Safe Fast Food: Dye-Free Dining at Starbucks

As a former locally-owned coffee shop manager and barista, I use to be a Starbucks hater.  Until I had kids and they were the only coffee place on my side of town with a drive thru.  Desperate times…  😉

I’m thankful I finally gave them a try, because Starbucks actually has one of the most dye-free menus of all the fast food restaurants.  Plus, there are apparently more Starbucks than McDonald’s in America now – so you should be able to find a good dye-free option on just about any outing.  Woooo!

I love what they have to offer, but for some reason Starbucks has made it extra difficult to look up food ingredient information on their website.  They also don’t list any drink ingredients.  I even contacted the company asking for a list, but they claimed that they did not have a more concise listing than what was on the website.  *sigh*  So I spent quite a bit of time digging through their online menu and searching the internet to determine safe foods for our list.  Frustrating…but totally worth it!  So many yummy choices!

Here are Starbucks’ dye-free foods:

Bakery Foods
Banana Nut Bread
Berry Croissant Blossom
Blueberry Scone
Blueberry Yogurt Muffin with Honey
Caramel Pecan Sticky Bun
Carrot Cake Muffin with Pecans
Cheese Danish
Cheesecake Brownie
Chocolate Cake Pop* (BHT)
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Croissant
Classic Coffee Cake
Cranberry Orange Scone
Devil’s Food Doughnut
Everything with Cheese Bagel
Evolution Harvest Bars (all kinds listed online were dye-free)
Flourless Chewy Chocolate Cookie
Gluten-Free Marshmallow Dream Bar
Greek Honey Parfait
Greek Yogurt Raspberry Lemon Parfait
Ham & Cheese Savory Square
Iced Lemon Pound Cake
Michigan Cherry Oat Bar
Morning Bun
Multigrain Bagel
Oatmeal Cookie
Petite Vanilla Bean Scone
Plain Bagel
Pumpkin Bread
Reduced-Fat Berry Coffee Cake with Lemon Crumble
Salted Caramel Cake Pop* (BHT)
Sausage Croissant Roll
Seasonal Harvest Fruit Blend
Strawberry Blueberry Parfait
Tomato & Cheese Savory Square
Wheat Spinach Savory Square


Breakfast Foods
Classic Whole-Grain Oatmeal
Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal
Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich
Slow-Roasted Ham & Swiss Breakfast Sandwich
Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap


Lunch & Dinner Foods
Chicken & BLT Salad Sandwich
Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box
Chicken Santa Fe Panini
Ham & Swiss Panini
Hearty Veggie & Brown Rice Salad Bowl
Protein Bistro Box
Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini
Turkey & Havarti Sandwich
Turkey Pesto Panini
Turkey Rustico Panini
Zesty Chicken & Black Bean Salad Bowl


As I said earlier, Starbucks doesn’t list their drinks’ ingredient information.  Here is their legal disclaimer about it: “Allergen information is currently unavailable online for our beverage selections.  If you have an allergen concern, please feel free to ask our baristas to check the ingredient labels or call 1-800-235-2883 for more information.  Please note: we cannot guarantee that any of our beverages are allergen free because we use shared equipment and handle allergens throughout the store.”

I was still able to scour the internet and figure out the ingredients for the majority of their drinks.  But it’s always best to double check.  In my experience, Starbucks’ baristas are very understanding and accommodating of my kids’ “food dye allergy”.  Don’t be afraid to ask about what’s in your drink! 🙂

Bottled Drinks
Starbucks Discoveries – Caramel Macchiato, Caffe Mocha, and Vanilla Latte
Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso
Starbucks Frappuccino – Caramel, Coffee, Mocha, and Vanilla
Starbucks Frappuccino Limited Editions – Mint Mocha
Starbucks Iced Coffee – Coffee + Milk, and Vanilla
Starbucks Refreshers Energy Drinks (Dye-Free, but these have Questionable ingredients – I wouldn’t buy them)
Tazo Teas – all are dye-free


Hot Beverages
Brewed Coffees
Caffe Americano (espresso + water)
Caffe Latte (espresso + milk)
Caffe Mocha (espresso + milk + chocolate sauce)
Cappuccino (espresso + milk)
Espresso Macchiato (espresso + steamed milk foam)
Espresso Shot (just espresso)
Steamed Apple Juice
Steamer (steamed milk, usually with a syrup)
Tazo Brewed Teas – all kinds are dye-free
Tazo Tea Latte – Awake, Chai, Chocolate Chai, and Green Tea
Teavana Brewed Teas – all kinds are dye-free
Teavana Tea Latte – Oprah Chai
White Chocolate Mocha (espresso + milk + white chocolate sauce)
White Hot Chocolate


Cold Drinks
Apple Juice
Fizzio Handcrafted Sodas – Golden Ginger Ale, and Lemon Ale
Frappuccino – Coffee, Double Chocolaty Chip, Espresso, Hazlenut, Java Chip, Tazo Chai, Tazo Green Tea, White Chocolate Creme, White Chocolate Mocha
Iced Caffe Americano
Iced Caffe Latte
Iced Caffe Mocha
Iced Coffee
Iced Tazo Teas – all are dye-free
Iced Tazo Tea Lattes – Awake, Chai, Chocolate Chai, and Green Tea
Iced Teavana Lattes – all are dye-free
Iced White Chocolate Mocha
Shaken Teavana Lemonades – all are dye-free
Smoothies – seem OK, but couldn’t find ingredient listings for these anywhere online (I would avoid them!)


