With a Starbucks on practically every corner of the US, it's hard not to notice the tempting treats on display. Starbucks offers many different breakfast ideas, from pastries to sandwiches to parfaits. This makes it a convenient spot for a quick grab-n-go breakfast. But a good breakfast should leave you full and healthy as you start your day—not heavy and sleepy from a bunch of empty carbs and piles of sugar. That said, the Starbucks menu does have a few hidden gems amongst its options.
Many of the items do contain absurd amounts of sugar and sodium, but sometimes Starbucks hits the mark—you just need to know what to choose! That's why we dug through the nutritional information for the entire Starbucks breakfast menu (excluding seasonal or regional items) to determine which items will leave your body (and not just your taste buds) the most satisfied. Imagine powering up with your favorite cuppa joe while also knowing you've made a good choice that will follow you through the rest of the morning. Be mindful that you need to keep your coffee in check, too; these 20 Coffee Drinks with More Sugar Than a Can of Coke will undo all your good efforts!
HOW WE RANKED THE BREAKFASTS
When it came to ranking the Starbucks breakfast items, we hoped and looked for a sodium content of around 500-600 mg and a calorie count of less than 400. Because the breakfasts range from hot sandwiches to yogurts and all things in-between, we broke the breakfast menu into three simple sections: Yogurts and Fruit, Hot Breakfast Items, and Pastries. Each has a distinct ranking order based off of what its category has to offer, as described in each category's introduction.
Ranked from best to worst in each category, here's what to choose—and what to skip—from Starbucks!
Category 1: Yogurt and Fruit Ranked from Best to Worst
We're huge fans of Greek yogurt at Eat This, Not That!, so the Greek yogurt parfaits on the Starbucks menu are a nutritional highlight. Greek yogurt has much more protein and far less sodium and sugar than that of the regular variety. With the inclusion of fresh fruit and honey in some of their parfaits, these kinds of Starbucks breakfasts can't be argued with. But when it came to ranking them, simple protein amount and fiber intake settled the score. Love Greek yogurt so much you'd like to have it for lunch and dinner? If that sounds like you, don't miss these 15 Savory Ways to Eat Greek Yogurt.
Seasonal Harvest Fruit Blend
Nutrition: 90 calories, 0 g fat (0g saturated), 0 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 1 g protein
Considering this is simply a fruit bowl—no yogurt, no oats, nada—this is by far the cleanest, simplest, safest choice of even the safe choices. The sugars are naturally-occurring and it's always a good idea to start your day with essential nutrients from fresh fruit. Even better, pair it with some almonds (or one of the low-sugar KIND bars they sell) so that you get some protein.
Evolution Fresh Greek Yogurt Parfait, Inspired by Dannon – Strawberry
Nutrition: 250 calories, 7 g fat (1g saturated), 75 mg sodium, 34 g carbs, 20 g sugar, 14 g protein
This yogurt parfait is one of three offered at Starbucks—and out of those three, we dub it the best. It's both low in calorie and high in protein, has a low sodium count, and the fresh fruit offers vitamins while the granola adds daily fiber.
Evolution Fresh Greek Yogurt Parfait, Inspired by Dannon – Fresh Berries & Honey
Nutrition: 250 calories, 5 g fat (.5 g saturated), 65 mg sodium, 37 g carbs, 25 g sugar, 13 g protein
You can't really go wrong with this yogurt parfait, either. The blueberries are high in vitamin C, K, manganese, and copper while the honey provides nutrients like antioxidants that help prevent cancer.
Evolution Fresh Greek Yogurt Parfait, Inspired by Dannon – Dark Sweet Cherry
Nutrition: 280 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 70 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, 25 g sugar, 14 g protein
Only just being edged out by its two sisters, the Dark Sweet Cherry parfait is almost virtually identical in terms of nutrition. It's just a few notches below the others in terms of calories, fat, sodium, and carbs. Bottom line: Your choice ultimately depends on taste preference.
