Starbucks Cake Pops: What To Know Before Ordering

This year, Starbucks is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The American multinational chain of coffeehouses and roasteries took something so simple — a cup of coffee — and turned it into a global phenomenon that can be enjoyed in over 70 different ways. And that's not including the company's beloved holiday menu, the Starbucks secret menu, nor the millions of customized beverages patrons have invented via the Starbucks Rewards app. Starbucks has not just given America a coffee obsession, they've enhanced that experience with their signature line of breakfast, lunch, and bakery products. Plus, have we mentioned everything is delicious?

From croissants to oatmeal to yogurt parfaits, there's something at Starbucks for just about everybody. And when that midday sweet craving hits, Starbucks has you covered with the perfect snack-able treat: cake pops. Those little dough balls dipped in icing are to die for and you can eat one (or two, maybe even three) without being sent into a sugar coma. But how much do you really know about Starbucks' cake pops?

When did Starbucks start selling cake pops?

It's been over a decade since Starbucks announced they'd be selling a new dessert called cake pops (via Starbucks). While you can get a cake pop at practically any Starbucks location these days, they are not made in-house. The cake pops you see behind the glass window are pre-made and distributed by an outside supplier. This means you're probably paying twice the amount Starbucks did to obtain those cake pops, but more on that later.

Per Starbucks, wholesale dessert retailer SROriginals (which changed their name to Steven Charles in 2021, per Bake Mag) has been Starbucks' cake pop supplier since 2010, making cake pops a permanent fixture on the Starbucks menu. Starbucks notes that SROriginals/Steven Charles, which is certified by the Rocky Mountain Minority Supplier Council, has gone on to supply several other premium-quality desserts to its stores, but cake pops are the most popular and successful. Clearly, this partnership was beneficial for every company involved.

How are cake pops made?

According to Sally's Baking Addiction, cake pops are essentially mini ball-shaped cakes on sticks. If you've ever had a slice of cake, then you essentially already know what a cake pop tastes like. It may not sound glamorous, but once you see the decorations on these puppies you'll have a change of heart.

In terms of baking a cake pop, you start the process the same exact way you would a normal cake. Then, once the cake has set and cooled, you crumble it into fine pieces. Add a dollop of icing (either store-bought or homemade) and mix until it has a sticky texture, adding more frosting when necessary. It should be just moist enough to be able to hold its ball shape. Next, take two scoops of the cake mixture, roll it into a ball, and place it onto the end of a stick. Dip each cake pop into melted chocolate and place it in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.

Depending on how creative or premium the retailer wants to be, they may add sprinkles, white chocolate or raspberry drizzle, or other sugary extras. If you want to skip the Starbucks line and make your own cake pops, our copycat Starbucks cake pops recipe makes it easy to create these confections at home.

What cake pop flavors are there?

The better question is, what cake pop flavors aren't there? Starbucks has rotated through an assortment of cake pop flavors (vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, confetti, brownie, etc.) and shapes (foxes, polar bears, cats, and more) over the years, while the Birthday Cake Pop and Chocolate Cake Pop flavors are available year-round (via Starbucks).

Typically, Starbucks' cake pop flavors follow the same theme cycle as its limited-time seasonal drinks. When Starbucks says it's a limited-time flavor, it's not messing around. In December 2017, one customer tweeted at Starbucks asking why it only sells its holiday flavors, particularly the Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop, "for like ten minutes" before discontinuing it for the rest of the year. Starbucks responded, reassuring that the flavor wasn't discontinued, just already done for the year... in December, when technically, peppermint is still in season... Okay, Starbucks, we see you.

At the beginning of 2021, Starbucks unveiled an Earth Day Cake Pop, featuring blue icing with blue, green, and white sprinkles (via POPSUGAR). The current limited-time cake pop flavor is the Unicorn Cake Pop, which has vanilla cake with confetti sprinkles and white chocolate, according to NY Daily News. Cookie Dough Cake Pop is another flavor on the menu right now. If you're going to Starbucks for a cake pop, it's best to check the online menu beforehand so you know what to expect.

How much do cake pops cost?

According to the Starbucks Rewards app, cake pops range from $2.25 to $2.45 per pop. Two dollars for a snack? Doesn't sound like a bad deal. Wrong! Starbucks' cake pops may seem like a steal because of its "low pricing," but in reality, it's a huge rip off when compared to the coffeehouse chain's other bakery items. For reference, Starbucks sells bagels for less than $2, a croissant only costs 50 to 30 cents more than a cake pop, and a loaf (i.e. the lemon or pumpkin bread) costs $3.25. You're getting way more bang for your buck by ordering literally anything else off the menu.

Bottom line: cake pops may be indulgent, but they are not budget-friendly treats. A $2.25 cake pop is gone in one or two bites, which is outlandish when you can order a bagel for less. If you're really craving a piece of cake, you're better off baking cake pops at home, where a batch of 30 will probably cost you no more than $12 to $15. Then, you can freeze the extras and enjoy them throughout the week.

Are cake pops healthy?

In short, the answer is no. Cake pops are not healthy or nutritious in any capacity. However, they are tasty and if you're in the mood for something sweet, they could be the ideal snack. According to Starbucks, cake pops range from 150 to 180 calories, 7 to 9 grams of fat, and 12 to 18 grams of sugar, and have about 23 grams of carbohydrates. The reason they don't all have the same nutritional content is because each cake pop has different cake, icing, and decorations. Between the Birthday Cake Pop and the Chocolate Cake Pop, the chocolate is "healthier." 

Like with all things, cake pops are fine in moderation. Consider why you're thinking about ordering a cake pop before you do. Do you need something to wake you up? In that case, why not get a coffee? If you're hungry and need a snack that'll give you the power and energy to get through the rest of your day, a cake pop isn't it. Beforehand, weigh the pros and cons and know, if you do get a cake pop that'll be gone in two bites, you'll probably be tempted to order an additional item to fully satisfy your hunger.