For almost any drink at coffee shops you have the option to add in flavors.  Here’s a list of all the syrups that Starbucks allegedly uses that are dye-free.  If you add these, please make sure you have your barista double check the brand and ingredients.  Should be quick and easy for them to figure out. **Please note: all syrups and sauces contain the preservative potassium sorbate, which has been linked to some skin allergic reactions.**

Safe Syrups/Powders
Fontana Almond Syrup
Fontana Bittersweet Chocolate Mocha Sauce (not syrup)
Fontana Caramel Sauce (not syrup)
Fontana Coconut Syrup
Fontana Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mocha Sauce (not syrup)
Fontana White Chocolate Mocha Syrup (not syrup)
Starbucks Classic Syrup (basically just sugar water that mixes more easily with beverages than plain sugar)
Starbucks Mocha Powder
Starbucks Hazelnut Syrup
Starbucks Peppermint Syrup
Starbucks Toffee Nut Syrup


Starbucks in my go-to place for getting dye-free food on the road.  My kids’ favorite things to get are the oatmeal cookies and slow-roasted ham and swiss breakfast sandwich.  Personally, I love anything that involves coffee.  It’s a win for everybody!

Click here to find a Starbucks near you (if you there isn’t one on every other street corner in your town).  😉



I wanted to add that you should beware of buying the “skinny” version of Starbucks drinks.  At most coffee places, skinny just means you want skim milk instead of 2% or whole.  However, some of the skinny drinks listed on Starbucks’ menu use sugar-free syrups and powders too.  Anything with those low-calorie or sugar-free syrups contains the artificial sweetener sucralose (aka Splenda) instead of real sugar.  Sucralose is bad news.  I say skip the syrups all together if you’re that worried about calories.  It’s not worth the risks associated with ingesting sucralose.  Dr. Mercola has a good article on the potential harmful effects of sucralose.  Note that his article is from 2009.  There’s been even more evidence stacking up against sucralose over the past 5 years.  A simple Google search will prove it.  Moral of the story: If you ask for something “skinny”, make sure the barista knows you just mean skim milk.

Safe Fast Food: Dye-Free Dining at Papa Murphy’s Pizza

The first two restaurants in this series, McDonald’s and Arby’s, have been major letdowns as far as finding decent dye-free food when you’re in a hurry. For the third installment I wanted to review a restaurant with lots of safe choices that you can find in almost every state: Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza.

Unfortunately, Papa Murphy’s isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for something you can eat in the car. But it’s a great option when you need a last minute meal or if you need to feed a large group….or when you just don’t feel like cooking.  🙂

Papa Murphy's Pizza

I’m going to set this review up a little differently. Since it’s a pizza place where you can potentially build your own pizza, I’m going to list all the different dye-free ingredients you can mix ‘n’ match. Then I’ll list Papa Murphy’s dye-free signature pizzas, as well as all the extra menu items like salads and desserts. You can also look up the Papa Murphy’s official ingredient list for yourself for more details.

As with all my lists, anything with a *asterisk* contains bad preservatives: TBHQ, BHT, or BHA.  For more information on why these preservatives should be avoided, please scroll to the bottom of my McDonald’s review.

Dye-Free Choices at Papa Murphy’s

Basil Pesto
Buffalo Sauce
Creamy Garlic*
Herb Tomato
Olive Oil & Garlic
Original Pizza Sauce (“Red Sauce”)
Sweet Chili Sauce
(I’d like to make a special note that what Papa Murphy’s calls their “Topping Cheese” contains annatto, an artificial color. However, they will gladly use mozzarella instead upon your request. I’ve never encountered any problems asking for this simple switch.)
Artichoke Hearts
Banana Peppers
Black Olives
Canadian Bacon
Chili Pepper Flakes
Country Style Sausage
Crispy Bacon
Green Chile
Green Olives
Green Onions
Green Peppers
Herb & Cheese Blend
Herb Chicken
Italian Sausage
Pomace Olive Oil
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Zesty Herbs
Salads & Dressings (note: croutons are safe to eat)
Chicken Caesar
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Bleu Cheese Dressing
Country Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1000 Island Dressing
Italian Dressing
Cookie Dough
Signature Pizzas (FOr all of these, remember to ask for Mozzarella instead of “Topping Cheese” to make it dye-free.)
Big Murphy’s Stuffed*
Chicken Bacon Artichoke deLITE*
Chicken Bacon Ranch*
Chicken Bacon Stuffed*
Gourmet Chicken Garlic*
Gourmet Chicken Garlic deLITE*
Gourmet Classic Italian*
Gourmet Vegetarian*
Herb Chicken Mediterranean deLITE*
Murphy’s Combo*
Papa’s Perfect*
Veggie deLITE*


As you can see, most of their signature pizzas have those bad preservatives we try to avoid (mainly because they contain either Creamy Garlic Sauce or Pepperoni).   That said, we generally opt to build our own pizzas – and they are just as delicious!

Papa Murphy's Ordering

Five reasons you should get yourself a Papa Murphy’s Pizza tonight:

1. Mom gets a night off cooking.  (Yay!)

2. Everyone eats without complaining. (Double yay!!)

3. You can try new topping combos, so everyone gets something they like.

4. Papa Murphy’s always has coupons and specials (as if $10 pizzas weren’t already a fantastic deal).

5. You don’t have to worry about anyone having meltdowns the next day because you ate out!!!

Convinced?  You can find your local Papa Murphy’s here.  We highly recommend it!