Category 2: Hot Breakfasts Ranked from Best to Worst
Hot Breakfast items were valued for their lack of fat and sodium as well as their amount of protein. Items with considerably more calories and total fat were ranked below their more nutrient-full and lower calorie counterparts.
Classic Whole Grain Oatmeal
Nutrition: 160 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 125 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 5 g protein
It's admittedly not even fair to put oatmeal up against things like egg sandwiches, but if you want something hot, then this is your best choice. This oatmeal is a perfect choice for breakfast because of its low calorie count, low sodium count, low carb count, and not-even-a-gram of sugar. Oats provide fiber and the oatmeal can be transformed into an even tastier breakfast with the addition of fresh fruit, like the bananas often sold at the register. If oatmeal is now on your mind, consider hopping aboard the overnight oats trend.
Oatmeal with Fresh Blueberries
Nutrition: 220 calories, 2.25 g fat (.5 g saturated), 125 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 5 g protein
A simple blueberry can add quite the pep to your step! We could even argue that this choice should take the top spot because of blueberries' powerful antioxidants. But we ranked in second on the chance that the blueberries may not be organic and berries are pretty susceptible to pesticides. Otherwise, this is a pretty awesome choice for a Starbucks breakfast!
Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich
Nutrition: 230 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 560 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 13 g protein
While this sandwich contains a higher sodium level, the calorie level is very low. It still provides protein and nutrition because it is low in fat and carbs as well. The sodium count is higher (from the turkey bacon) but it's nothing to be alarmed at considering the lower fat count.
Egg & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich
Nutrition: 280 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated), 460 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 12 g protein
Compared to the other sandwiches, which may have had fewer calories but more sodium, this sandwich ranked quite high because it still provides you with protein from the egg and is less than 300 calories. Don't miss our exclusive report on What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Eggs!
Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap
Nutrition: 290 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 830 mg sodium, 33 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 19 g protein
Spinach during breakfast? We don't love that it's wrapped up in carbs and sprinkled with cheese, but we're still pretty cool with an iron-rich leafy green like that in your a.m. Pair it with an orange or tangerine so that the vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron from the spinach.
Bacon & Gouda Breakfast Sandwich
Nutrition: 350 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated), 820 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 15 g protein
Let's be real: This is a darn good ranking for something that's not offering very much nutrition beyond some protein. With more sodium, fewer calories, and less protein than the better-ranked options, this choice is just average at best. That said, with 0 grams of sugar, we don't really believe the Starbucks official nutritional information provided to the public is accurate.
Slow-Roasted Ham & Swiss Breakfast Sandwich
Nutrition: 450 calories, 23 g fat (12 g saturated), 780 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 19 g protein
Less than 500 calories and a medium sodium content for a savory ham-and-cheese indulgence aren't notable but it could be worse. Other sandwiches have higher sodium content and this one has a decent amount of protein—so while you shouldn't eat this more than once a week, it won't crush your waist-whittling dreams.
Double-Smoked Bacon, Cheddar & Egg Sandwich
Nutrition: 490 calories, 27 g fat (13 g saturated), 910 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 7g sugar, 17 g protein
This choice is like the bigger, fatter brother of our #3-ranked item. Many of the positives that are found in the basic Egg & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich are lost here due to the introduction of bacon—and an increase in both calories and fat.
Sausage & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich
Nutrition: 500 calories, 28 g fat (9 g saturated), 920 mg sodium, 41 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 15 g protein
And sadly, scraping the bottom of the barrel is the Sausage & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich. With worse nutritionals than any other sandwich, this should truly be your last choice from the many hot breakfasts you have available to you.
Category 3: Pastries Ranked from Best to Worst
Very little good can come from a pastry, which typically has a ton of sugar. Sugar as a whole is something to be wary of, and the Starbucks menu is no exception. But if you can't resist, then here's how to do some damage control. Check 'em out—and then discover 30 Easy Ways to Stop Eating So Much Sugar.
