10 Customized Starbucks Drinks That Are Actually Worth A Try

Overwhelmed by Starbucks' extensive secret menu? Here are 10 drinks you should start with.

By now you've probably heard of Starbucks' secret menu. What once was a small collection of special drink recipes has become a library of customizations submitted by baristas and devoted fans. 

If you've become bored with the chain's regular menu items, it might be time to spice it up a bit. Varied combinations of different beverages, syrups, and toppings can lead to some tasty new treats. With such an expansive list of possibilities, though, how do you know which drinks are worth the extra cash? 

As a longtime Starbucks fan, I've tried most of the most popular secret menu items at some point and found that the ones that are hyped up are often the ones that don't live up to their reputations. There was a period in my life where I was getting free Starbucks for about 3 years, so I've had an opportunity to play around with the customizations and discern which additions are worth forking over the extra cash for.

Read on to discover the top 10 customized Starbucks drinks that I believe are actually worth trying!

1. Birthday Cake Frappuccino

starbucks birthday cake frappuccino
Image Source: Bustle

I've tried all the different secret menu fraps, but this is the only one I actually order every once in a while. I have seen the recipe for this frap written many different ways, but my recipe of choice is the one from Glamour (with my own twist on it):

Ask for a Vanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino. Then, ask your barista if they can throw a Birthday cake pop into the blender when they make it. The original recipe recommends adding at least 1 pump of hazelnut syrup, but I've found that this makes it too sweet. The original recipe also doesn't tell you which size to order, which matters for the drink-to-cake-pop ratio. After some trial and error, I've settled on 1 cake pop for a tall drink, 2 for a grande, and 3 for a venti.

However, the quality of the drink seems to decrease as you increase in size, so I would recommend getting the tall size to get the full flavor. The vanilla creme complements the texture of the birthday pop perfectly, and the frappuccino literally tastes like liquid cake. You're definitely paying extra for the cake pop, but it's worth a try for sure!

2. Salted Caramel Iced Americano

starbucks iced americano
Image Source: Burpple

Funny enough, I don't usually order coffee from Starbucks. Coffee tends to make me anxious whenever I drink it for leisure, so I only order it when I am trying to stay awake. Otherwise, I'll order decaf. So, I was heartbroken to learn that Starbucks' Salted Caramel Nitro Cold Brew did not have a decaf option. I am obsessed with salted caramel, and I wanted to give it a try without my heart exploding out of my chest. 

I expressed this to a barista at my local Starbucks, and she recommended this delicious decaf alternative that basically looks and tastes the same. You don't have to order this as a decaf if you don't want to though!

Ask your barista for a Grande Iced Americano (decaf, in my case). Then, ask for 1.5-2 pumps of caramel, and top it off with salted cream foam. Absolutely delicious. The hint of salt in the cream foam makes the whole drink come together, so make sure they do this step correctly it will taste like a basic caramel americano. 

3. Strawberry Acai Lemonade

starbucks strawberry acai refresher lemonade
Image Source: Twitter

This has been my go-to Starbucks drink for a few years now. Once I found out you could customize their Refreshers, there was no going back. This recipe was once lesser-known — I remember having to order it as a "Strawberry Acai Refresher with lemonade instead of water." Quite the mouthful!

This customization eventually gained a lot of popularity, and now it's a regular menu item. You can just say you'd like a Strawberry Acai Lemonade and the barista will know what to make. I would highly recommend ordering this with light ice if you are getting anything larger than a tall; when too much ice melts it mixes in and ruins the drink since the underlying flavor isn't super strong.

This drink is perfect if you want a refreshing pick-me-up with a familiar taste. Some might argue that this is just a strawberry lemonade with extra steps, but I'd counter that it's a pretty good one!

4. Very Berry Hibiscus Lemonade

starbucks very berry hibiscus refresher lemonade
Image Source: Martin's

I can't speak about the Refresher lemonades without mentioning this customization as well. The Very Berry Hibiscus Lemonade is a totally different vibe. Although the previous pick is my go-to option, this one is definitely tastier. The berries come through in this stronger than the strawberries do in the other drink. For this reason, you'll probably be fine if you decide to order this with regular ice. It does taste different watered down, but it's not too much. 

Similar to the Strawberry Acai Lemonade, this customization appears as a regular menu option. However, at the time that I'm writing this, Starbucks has temporarily halted its sale of Very Berry Hibiscus drinks. They will eventually be back, but for now, you might have to hold off on trying this one out!

5. Arnold Palmer

starbucks arnold palmer shaken sweet tea lemonade

I read on a fan-made Starbucks secret menu website that in some cities, this is available on the menu as the Shaken Sweet Tea Lemonade. I haven't seen it on the menu at my local Starbucks, though, so this customization has definitely come in handy.

