8 Best Christmas Cupcakes + 4 Tasty Flavors
Christmas is the season of giving. This year, why not kick off the holidays by giving Christmas cupcakes? They’re easy to make, take less time than an entire cake, and little ones can easily help in the process. We’ve written up a simple recipe, and plenty of design and decoration ideas.
Christmas bakes have been popular since the 16th century, with Lebkuchen, pepparkakor, krumkake, and shortbread being just some of the national bakes of choice.
Some of these flavors – particularly the fragrant spices and buttery dough mixes – are easily transferable to cupcakes, too. In this article we’ve compiled some of the best flavors and most delicious ingredients you can use for your Christmas cupcakes.
Best Christmas Cupcake Ideas
When it comes to baking Christmas cupcakes, you can more or less let your imagination run wild. Some cupcake designs are simple, others are more elaborate. They each have one thing in common: they’re unique and fun. Here are our favorite ones.
Sparkly Christmas Wreath Cupcakes
Sparkly Christmas wreath cupcakes are both elegant and easy to make. You can make them as simple or elaborate as you wish, too, and they suit more or less any flavor.
We like to make these using vanilla cupcakes and vanilla buttercream, setting aside a little bit of buttercream when frosting.
Add a few drops of green food coloring to the extra batch of frosting and mix well. Frost your cupcakes with plain vanilla buttercream and smooth flat, then pipe green ‘wreaths’ around the edges.
Decorate your wreaths with tiny sugar balls, stars, and sprinkles. Metallic sugar decorations look particularly luxurious.
Buttercream Christmas Tree Cupcakes
Buttercream Christmas tree cupcakes couldn’t be easier, yet look so creative. Whip up your favorite chocolate cupcakes (to look a little like soil), and cool to room temperature.
Add some green food coloring to your favorite light-colored buttercream and mix well. Frost a tall swirl of green buttercream on top of each chocolate cupcake.
Finally, decorate your ‘trees’ with your choice of sugar balls, sprinkles, and sugar stars. M&Ms or smarties work very well also. Top each tree with a small sugar star. These little trees are especially effective as a project with little bakers.
Marshmallow Frosted Snowman Cupcakes
Marshmallow-frosted snowman cupcakes are a treat both for the eyes (they’re super fun), and in terms of taste. To make them, bake your favorite vanilla or chocolate cupcake recipe.
While they’re cooling, whip up some marshmallow frosting. Marshmallow frosting is incredibly easy to make: just mix marshmallow fluff, softened butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
Frost the cupcakes as in generous swirls, and add a large marshmallow ‘snowman head’ on top of each. Decorate with pretzel stick arms and edible ink pens. These are a particularly delicious treat for little ones, though you’ll definitely want to save some for yourself.
Festive Lights Cupcakes
Festive lights cupcakes are very cute, look unique, and are super easy to make, too. Just whip up your favorite cupcake recipe, as well as a light-colored buttercream of your choice.
Once your cupcakes are baked and have cooled to room temperature, frost them with the buttercream but use a smooth piping nozzle.
Use black fondant or dark chocolate to draw a swirly line around the buttercream and up to the top. Add M&M or smartie ‘lights’ along the dark line. You can use multi-colored ones or just a few select colors.
Gingerbread Men Cupcakes
This is another design that calls for our basic recipe below — though you might wish to skip the orange oil when making the buttercream for these. Bake our simple recipe and let your cupcakes cool.
Add big swirls of vanilla buttercream using a smooth pipe nozzle. Add some colorful sprinkles on top — festive green and red colors are particularly fitting.
Finally, add a cute little gingerbread man cookie to the top of each cupcake. If you have a gingerbread cookie recipe and want to make these yourself, this can be great fun. Alternatively, just buy some gingerbread cookies beforehand and use them for decorating your cupcakes.
Easy Christmas Cupcakes
If the above cupcake design ideas sound a little too advanced for you, don’t worry. We’ve got plenty more ideas for easy Christmas cupcakes that are just as fun. These cupcake ideas are particularly good for a crafty baking afternoon with little ones.
