15 Starbucks Secret Menu Holiday Drinks, Ranked

With each holiday season comes a chance for devoted Starbucks fans to create their own secret menu creations and potentially have them go viral across social media platforms. The idea of a secret menu at Starbucks is somewhat misleading; it's less about an official hidden menu and more about the ingenuity of Starbucks' customers. These secret menu options aren't listed in the cafe but are instead customizations of standard Starbucks drinks, tailored to specific themes or flavors.

The holiday season is particularly ripe for this kind of creativity, blending cultural favorites with Starbucks' seasonal treats. Since these flavors are only available for a limited time each year, there's a sense of excitement and anticipation for what new options the chain will introduce. We had the pleasure of trying several holiday secret menu drinks, and while all were impressively delicious, some truly stood out with their unique takes on festive flavors.

15. Honey Nut Macchiato

If you are a caramel macchiato lover looking for a holiday win, the Honey Nut Macchiato may be perfect. This one begins as your typical caramel macchiato, but rather than the vanilla syrup that normally accompanies it, ask for chestnut praline syrup. On top of this drink, you'll still get a hefty helping of caramel drizzle, and ask your barista to include a packet of honey as well. They may ask you if you want the honey syrup or the packet of honey. We opted for the packet of honey because it has a thicker feel. The honey syrup is actually much thinner and may not provide the same effect overall.

While we enjoyed the taste of this one, we didn't like the chestnut praline swap instead of the vanilla. It was okay, but the simple vanilla syrup just does a better job with this drink. There are certainly better ways to use chestnut praline syrup in your holiday drink.

14. Cookie Butter Shaken Espresso

On a regular, non-holiday visit to Starbucks, you'll often find us ordering a shaken espresso, so we really wanted to love this holiday version of one of our favorite drinks. However, the Cookie Butter Shaken Espresso just didn't sit quite right with us.

For the Cookie Butter Shaken Espresso, you'll order a grande shaken espresso made with blonde espresso shots. Add a pump of chai and two pumps of brown sugar syrup. Instead of regular 2% milk, ask for almond milk to be added. This combination was okay, but it wasn't our favorite flavor combo. We think with a few tweaks, this one could be even better. Instead of almond milk, try swapping it out for oat milk, and instead of one pump of chai, go for two. We also think the two pumps of brown sugar syrup should be upped to three for a grande. These changes together would make this one much better. 

13. Eggnog Latte

Once upon a time, Starbucks had eggnog in its coolers during the holiday season, and you could order an Eggnog Latte. Instead of milk, the baristas would steam up eggnog and blend it with espresso, creating a drink that was absolutely divine. Since its disappearance, eggnog lovers have been trying to recreate this magical holiday drink. While the secret menu version of the Eggnog Latte comes close, it didn't quite hit the mark for us.

We ordered the Grande version of this drink as a hot offering and included one pump each of chai, caramel syrup, and cinnamon dolce, using 2% milk. We also topped it with whipped cream. If you opt for an iced version, consider adding sweet cream cold foam instead.

This version was tasty but lacked the distinct eggnog feel we were looking for. One of our favorite aspects of eggnog is its thickness and texture, which is quite difficult to replicate without actual eggnog. So, while it's a commendable attempt, we really wish Starbucks would bring back the original Eggnog Latte for a true version of the drink.

12. Cold Brew Hot Cocoa

The Cold Brew Hot Cocoa is a fascinating concept, merging the essence of cold brew with the flavor of hot cocoa. Initially, we were skeptical about how this would work, considering hot cocoa is traditionally known for being hot. However, to our surprise, this combination worked out beautifully.

To create this unique drink, start with a grande cold brew coffee. Ask for two pumps of vanilla syrup and four pumps of mocha syrup. If available, request a pump of toasted white mocha, although regular white mocha is a fine substitute. The finishing touch is chocolate cream cold foam.

While this wasn't our top choice in terms of cold brew taste, it did resemble hot chocolate. This similarity is due to the use of the same types of chocolate that Starbucks uses in its standard hot cocoa. Although it wasn't our personal favorite, we can definitely see hot chocolate drinkers appreciating this inventive twist.

11. Snowball Frappuccino

It's no secret that Starbucks drinks come in all shapes, colors, and sizes — and when trying to make a drink work with a particular color, it's fun to see how syrups play into that. The Snowball Frappuccino is the perfect example, featuring syrups and sauces chosen specifically to maintain its snow-white color.

To order this drink, start with a White Chocolate Cream Frappuccino, which is cream-based rather than coffee-based. Add toffee nut syrup and hazelnut syrup, and top it off with caramel brulée topping. The syrup proportions are one pump for a tall, one and a half pumps for a grande, and two pumps for a venti.

However, due to its popularity, hazelnut syrup can be hard to come by. If it's unavailable at your location, substitute with two pumps of toffee nut syrup for a similar flavor. We loved the color of this drink, and the combination of toffee nut with white chocolate is one of our favorites. Yet, it didn't quite wow us beyond that. There are other holiday drinks that better capture the essence of the season. While the Snowball Frappuccino fits the bill visually, it didn't fulfill our expectations as much as we hoped it would.