Nutrition: 350 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated), 520 mg sodium, 64 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 17 g protein
The multigrain bagel is first on our list because it has a bit of fiber, along with specific ingredients (cracked wheat, oats, barley, millet, flax, sunflower seeds…) that can keep your hunger pangs at bay much longer than a plain bagel would. The calorie count is higher than the plain bagel and it has a higher sodium content, but the feature that stands out in this bagel is the addition of grains and a source of whole wheat. Carbaholic? Find out 20 Secrets for Eating Bread Without Getting Fat.
Nutrition: 280 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg sodium, 56 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 9 g protein
To be clear, a bagel is not your best breakfast option. It's just not going to keep you skinny, but at least it's not going to completely ruin your diet—well, if you keep it simple. This bagel is overall the healthiest of the pastry section due to its low calorie count. We'd like to give the low sodium count a nod, but considering the ingredient list literally has "salt" on it, we think this is another error on Starbucks' side.
Everything Bagel With Cheese
Nutrition: 290 calories, 3.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 0 mg sodium, 53 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 11 g protein
Still sticking with the bagel trend, the everything bagel with cheese was ranked third in this list because it's low in carbs. But again, we're not about to give a standing ovation for a bagel. Did you not see the yogurt and oatmeal options up top? Plus, we think the sodium is wrong on this one, too; salt is once again listed in the ingredients for the bread and cheese, and the Chonga bagel (#7) is nearly identical with 530 mg of sodium. So, take these nutritional counts with a grain of, well, you know.
Ham & Cheese Savory Foldover
Nutrition: 250 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated), 480 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 13 g protein
The Ham & Cheese foldover is ranked fourth on our list because of its surprisingly decent calorie count and high level of protein. The sodium content is moderate—around the 500 mg range—and is a better option than the ham and swiss sandwich (mentioned above), if you're craving that combo.
Wheat Spinach Savory Foldover
Nutrition: 250 calories, 15 g fat (8 g saturated), 380 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 4 g protein
The spinach is a superfood that is high in fiber and protein, even if it's sandwiched in processed carbs. While it is low in calories, it is moderate in sodium. However, it will still provide sufficient fuel to get you through the morning and could be a better option than the bagels if you don't need to watch your sodium intake as closely.
Volpi Pepperoni & Tomato Savory Foldover
Nutrition: 270 calories, 14 g fat (7 g saturated), 520 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 10 g protein
While some might question this as a breakfast food, there's something about pizza-for-breakfast that's a little too fun to pass up. Pepperoni is one of the worst foods you can eat, but we suspect there's only a tiny bit in there since the calorie and sodium counts are surprisingly low.
Nutrition: 300 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated), 530 mg sodium, 50 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 12 g protein
The Chonga Bagel is higher than the other pastries so far in regards to sodium and a heavy dose of carbs. But with a lower saturated-fat count than many other pastries, it falls in the middle of the lineup.
Petite Vanilla Scone
Nutrition: 120 calories, 4.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 95 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 8 g sugar, 2 g protein
These scones are a harmless morning pick-me-up in moderation because they are low in calories (despite being so dense), and they contain a low level of sodium. But because of the sugar content, we recommend you stick to just one as a treat; a couple of these shouldn't be your breakfast unless you enjoy making weight loss mistakes.
Nutrition: 240 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated), 330 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 5 g protein
If you're going to indulge in a croissant, we personally think it should be a freshly-baked one from your local boutique bakery—not one pulled out of a plastic bag. But if you're craving that warm, flaky, buttery goodness, this plain version is a better option than many store-bought ones.
Nutrition: 330 calories, 18 g fat (11 g saturated), 320 mg sodium, 38 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 6 g protein
This one is similar to the plain croissant—just more calories, fat, carbs, and sugar, due to the chocolate.
Nutrition: 320 calories, 16 g fat (9 g saturated), 390 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 16 g sugar, 8 g protein
The calorie and sodium counts are low, but we're starting to get up there in sugar counts as you go farther down this list. If you're craving something cheesy, consider one of the foldovers instead, which have better nutritionals.
