Any popular coffee chain thrives on the ability of its customers to modify, customize, and personalize their morning cup of joe. Dunkin’ Donuts is no exception to the rule. In fact, the Dunkin Newsroom has claimed that it’s possible for diners to combine and create up to 25,000 custom drinks from across the Dunkin’ menu alone!
Amongst this wide range of add-ons, flavor injections, and optional twists is the popular flavor swirl. This allows you to give your chosen drink with a creamy, indulgent boost of flavor.
Dunkin’ Donuts also offer flavor shots, which purport to fulfill a similar goal to the flavor swirl. Flavor shots also allow you to customize your drink and satisfy any taste cravings you might find bubbling up.
So what exactly is the difference between these two different flavor options? Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at what exactly a flavor swirl is, how it differs from its flavor shot cousin, and what flavors to look out for!
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What’s the difference between flavor swirl and flavor shot?
Both these optional extras allow you to inject a blast of flavor into a range of hot and cold drinks, but they do so in slightly different ways. Here are some of the main differences.
Flavor shots are unsweetened and sugar-free. For this reason, they’re often a preferred choice for diners trying to keep a sweet tooth from getting out of hand, or for those watching their calories. Flavor swirls, on the other hand, are unashamedly decadent, sugary, and indulgent.
This also means that flavor swirls, with the exception of their mocha flavor, contain dairy. This is what gives them their creamy richness! Flavor shots, on the other hand, provide a thinner texture and are all non-dairy, so great for vegans.
This all means that flavor swirls, whilst perhaps being more of a sweet and creamy treat, pack a greater caloric punch. The difference is worth taking note of if you’re trying to limit your calorie intake.
A single ‘pump’ of flavor swirl is likely to be around 50 calories. A medium drink with flavor swirl added will usually contain 3 pumps. This means that adding a flavor swirl to most drinks could add between 150 – 160 calories to your takeaway meal. Flavor shots, on the other hand, will add only 5 – 10 calories to your drink.
For those who like to keep their beverages as ‘natural’ as possible, you might be pleased to hear that both flavor shots and flavor swirls are free from artificial sweeteners or artificial dyes.
What flavors are available?
There are some flavor options spanning both flavor shot and flavor swirls, including vanilla and hazelnut. Otherwise, some of the primary flavor shots are toasted almond, blueberry, raspberry, and coconut.
What about the flavor swirls? As well as French vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, and mocha, you’re also likely to find a string of seasonal favorites. These include pumpkin, peanut butter, peppermint mocha, butter pecan, and rocky road.
Some of these flavors might vary depending on your local Dunkin’ franchise, but the development crew are always on the lookout to experiment and expand the company’s menu! Keep an eye on the drinks list in your nearest store, especially at the turn of the season, to see what new flavor options might become available.
Also, one of the beauties of flavor shots and swirls is that you can mix and match! Just ask your server to give you a swirl or two of different flavors and see what you can fashion. And if you want to see someone else taking some custom combos for a test drive, why not check out this video from popular US vlogger Lindsay Rae?
Best flavor swirl at Dunkin’
That’s a hot topic of debate! We can’t say with any certainty which one will be the best for you, but to help you decide here’s a run down of some of the most popular.
50 calories per pump / 150 additional calories per medium drink
We’ll start with some of the established classics, the ones that deck the menu from Summer until Spring and then back again. Perfect for adding a sweet lift to any Dunkin drink, this one goes great when you swap it in for sugar and cream in a classic iced coffee.
It will also give your drink a smoother texture – why not try adding to a sweet cream cold brew to make what’s sometimes called ‘the Charlie’? Alternatively, a caramel macchiato is a small, sweet, warming treat for any occasion.
56 calories per pump / 168 additional calories per medium drink
You can’t go wrong with this warm and nutty classic. For lovers of hazelnut spread, autumn glow, and chocolatey notes, this is the one for you.
Frothy lattes benefit particularly from this festive addition, but it can also add a sweet edge to a refreshing, cold brew coffee as well.
French Vanilla Swirl
54 calories per pump / 162 additional calories per medium drink
Along with caramel, French vanilla still stands as one of Dunkin’s flagship flavors. Its popularity has endured through its sheer versatility – you can add it to any coffee drink or combine it with other swirls and shots to create your own custom beverage.
In fact, if you can’t decide on whether to go for vanilla or caramel, why not just blend the two for a particularly velvety, decadent treat?
50 calories per pump / 150 additional calories per medium drink
This will give your drink a deep, dark, chocolatey edge. Ideal for, well, you guessed it, chocolate lovers! The great thing about Dunkin Donuts’ mocha swirl is that it avoids a sickly sweetness.
Add it to hot milk coffee to turn it into a hot chocolate with a caffeine kick. Alternatively, why not add it to a cold brew for a sugary, refreshing lift?
If you really want to entice your taste buds, go for their seasonal offering of Peppermint Mocha Swirl whenever it’s available. A herby, chocolatey blend which will leave your drink feeling like an After Eight mint!
52 calories per pump / 156 additional calories per medium drink
Talking of seasonal flavors, they don’t come more seasonal than this! The pumpkin swirl is a flavor injection synonymous with Fall. It’s what happens when an earthy, autumnal lift combines with a warm drink. Cozy stuff indeed.
Best served hot, in our opinion, with rich espresso and frothy milk. As with every flavor syrup though, don’t hesitate from trying it out with a colder beverage!
Peanut Butter Cup Swirl
60 calories per pump / 180 additional calories per medium drink
If you love the sweet, wholesome, cream of peanut butter than you’ll love this addition to your drink. People don’t always associate this flavor or texture with something that would go well in a hot cup of coffee, but we say ‘Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.’
Peanut butter has a remarkably versatile taste and texture – add this swirl to creamy, cold drinks or hot frothy ones to make it taste like a melted Reese!
Rocky Road Swirl
58 calories per pump / 174 additional calories per medium drink
This one really is a high wire act of taste creation. Dunkin’ have somehow managed to combine the richness and depth of chocolate ice cream with the sweet, soft edge of marshmallow, whilst also adding a touch of almond. This is an ice cream inspired flavor and goes great in cold drinks, but you can also use it to add a sweet lilt to a steaming cup of joe as well.
Next time you’re at your local Dunkin’ store, why not add a swirl of flavor to your morning cup? Shots and swirls are there to give consumers as much flexibility as they could want when it comes to customizing their own personal drinks. Time to get experimenting!
Do flavor shots cost extra at Dunkin?
It may depend on your local franchise, but usually not. Flavor shots or flavor swirls are not sold separately, but incorporated into the cost of the overall drink. For example, a medium sized drink with flavor swirls will usually have 3 ‘pumps’ of swirl. A large drink will have roughly 4 and a small sized drink 2.
Usually, the cost of your overall drink will have been adjusted to include the requisite number of shots. You may find that individual stores charge you extra if you want to add additional shots to a drink that go beyond what would be included as standard for that size.
Do flavor shots have carbs?
Flavor shots have been designed to be low sugar and low carb. Although they can’t be said to be entirely ‘carbohydrate free’, they only add about 5 or 10 calories to each drink. They’re pretty popular with keto dieters and other low-carb focused diners!
What is the lowest calorie drink at Dunkin Donuts?
An iced black Americano, no milk and no sugar, is your best bet if you’re going for a caffeine lift without the calories! It’s an all time classic and for good reason. You could also go for diet sodas or flavored water if you’re going for a sweet, refreshing hit without the sugar.