Every 2022 Starbucks Holiday Item, Ranked Worst To Best

The yearly rollout of the Starbucks holiday drink menu (and its colorful coordinating cups) is one of the many ways modern civilization marks the passing of the seasons. This year is no exception. But for some, the drinks appeared with slightly less fanfare this go-around than they have in years past. Furthermore, no new beverage flavors were released with the 2022 collection and some fan favorites that many hoped might return did not.

Since we weren't distracted by any flashy new offerings, we had more time to focus on the flavors we've grown to love. We were also able to reconsider a few flavors we didn't think so highly of in years past. And with more time to really linger over the drinks, we've noticed some subtle but important changes. Ultimately, we went back and tasted every popular holiday drink flavor, in both hot and cold formats when available, to see how the drinks this year stack up.

So, whether you're a "drink hot chocolate and eat a dozen candy canes" kind of person, or a "sit by the fire and sip whiskey with grandpa" type, there's a Starbucks beverage that will likely appeal to you. Here's how every 2022 Starbucks holiday drink ranks, from worst to best.

18. Iced Chestnut Praline Latte

We don't mean to hate on this latte straight out of the gate because we think it's one of the more creative options on the Starbucks holiday drink menu, but the Iced Chestnut Praline Latte is an easy skip. The nuttiness tastes stale and bitter, while the praline tastes like sugar that was completely scorched, making the drink's sweetness both overwhelming and strangely nonexistent at the same time. 

There's a lot going on here, and none of it seems to be working properly. The whipped cream topping and toffee pieces go a little way in balancing this iced beverage, but they can't make up for the strong disagreeable flavors entirely. If you're a Chestnut Praline fan, don't let this latte version deter you. We encourage you to order it in either the hot or Frappuccino versions to enjoy all of the interesting notes that this flavor has to offer.

17. Chestnut Praline Latte

In 2021, the hot version of the Chestnut Praline Latte was one of our favorite drinks, behind the classic Peppermint Mocha. So we were looking forward to picking it up again this year. But after the first few sips, we couldn't help but wonder what was so special about it when we tasted this concoction the last time. The first sip certainly yields toasty, nutty flavors, but adding "praline" to the title hints that there will be caramelized sugar that's a little buttery. While it's certainly a sweet drink, we found that the Chestnut Praline Latte was not especially buttery. Indeed, after several sips, it started to taste more like popcorn that was microwaved just a few seconds too long and we were just kind of done with it. It doesn't have the lingering synthetic taste that several Starbucks drinks have had in previous years, but we still detected an over-fried flavor.

While many people are familiar with the holiday image of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, it seems that very few people know what chestnuts actually taste like, giving Starbucks a bit of wiggle room. As far as we can tell from the ingredients list, there isn't actually any chestnut in this drink — or any nut, for that matter. If you order this, be sure to get it with whipped cream, which might help neutralize the flavor of this drink.

16. Iced Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

After retasting the lineup of Starbucks holiday drinks, the Iced Toasted White Chocolate Mocha emerged as one of the least exciting drinks of the bunch. It's little more than an extra-sweet iced latte with a hint of caramel flavor. That isn't inherently bad, but neither is it very festive. The toasted white chocolate flavor isn't strong enough to convince us that it's toasted or caramel, and the white chocolate blends into the mix and makes the drink taste more like flavored milk than a specialty coffee. Given all that, the whipped cream topping doesn't add anything to the drink. At least the strange synthetic toasted flavor that we experienced with this drink in the past has been remedied.

Originally released in 2017, the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha is one of the newer additions to the Starbucks holiday drink menu. It's available in iced, hot, and Frappuccino formats, like most of the other holiday offerings. It's somewhat redundant, since there are four other mocha choices available (the regular Caffè Mocha and White Chocolate Mocha and the peppermint versions of each). Ultimately, this drink bridges the gap between the chain's popular mocha drinks and the seasonal Caramel Brulée latte, but still doesn't seem necessary.

15. Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino

If you were to blind taste the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino and the Caramel Brulée Frappuccino side-by-side, you'd probably have difficulty telling them apart. Both are ultra creamy with a burnt caramel flavor. They both even have the same curiously synthetic toasty flavor that leaves a slight aftertaste. Since they're so similar tasting it might be difficult to choose which one is actually better. 

We don't love that the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino is a little sweeter than the Caramel Brulée Frappuccino, which we think is plenty sweet enough as it is. The Caramel Brulée Frappuccino has slightly fewer calories which is a bonus if you're a regular Frappuccino drinker. Ultimately, we think this is one of the holiday drinks that you can skip over in favor of the more popular Frappuccinos, but if you're a big fan of white chocolate, you'll probably enjoy it.

14. Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino

The Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino is by far the sweetest drink in the entire Starbucks holiday collection. Just to be sure we weren't imagining it, we compared the sugar content of this drink with every other coffee-based Frappuccino currently on the menu. This entry has the highest sugar content of all of the Frapps available, with a relatively modest 12-ounce tall packing in 47 grams of sugar. The grande has 73 grams, while the venti has 88 grams. Of course, you can rightfully treat this as treat meant to bring you joy. But that's still a lot of sugar to process even for those of us with a strong sweet tooth. If you'd like to find a similar amount of joy with slightly less sugar, consider passing on the toppings or substituting a pump of the peppermint syrup with sugar-free vanilla syrup.

Overwhelming sweetness aside, we'll admit that this drink festive and definitely provides a rush. The icy cold temperature amplifies the peppermint to the point that it almost burns. Since there aren't any bitter dark chocolate notes to balance the sweetness, the peppermint comes on fast and lingers long after you've finished sipping. While it's still not our go-to order, we think this could help you get into the holiday spirit if you're struggling to feel the magic this season.

13. Iced Peppermint Mocha

We tried the Peppermint Mocha in all three formats: hot, cold, and Frappuccino (frozen). No matter what, it's an iconic drink that people are going to flip out for, just like they have every year for the last 20 years. But of the three, we thought that the Iced Peppermint Mocha was the least exciting of all of the formats it comes in. It was almost as if someone had melted down our favorite milkshake and put it on ice instead of serving it nicely frozen or comfortingly warm. And even though we're telling you that it's our least favorite option of the three Peppermint Mochas, you should know that we sucked it down to the very last drop anyway ⁠— so it's still a pretty tasty drink even if we don't think it's exactly perfect.

The biggest drawback of the Iced Peppermint Mocha is that the mocha sauce itself is grainy in cold form, due to the cocoa powder in the syrup. There isn't really anything you can do about that, but we'd suggest ordering it with half of the standard mocha and peppermint sauces. That way the coffee flavor shines brighter, and it's more of a flavored iced latte than a melted peppermint chocolate milkshake on ice. Also, go ahead and skip the whipped cream on this one if your dead-set on getting this drink in iced form.

12. Caramel Brulee Frappuccino

The Caramel Brulée Frappuccino is basically an icy caramel milkshake. One taster commented that the creaminess and mild flavor of the caramel reminded them of eating Werther's candies at their grandparents' house. It seems like there's a little more going on in the Frappuccino version of this latte compared to the basic iced version, which seems to be a trend among most of the lattes on this list. Even with a more intense caramel flavor that's blended into every sip, we found it difficult to pinpoint the coffee. For those who don't drink coffee, or have just maxed out on it for the day, Starbucks also offers a coffee-free version called the Caramel Brulée Créme Frappuccino.

While we mostly enjoyed the Caramel Brulée Frappuccino, we noticed that it has a little bit of a strange aftertaste. It's the same strange aftertaste that we noticed in almost all of the drinks with a "burnt" or "brulée" flavor profile. While we can't be sure, it seems like an artificial flavor was added to these syrups to give them that burnt sugar quality. You may not be able to taste it with just one sip or even one drink, but after trying over a dozen drinks in a short period of time, the flavor became apparent, and eventually a turnoff.

11. Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte

In 2021, the fan-favorite Eggnog Latte was replaced with the Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte, a non-dairy seasonal offering advertised as a cold drink, although it's also available in hot and Frappuccino forms. While it's still made with espresso and technically a latte, it uses Starbucks' Blonde Roast espresso and almond milk instead of traditional dairy. The result is a much lighter and more delicate holiday drink.

When we tried it for the first time in 2021, we weren't entirely won over by the iced version. But after tasting it this year, it's definitely grown on us a bit. There's something to be said for offering a lighter-textured drink, especially during a season where everything leans a little heavier and richer. The iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte drinks like a flavored iced coffee, with sugar cookie syrup that's actually reminds us of buttery sugar cookies. The almond milk doesn't taste especially nutty, but if you'd like to substitute it with another non-dairy or traditional dairy, that's absolutely an option. The only part of this drink that didn't really do it for us is the addition of crunchy red and green nonpareil sprinkles to the top. They're cute, but since there's no whipped cream, they just float on top. And since it's a cold drink, they don't really melt.

10. Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha

With a drink that's proven to be as popular as the Peppermint Mocha, it's no surprise that Starbucks put out variations on that theme meant to appeal to as many people as possible. As part of that group, the Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha goes a little harder on the peppermint and a little softer on the mocha than its predecessor. It has none of the graininess that we found with the classic mocha syrup-based drinks — which makes sense, given that white chocolate doesn't have any cocoa solids in it, only cocoa butter. In fact, the white chocolate mocha syrup is made with completely different ingredients than the mocha syrup, including condensed skim milk, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.

The white chocolate version of the Peppermint Mocha is creamier and sweeter than the regular chocolate version, and with a stronger peppermint presence. The rich creaminess paired with the sweet mint is reminiscent of buttermint candies, which we found to be somewhat comforting. The warm version of this drink is our favorite, but we'd probably opt to order it without whipped cream. Given how milky this mocha is on its own, the whipped cream is a little redundant. One of these a season sounds like a nice treat, but after that, we'd probably stick with the original Peppermint Mocha or the newer Toasted White Chocolate Mocha.

9. Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Frappuccino

For this particular Frappuccino, we did a little experiment. We ordered one Frappuccino with almond milk as the drink was intended, and one with skim milk to see how much flavor the dairy selection actually contributes to the drink. It turns out, very little — the majority of the flavor comes from the Sugar Cookie syrup

In both cases, we thought the Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Frappuccino was a better choice for drinking this beverage cold than the iced version. Since this Frappuccino is technically vegan, it isn't served with whipped cream, only a dusting of holiday sugar, which we thought was great and helped keep the drink lighter. Blended, the ingredients seem a little bit creamier and the chill feels more like a winter's day than the sensation of drinking a regular iced latte. If you'd like to keep it vegan but are allergic to nuts, order it with oat milk instead for a similar experience. 

8. Irish Cream Cold Brew

Some go all-out for the holidays and indulge in all things peppermint while they keep Christmas carols playing on repeat and cover every surface of their home in buffalo plaid and mistletoe. Others just want a strong cup of coffee with a little bit of merry on the side. This cold brew is definitely for the latter group. 

Decidedly the most reserved drink on the Starbucks holiday menu, the Irish Cream Cold Brew brings just a hint of the holiday spirit to your regular coffee routine without going completely off the rails. Aside from a couple of pumps of Irish Cream syrup, this drink is essentially a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew with a subtle holiday veneer.

Here, Starbucks' Vanilla Sweet Cream topping is mixed with Irish Cream syrup and vanilla syrup, adding a subtle and oaky sweetness. The Irish Cream syrup is also mixed into the cold brew, which balances the bitterness of the coffee nicely. There isn't a Frappuccino or hot version of this drink available in 2022 (although a hot version was previously served in Canadian locations), which we think makes this drink seem a little more special. The Irish Cream Cold Brew certainly has a few frills, but it's not performative. Like the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, it signals that you're participating in the festivities, but you're keeping it classy in the process. We just wish there was a shot of actual Irish whiskey in the mix on occasion.