10. Sugar Cookie Chai

If you love chai but want to add a holiday twist, the Sugar Cookie Chai is perfect. Begin by ordering an iced chai, but request the addition of sugar cookie syrup. You'll want two pumps for a tall, three for a grande, and four for a venti. Then, ask your barista to add some sweet cream cold foam on top, along with a sprinkle of red and green cookie sprinkles. 

The sweet cream cold foam blends into the drink, offering a smoother texture than a typical iced chai. However, if you're a chai purist, you might find the additional flavors from the sugar cookie syrup a bit overwhelming, but this one is ideal for those seeking a sweet twist on their chai.

If you prefer your chai hot, you can order the same drink but with whipped cream and sprinkles on top instead of sweet cream cold foam. This creates a similar effect, as Starbucks uses vanilla syrup in its delicious whipped cream. This version offers a warm, comforting alternative with the same festive appeal.

9. Ferrero Rocher Frappuccino

The delight of finding certain candies in our stockings is always a fun part of Christmas morning. While the typical candy canes are a staple, one of our all-time favorites is the golden-wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Although these chocolates are available year-round, there's something special about discovering them at the bottom of a stocking that makes them feel quintessentially holiday.

For a drink that captures the essence of these beloved chocolates, start with either a Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino or a Java Chip Frappuccino. The choice depends on whether you prefer a creamier, non-caffeinated drink (Double Chocolate Chip) or a caffeinated one (Java Chip). We chose the Java Chip Frappuccino for our taste test. Add hazelnut syrup at the rate of one pump for a tall, two for a grande, and three for a venti.

We found that this drink did a pretty good job of mimicking the taste of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. The chocolate flavor is pronounced and satisfying, but we feel the hazelnut component could use a bit more presence. Increasing the hazelnut syrup by one pump for each size should do the trick, providing that extra hazelnutty kick to resemble the iconic taste of Ferrero Rocher more closely.

8. Candy Cane Frappuccino

Candy canes are the quintessential Christmas treat; they are delightful as a minty post-meal treat and perfectly in sync with many favorite Christmas desserts. Plus, they double as charming decorations for your Christmas tree.

If you're obsessed with candy canes during the holiday season, you'll love the Candy Cane Frappuccino. This drink uses the Vanilla Bean Frappuccino as its base, and you'll simply request the addition of peppermint syrup at the rate of one pump for a tall, two for a grande, and three for a venti. Since Starbucks offers Vanilla Bean Frappuccinos and peppermint syrup year-round, you can order this treat anytime.

We found this Frappuccino to be absolutely tasty, with the peppermint syrup adding a significant flavor boost, yet the drink remained light and perfectly flavored. Sticking to the recommended number of syrup pumps is important, as it's easy to go overboard with the peppermint. While we enjoyed it, simple peppermint drinks aren't our top favorites, and this one lacked enough intrigue to make it to our list. Nevertheless, it's definitely worth a try for those who love peppermint.

7. White Christmas Frappuccino

When Bing Crosby sang "White Christmas" and danced happily around a Christmas tree, he could have never imagined that one day there would be a drink at one of the biggest coffee chains in the world named for the iconic Christmas movie and song. The White Christmas Frappuccino is that drink, and it does an excellent job of capturing the joy of watching snowfall on Christmas morning while munching on classic Christmas cookies.

To order a White Christmas Frappuccino, start with a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino base. Enhance it with white mocha syrup and peppermint syrup, adding one pump of each for a tall, two for a grande, and three for a venti. This combination of extra flavors brings together a sweetness and a gentle hint of peppermint.

We found ourselves favoring this version slightly more than the Candy Cane Frappuccino. The inclusion of white chocolate mocha adds a layer of sweetness that harmonizes beautifully with the peppermint flavor.

6. Peppermint Bark Frappuccino

The Peppermint Bark Frappuccino is like the grown-up version of the Candy Cane Frappuccino, and it showcases the flavors of the classic black-and-white peppermint bark with candy cane pieces that you find at local candy stores during the holiday season. 

To order this holiday delight, start with a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino. The key twist here is to make half of the mocha pumps white mocha instead of regular mocha. This alteration sweetens the drinking chocolate, making it even more enjoyable.

One of the best aspects of this secret menu item is that it combines the candy cane-like taste of the Candy Cane Frappuccino but as a coffee-based drink, giving you that much-needed caffeine boost. This is why we prefer it to the non-caffeinated Candy Cane Frappuccino, even though both aim to satisfy that holiday drink craving. The Peppermint Bark Frappuccino hits the sweet spot of festive flavor, a blended drink, and a caffeine kick, making it a great choice for those who want a bit of both in their holiday beverage.

