Do you love Starbucks' Mango Dragonfruit Refresher? This easy-to-make-at-home copycat recipe incorporates all the elements of the vibrantly colored drink, so you can enjoy it any time!
Is there anything prettier than dragon fruit? It's so stunning that something tells me lots of people order the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher from Starbucks solely because of how beautiful it is!
Luckily, the drink also happens to be delicious. And I've ordered it so much that finally decided I needed to make my own at-home version.
I'll be honest, the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher has been the toughest Starbucks copycat recipe for me yet. I must have tested this recipe over two dozen times!
The actual Starbucks version doesn't seem to have a ton of mango flavor and almost has a little tart berry flavor to it. Dragon fruit doesn't have a super distinct flavor, but if you've ever had a dragon fruit Vitamin Water or Bai, you know it does have a slightly sweet tropical flavor.
After lots and lots of testing, this is the closest version I could make. The main components are dragon fruit syrup, water, citric acid, and mango puree with freeze-dried dragon fruit pieces.
❓ What are Starbucks Refreshers?
Starbucks Refreshers are iced drinks that contain fruit juice, green coffee extract, and scoops of fruit.
They're delicious drink alternatives for anyone who doesn't like coffee (don't worry, the green coffee extract doesn't taste like coffee.. see more on this below) and are super delicious and refreshing on a hot day.
Starbucks also take the Refresher bases and turns them into other types of drinks. For instance, the Strawberry Acai base can be mixed with coconut. milk and turned into the Pink Drink and the Pineapple Passionfruit base can be mixed with coconut milk for the Paradise Drink.
When the Mango Dragonfruit base is mixed with coconut milk, it becomes a Dragon Drink!
⚡️ Do Refreshers have caffeine?
You may be surprised to learn that Refreshers do contain caffeine, though not as much as coffee. A grande size Mango Dragonfruit Refresher has about 45 mg of caffeine (compared to a grande black iced coffee with 165 mg).
The caffeine comes in the form of green coffee bean extract and you can't order a refresher without it since it's incorporated into the base.
However, when you make your own Refreshers at home, you can easily leave the green coffee bean extract out. You shouldn't notice any difference in the flavor of the drink.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
If you're a fan of the pretty purple drink at Starbucks, you're going to love this recipe! It has all the elements of the Refresher from dragon fruit flavors to mango flavors with lots of sweetness and a little tartness.
You do need a few special ingredients to make the drink, but once you have them, you can make quite a few Refreshers with the base.
And I also have some substitutions and shortcuts for you if there's anything you don't have.
🐉 What's in a Mango Dragonfruit Refresher?
Starbucks describes the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher as, "A tropical-inspired pick-me-up--crafted with a refreshing combination of sweet mango and dragonfruit flavors and hand-shaken with ice plus a scoop of real diced dragonfruit."
According to the their website, the elements involved in the drink are ice, the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher base, and freeze-dried dragonfruit pieces.
Two of those three are self-explanatory, but what's in the Refresher base? Starbucks says it's water, sugars (from sugar and white grape juice concentrate), natural flavors, citric acid, natural green coffee flavor, and rebaudiside-A (basically a form of Stevia).
Like I mentioned, I experimented a lot with this drink, especially to try to get all the flavors right. I initially tried to make it similar to my Strawberry Acai Refresher base, but it just didn't taste right- it had too much grape flavor and not enough sweetness.
I had recently perfected my recipe for dragonfruit syrup, so I decided to incorporate that into the base, along with mango puree (mango must be one of the "natural flavors" Starbucks is claiming). With some citric acid added in, it ended up being much closer to the original!
To make the Refresher as close to the original as possible, you will need a few special ingredients that can easily be purchased online. If you don't want to purchase them, I do share some modifications later in this post that will allow you to still make a delicious drink without
The base of the drink consists of dragon fruit syrup (homemade or store-bought), water, mango nectar (or mango puree), citric acid, and green coffee extract powder.
