What is in Starbucks chocolate syrup?

Starbucks chocolate syrup is a popular topping used in many of the coffee chain’s signature drinks. From mochas to frappuccinos, the rich chocolate flavor is a customer favorite. But what exactly is in the Starbucks chocolate syrup that makes it so tasty? Let’s take a look at the ingredients and find out.

Main Ingredients

The primary ingredients in Starbucks chocolate syrup are:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Water
  • Cocoa processed with alkali
  • Natural flavors
  • Potassium sorbate (preservative)
  • Salt

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is one of the main ingredients in Starbucks chocolate syrup. HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch. It is used to sweeten and thicken the chocolate syrup, making it smooth and creamy. HFCS provides a sweet taste without overpowering the chocolate flavor.

Corn Syrup

Regular corn syrup is also used in Starbucks chocolate syrup. Like HFCS, corn syrup helps sweeten the syrup as well as acting as a thickening agent. The combination of HFCS and corn syrup gives the chocolate syrup a viscous, rich consistency.


Water is added to the chocolate syrup to thin it out to the right consistency for topping drinks. Without water, the syrup would be extremely thick and hard to drizzle onto beverages. The right amount of water gives the syrup a silky texture.

Cocoa Processed with Alkali

The cocoa in Starbucks chocolate syrup gives it the signature chocolate taste. The cocoa is processed with alkali, which darkens the color and enhances the flavor. Dutch processed cocoa is typically used, as it dissolves easily in liquids without sediment. This results in a smooth, delicious chocolate syrup.

Natural Flavors

In addition to cocoa, “natural flavors” are added to Starbucks chocolate syrup. These flavors boost the chocolate taste and aroma, improving the overall flavor profile. The exact makeup of the natural flavors is proprietary information. But they likely contain vanilla, caramel, and other components that complement chocolate.

Potassium Sorbate

Potassium sorbate is added to the chocolate syrup as a preservative. It prevents mold, yeast, and bacteria from growing, extending the shelf life of the syrup. This keeps the syrup safe to consume for a longer period after opening. Potassium sorbate is commonly used as a food preservative.


A small amount of salt rounds out the ingredients list. Salt enhances the sweetness and other flavors in the syrup without making it taste salty. It also thickens the consistency and improves mouthfeel.

Nutrition Facts

Starbucks chocolate syrup is high in sugar, like most chocolate syrups. Here are the nutrition facts for 2 tablespoons (32g) of Starbucks chocolate syrup:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 100
Total Fat 0 g
Sodium 65 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25 g
Sugars 24 g
Protein 0 g

As you can see, the chocolate syrup is high in sugar, with 24g per serving. This sugar comes from the HFCS, corn syrup, and cocoa. The syrup contains no fat or protein.

Special Characteristics

Thick, Rich Texture

Starbucks chocolate syrup has a luxuriously thick, smooth texture. It effortlessly coats the inside of cups and blends into cold and hot drinks. The thickness comes from the special combination of corn syrups used. This makes it perfect for topping beverages with the signature swirl.

Deep Chocolate Flavor

The cocoa and natural chocolate flavors give Starbucks syrup an intense chocolate taste. It has a deep, dark chocolate flavor without being overly bitter. The chocolate stands out but does not overpower other ingredients when added to drinks.

Sweet But Not Too Sweet

While high in sugar, Starbucks chocolate syrup isn’t cloyingly sweet. It has a balanced level of sweetness to allow the natural cocoa flavors to shine. The sweet taste blends smoothly with espresso and milk-based beverages without tasting artificial.

No High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Some customers may notice that high-fructose corn syrup is not listed on the Starbucks chocolate syrup nutrition label. This is because Starbucks reformulated their syrup in 2015 to remove HFCS. The new formula exclusively uses corn syrup to replace the HFCS.


Starbucks uses their chocolate syrup in a variety of popular beverages, including:

  • Mochas
  • Frappuccinos
  • Hot chocolates
  • Creamy blended crème drinks
  • Chocolate milk
  • Affogatos (espresso poured over ice cream)

The rich chocolate syrup is a key ingredient in many Starbucks desserts and baked goods as well, such as:

  • Chocolate chunk cookies
  • Double fudge brownies
  • Chocolate cake pops
  • Chocolate croissants
  • Chocolate dipped madeleines

Customers can also purchase bottles of the chocolate syrup to take home. Then they can recreate their favorite chocolatey Starbucks drink at home. The syrup livens up everyday beverages like milk or coffee with a boost of chocolate.

