A large hot chocolate from Starbucks contains around 500 calories. The exact calorie count can vary depending on the specific ingredients and preparation method, but Starbucks states that a large (16 oz) hot chocolate made with 2% milk contains 510 calories.
For comparison, here are the calories for other Starbucks hot chocolate sizes:
|Hot Chocolate Size
|Tall (12 oz)
|Grande (16 oz)
|Venti (20 oz)
So a Starbucks large hot chocolate contains significantly more calories than a small or medium, but slightly less than a venti. The calorie difference between sizes is due to the larger volume of steamed milk and chocolate sauce in the bigger drinks.
Ingredients in a Starbucks Hot Chocolate
A Starbucks hot chocolate is made with steamed milk and mocha sauce. The standard mocha sauce contains sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, natural flavors, salt, and potassium sorbate preservative. However, the exact ingredients can vary across locations.
Some Starbucks offer additional flavor options like white chocolate, dark chocolate, peppermint, caramel, and vanilla. These flavored sauces will change the calorie count and nutrition information.
The type of milk used also impacts the calories. Standard Starbucks hot chocolates are made with 2% reduced fat milk, but nonfat, whole, soy, almond, and coconut milk may be requested. Nonfat milk reduces the calories by about 30-50 per large size, while whole milk adds approximately 30 calories.
Whipped cream is another popular hot chocolate topping choice at Starbucks. A dollop of regular whipped cream adds around 50 calories while the sugar-free version has under 5 calories.
So the ingredients of milk, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and any additional flavors determine the total calorie content. More customizations result in bigger calorie variations from the standard recipe.
Nutritional Information in a Large Hot Chocolate
At approximately 500 calories, a Starbucks large hot chocolate also contains:
- Total Fat: 18g
- Saturated Fat: 11g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 55mg
- Sodium: 160mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 63g
- Dietary Fiber: 2g
- Sugars: 50g
- Protein: 11g
As a high calorie drink, nearly all the calories come from carbohydrates and fat. The 50 grams of sugar accounts for 200 calories alone. The chocolate sauce and steamed milk provide most of the carbohydrate, fat, and protein content.
Compared to an average meal, a Starbucks large hot chocolate provides a similar amount of calories as two slices of pizza or a small cheeseburger. It has over half the daily value for saturated fat and sugars. The hot chocolate has some protein from the milk, but minimal fiber or micronutrients.
So while tasty, the drink is considered more of a dessert than a nutritious beverage. The high amount of sugar and saturated fat from the chocolate sauce and steamed whole milk contribute many empty calories and should be limited in a balanced diet.
Does Customization Change the Calorie Count?
Yes, customizing a Starbucks hot chocolate can increase or decrease the calories, fat, sugar, and other nutrition facts.
Some ways to reduce the calories include:
- Request nonfat milk – saves around 30-50 calories
- Ask for a smaller size – short has 100 fewer calories than tall
- Skip the whipped cream – removes 50 calories
- Choose sugar-free syrups instead of mocha sauce
- Ask for less pumps of chocolate sauce
- Order it made with hot water instead of steamed milk
To boost the calories, you can:
- Size up – venti has 80 more calories than grande
- Add whipped cream – 50 extra calories
- Use whole milk instead of 2% reduced fat
- Ask for extra pumps of chocolate sauce
- Top with caramel drizzle, sprinkles, or chocolate shavings
- Blend in a chocolate brownie, cookie, or other pastry
So the standard recipe for a large hot chocolate is around 500 calories, but customizing with milk choices, size, sauce, whipped cream, and extra toppings can put your personal drink at 200-700+ calories.
Hot Chocolate Calorie Rankings at Popular Coffee Shops
Comparing hot chocolate calories at Starbucks and other coffee chains:
|Hot Chocolate Calories (Large 16oz)
The calories vary based on each brand’s hot chocolate ingredients and preparation methods. But Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Caribou Coffee all have over 400 calories for a large. McCafe and Tim Hortons are on the lower end with around 330 calories.