Red and White Christmas Cupcakes
Amongst the simplest festive cupcake designs are red and white Christmas cupcakes. Simply bake some red velvet cupcakes and cool to room temperature. Frost with white buttercream (cream cheese frosting is great.)
Pure White Fondant Christmas Cupcakes
Another very basic yet beautiful cupcake idea is the pure white fondant-covered Christmas cupcake. To make this, you’ll want a round cookie cutter around the size of the top of your cupcakes.
Roll out white fondant and cut out circles. Next, use a festive cookie embossing stamp to mark each circle. Add to the top of your frosted cupcakes.
Pretzel Reindeer Cupcakes
These are very cute and particularly fun to make with little kids. Simply bake your favorite chocolate cupcakes. Once cooled, frost with chocolate buttercream.
Add a dollop of lighter chocolate frosting to the front center of every cupcake, and place a red gum drop ‘nose’ on each. Add fondant googly eyes, and finally, little pretzel ‘antlers’ right behind the eyes.
Gift-Wrapped Cupcakes with Fondant Bows
These cute and simple cupcakes are great as special little gifts for teachers and friends. To make them, bake your choice of cupcakes and frost using colorful buttercreams and a smooth pipe nozzle.
Cut out ‘ribbons’ of fondant using a pastry or pizza cutter. Layer them criss-cross on each cupcake, and add a little bow to each using the same sugarpaste.
Simple Recipe for Christmas Cupcakes: A Guide
The best cupcakes need a moist yet fluffy sponge base and buttery frosting that melts in your mouth. These have both. They also have a subtle orange and spice flavor your guests will find irresistible.
If you need to cater to food allergies or intolerances, you can easily make some swaps: replace the flour with a gluten free variety, the sugar with coconut sugar or a fruit concentrate of your choice.
Replace the butter with a vegan alternative, the eggs with aquafaba or yogurt, and the sour cream and milk with dairy-free options. You may also replace the butter and heavy cream in the buttercream with vegan alternatives.
Ingredients for 12 Spiced Cupcakes:
- 1 ⅔ cups of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ cup of salted butter (at room temperature)
- 3 egg whites
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup of sour cream
- ½ cup of whole milk
- ½ tsp of mixed spice (or pumpkin spice mix)
- ½ tsp of cinnamon
Ingredients for the Orange Buttercream:
- 2 lbs of confectioners sugar
- 1 lb of salted butter (use unsalted if you prefer)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 2-3 drops of orange oil (for culinary use)
And here’s how you do it:
- Start by making the cupcakes: preheat your oven to 350 F and add cupcake liners to your baking pan.
- Sift all of your dry ingredients (the flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder, and spices) into a bowl.
- Whisk the wet ingredients (the butter, egg whites, vanilla extract, sour cream, and milk) in a separate bowl.
- Mix both bowls together using a hand or stand mixer until just combined, but not over-whisked.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, taking care not to over-fill them.
- Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes or until just lightly browned and springy to the touch. Top tip: insert a toothpick into the sponge. If it comes away clean, your cakes are done.
- Next, make your buttercream. Whisk the butter until creamy.
- Slowly add the confectioners sugar, taking care not to create lumps. Continue to whisk.
- Add the vanilla extract, cream, and orange oil. Add food coloring at this stage, if you like. Continue to whisk until fluffy.
Assemble your cupcakes once they’ve cooled to room temperature. Pipe each cupcake with your orange buttercream and decorate per one of our Christmas design ideas above.
Simple Christmas Cupcake Designs and Decoration Ideas
It’s often been said: the simplest designs are the best. That’s because a simple thing done well is often far more effective (not to mention tastier) than something elaborate you couldn’t quite pull off.
Advanced or novice baker, we’ve got some tips for you that you’ll want to save for your next festive baking day.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes it’s worth making something a little messy. Christmas bakes are great for this, as you can just make decorations look like snow.