Comparisons to Other Chocolate Syrups

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

Like Starbucks, Hershey’s chocolate syrup contains corn syrup as the main sweetener. But Hershey’s has a thinner consistency and a more pronounced sweetness. It uses cocoa processed with alkali for a darker color but lacks the depth of real chocolate flavor. Starbucks syrup tastes richer and more natural.

Nestle Nesquik Chocolate Syrup

Nesquik chocolate syrup relies more on artificial flavors and contains high fructose corn syrup unlike the Starbucks version. It has a lighter milk chocolate color and flavor. The thinner syrup lacks the velvety mouthfeel of Starbucks chocolate.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce

Ghirardelli makes a thick gourmet chocolate sauce with cocoa and chocolate liqueur. It has a pure chocolate intensity for drizzling over ice cream. In comparison, the Starbucks chocolate syrup is thinner and designed specifically for mixing into hot and cold beverages.

How to Make Homemade Clone

It’s easy to clone the Starbucks chocolate syrup recipe at home. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Whisk together the cocoa powder and water in a medium saucepan until smooth. Add the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The syrup will thicken further as it cools.
  4. Pour into a glass bottle and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

This easy homemade version tastes very close to the original. Feel free to tweak it to your own taste preferences. Add a bit more vanilla for extra flavor or increase the cocoa powder for a more intense chocolate taste.

Where to Buy

The most convenient place to buy Starbucks chocolate syrup is at a Starbucks cafe. Ask for it added to any beverage you order. You can also purchase a squeeze bottle to take home. A 16 oz bottle is around $4.

Bottles of Starbucks chocolate syrup are available at many grocery stores as well. Check the syrup aisle at major chains like Safeway, Kroger, Publix, and more. The syrup can also be bought online from retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

Buying the bottles allows you to keep your home stocked so you can recreate your favorite chocolatey Starbucks drink anytime. Try making a Starbucks-style mocha by adding it to steamed milk and espresso.

Is it Vegan?

Starbucks chocolate syrup is vegan. It contains no dairy, eggs, or other animal products. The main ingredients – corn syrup, cocoa, and natural flavors – are all vegan. This makes the chocolate syrup a suitable topping for plant-based milk beverages.

However, Starbucks stores steam most milk beverages using steaming pitchers that also contain traces of cow’s milk. So vegans need to specifically request their drink made with a clean steaming pitcher and plant-based milk. But the chocolate syrup itself contains no animal ingredients.

Is it Gluten-Free?

Yes, Starbucks chocolate syrup is gluten-free. It’s produced in a gluten-free facility and contains no barley, wheat, rye, or other gluten-containing ingredients. The syrup is safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

But again, Starbucks cafes use shared equipment for gluten-containing ingredients. So there is a risk of cross-contamination. Customers with severe gluten allergies need to inform staff to prepare their drink safely. The chocolate syrup itself does not contain any gluten though.

Special Editions

Starbucks occasionally releases special seasonal varieties of its chocolate syrup. Past limited edition flavors have included:

  • White chocolate mocha syrup
  • Peppermint mocha syrup
  • Caramel chocolate syrup
  • Dark chocolate hazelnut syrup
  • Toasted marshmallow mocha

These special flavors allow customers to enjoy unique twists on classic chocolate drinks for a limited time. Starbucks brings them back occasionally based on popularity. Trying one before they sell out is a fun way to switch up your typical chocolatey order.


The origins of Starbucks chocolate syrup date back to the chain’s founding in 1971. It was likely part of the original espresso and beverage menu at the first Starbucks in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Chocolate syrup has been used to make mochas, hot chocolate, and other chocolate drinks from the beginning.

The recipe has evolved over the years along with Starbucks’ rapid growth. The iconic green squeeze bottles with black lids have become a recognizable symbol on cafe counters everywhere. Today chocolate syrup remains a beloved constant on the Starbucks menu. It satisfies customer cravings for chocolate with every squeeze.


Starbucks chocolate syrup may contain simple ingredients, but it delivers a rich chocolate experience that customers love. The perfect blend of cocoa, corn syrup, vanilla, and natural flavors creates a delicious topping that enhances any beverage. The thick, smooth syrup takes hot and cold drinks to the next level with crave-worthy chocolate flavor. So don’t hesitate to add an extra drizzle or two!

Leave a Comment