Independent coffee shops without published nutrition data likely fall somewhere between 300-500 calories too for a large cup. Ordering nonfat milk, skipping whipped cream, and avoiding extras like flavored syrups can reduce the calories at any coffee shop.
Tips for a Healthier Low Calorie Starbucks Hot Chocolate
If trying to limit calories and sugar, here are some tips for ordering a healthier Starbucks hot chocolate:
- Choose tall or grande size
- Request nonfat milk
- Skip the whipped cream
- Ask for less pumps of mocha sauce
- Flavor with cinnamon or sugar-free vanilla instead of caramel or chocolate
- Try a hot chocolate light – made with nonfat milk, no whipped cream, and less chocolate
A customized tall or grande made with nonfat milk and light mocha sauce can reduce the calories to 200-300. Or simply diluting the standard recipe with extra steamed nonfat milk lowers the calorie density.
There are also lower calorie options on the Starbucks secret menu, such as:
- Skinny hot chocolate – with nonfat milk, no whipped cream, and half pumps mocha
- Steamed chocolate milk – steamed nonfat milk with bittersweet mocha sauce
- Mexican hot chocolate – steamed nonfat milk with mocha sauce, cinnamon, and a touch of cayenne
While not officially on the menu, baristas can usually make these customized drinks. Sticking to tall or grande sizes keeps the calorie count under control.
High Calorie Ingredients to Limit in Starbucks Hot Chocolates
To make your Starbucks hot chocolate healthier, limit the high calorie ingredients like:
- Full fat milk – nonfat milk saves around 60 calories per 8 oz
- Whipped cream – adds 50 calories even in small amounts
- Large sizes – choose tall or grande instead of venti
- Extra mocha pumps – excess chocolate sauce packs on sugar and fat
- Flavored syrups – caramel, white chocolate, etc. add calories
- Blending with food – blending in brownies or cookies boosts calories and fat
Sticking to the core ingredients of lowfat milk, light mocha sauce, and smaller sizes keeps the drink under 400 calories. Be mindful of large sizes, heavy cream and toppings, extra chocolate pumps, and blending with high calorie foods.
Comparing Homemade Hot Chocolate vs Starbucks
Making homemade hot chocolate generally contains fewer calories than Starbucks. Here is a nutritional comparison of a 16 ounce cup:
Homemade Hot Chocolate:
- 240 calories
- 8g fat
- 14g sugar
Starbucks Hot Chocolate:
- 510 calories
- 18g fat
- 50g sugar
The homemade version uses 2% milk heated with cocoa powder and just a touch of sugar. This saves over 270 calories compared to a Starbucks large hot chocolate made with steamed 2% milk and sugary mocha sauce.
Homemade hot chocolate can also be further lightened by using nonfat milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, and zero-calorie sweetener. Overall, homemade provides control over ingredients and typically fewer calories than store-bought versions. But note that Starbucks offers customization options to lower the calories as well.
Should You Drink Hot Chocolate on a Diet? Tips for Indulging
Hot chocolate can still be enjoyed in moderation on a weight loss diet with a few precautions:
- Stick to tall or small sizes
- Choose nonfat or low fat milk
- Skip whipped cream and flavor syrups
- Ask for less mocha sauce
- Drink water alongside to limit excess calories
- Share your hot chocolate with a friend
- Savor slowly and mindfully
- Balance with fewer calories at other meals
An occasional small, customized low calorie hot chocolate won’t sabotage your diet if you account for it. But the high sugar and fat can add excess calories fast, so enjoy hot chocolate as a special treat rather than a daily habit if trying to lose weight.
A Starbucks large hot chocolate contains around 500 calories, with 18g fat, 11g saturated fat, and 50g sugar. The exact count can vary based on preparation, milk type, whipped cream, and customizations. Limiting large sizes, high fat milk, excess chocolate sauce, and whipped cream keeps calories in check. Homemade versions are typically lower in calories too. While high in sugar and fat, hot chocolate can still be occasionally enjoyed in moderation on a healthy diet by customizing the recipe and watching portion sizes. Just be mindful of the calorie density and enjoy as an occasional treat.