I’m on a mission to order low carb at the top 30 fast food chains in the US. One month is what I’ve given myself to complete the mission, so I’ll be eating a lot of fast food over the next 30 days.
If you want to follow along, you can subscribe to updates at the end of this post.
For each fast food restaurant I’m evaluating:
- Availability of low carb entrees (less than 20 net carbs).
- Satiety of low carb entrees.
- Price of low carb entrees.
- Taste of low carb entrees.
- Ordering experience.
My fourth stop is Starbucks which has several different locations within a few miles of my house.
Starbucks is a mismatch for me because I’m allergic to coffee, but I do appreciate the ambiance of their coffee shops and find myself going there hungry quite often with friends and family. In those instances, I need to be prepared with a low carb ordering strategy because their display case has a lot of enticing baked goods which could otherwise tempt me into a bad decision.
If you’re looking for low carb Starbucks drink orders, then Kyndra from Peace, Love, and Low Carb gives good recommendations here. The gist of her advice is to get your flavor and indulgence by special requesting sugar-free syrups and heavy cream (instead of whipped cream). If you must get a latte, special request almond milk as a substitute for their regular milk which has unfavorably high sugar content.
Since I’m not a big coffee or tea drinker, I focused my review on the food.
Overall Ratings for Starbucks
Starbucks has great in-store ambiance and service, but I rate their food as low-carb hostile because they don’t have anything low carb in their display case. In fact, the only truly low carbs foods I found were a bag of almonds, string cheese, and some avocado spread.
- Low carb friendliness – Poor. You’ll need to settle for their limited, low carb snack options or pick off carb-heavy ingredients they add to their pre-made protein boxes, breakfast sandwiches, and sandwiches.
- Low carb menu offerings – Poor. They did have some string cheese and almonds visible near checkout.
- Low carb adaptable – Average. They accommodated me when I special ordered two of their breakfast sandwiches without the bun, but they didn’t have suitable to-go containers to serve them in.
- Satiety of low carb entrees – Average. I was full after eating two of their bunless breakfast sandwiches.
- Taste of low carb entrees – Fair. I enjoyed their bunless chorizo & egg breakfast sandwich but the bunless ham & egg breakfast sandwich was too dry for my tastes.
- Price / value of low carb entrees – Below average. I spent $9.50 for two bunless breakfast sandwiches. This is about a 50% higher price than the breakfast sandwiches I’ve purchased at McDonald’s and Burger King.
- Ordering experience – Above average. The Starbucks cashier was patient and accommodating when I had questions about the menu and special ordered bunless breakfast sandwiches. My only criticism is that they served the bunless breakfast sandwiches in little paper bags which made them hard to eat because the cheese was sticking to the inside of the bag.
Overall, I was able to get a low carb breakfast at Starbucks and stick to my diet, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a planned stop for a low carb eater.
Of note, I returned to Starbucks during lunch hours to place a lunch order (to make sure I could give a complete review), but I realized that they don’t change their display case at all. They offer the same foods in the display case for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The pre-packaged sandwiches left in the display case looked unappetizing and appeared to be 90% bread, so I passed.
What you should order
If you’re looking for low carb Starbucks drink suggestions, I want to kindly direct you to Peace, Love, and Low Carb’s post here. Kyndra gives better recommendations than I can, as I don’t drink caffeinated beverages and I’m allergic to coffee.
For breakfast, I recommend you order two bunless Spicy Chorizo, Monterey Jack & Egg Breakfast Sandwiches and eat them in the restaurant. If you take them to-go, they put them in little paper bags which get messy thanks to the cheese sticking to the insides.
I wouldn’t recommend eating lunch or dinner at Starbucks, but they do have pre-packaged sandwiches in their display case which you could order and then toss the bread in an emergency.
What I ordered
I ordered one bunless Spicy Chorizo, Monterey Jack & Egg Breakfast Sandwich and one bunless Slow-Roasted Ham, Swiss & Egg Breakfast Sandwich along with a bag of almonds and a string cheese.
I liked the bunless Spicy Chorizo, Monterey Jack & Egg Breakfast Sandwich though it wasn’t any better than the bunless sausage, egg & cheese sandwiches that McDonald’s and Burger King served me during this fast food project.
The bunless Slow-Roasted Ham, Swiss & Egg Breakfast Sandwich was too dry for my tastes.
The almonds and string cheese were overkill. I’m not sure why I ordered them other than the cheap thrill of feeling like I’d ordered every possible low carb item in Starbucks.
What you can order
You can order all of Starbucks breakfast sandwiches without the bun. They’ll warm them for you, then serve them on a plate if you’re eating in the coffee shop. If you’re taking your bunless breakfast sandwich to go, they’ll slide each one into a little paper bag.
Theoretically, you could also order any of their pre-made sandwiches and toss the bread, but I didn’t try that.
For snacks, you can get their pre-packaged almonds, string cheese, and avocado spread.
What you should avoid
Avoid the Starbucks “Protein Boxes.” The name is a misnomer. In fact, every box features twice as many grams of carbs versus protein. As a strict low carb dieter, you’d be paying to eat about 20% of the contents of each box.
My next low carb / keto ordering guide will be for Burger King. I ate dinner there last night and breakfast there the morning of writing this post.
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aka “Mr. SkinnyPants”