Coke Zero vs Diet Coke: What’s the Difference?

Are Coke Zero and Diet Coke made with the same ingredients and flavors? We may surprise you with the results of our research.

The clash of the titans between Diet Coke and Coke Zero. Having grown up in the ’80s, Diet Coke was my favorite beverage for decades. The pink cans were stylish, but the soda was awful.

When Diet Coke came out in 1982, it was the Star Wars of low-calorie drinks; light years ahead of anything else on the market. It was the first diet soda that didn’t remind you that it was low-calorie with every sip. Coca-Cola would never make a different diet soda, in my opinion.

In 2005, Coke Zero was introduced. One of the Coca-Cola labs wanted to make a diet drink that tasted more like a regular Coke. Was it successful? Does Coke Zero have a different taste from regular Coke, or is it just a trendy name?

There’s a reason for the Coca-Cola logo being red-and there always will be.

Are Diet Coke and Coke Zero different?

Both Diet Coke and Coke Zero have zero sugar and calories, and their ingredient lists are similar. Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, aspartame, natural flavors, and caffeine (though you can buy caffeine-free versions—look for gold packaging).

There are two ingredients in Coke Zero that Diet Coke does not contain: potassium citrate and acesulfame potassium; and there is one ingredient in Diet Coke that Coke Zero does not have: citric acid.

In the opinion of Anna Wheeler, health and nutrition manager for Coca-Cola Great Britain, “Coca-Cola Zero Sugar has the same taste as Coca-Cola Classic, whereas Diet Coke has a lighter taste since it contains a different combination of flavors.”

Those are the words of the executives. Do they have a point?

Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero taste test

To compare the two drinks, I chilled Diet Coke and Coke Zero cans and drank them without ice.

Drinking Diet Coke reminds me what a huge advance it was back then. The drink is smooth and sweet, and my first thought isn’t, “Ugh, this is a diet soda.” It’s enjoyable, bubbly, goes well with a meal, and it’s refreshing by itself. Although it’s not a full-sugar Coke, it’s still a top-notch diet beverage.

I wasn’t afraid to say I didn’t love Coke Zero’s new formula in my Coke Zero review last summer. In comparison to older Coke Zero, this one was almost sour, with a hint of spiciness. I didn’t taste that sourness this time. Maybe it’s changed, or maybe I’ve changed. I found Coke Zero smoother, sweeter, and bubblier than Diet Coke.

Run to the store as soon as possible if you haven’t tried Coca-Cola’s new beverage for 2022.

Which do we prefer?

It’s Coke Zero all the way. Every time a flight attendant or vending machine offers me a choice, I choose Coke Zero.

It’s understandable that cola drinkers are still mourning the Coke Zero formulation we lost last year. At first, I preferred the old formula Coke Zero over the new one. However, I cannot live in the past. Now we have Coke Zero, and I’ll drink to that.

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