Here's everything you you need to make the drink as I did (please see recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions):
- Dragon fruit powder and/or fresh dragonfruit OR dragon fruit syrup: You can make the syrup with either fresh dragon fruit or powdered dragon fruit or you can use both if you want to use fresh, but also have a pink syrup (syrup does not have to be pink since the freeze-dried dragon fruit pieces will turn your Refresher pink/purple). If you don't want to make your own syrup at all, you can purchase a bottle of dragon fruit syrup.
- Granulated sugar (if making your own syrup)
- Mango nectar (or mango puree)
- Citric acid
- Green coffee bean extract powder (you can omit this if you don't want your Refresher to have caffeine in it)
- Freeze-dried dragonfruit pieces
🥣 How to make dragon fruit syrup
The first step to making the Refresher base is making the dragon fruit syrup. If you don't want to make your own syrup, you can buy a bottle of it and totally skip this step and go on to mixing the rest of the base ingredients. I haven't tried this drink with store-bought syrup, but I'm sure it's delicious!
I like to make my syrup with fresh dragon fruit and then I also add in some dragon fruit powder for color.
But you can just use one or the other for the flavor of the fruit. Your syrup does not have to be pink as it's the freeze-dried dragon fruit pieces that will add the color to the Refresher when you shake it all up.
If using fresh dragon fruit, put water, sugar, and diced dragon fruit in a medium-size saucepan and bring mixture to a boil.
Once boiling, lower heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until mixture has thickened a bit and dragon fruit is softening.
If you're using white flesh dragon fruit and want a pink syrup, stir in the dragon fruit powder at this time. Stir until powder is dissolved.
Strain mixture into a bowl, being sure to press down on the dragon fruit to extract as much juice as possible.
If you're not using fresh dragon fruit and are using the powder instead, simply bring water and syrup to a boil and then let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir 2 tsp dragon fruit powder in and continue simmering for about 5 minutes, until powder is dissolved and syrup has thickened a bit.
Keep syrup in bowl or pour into a mason jar and place in fridge to cool completely before using. Syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.
You'll have about a cup of syrup.
You'll only need ½ cup for a batch of the Refresher base (which makes 4 drinks), but it will keep in your fridge for about a month and I have a post with lots of ideas on how to use it!
🥭 How to make drink base
Now that you've either made or bought your dragon fruit syrup, you're ready to complete the base!
Combine ½ cup syrup with 1 ¼ cup water, ½ cup mango nectar, ¾ tsp citric acid, and ½ tsp green coffee extract powder (if using).
Shake or mix to combine and store in fridge until ready to use.
🥤 How to make Mango Dragonfruit Refresher
Once your base is ready, the rest of the drink is SO easy to make!
Just add ½ cup Refresher base and ½ cup water to an ice-filled shaker. Also add in ¼ cup freeze-dried dragon fruit pieces.
If you're using a clear syrup, your drink will be clear...
Until you shake it all together with the dragon fruit pieces. Then it will change into the beautiful drink you're use to seeing at Starbucks!
Pour the entire contents of the shaker into a glass. You can add more ice if you want and top it off with more freeze-dried dragon fruit.
Take a sip and enjoy this incredibly refreshing, beautifully vibrant drink packed with tropical flavors!
I'm seriously in love with the fact that I can now have a Mango Dragonfruit Refresher at home any time I want.
I know this Starbucks copycat recipe is a little more complicated than you may like. But I'm telling you that I tried it a lot of different ways and this is the closest in flavor I could get it!
And really, if you're using store-bought dragon fruit syrup, it's actually pretty easy!
However, if you are looking for something a bit easier, I have some ideas for you:
- Instead of using dragon fruit syrup and water in the base, you can make the drink with white grape juice instead. Starbucks does use white grape juice concentrate in their mixture and the freeze-fried dragon fruit will add color and dragon fruit flavor. I personally found the grape flavor to be a little too strong when I made it this way, but it definitely works as a substitute!
