From peppermint mochas to caramel brûlée lattes, Starbucks 2022 holiday drinks ranked

Where does your favorite fall on the list?

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published December 8, 2022 3:00PM (EST)

Paper coffee cups specially made for Christmas on the table in a Starbucks store. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Paper coffee cups specially made for Christmas on the table in a Starbucks store. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

I'm truly a fiend for all things seasonal and holiday coffees and lattes. From pumpkin spice season to the holidays (and all year round — I've always been a sucker for the ice cream flavors that Dunkin' sells in the summertime), I feverishly consume as many of these (overtly sugary) drinks, celebrating the respective season with a beverage in my hand or on my desk. 

This year, I opted to take a more "scientific" (lol) approach and ordered all of the current Starbucks items in their Holiday oeuvre in order to ascertain what the best drinks really are. Of course, Starbucks has a revolving door of drink offerings: some come around year-after-year, while others are one and done, unfortunately. For example, this year's menu doesn't include gingerbread or eggnog lattes, much to the dismay of many Starbucks aficionados.

This year, the coffee chain has a list of seven holiday beverages, so I bravely ordered every single one of them and risked stomachaches and jitteriness in order to properly and accurately rank these drinks. 

In order to mitigate ice dilution, variables and biases, I ordered all of these items at the same size and temperature and made no customizations or modification whatsoever to the menu items as is. I'm not a believer in the "secret menu" realm, or in making baristas do inexplicable amounts of work, so I'm not tapping into that landscape here whatsoever. Lastly, the new Irish Cream Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cold Brew was not at my location, so I didn't get to include that here.

So queue up some of your favorite Christmas tunes and settle in, because without further ado, here is the Starbucks 2022 holiday beverage ranking: 

White Chocolate Mocha Latte
This drink is not especially a standout. It has a pretty dulled flavor and it's a bit flat, but it's not overly sweet. Overall, though, it's not particularly noteworthy or festive.
Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte

This drink is thinner than the other drinks and the almond milk notes come through very distinctly, almost to the point that it's the prominent flavor. It has a very sweet aftertaste. 


I think the name and aesthetic is more appealing than the taste itself. I prefer this drink with anything other than almond milk and I think it's also better iced, but it's also just generally not the most exciting drink? I have some sort of aversion to the flavor of heated almond milk; to me, it's just not very appealing. 

Chestnut Praline Latte
Bummer! I've always loved this drink, but usually order it iced and sometimes with customizations, but trying it hot amongst the rest of the drinks has rendered it a bit ... flat? It's very, very, very sweet, doesn't have much distinctive chestnut flavor (or seemingly any praline) and feels somewhat thin and not as rich as the others. 
Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Latte
In this case, the white mocha and peppermint don't blend as well as the standard peppermint mocha, but it's definitely an improvement on the plain white mocha. The flavor is well-rounded. It's a bit sweet, but quite rich and it does indeed feel sufficiently celebratory or festive.


Want more great food writing and recipes? Subscribe to Salon Food's newsletter, The Bite.


Caramel Brûlée Latte
Typically my #2 behind chestnut praline, this one also was a bit disappointing when enjoyed amongst all of the other drinks. I only got caramel notes towards the end of the sip and in the aftertaste. Otherwise, it really just tastes kind of generic and sweet at first. However, it's very festive and rich and the trademark Starbucks caramel is always a welcome flavor. 
Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Latte
This drink was interestingly clean and smooth and the "toasted" notes definitely come through much more than I anticipated. It also really doesn't taste too similar to the white mocha (which I always assumed it would), but it's also not especially festive. A very good drink, though! It could also be a good year-round option. 
Peppermint Mocha Latte

I have a confession. I've always thought I wasn't a big proponent of anything Peppermint Mocha flavored, so this took me by surprise. It was far and away the victor of this taste test: bright, festive, warming, leaves a tingly aftertaste, very rich, not too sweet and it has the perfect blend of chocolate and peppermint.


I think this drink is exponentially better when it's hot, so this may also be a reason for the change of opinion. I find that the iced variation usually results the über-thick mocha sinking to the bottom, barely incorporating into the actual drink itself. This is not an issue whatsoever in the hot iteration. 

Bonus inclusions:

Cinnamon Dolce Latte: While this is not a "holiday" item per se, this drink has all the warmth and familiarity of the holiday drinks and I think it's especially terrific when enjoyed during the season. It's been a favorite of mine for years. 

Sugar Plum Cheese Danish: This is one of Starbucks's best food options. The fruit jam is has a very fruit-forward flavor and it's not not overly sweet, there's a slight "holiday spice" essence coming through, the cheese component is smooth, rich and creamy and the pastry itself is flaky and buttery with a subtle crystallized sugar thing going on. The combination is just stellar (and I've always loved the name!)

I will note that sipping all of these drinks and then enjoying the sugar plum danish did leave a bit of a saccharine note in my mouth and it didn't dissipate after drinking a host of water. I also assume that no one reading this will nonchalantly be ordering seven drinks and then drinking them in succession, though, so I don't foresee this being an issue for the standard customer.

By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

MORE FROM Michael La Corte

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Christmas Coffee Holiday Ranking Starbucks