7. Iced Caramel Brulee Latte

If the Iced Caramel Macchiato is your go-to summer drink, consider turning the Iced Caramel Brûlée latte into your new favorite holiday drink — although the iced Caramel Macchiato is still on the menu if you can't quite part with it yet. Instead of the vanilla syrup and a hefty caramel drizzle, this holiday latte is made with a Caramel Brûlée syrup and topped with whipped cream and caramel brûlée bits. We think that, as far as cold caramel coffee drinks go, this version is on the nicer end. That's largely because the caramel syrup is incorporated into the drink more thoroughly than the caramel drizzle, which never seems to completely dissolve into the cold macchiato.

We maintain that nothing's quite as sweet as the Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino, but this comes close. Because of that, you've got to pay special attention to discern any toasty brûlée notes. However, that didn't really bother us since we were more invested in the caramel. This also means that the whipped cream topping isn't entirely necessary, though it adds a little extra creaminess to balance out the sugar and helps to make the drink more festive. We'd also gladly ask for a double portion of caramel brûlée bits, since they added a delightful crunch. But if you're not into very sweet drinks, you might want to try one of the more subtle holiday offerings on the Starbucks menu.

6. Chestnut Praline Frappuccino

There's something about the Frappuccino that can turn just about any drink into something magical. That's certainly the case with the Chestnut Praline Frappuccino. In its iced format, the Chestnut Praline Latte was our least favorite menu on the entire holiday menu, but in Frappuccino form, it is magically transformed into a winter treat that we can't get enough of. The flavor of chestnut roasted over an open fire leads the way, followed by the sweet caramel-like praline flavor in this Frappuccino. We can even taste some of the baking spices in the topping. Overall, it reminded us of a smoothie loaded with nuts.  

This icy beverage is truly unique in the lineup, managing to take the oftentimes misunderstood flavor of the holiday roasted chestnut and turn it into a treat that feels both festive and comforting. Whipped cream is an option, and we enjoyed it on this particular Frappuccino.

5. Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte

Starbucks may have intended for this drink to be enjoyed cold, but drinking it warm is still our favorite way to imbibe it. The hot Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte instantly gives you that straight-from-the oven warm sugar cookie feeling. It's sweet and buttery, but not overwhelmingly so and without any weird aftertastes swooping in to ruin the experience after a few sips. The intensity of the hot Sugar Cookie flavor falls about as close to the middle of the road as Starbucks holiday drinks get — the lawful neutral player of the Starbucks menu, if you will.

Starbucks hasn't added a non-dairy whipped cream to the lineup (given the growing interest in dairy-free additions, we're a little surprised that it hasn't do so yet). Since this drink is intended to be vegan, it doesn't come with whipped cream, but we didn't miss that at all. The Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte is still plenty creamy without being heavy, while the sugar cookie flavor doesn't need any additional buttery flavor. The red and green non-pareil sprinkles on top look nice, but melt into the latte and don't provide much texture. You might not even see them if you don't take the lid off, but they remain a cute touch.

4. Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

While the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha in iced and Frappuccino form didn't really do much to impress us, the hot version of the drink managed to sway us in favor of the flavor. The warmth of the drink suppresses some of the otherwise overwhelming sweetness and seems to pull out some of the toastier caramel notes that really make this drink shine. It's not as sweet as the Caramel Brulée Latte, which is surprising given that the white chocolate drinks on the Starbucks menu are known for being on the sweeter end of the spectrum. On the other hand, the caramel flavor isn't quite as strong as it is in other drinks.