Apply peaks of royal icing to your cupcakes to look like snowy landscapes. Build wonky little ‘snowmen’ on them or add pre-bought fondant trees.
Make some, but not everything. As mentioned above, feel free to buy some readymade fondant decorations. Little trees, elves, mini reindeer, and santa sleighs are all good ideas.
You needn’t make every single thing yourself to say you baked your cupcakes. If some elements feel too tricky, leave them to the experts, and focus on what you know how to make.
This makes sense especially when baking with children. Set aside bowls and containers of decorational materials rather than giving them entire bottles of sprinkles.
Pre-measure ingredients you want them to mix, and use kid-friendly utensils. Above all, take your time, and don’t let things like a little clean up afterwards spoil your fun.
Tasty Christmas Cupcakes Flavors
Cupcake flavors are something people could readily argue about; after all, everyone has a slightly different taste preference. We’ve taken the guess work away for you and listed some of the very best flavors to try. Make one or make all of them, the choice is yours.
Red velvet is a popular cupcake flavor, especially paired with decadent cream cheese frosting. It has a subtle taste of chocolate with a little bit of tartness.
However, what makes red velvet a perfect choice for Christmas is the color – perfect for Santa cupcakes. The white cream cheese frosting also works very well for the white trim and Santa’s beard.
Could a flavor be more festive than chocolate peppermint? You can achieve this flavor in a variety of ways, but our favorite is to make chocolate cupcakes with minty buttercream.
Make your favorite vanilla buttercream recipe but add a drop of peppermint oil (for culinary use) to it. Mash up a candy cane until it’s a fine powder and sprinkle your cupcakes with a little bit of candy cane dust.
If you’ve ever made orange-studded with cloves, or pomanders, this cupcake flavor will remind you of that beautifully-scented Christmas tradition. Our basic recipe below is a take on this flavoring.
We like to bake spiced cupcakes and frost them with orange-flavored buttercream. You can use orange oil to make your frosting, as we have, or zest a well-washed orange to add a bit of texture, too.
Vanilla is a classic flavor that’s well suited for most bakes, especially at Christmastime. You can easily bake vanilla cupcakes using your favorite recipe or a box mix.
Vanilla cupcakes are best frosted with lashings of vanilla buttercream. They’re ideal for less adventurous taste buds, children, and those who just love vanilla-flavored anything.
Christmas Cupcakes Captions and Phrases
Are you looking for cute phrases or captions to use when you showcase your freshly-made Christmas cupcakes on Instagram?
Or do you need some lovely words to write alongside your bakes, in icing or chocolate? Whichever it is, here are some of the best ones you can use, from funny to sweet:
- "Merry Christmas, have a cupcake or 10."
- "These cupcakes will never ask you silly questions. They just comfort and understand."
- "It’s the happy and tasty memories in life that count, not the calories."
- "Let your days be frosted and sweet."
- "All I want for Christmas is cupcakes."
Alternatives to Christmas Cupcakes
Perhaps you’d like to dish up an entire Christmas bake buffet, perhaps you’re just looking for an alternative to cupcakes.
Either way, there are plenty of creative festive bakes you can make.
They don’t even need to be sweet – check out number three for a savory treat you’ll be asked to bake year after year.
Christmas cookies are easily made and great fun. You can either follow your favorite recipes — there are numerous international favorites, too.
Or you could whip up a batch of store bought cookie dough and decorate them. Some of the most favored Christmas cookie traditions include relatively simple dough and plenty of festive cookie cutters.
Christmas cake is another favorite that’s a little different depending on where you go.
Many recipes will call for some sort of spiced batter, which is beautifully frosted and decorated once baked.
You can make a grown up Christmas cake too by adding rum. Some recipes call for you to ‘feed’ your cake with rum every few weeks in the lead up to Christmas.
Christmas Cheese ‘Star’
This is a fantastic option for those who can’t or won’t have sweet bakes.
There are a variety of recipes available, which call for either pastry or homemade bread filled with camembert or brie. Serve with fresh cranberry sauce for a show stopping starter.