverages Using Syrups

One reason why people love Starbucks is because of the customization possibilities! Besides the menu selections, you can request unique beverages by mixing up the recipes.

Here are some Starbucks selections you can customize using their wide selection of syrups!

Butterbeer Drink

  • Order a Vanilla Creme Frappuccino
  • Add three pumps of toffee nut syrup (very important!)
  • Add three pumps of caramel syrup
  • Top whipped cream with caramel drizzle

Related Read: Starbucks Butterbeer

Red Velvet Drink

  • Add 1/2 regular and white choco mocha sauces to a Vanilla Creme Frappuccino.
  • Add a pump of raspberry syrup
  • Blend with whipped cream (or say “blended whip”)
  • Top with whipped cream (optional)

Hazelnut Mocha Coconutmilk Macchiato

  • Order a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino
  • Add two pumps of hazelnut syrup
  • Add nutmeg powder (if available)
  • Request to use coconut milk instead of dairy milk
  • Add a mocha drizzle

Cookie Dough Drink

  • Order a Cinnamon Dolce Creme Frappuccino
  • Add a pump of mocha syrup
  • Add java chips for blending
  • Top with chocolate whip and cookie crumbles (if available)

Related Read: Starbucks Hidden Menu

Frequently Asked Questions

Got what you need? Here’s to adding to your Starbucks sauce vs. syrup knowledge!

Are Starbucks Sauce and Syrup Similar?

Starbucks syrups and sauces are SIMILAR in enhancing the regular coffee experience and flavors.

But they DIFFER in terms of many factors, such as consistency, ingredients, flavoring, options, and use.

Read through the article above to know more!

What Are the Sauce Flavors?

Starbucks offers different sauces such as:

  • White chocolate mocha sauce
  • Mocha sauce
  • Caramel drizzle sauce
  • Pumpkin spice

You can also ask for selections on their Starbucks menu to see more options!

What Are the Syrup Flavors?

Starbucks Coffee has MORE SYRUPS than sauces. Some popular coffee syrup flavors are:

  • Cinnamon dolce syrup
  • Toffee nut syrup
  • Caramel syrup
  • Vanilla syrup
  • Hazelnut syrup
  • Brown sugar syrup

Can You Buy Starbucks Syrups and Sauces for Home Use?

You can buy Starbucks coffee syrups almost ANYWHERE, online or in grocery stores. That’s why many people try to recreate Starbucks drink options for fun.

However, you can’t buy Starbucks coffee sauces. They are exclusive and proprietary, which means only Starbucks can use them.

So, we can probably guess what makes Starbucks’ coffee special. Their secret lies in the sauces and not so much in the syrups!

How Many Calories in Starbucks Sauce VS Syrup?

It’s still subjective to the recipe.

Generally, Starbucks syrups have about 20 calories, while the sauces have about 30 calories. But bear in mind that you only need very little syrup.

Are Syrups Free at Starbucks?

If the cold or hot beverages of your choice already contain syrup, the recipe already includes it.

It’s not technically free since the cost is added to the price. But you don’t need to pay extra for these.

However, if you wish to add extra pumps of syrup or customize your drink with other types of syrup (additional to the original recipe), they may charge you for it.

Are Sauces or Syrups Vegan Friendly?

Sauces are generally non-vegan since they use dairy milk to make them creamy. It’s the syrup options that have a lot of vegan selections.

Starbucks is INCLUSIVE when it comes to its beverage. Don’t hesitate to ask for healthier options such as almond milk or dairy-free syrups!

Is Mocha Sauce the Same as Mocha Syrup at Starbucks?

No, there is no such thing as mocha syrup. The mocha selections in Starbucks are products of the mocha sauce, not the syrups!

The Verdict: Is Starbucks Syrup or Sauce Better?

Sauces and syrups serve different purposes, so there’s no determining which one’s better regarding their general use.

But to judge them fairly, let’s use our above criteria to define the winner for each category.

  • Consistency
  • Ingredients
  • Flavoring
  • Options and Availability
  • Purpose and Use

1 – Consistency

For consistency, it depends on where you want to add them. If you plan to kick up the coffee flavor from the beginning, it’s better to use the thick coffee sauce with the hot espresso.

But we appreciate how fluid syrups can easily be a quick fix. If the coffee tastes horrible, mixing in some syrup can be a great solution.

2 – Ingredients

If you’re vegan, you’d appreciate the options syrups have. Sauces are generally not for you since most of them have dairy compositions.

But you’ll love the sauces if you’re not vegan and appreciate all-natural ingredients. The drawback of syrups is that they have lots of artificial flavoring.

3 – Flavoring

Both offers enhance flavoring. Again, we go back to where in the step you’ll add them – is it infusing it with the espresso (sauce) or as a finishing touch and quick fix (syrup)?

But we must say, the infused flavor of sauces gives it a more intense kick. It switches up the drink’s taste from plain coffee to a flavored one.

4 – Options and Availability

Unfortunately, you can’t access Starbucks sauces anywhere. Sure, other coffee sauces are available for you, but it’s not the exact one from Starbucks.

Whereas for syrups, Starbucks sells its syrups in grocery stores. It’s the same thing they use in their outlets, too. Recreating is easier with this one.

5 – Purpose and Use

Both are winners of this.

Going back to categories one and three, it’s subjective to how you use them. They offer great flavors, just in different ways!


Did we answer your confusion between Starbucks sauces and syrups?

They’re excellent ways to elevate your morning caffeine sessions from instant coffee and plain black to crafted beverages.

It is one of the reasons why Starbucks coffee options are a big hit!