Caramel frappuccino cupcakes: Make your favorite Starbucks frappuccino into a cupcakes! With an espresso cupcake topped with whipped cream and a vanilla bean caramel drizzle, how can you go wrong?

caramel frappuccino cupcakes

So. I made myself cupcakes.

Well, I shared them with Kyle too but really, I made them for myself. And for good reason!

My birthday was Sunday! And as I approach my ::ahem:: mid-30s, I’m finding that I’m not nearly as fussy about what type of birthday dessert gets made for or by me. 

Every single year growing up, my single birthday request was for a marbled cake with chocolate butter cream. I made no compromises with this request.

Last year, I switched things up big time with this pink vanilla bean birthday cake.

caramel frappuccino cupcakes

This year, I decided to go with these caramel frappuccino cupcakes that I had been dreaming up all summer. Can you blame me??

My Friday afternoon treat this summer has been my old favorite Starbucks drink and very rarely ordered, caramel frappuccino with whipped cream. Which I can totally justify having just once a week, can’t I?

Anyway, I read through probably 20 different recipes for caramel frappuccino cupcakes I found online and 95% of them had chocolate cupcakes as their base. Whaaat?

That makes no sense to me at all because the drink contains no chocolate!

caramel frappuccino cupcakes

So I made espresso caramel cupcakes, topped them with whipped cream frosting, and drizzled on some vanilla bean caramel sauce.

Oh yeah baby!! These cupcakes totally hit their mark.

caramel frappuccino cupcakes

The espresso caramel cupcakes, even without frosting, were outstanding! They have a rich coffee flavor and a hint of buttery caramel with great structure and a really soft crumb. 

For a real caramel frappuccino cupcake, the whipped cream frosting and some green straws snipped in half are basically obligatory in order to stick to the theme of the drink. But I think coffee flavored Swiss meringue butter cream would be amazing on top of these cupcakes, if you so choose to go for a heftier frosting.

And the caramel drizzle? It’s completely amazing! If you opt to make or use a different caramel for these cupcakes…or ever…you’re totally missing out.

Vanilla bean caramel sauce is where it’s at people!

Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes

The perfect cupcake treat? Check!

Deflect the anxiety of an almost-mid-30s birthday? Double check!

These cupcakes paired with a homemade iced or hot latte? Come to mama!!

Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes

Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes

Yield: about 2 dozen cupcakes
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 53 minutes

Caramel frappuccino cupcakes will make any Starbucks lover happy! With an espresso cupcake topped with whipped cream and a vanilla bean caramel drizzle, how can you possibly go wrong?


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
  • ⅓ cup very hot water
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • ¾ cup (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup strongly brewed coffee, warm or at room temperature

For the whipped cream:

  • 2 ½ cups cold whipping cream
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, clear if you have it

For the caramel drizzle:


  1. To make the cupcakes: Spread ½ cup of the sugar out in an even layer in the bottom of a small saucepan. Heat the pan to medium and when the sides of the sugar begin to liquify, start slowly stirring the sugar together until all of the sugar has melted and only liquid remains. (Lower the heat to low if the sugar or liquid sugar begins to brown too quickly. If the sugar clumps, turn the heat to low and let it melt – try not to stir it so it has a chance to heat up slowly.) Once the liquid reaches a deep amber color (you can check this by dropping a little onto a white plate), remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the hot water while whisking quickly to incorporate the water into the sugar. Once the caramel mixture is completely smooth, set it aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. In a medium mixing bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder together until well-combined; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and the remaining 1 ¼ cups sugar together at medium-high until they are light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until they incorporate fully before adding the next, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla extract. Stir in the caramel. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with two equal additions of the coffee, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Allow the ingredients to just incorporate into the batter before adding the next. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are fully mixed in. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.
  4. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the center cupcakes comes out mostly clean, with just a few tiny crumbs clinging to it. Let the pans cool on wire racks for 5 minutes then remove the cupcakes and let them completely cool on the racks before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting: Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium low for 1 minute and then increase the speed to high and whip for 2 to 3 minutes, until stiff peaks form.
  6. To assemble the cupcakes: Drop some of the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1M star piping tip. Squeeze swirls of whipped cream atop the cupcakes and drizzle each cupcake with some caramel. Add halved green straws to the cupcakes, if desired.

