It’s official: Iced coffee season is here! Whether you’re a cold brew lover or a frozen coffee fan, you don’t have to rely on fancy coffee shops for your morning Joe. Now, you can get your caffeine fix just about anywhere, including fast food and quick-service restaurants.
But here’s the thing—not all iced coffees have the components of a healthy energy-boosting drink. Some are laced with so much sugar and fat from processed syrups and whipped cream that it actually slows you down in the long run—and we mean your metabolism.
Iced and frozen drinks from fast-food restaurants like Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Dunkin Donuts have nutritional values that vary wildly. Some are literally coffee plus ice and maybe a splash of milk while others are more akin to milkshakes with a splash of coffee. To help you sort out the best from the worst, we ranked the 11 popular iced and frozen coffee drinks from fast-food restaurants. We looked at nutritional information—like calories, fat content, and sugar—and also ranked them based on ingredients, like artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners. And if you want more guidance on how to cut back on added sugars in your diet, pick up a copy of The 14-Day No Sugar Diet—it’s filled with healthy swaps, expert advice, and easy-to-follow meal plans.
Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee
This is iced black coffee is so basic…which makes it a winner. “Choosing coffee beverages without added sugar or milk keeps added calorie consumption significantly lower,” says Georgia Rounder, registered dietitian nutritionist.
Starbucks Iced Latte Macchiato
This iced latte macchiato keeps things simple: espresso, skim milk, and ice. And at 90 calories for a grande, it’s barely a blimp on your calorie radar. Rounder says regular milk is OK too. “It can be more beneficial in promoting satiety and satisfaction. The fat from regular milk helps keep blood sugar levels more stable,” she says.
Panera Iced Caffe Latte
Who doesn’t love the delicious creaminess of an iced latte? This Panera Bread version features freshly brewed espresso with foamed milk over ice. But the bigger portion of milk in this drink means higher calorie and fat content. Plus, it has more sodium than plain, iced coffee options.
Krispy Kreme Skinny Vanilla Latte
While this drink is lower in calories and has zero fat and sugar, don’t be fooled by the word “skinny.” “This usually means artificial sweeteners and chemically modified ingredients are being substituted for the real thing,” says Rounder. In this case, that includes artificial sweeteners, such as erythritol and sucralose, along with artificial flavors. “While the total sugar content may look lower than other beverages, our bodies are not meant to digest and absorb these artificial ingredients, leading to potential digestive discomfort later in the day after drinking this beverage,” says Rounder.
Sonic Iced Coffee with French Vanilla
Sonic offers more than just burgers and cherry limeades. For coffee lovers, there’s an assortment of iced concoctions made with Green Mountain Coffee and spiked with flavors like French vanilla, chocolate, and praline pecan. The French vanilla version clocks in at 140 calories, six grams of fat (with over three of them from saturated fat), and 16 grams of sugar, which isn’t terrible and lands it right in the middle of our list.
And Now…The Worst
Peet’s Iced Vanilla Latte
For a seemingly straightforward iced vanilla latte, Peet’s drink is a bit bloated on the nutrition front. While 13 grams of protein in a medium is a plus, 275 calories, six grams of fat (plus four grams of saturated fat), and 43 grams of sugar makes us think twice. The good news? One medium latte covers 44 percent of your daily calcium and a third of your daily vitamin D needs.
McDonald’s Iced Caramel Latte
Aside from its Egg McMuffin, McDonald’s McCafe is what brings more people through its drive-thru for breakfast. But its iced coffee creations can be a hit or miss nutritionally. This iced latte is sugary sweet, thanks to the addition of sweetened condensed milk. Plus, it has one of the highest amounts of sodium of all of the drinks on our list.
Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino Blended Coffee
The OG of frozen coffee drinks, the Starbucks coffee frappuccino is still a favorite. While a frap made with 2% milk has less fat than some of the other frozen beverages on the menu, there’s still a ton of sugar in a 16-ounce serving (50 grams to be exact!) and less protein. Plus, with coffee listed as the last ingredient, it barely makes the cut as a coffee drink.
Au Bon Pain Iced Caramel Macchiato
On the surface, Au Bon Pain’s iced caramel macchiato doesn’t look too bad in terms of calories and protein. But a closer look at the nutritional profile and ingredients tells another story. Sure it has whole milk and espresso, but there are also preservatives like potassium sorbate and artificial flavors and syrups, including corn syrup, modified food starch, and fructose. So if you’re craving a cool coffee drink, there are better options for your cup of java.
Tim Hortons Iced Mocha Latte
Espresso, chocolate milk, and chocolate syrup—this iced mocha is definitely a decadent drink. Not only is it a 390 calorie bomb, it also adds 56 grams of added sugar and seven grams of saturated fat to your day. If you want to treat yourself (and yes, it should be occasional), skip the whipped cream. “While it might not seem like much, whipped cream adds unnecessary calories, saturated fat, and sugar to an iced coffee drink,” says Rounder.
Dunkin Donuts Frozen Coffee, Caramel Swirl
“Any coffee drink with the word ‘frozen’ in the title will likely have significantly more calories and added sugar as they are essentially milkshakes,” says Rounder. And this frozen drink is no exception. With 145 grams of sugar in a medium, this drink contains almost triple the recommended daily intake of sugar. Plus, it’s the only drink in our round-up that has trans fat, which is bad for heart health. “These types of coffee drinks should really be thought of more as ‘treats’ rather than coffee drinks regularly consumed in one’s diet,” says Rounder.