Ask your barista for half iced black tea and half lemonade in your preferred size of cup, and add pumps of classic syrup. The recipe I use recommends 1.5 pumps for a tall, 2 for a grande, and 3 for a venti. 

The quality of this drink relies heavily on the barista making it and the proportions they use. If they use too much tea, it might taste very bland. If they use too much lemonade, the tea part can turn into a bad aftertaste. I've had a barista only give me or pump of syrup in a venti when I asked for 3, and it ruined the whole drink. When it's made correctly, though, it's to die for!

6. Strawberries and Cream Refresher

starbucks strawberries and cream refresher

I found this recipe through Taste of Home, and it did not disappoint. I was skeptical at first since it resembled the Pink Drink, a very popular secret menu item that I happen to hate. They also share the same base drink — the Strawberry Acai Refresher — so I figured it would basically taste the same. However, as I'm sure you can tell by its appearance on this list, I was pleasantly surprised by it.

To order, ask your barista for a Venti Strawberry Acai with no water. Then ask them to add regular sweet cream and a little strawberry puree. The article that I read about this drink mentioned that it tastes like a Strawberries & Cream Creme Saver from back in the day, ad I honestly can't think of a better way to describe it. It is the perfect mix of creamy and fruity goodness. This drink does tend to separate though, so make sure you're mixing it to get the full flavor!

7. Oatmeal Cookie Latte

starbucks oatmeal cookie latte

Have you been dying to try Starbucks' new oat milk in a drink, but didn't know which drink to try it in? Look no further. As someone who loves oat milk, I was overjoyed to come across this recipe on Taste of Home.

The recipe instructs you to ask for a Venti Iced Latte with oat milk and 2 pumps each of mocha syrup and brown sugar syrup. Then, ask for oat milk foam on top.

I wish I could relive my first sip of this drink. I think about it often. It was unexpectedly creamy and just the right amount of sweet. The pumps of syrup tend to sink to the bottom so you have to keep mixing it, and I would recommend ordering this with light ice since the top can get watery. These are small inconveniences compared to the flavor pay off though.

I don't always order mine with the foam; the drink tastes fine without it and it's nice to save money. If you're feeling indulgent though, add it by all means!

8. Medicine Ball

starbucks medicine ball
Image Source: NBC News

I've soothed many sore throats with this delicious drink over the years. You won't find "Medicine Ball" on the actual menu, but every time I've walked up to the counter and asked for a medicine ball the barista magically knew what it was. I actually had to look up what's in it and how to order it step by step, because this whole time, I honestly did not know. I just knew it was some magic concoction that made me feel better when I was sick, and it was super tasty.  

According to Better Homes & Gardens, the Medicine Ball is a mixture of Jade Citrus Mint Green Tea, Peach Tranquility Herbal Tea, hot water, steamed lemonade, and honey. 

The steam, lemon, and honey are all good for the throat and help with congestion. Not to mention, this warm fruity drink is perfect for a cold winter night. It leaves sweet hints of lemon on your tongue as it goes down and leaves your belly feeling nice and warm. 

9. Chocolate Dalmatian

starbucks chocolate dalmatian
Image Source: Hack The Menu

I've only had this one once, but let's just say it left a good impression! 

It's a pretty simple recipe I found on Glamour: Order any size Hot White Chocolate Mocha and ask the barista to throw in some java chips and chocolate chips. The mixture of white chocolate and milk chocolate is to die for, and the chips thicken the consistency slightly (depending on how many your barista puts in).

Some of the chips might not melt and sink to the bottom, but I solved this problem by swishing my drink around constantly while it was hot. Once it cools, you might be out of luck.

10. Nutella Drink

starbucks nutella drink
Image Source: Kirbie's Cravings

This drink isn't my personal favorite but other people seem to love it, and I don't want to be completely biased with this list. I've seen this drink floating around on multiple sites and decided to give it a try. As a Nutella-lover, I came into the experience with high expectations.

Ask the barista for a Caffe Misto with one pump each of chocolate syrup and hazelnut syrup. Top it off with caramel drizzle and there you have it. I ordered a tall, but you can rework the recipe for a size of your choice. 

It definitely had the taste of Nutella, but it still tasted very much like coffee. I personally am not a fan of hot coffee, like, at all, so if you are then you might really like this drink. To have coffee that tastes like Nutella sounds like a dream... for a coffee lover. Not my cup of tea (or coffee, I guess) but I'm going to trust the opinion of the general majority and recommend you try this one for yourself!

This is just the tip of the iceberg for all the different custom drinks you can order. If none of the drinks here tickled your fancy, I would recommend downloading the Starbucks app and looking through their menu to see all the different customizations you can make to your drinks. You can come up with a drink that is catered to your particular tastes. Who knows, your recipe might even end up on the menu one day!

Writer, blogger, and content creator from Sunny San Diego. When she isn’t writing, you can find her exploring, eating, and watching Netflix.

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