The toasted white chocolate mocha sauce used for this drink clearly tastes different than the one used for the regular and peppermint white chocolate mochas, although the ingredients list doesn't make it entirely clear how it achieves that. Even though we can't tell exactly what created that toasted flavor in the white chocolate mocha sauce, we noticed that it tastes slightly different than it did in 2021. Where there used to be a synthetic burnt aftertaste, there's now only a clean caramel-like flavor. That's a great and very welcome upgrade, in our opinion. When the drink was released in 2017, it was topped with candied cranberry sugar, but that's since changed to red sparkling sugar and white pearl sprinkles.

3. Caramel Brulee Latte

It's a little surprising to us that Starbucks doesn't have a caramel latte on its menu year-round, given how popular such flavors are both at the chain and on the menus of its competition. If caramel happens to be your favorite flavor profile no matter the season, there is a workaround. You can order a warm caramel macchiato or customize your latte to include regular caramel syrup when the caramel brûlée isn't available after the holidays. Still, there's something to be said for enjoying this in the winter. We like the Caramel Brûlée latte because it's familiar and comforting, which goes a long way during a blustery holiday season.

Even in the warm format, this drink is still pretty sweet, but it comes across as a little less so than when served cold. Furthermore, we don't think that it's any sweeter than either of the Peppermint Mocha options. Like the colder versions we tried before it, it's not immediately clear that anything in the mix has been genuinely brûléed, but that's not necessarily a deal-breaker. 

Unlike in other drinks, the whipped cream here is a nice touch, swirling into the latte and giving us warm fuzzy feelings and flashbacks of our grandparents' Werther's Original candy bowl.

2. Peppermint Mocha Signature Latte

Originally released in 2002 and going strong into its 21st season, many think of the Peppermint Mocha as the original Starbucks specialty holiday beverage — even though it isn't. According to Starbucks, that honor actually goes to the Eggnog Latte, first created in 1986 and most recently pulled from the menu after the 2020 season. Regardless, the Peppermint Mocha is a cornerstone of the season.

The drink is made with a "mocha sauce" that's a cocoa powder-based chocolate syrup, with peppermint syrup added in to achieve the namesake peppermint mocha flavor. The drink is finished off with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls. As far as we can tell, the mocha sauce is the same used for the regular Caffè Mocha. The slightly chalky texture that we noticed in the Iced Peppermint Mocha is still perceptible in the hot version, which is understandable since cocoa powder doesn't actually dissolve in water (via New Food).

But there are some issues here. The subtle texture of the drink is almost completely overshadowed by its strong chocolate and peppermint flavors. Meanwhile, the espresso is such a supporting player that it's hard to tell if it's there at all, though that's not bound to be a bad thing depending on your taste preferences. Ultimately, this is what you order when you're a grown-up on the outside, but on the inside you remain a kid who can't wait to tear open presents and eat candy out of your stocking on Christmas morning.

1. Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino

If you're going to get yourself a treat, you might as well go all the way, right? That's certainly how we rationalized ordering a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino, which we still think is the most delightful way to enjoy the Peppermint Mocha flavor after tasting every version of it several times.

Just like its mocha Frappuccino brethren, it's ever-so-slightly chalky. But when the mix is blended into a frozen chocolate peppermint Frappuccino, we absolutely don't care. There's no discernable sign of coffee since, instead of freshly brewed espresso, Frappuccinos are made with a "Frappuccino Roast" that is more like concentrated instant coffee. But the chocolate flavor seems stronger here, while the peppermint flavor is amplified by the chilly temperature of the drink — even though there are fewer pumps of mocha and peppermint syrup in the Frappuccino version of the drink. More intriguing is the fact that the Peppermint Mocha Frappuccinos actually have a lower calorie count in every size than comparable hot versions. As for the whipped cream, it doesn't really melt into the frozen drink, but it's a fun addition anyway.

Even if it were snowing out, we'd choose this Frappuccino. Are you shivering, or is that the caffeine kicking in because you drank the whole thing in a couple of minutes? Is that the strong peppermint burn or ice frosting over your windpipe? Either way, it's worth it. Wear some gloves and jog home to warm up ... and maybe do it again tomorrow.