5. Candy Cane Cold Brew

Of the candy cane and peppermint options we tried, this one was definitely our favorite. We were particularly impressed with its perfect balance of peppermint and the sweetness from the white mocha. While you'll need to order this one in person, we think it's definitely worth the effort.

To order a Candy Cane Cold Brew, start with a venti cold brew and add four pumps of white mocha and two pumps of peppermint. The real holiday magic is the vanilla sweet cream cold foam; ask for it with two peppermint pumps. And for that festive flair, top it all off with red and green sprinkles.

Unfortunately, you can't order this exact variant through the Starbucks app since there's no peppermint cold foam option. However, you could opt for peppermint mocha cold foam for a mobile order. This slight modification might lead you closer to a Peppermint Bark Cold Brew, which, to be fair, sounds pretty delicious as well. In any case, if you're a cold brew fan looking for something zippy and festive for your holiday shopping excursions, the Candy Cane Cold Brew is one of our top recommendations.

4. Strawberry Frosted Sugar Cookie

The Strawberry Frosted Sugar Cookie is a delightful treat that we absolutely fell in love with. Its caffeine-free nature makes it an ideal holiday dessert in a cup, not to mention a great option for the little Starbucks fans in your life. The simple swap needed to create this drink is part of its charm.

To order, start with a Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino. Instead of the classic syrup, ask for the sugar cookie syrup. To enhance the festive feel, request red and green sprinkles on top of the whipped cream. This drink boasts a delicious strawberry flavor, but the addition of sugar cookie syrup transforms it into something exceptionally sweet, reminiscent of Grandma's famous frosted sugar cookies.

Our only qualm is its lack of caffeine; it would be a dream come true if this treat could also wake us up in the morning. There's nothing quite like a Christmas cookie to start your day. If you're adamant about adding caffeine, we imagine a shot of blonde espresso might work well.

3. Nutcracker Frappuccino

The Nutcracker Frappuccino takes the delightful essence of the Strawberry Frosted Sugar Cookie Frappuccino and adds a more robust twist, which we found even more enchanting. To fall in love with this treat, start by ordering a grande Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino. Instead of the classic syrup, request toffee nut syrup for a nuttier, richer flavor.

A unique touch to this creation is asking your barista to layer whipped cream at the bottom of the cup before adding the Frappuccino, and then again on top. To finish, ask for a sprinkling of chocolate curls and those festive red and green sprinkles. This results in an ultra-sweet, dessert-like drink that's a delectable holiday treat.

The double layers of whipped cream contribute to a rich and creamy texture, making this Frappuccino especially swoon-worthy. While it's a beverage that can be recreated throughout the year (with some tweaks to the toppings), the holiday version stands out with its festive coloring, perfectly capturing the spirit of the season.

2. Toasted Chestnut Praline Cold Brew

Unfortunately, several cold brew offerings from the holiday's secret menu didn't come close to capturing our coveted holiday go-to spot. However, the Toasted Chestnut Praline Cold Brew was a notable exception and may just become a new holiday favorite for us.

To order this one, it's a bit complicated, but well worth it. Begin by ordering a venti cold brew. Ask your barista to add three pumps of white mocha and three pumps of chestnut praline syrup. If you're opting for a smaller size, just remove one pump of each for each step down in size. The whole thing is then topped off with chestnut praline cold foam, and don't forget the praline topping for that extra crunch and texture.

A great advantage of this drink is the ability to order it through the Starbucks app, thanks to the company now offering easily orderable specialty cold foams. This is a big win, especially if you find it intimidating to order secret menu items face-to-face. Despite its fair amount of syrup, the drink doesn't have a thick feel. It is definitely sweet, but not overly so. The cold foam on top adds an excellent smoothness, and this is definitely one we will be craving long after the season is over. In terms of the cold brews we tried, this one is one of the best.

1. Grinch Frappuccino

The Grinch Frappuccino, inspired by the iconic Dr. Seuss character from the Christmas tale "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," is a unique secret menu item. Each element of this drink is delicious on its own, and when combined, it might not sound appealing at first. However, we were pleasantly surprised by how delicious this drink turned out to be. Despite the mix of different flavors, it works amazingly well, much like a message from the Grinch story: Things aren't always what they seem, and there's much more beneath the surface.

This drink is a bit complicated to order, and it's challenging to do so over the app, so we recommend ordering it in person. Start by ordering a venti Matcha Frappuccino; the green color aligns perfectly with the Grinch theme. Then, ask your barista to add four pumps of sugar cookie syrup and one pump of peppermint syrup. It might sound like an odd mix, but it really does work.

For an extra visual flair, ask your barista to line the cup with either mocha drizzle or strawberry puree. We chose mocha to enhance the chocolatey taste. On top of the whipped cream, request a bit of matcha powder and a sprinkle of chocolate curls. The drink ends up reminiscent of a minty chocolate chip shake, a flavor we didn't expect, but the peppermint really shines through. The chocolate line in the cup and the chocolate curls on top further accentuate the overall chocolate taste.