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Easy Christmas Cupcake Ideas

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We’re decking the halls – I mean, cupcakes – with these easy ideas for Christmas Cupcakes! Check out 8 simple tutorials for fun and festive Christmas-themed cupcakes frosted to look like Santa, his Reindeer, Christmas Trees, and more.

Fun and Festive Christmas Cupcake Ideas

It might go without saying, but baking is my favorite thing about the holidays! This year I had my sights set on some super-festive Christmas Cupcakes. I just love how they turned out. So, naturally, I’m sharing the best ones with you all.

Whether you’re new to decorating cupcakes or a seasoned pro, these are simple techniques that anyone can master. Check out how to make perfect buttercream frosting below, plus 8 easy Christmas cupcake decorating ideas and step-by-step tutorials and videos included to make these perfect cupcakes at home!

Assorted Christmas cupcakes decorated with a buttercream Christmas tree and a wreath with sprinkles.

What You’ll Need

The key to successful cupcake decorating (or any cake decorating) is stable frosting. My go-to recipe for just about all of the recipes below is this Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. The recipe starts with cold butter, my secret weapon for making fluffy frosting that’s super stable and perfect for piping! 

Below are the key ingredients to make the basic vanilla buttercream for frosting your Christmas cupcakes. I’ve included the full details and instructions in the recipe card further down.

  • Unsalted Butter – As mentioned, make sure your block of butter is cold from the fridge!
  • Powdered Sugar – Also called confectioner’s sugar. For extra smooth results, you can also sift it first.
  • Vanilla Extract – You can also flavor your frosting with almond or peppermint extract if you’d like.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream – Or milk, for thinning out and fluffing up the frosting.
  • Food Coloring: I love the vibrant colors that come from gel food dyes (more on this below).
  • Sprinkles and Decorations

What Is the Best Food Coloring for Frosting?

Many of the tutorials below involve coloring your basic buttercream frosting red, green, and brown. I’ve found that the brightest, most vibrant colors always come from gel food dyes, like AmeriColor gels or Wilton Color Right Gels

For brown frosting, you can also use my Chocolate Buttercream Frosting instead of food dye.

For more detailed instructions, I have a handy tutorial for How to Color Buttercream

How to Make a Basic Buttercream Frosting

Have all your ingredients ready to go? Here’s how to make a perfect basic vanilla buttercream frosting in just 3 easy steps:

  1. Whip the butter. Cut your cold butter into cubes, then beat for 5-7 minutes until lightened.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Beat in 2 cups of powdered sugar, followed by the vanilla extract. Gradually mix in the remaining powdered sugar, adding the final cup along with the heavy whipping cream.
  3. Beat until fluffy. Whip the frosting together, beginning on low and increasing the mixing speed to medium-high until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy.

Once your buttercream is ready, divide it between bowls and dye it your chosen colors using gel food dyes.

Overhead view of Assorted Christmas cupcakes decorated to look like Christmas tees, Santa, reindeer, and more.

What Flavor of Cupcakes Should I Use?

The flavor of cupcakes you choose for decorating is really up to you. Of course, you can never go wrong with classic Vanilla Cupcakes or Chocolate Cupcakes, pictured here. 

I also love making Pumpkin Cupcakes or Gingerbread Cupcakes for a more seasonal flavored treat! Of course if you’re looking for a shortcut, a boxed cake mix works great too.

Helpful Tools for Decorating Cupcakes

Here is a list of some handy tools to use when decorating the cupcakes I’ve shared below:

8 Easy Ways to Decorate Christmas Cupcakes

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring… except, of course, all us home bakers frosting truckloads of Christmas cupcakes. Have your tools and cupcakes ready, and let’s get frosting with these festive decorating ideas!

Santa Hat Cupcakes

Piping adorable red and white Santa hats on top of your favorite cupcakes is easy! Here’s everything you’ll need to do it, plus the simple 2-step process.

What You’ll Need

  • Piping bag
  • Ateco 808 piping tip (or similar)
  • Wilton #12 round piping tip
  • Red buttercream frosting
  • White buttercream frosting

Step-By-Step

  1. Pipe a hat. Using a piping bag fitted with a large open round piping tip, pipe red buttercream in a conical shape, working from the outside edge of the cupcake up to a peak.
  2. Pipe the trim. Next, use a piping bag fitted with a smaller, size 12 piping tip to pipe white frosting around the edges and on top of the hat.
A vanilla cupcake topped with a red buttercream Santa hat.