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The whipped cream will become fairly soft after that point.


A great tip for this multi-step recipe is that once the cupcakes go into the oven, immediately wash and dry the mixing bowl and stick it and the wire whisk attachment in the fridge to chill it before making the whipped cream frosting. A cold bowl keeps the whipped cream chilled better than a warm/room temperature one does. The caramel sauce can be make days (or weeks!) in advance – just warm it ever so slightly in the microwave before drizzling it on to the cupcakes.

Smells Like Home original | cupcake recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats

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Leave a Comment

  • August 24, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Happy belated birthday!! These cupcakes are a wonderful way to celebrate!

    • taraliptak
      September 2, 2013 at 8:22 AM

      As long as you’re not keeping them outside, they’ll be fine for a few hours at room temp.

  • August 24, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    Gorgeous photos! They look delicious, too!

  • August 25, 2012 at 5:28 AM

    These look so cute! And tasty! And decadent! And… 🙂

    Happy Belated Bday, btw.

  • August 25, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    These are super delicious looking cupcakes!
    What wonderful treats for your birthday

  • Elena
    August 28, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Hi. This is my go-to website – I love everything I’ve tried here. Last night, I made the vanilla bean caramel sauce and I agree that it is not to be missed. That said, I have a question about step 2 in these cupcakes. When do I add the caramel mixture to the cupcake batter? I re-read the recipe a few times and realized that I can’t find where it should be added back in. Perhaps when I add the coffee? Thanks!

    • August 28, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      Elena: This is so nice to hear! And thanks for the head’s up about the caramel. You just mix it into the batter after the vanilla – I just added that. 🙂

  • August 29, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    I was on Foodgawker and was immediately drawn to these…I only allow myself a frap on occasion as well but I may just have to switch it out for one of these next time! Looks so good!

  • Tiana
    October 6, 2012 at 5:58 AM

    I was wondering if I could use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.

    Great recipe! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • October 6, 2012 at 5:52 PM

      You could but the texture won’t be the same. The cupcakes may be a little “stiff”.

  • Emily
    November 11, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    The caramel making process is ridiculously hard. By the end, we just ended up buying caramel sauce from the bottle. Maybe we’re just really bad at baking…

  • December 5, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    What wonderful treats for your made for a birthday! I’ve featured this great recipes on my blog hoping that you don’t mind! If you don’t agree with that please contact me and I will remove it. All the best.

  • Syd
    January 5, 2013 at 2:39 AM

    These turned out fantastic! Thank you so much for the wonderful and delicious recipe! I posted a picture of mine on instagram to show off how adorable (and tasty) they are!

    • January 5, 2013 at 9:05 AM

      Yay! So great to hear! Yours turned out perfect!!

  • Christine
    January 20, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    This is my first time baking.. If possible, can somebody post a tutorial video of making these caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes. My best friend’s daughter had passed away and i wanted to make her cupcakes because i know how much she loves cupcakes.. Thank you and have a blessed day! 🙂

  • Kendall
    March 28, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    question..i made this as a cake and it turned out kinda dense and a little dry ( I know partly because it was just slightly over done) but i was wondering if added vanilla pudding to it if that would moisten it up or just really screw it up? i’m making this for my dads 50th surprise bday and would really appreciate any feed back thanks

    • March 28, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      I totally loved these cupcakes as they were so I don’t have any suggestions for you about this recipe, I’m sorry. I’ve never made a cake with pudding mix so I really have no idea what it could do to this recipe. The only reason why I think it could have been a dense cake is if you overbeat the batter. You want to allow some of the air to remain in the batter while it bakes – that should make a difference. And yes, bake it less to avoid dryness. 🙂

      • Kendall
        March 28, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        excellent! thank you VERY MUCH!!

        • March 29, 2013 at 8:30 AM

          You’re welcome!

  • April 17, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    They just came out of the oven and are divine!! Thank you for this recipe, I’ll be frosting them tomorrow night for a friend’s birthday 😀 I had a bit of trouble with the caramel (but I always have issues with caramel :P) but it was well worth it.