- Leave out the green coffee extract powder if you don't care about having caffeine in your Refresher.
- If you don't have citric acid, you can add about a tablespoon of lemon juice instead. I do love the extra little zing citric acid gives the drink, but lemon juice will have a similar effect.
- I highly recommend using the freeze-dried dragon fruit for both the color and the flavor, but if you don't have them, you can mix in fresh dragon fruit instead or just mix in some dragon fruit powder.
👩🍳 More ways to use base
Once you have the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher base made, there's a lot you can do with it.
You can make a Dragon Drink simply by mixing the base with sweetened coconut milk instead of water. This is a deliciously sweet and creamy drink idea, similar to the pink drink but with more of a purple color.
You can make a Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade, which is basically just this base combined with lemonade instead of water. If you don't think the Refresher is sweet enough, definitely try mixing the base with lemonade instead. It also adds a bit more tartness.
Those are the drinks that Starbucks officially makes with the base, but you can really do anything you want with it! I've seen people online recommending adding strawberry syrup, raspberry syrup, passionfruit tea, or vanilla cold foam.
⏲ How to store
I recommend storing the Refresher base in a large mason jar in your fridge. When stored properly, it should last about a week.
Which means you can make the base on a Sunday and mix up a Mango Dragonfruit Refresher whenever you want throughout the week!
Of course, you can also easily double the base recipe; just make sure you have a large enough car or container to keep it in. I recommend these 4 cup mason jars.
I hope this make-at-home Mango Dragonfruit Refresher adds a little happiness to your life!
If you're as obsessed with Starbucks as I am and love experimenting with copycat recipes, be sure to check out my entire collection of Starbucks recipes.
Mango Dragonfruit Refresher
- ½ cup Mango Dragonfruit Base (recipe below)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup dried dragonfruit pieces
Mango Dragonfruit Base
- ½ cup dragonfruit syrup (recipe below or store-bought)
- 1 ¼ cups water
- ¼ cup mango nectar (or puree)
- ¾ tsp citric acid
- ½ tsp green coffee extract powder, optional (you can omit if you don't want caffeine in your Refresher)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup chopped dragonfruit OR 2 tsp dragon fruit powder (you can use both if you want to use fresh dragon fruit for syrup, but also want syrup to be pink)*
- Add about ½ cup mango dragonfruit base, ½ cup water, and ¼ cup freeze-dried dragon fruit pieces to an ice-filled shaker. Shake well to combine.
- Pour entire mixture (ice included) into glass. Top with additional dragon fruit pieces, if desired.
- Feel free to make alterations based on your sweetness preferences. Add more of the base for a sweeter drink and less for a less sweet drink.
Mango Dragonfruit Base
- Add dragon fruit syrup, water, mango nectar, citric acid, and green coffee bean powder (if using) to a large jar or container. Shake well to combine and refrigerate until ready to use.
Dragon Fruit Syrup
- If making syrup with fresh dragon fruit: Put water, sugar, and diced dragon fruit in a medium-size saucepan and bring mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, lower heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until mixture has thickened a bit and dragon fruit is softening.
- If you're using white flesh dragon fruit and want a pink syrup, stir in ½ tsp the dragon fruit powder at this time. Stir until powder is dissolved.
- Strain mixture into a bowl, being sure to press down on the dragon fruit to extract as much juice as possible.
- If making syrup with just dragon fruit powder: Put water and sugar in medium-size saucepan and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tsp dragon fruit powder and let simmer for another 5 minutes until powder is absorbed and syrup is pink. Store as directed above.
- The base recipe makes enough for about 4 full drinks if using ½ cup of base per drink.
- Dragon fruit syrup recipe makes enough for 2 batches of base, but also has lots of other uses. See this post for ideas.
- The base should keep in your fridge for about 1 week; the dragon fruit syrup should keep in your fridge for about a month.
- If you don't have citric acid, you can replace with 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
- Mix base with lemonade for a sweeter, tart drink or mix with sweetened coconut milk for a Dragon Drink.