Santa Claus Cupcakes

How cute are these Santa snowmen? This is an easy way to achieve festive Santa Claus cupcakes, snow-white beard, and all!

Overhead view of a cupcake frosted to look like Santa with a red buttercream hat and a sprinkle beard.

What You’ll Need

  • Angled spatula (or knife)
  • Piping bag
  • Wilton #12 round piping tip
  • Red buttercream frosting 
  • White buttercream frosting
  • Parchment paper
  • Sprinkles, M&Ms, and nonpareils for decorating

Step-By-Step

  1. Frost with white buttercream. First, spread a base of white frosting over the top of your cupcake and smooth over with an angled spatula or knife.
  2. Make the beard. Gently lay a piece of parchment paper over the top two-thirds of the cupcake (see photo). Next, roll the bottom third of the cupcake in white sprinkles or nonpareils to form Santa’s “beard”. 
  3. Make a hat. Spread red frosting over the top third of the cupcake. Alternatively, you can use a piping bag fitted with a size 47 piping tip to pipe the frosting for Santa’s red hat. Smooth the frosting over with a knife.
  4. Add the trim. Use a piping bag fitted with a size 12 piping tip to pipe white frosting around the edges and on top of the hat. Finally, add M&Ms and nonpareils for the nose and eyes.

Santa’s Suit Cupcakes

The perfect holly jolly Christmas cupcake! This is an uber-simple way to decorate your fluffy cupcakes to look like the cutest-ever version of Santa’s red suit.

What You’ll Need

Step-By-Step

  1. Make the suit. Spread white frosting over the top of the cupcake and smooth it over with an angled spatula or knife. Next, dip the cupcake in red sanding sugar to coat.
  2. Make a belt. Use a piping bag fitted with a size 47 tip with the flat edge facing up. Pipe a “belt” of brown frosting from one edge of the cupcake to the other. Smooth it over with a knife as needed.
  3. Add the buttons: Using a piping bag fitted with a size 12 piping tip, pipe 3 or 4 dots of brown frosting above the belt to form the buttons. Place a silver dragée (or similar) in the center of the belt for a buckle.
Overhead view of a cupcake decorated to look like Santa's red suit, with a brown frosting belt and buttons.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes (Option 1)

Now, for the first of two easy ways to decorate Christmas tree cupcakes! 

What You’ll Need

  • Angled spatula (or knife)
  • Piping bag
  • Wilton #21 star tip
  • Chocolate frosting (or brown-tinted buttercream)
  • Green buttercream
  • Sprinkles

Step-By-Step

  1. Frost with chocolate buttercream: First, spread a base of chocolate frosting on a cupcake and smooth it over with an angled spatula.
  2. Pipe a tree. Next, you’ll make the tree shape using a piping bag fitted with a size 21 piping tip and green frosting. Starting at the top edge of the cupcake, move your hand side to side, increasing the width as you work your way down the cupcake. 
  3. Add decorations. Use different kinds of sprinkles to decorate your “tree”. 
Overhead view of a cupcake frosted with a buttercream Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes (Option 2)

Here’s one more quick and straightforward technique for cupcakes frosted to look like mini Christmas trees, ready for sprinkling with “decorations”!

What You’ll Need

  • Piping bag
  • Ateco 846 star tip
  • Green buttercream
  • Sprinkles

Step-By-Step

  1. Pipe the tree. Using a piping bag fitted with a size 846 piping tip, pipe green frosting onto the cupcake in a conical shape. Start from the outside edge and swirl your way to the center to form a peak.
  2. Add decorations. Garnish the tree with different sprinkles as decorations.
A chocolate cupcake topped with a buttercream Christmas tree decorated with sprinkles.

Christmas Wreath Cupcakes

These holiday wreath cupcakes are too much fun. It doesn’t get easier than piping a ring of green frosting and adding on some garnishes!