  • April 30, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    Gorgeous! I definitely have to make this for myself – the caramel frap was my favorite childhood drink!

  • […] If you like the taste, these frappuccino cupcakes can really make your day. To make them you need 1 ¾ cups of sugar, 1/3 cup hot water, 3 cups of flour, a tablespoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of coarse salt, a tablespoon of espresso powder, ¾ cup butter, 3 eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2/3 cup brewed coffee. Top them with whipped cream frosting and caramel drizzle.{found on site}. […]

  • Jacki Burchell
    July 23, 2013 at 3:39 AM

    What is cake flour? Is it self raising flour? In AUS

    • taraliptak
      July 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      No, it is not self-rising flour. If you can’t find it where you are: To make cake flour, remove 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour from each measured cup in the recipe and replace them with 2 tbsp cornstarch. (So you take out 2 tbsp flour and add 2 tbsp cornstarch for each cup of flour.) Then sift the flour-cornstarch five times, back and forth between two large bowls. This is how I make cake flour at home and it works great.

  • Jenifer Hancock
    September 2, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    I made these for my daughter’s dance team’s bake sale. I was wondering if the frosting will hold up okay for the 4-5 hours of the sale.

  • Tommy
    September 7, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    I have a competition at work and im totally going to try this recipe! sounds like it will definitely make me win!

  • Kristen
    October 16, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    I just made these tonight for my co workers tomorrow and I could already tell by the measurements, these would yield more than 12 cupcakes. I halved the recipe and got 12. Trust me no complaints there lol. I served one to my mom and she LOVED! She likes cupcakes but I can tell when she is in love with this one and her expressions showed that. I used a squeeze bottle dulce de leche instead of making my own caramel and I used more than 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Awesome recipe and a twist on one of my favorite drinks.

    • taraliptak
      October 23, 2013 at 9:05 AM

      The recipe yields 24 cupcakes so halving it would definitely give you 12. 🙂 So glad you and your mom loved them and I love the idea of drizzling with dulce de leche!

  • taraliptak
    November 29, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    I responded to your question on the caramel post itself but I’ll respond here too in case others have issues with the sauce. I think I remember the sauce for the cupcakes being a thinner sauce on purpose so it blends well with the batter. The sauce for the drizzle will thicken as it cools. Hope this helps! Let me know how they turned out for you. 🙂

  • […] Why have a cupcake or a frappuccino when you can have both right here? […]

  • […] 6) Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes, recipe courtesy of Smells Like Home […]

  • February 10, 2015 at 7:48 PM

    […] Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes / Smells like Home […]

  • April 28, 2015 at 8:02 PM

    SO happy you loved these cupcakes! I’m so thrilled and honored you chose them for your birthday – it’s a special day to bake for and I always feel like what I bake needs to be a winner. Thanks so much for coming back to comment!

  • […] Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes from Smells Like Home […]

  • Mamacancook!
    February 2, 2018 at 9:46 AM

    These are really unique and delicious! They will be part of my cake/cupcake repertoire, for sure.
    I do advise covering the cupcakes as soon as they cool unless they are frosted right away. Otherwise they form a crusty top. Still lovely but most people like a soft cake.

    • Tara
      February 4, 2018 at 9:06 AM

      So glad you enjoyed these frap cupcakes!! The good thing about that pesky crusty top is that the frosting – or whipped cream in this case – will soften the top of the cupcakes after being frosted for a little while. Good point about covering them to avoid the crusty top altogether though!

  • Ashley
    May 7, 2020 at 6:59 AM

    Where is the temperature to set the oven to cook these cupcakes? Not seeing it listed anywhere.

    • Tara
      May 8, 2020 at 10:44 AM

      Oh goodness, I’m sorry for this omission! You should bake them at 350 degrees F. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Ashley! Happy baking!

  • Veronica
    November 24, 2021 at 8:04 AM

    Making these now. Can I sub jarred caramel saucr to add to cupcakes. ? Not having luck with pan sauce. Would amt be 1/2 cup? Tks

    • Tara
      November 24, 2021 at 3:51 PM

      Yes, jarred caramel sauce will be fine. I’m not sure about the amount though. Sorry about that!