Q: For when I’m on the go and there’s nothing else around, what are the healthiest breakfast options at Starbucks?
A: No matter where in the world you are, you’ll likely be able to find the green mermaid logo somewhere nearby. But figuring out which are the healthiest breakfast options at Starbucks? That can require a little more due diligence.
The good news: The mega coffee chain lists nutrition facts and ingredient lists for nearly everything it sells on its website, so it’s possible to do your homework in advance.
Better yet…I’ve done it for you! Below, I’m breaking down the best (and worst!) morning menu picks at Starbucks. Many are not what you’d expect (and be aware that availability of certain foods will differ at different locations), so be sure to read through (or bookmark this list on your phone for when you need it).
Choose: The Healthiest Breakfast Foods at Starbucks
You know I’m a huge fan of oatmeal every which way (both hot and cold), so this one’s a given. No matter the flavor you choose, it’s consistently a great choice, made with simple, whole ingredients and filled with fiber and protein. Just be careful with the toppings. You don’t need both the brown sugar and cranberries (both are all sugar). Choose one or, better yet, skip them and opt for the nuts. If you love sweet, TNS grad Cassie Piasecki also once told me about this genius hack: she buys Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups and puts one (just one!) in the oatmeal, covers it to let it melt, and then mixes it all up for extra protein, healthy fat, and flavor.
Sous Vide Egg Bite: Egg White & Red Pepper
These protein-rich bites are like mini frittatas (that kind of look like dumplings) and are made with cage-free eggs, cheese, spinach, and peppers. The sodium is a little high (500mg) so I wouldn’t recommend making it a daily choice, but on the fly, it’s not bad. Pro tip: Order the organic avocado spread to top ‘em off with healthy fats and vitamins.
Protein Boxes: Eggs & Cheese, Cheese & Fruit
Healthy eaters tend to grab these most often, for good reason. The boxes all have at least 20g of protein and are basically a plate of whole foods—like hard-boiled eggs, cheddar cheese, grapes, and apples—as opposed to more processed menu items. Grab the Eggs & Cheese or Cheese & Fruit versions.
Justin’s Nut Butters + Seasonal Fruit
Here’s a DIY breakfast solution: Nearly every location sells cups of seasonal fruit (the “seasonal” part is questionable…but it’s fresh fruit, either way) and packets of Justin’s almond butter or peanut butter. Grab one of each and dip your apple slices and strawberries in the nut butter of your choice for protein and healthy fat.
Avoid: These Starbucks Menu Picks
It’s rare for me to advise skipping eggs, but while Starbucks’ various breakfast sandwiches have lots of protein, they are also loaded with sodium. (Some have close to 1000 grams!) Even the seemingly healthy Spinach, Feta, and Cage-Free Egg White Wrap packs 830g of sodium into just 290 calories. Unless you want to feel bloated all day, skip it.
Sugar, sugar, sugar. I love yogurt for its probiotic properties and protein, but these satisfy your sugar allowance for the entire day. I also don’t like to recommend dairy when it’s not organic and/or grass-fed.
Did I mention sugar? These are even worse than the yogurts on that front. Smoothies are often no good unless they’re vegetable-forward. Stay away.
This one’s kind of a no-brainer, but I had to say it, since the pastry case is so front-and-center. If you’re grabbing a Chocolate Chunk Muffin as a conscious indulgence, I’ve got no qualms. But it’s my job to point out these aren’t nourishing breakfast picks and shouldn’t be eaten regularly. And the ones that seem more “wholesome” are often the worst. A Cranberry Scone, for example, has 26g of sugar and 64g of carbs, while the Chocolate Croissant is a much better pick, with half the sugar and carbs. (You’re welcome.)
Now that you’re ready to eat well at Starbucks, a final note: don’t forget about your coffee order. Drink coffee and espresso in the most simple ways possible, since it’s the “stuff” that’s added in that’s often bad for your bod. A rule of thumb that almost always works: the more elaborate the drink (like a Caramel Macchiato), the worse it tends to be for your health. Remember the Unicorn Frappucino, guys?