What You’ll Need

  • Angled spatula (or knife)
  • Piping bag
  • Ateco 846 star tip (this can also be done with 1M piping tip)
  • White buttercream
  • Green buttercream
  • Sprinkles

Step-By-Step 

  1. Frost with white buttercream. Spread a base of white frosting onto your cupcake and smooth it over with an angled spatula or knife. You could also dip this in white sanding sugar for a sparkly look!
  2. Pipe a wreath. Next, using a piping bag fitted with a size 846 piping tip and green buttercream, hold it at a 90-degree angle and pipe a circle. A 1M piping tip also works for this.
  3. Add decorations. Decorate the green frosting circle with your choice of sprinkles.
Overhead view of a Christmas cupcake decorated with a buttercream wreath and sprinkles.

Easy Grinch Cupcakes

You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch – but you’re also delicious! These easy Grinch-inspired cupcakes decorated with green sprinkles are bound to make everyone’s hearts grow in size.

What You’ll Need

Step-By-Step

  1. Frost with white buttercream. Begin by spreading white frosting onto a cupcake. Smooth the base over with an angled spatula or knife.
  2. Add green sprinkles. Roll the cupcake in green sprinkles to coat. Lastly, place a heart sprinkle on top.
Overhead view of a cupcake decorated to look like the Grinch.

Reindeer Cupcakes

You’re going to love how easy it is to make these lovable reindeer cupcakes with bright red noses. Just a bit of swirling topped off with pretty, snackable antlers!

What You’ll Need

  • Piping bag
  • Ateco 864 French star tip
  • Chocolate frosting (or brown-tinted buttercream)
  • Edible candy eyes, red M&Ms, and candy canes or pretzel twists for decorating

Step-By-Step

  1. Pipe brown frosting. Using a piping bag fitted with a size 864 piping tip, pipe chocolate frosting onto the cupcake in a conical shape. Begin from the outside and swirl your way to the center.
  2. Add the eyes and nose. Gently press edible candy eyes and a red M&M “nose” into the brown frosting. Next, add pretzel twists or candy canes for antlers (see my tips below).
A chocolate cupcake decorated to look like a reindeer.

Helpful Tips for Success

Here are some additional tips to bear in mind when frosting your Christmas cupcakes:

  • Add decorations like pretzels and candy canes just before serving. Pretzels tend to become soggy and the color tends to leak from candy canes after prolonged contact with frosting. For this reason, if you’re not serving your cupcakes right away, I recommend adding decorations like “antlers” just prior to serving. 
  • Take note of how much frosting you’ll need. 3D designs such as the Santa hat, the Christmas tree, as well as the reindeer cupcakes will call for more frosting than other designs. 
  • When dying frosting colors, most colors are pretty bright straight out of the box. To deepen the color, add small drops of black dye to reach your desired shade. I recommend using a clean toothpick to add minimal amounts of dye at a time so you don’t overdo it. It’s easy to make a color darker, but once it’s too dark, it’s difficult to correct!

How to Store Frosted Cupcakes

Store your frosted Christmas cupcakes airtight at room temperature for 3-4 days. If you live in a particularly warm climate, you may want to keep them in the fridge instead, but be sure to allow time for them to come to room temperature before serving.

Can I Freeze Cupcakes?

It’s best to freeze cupcakes before they’re frosted. Wrap baked and cooled cupcakes tightly in plastic wrap, or store them airtight in a container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 months, and then defrost the cupcakes at room temperature before whipping up a fresh batch of frosting.

Print
Assorted Christmas cupcakes decorated with buttercream Christmas trees, Santa, and reindeer.

Easy Christmas Cupcakes

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes

Description

Decorating Christmas Cupcakes has never been easier! Use this classic vanilla buttercream recipe in 8 fun and festive cupcake ideas, featuring Santa cupcakes, reindeer cupcakes, Christmas trees, and more!

Ingredients

For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 ½ cups (339 g) (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold from the fridge
  • 5 cups (650 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (12 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) heavy whipping cream (or milk)

Instructions

  1. Back a batch of cupcake and cool completely.

For the b=Buttercream

  1. Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until the butter looks light in color.
  2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated into the butter. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Beat for about 60 seconds.
  3. Next, add an additional 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the last cup of powdered sugar along with the heavy whipping cream. Beat on low until the ingredients start to mix together. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 3-5 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting. Wait until your cupcakes are cool, then frost them as desired!

Equipment

Notes

Nutrition Information:
1 cupcake
400
47g
118mg
18g
58g
.4g
3.1g
57mg
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: christmas cupcake ideas, cupcake decorating, easy christmas desserts

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