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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