Nutrition: 380 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 480 mg sodium, 70 g carbs, 18 g sugar, 10 g protein
This innocent-enough looking roll may match many of Starbucks' other items in many regards but the 70 carbohydrates (!) knocked it to the bottom half of your pastry options. The only reason it isn't lower on the list is because the protein count is better than the next items you'll see.
Cinnamon Morning Bun
Nutrition: 390 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated) 420 mg sodium, 58 g carbs, 24 g sugar, 7 g protein
You had to know it would go downhill—fast!—after the previous marshmallow item. Now we're on to cinnamon morning buns; one of these guys is still twice the calories, carbs, fat, and sugar than two of the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls you could make at home (which we don't suggest having for breakfast, either).
Nutrition: 420 calories, 17 g fat (10 g saturated), 510 mg sodium, 61 g carbs, 20 g sugar, 5 g protein
Unlike their miniature vanilla counterparts, these Blueberry Scones are loaded with sodium, sugar, and calories. Steer clear of these English-tea-inspired tricksters! Yes, blueberries are one of the best anti-inflammatory foods, but the last thing you need is one-quarter of your daily caloric intake before 8 a.m. on a Wednesday.
Blueberry Muffin with Yogurt & Honey
Nutrition: 380 calories, 16 g fat (4 g saturated), 260 mg sodium, 53 g carbs, 30 g sugar, 6 g protein
This one can be tempting, even for Eat This, Not That! pros—blueberries, yogurt, honey! But the 30 grams of sugar should make you do a 180. Enjoy a Greek yogurt topped with blueberries (and a drizzle of honey if you'd like) while at home and skip the pastry-mutation of this otherwise-glorious trio.
Classic Coffee Cake
Nutrition: 390 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated), 400 mg sodium, 57 g carbs, 31 g sugar, 5 g protein
Do you know what you need with your coffee? Coffee cake. Wait, that's a lie. This is one of the last things you need to nibble on with your morning nectar.
Banana Nut Bread
Nutrition: 420 calories, 22g fat (3 g saturated), 320 mg sodium, 52 g carbs, 30 g sugar, 6 g protein
We love bananas, but here's where they get morphed into a processed food that packs on the pounds. If you love banana bread—okay, who doesn't?—then why not try one of these 20 Healthy Banana Bread Recipes instead?
Old-Fashioned Glazed Doughnut
Nutrition: 480 calories, 27 g fat (13 g saturated), 410 mg sodium, 56 g carbs, 30 g sugar, 5 g protein
Old fashioned is right. This doughnut is stuffed with fat, enriched in calories, loaded with sodium, and sugar. You're better off picking up a generic glazed doughnut at your local mom-and-pop shop, where it's usually closer to about 300 calories.
Reduced-Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
Nutrition: 410 calories, 15 g fat (3 g saturated), 500 mg sodium, 63 g carbs, 39 g sugar, 6 g protein
We know, we know; this one's a fan favorite! But don't let the reduced fat title fool you. This cinnamon counterpart to the classic coffee cake actually has worse nutritionals, probably because of more additives—and that's why eating full-fat can be better for weight loss.
Nutrition: 410 calories, 15 g fat (3 g saturated), 500 mg sodium, 63 g carbs, 39 g sugar, 6 g protein
Similar to the coffee cakes in many ways, pumpkin bread has more sodium and sugar. The pumpkin taste can be more satisfying for many people, though. So, if you indulge, only do so once in awhile.
Iced Lemon Pound Cake
Nutrition: 470 calories, 20 g fat (.5 g saturated), 310 mg sodium, 68 g carbs, 42 g sugar, 6 g protein
The classic recipe for a pound cake is one pound each of butter, eggs, flour, and sugar. And they did not skimp on the sugar in this recipe. Having the most sugar out of anything else on this list (and the equivalent of about 15 yellow Starbursts) has landed Starbucks' Iced Lemon Pound Cake at the bottom of this list and easily one of the worst breakfast habits for your waistline.
Reporting by Elias Saba, Sara Weidner, and the Editors of Eat This, Not That!