In this post: These Santa Cupcakes are yummy, festive, and super easy to make! They’re made with cake mix and topped with delicious treats like marshmallows and M&M’s!


This Santa cupcake recipe is great for beginner bakers because it uses boxed cake mix. The best part is, you’ll have so much time and energy to decorate the cupcakes! Learn how to make and decorate your own Santa cupcakes below.

A Santa cupcake surrounded by red sprinkles on a wood countertop.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This recipe for Santa cupcakes:

  • is quick and easy to make
  • doesn’t require fancy equipment or hard-to-find ingredients
  • is adaptable to the most common dietary restrictions and allergies (see below for ideas)
Ingredients for Santa cupcakes: cake mix, mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, M&Ms, red sprinkles, and white icing.

Santa Cupcake Ingredients

  • Cake mix: and the ingredients to make the cupcakes (listed on the cake mix box).
  • White frosting: choose one that is thick enough to hold solid but thin enough to spread smoothly.
  • Mini chocolate chips: make sure you get enough to give each of your Santa cupcakes two eyes!
  • Mini marshmallows: plain white ones are best to create a classic Santa hat.
  • Red sprinkles: I used red crystal sprinkles, but you can use any size you want!
  • Red M&M’s: get enough for one red M&M nose for each Santa.
  • Shredded coconut: to make Santa’s big beard!

Substitutions and Variations

  • Cake mix – if you or someone you’re serving is gluten-free, keto, etc. you can use a cake mix that fits those requirements. You can also use store-bought cupcakes (with white or no frosting) or homemade cupcakes.
  • Chocolate chips – use anything that will look like Santa eyes: raisins, large sprinkles, coffee beans, etc.
  • Red sprinkles – to create Santa’s red hat you could use red frosting instead of sprinkles.
  • Red M&Ms – you can use anything that looks like Santa’s nose: maraschino cherries, large sprinkles, Smarties, Skittles, strawberry slices, colored marshmallows, etc.

How to Make Santa Cupcakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box. Pour the cupcake batter into the pan.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  5. Let the cupcakes cool.

How to Decorate Santa Cupcakes

  1. Set out your cooled cupcakes. Put your frosting in a piping bag or a medium bowl (pictured here).
  2. Pipe the white frosting onto the cupcakes in a thin to moderate layer. 
  3. Place 5 mini marshmallows in a row on the cupcake to create the brim of the Santa hat.
  4. Sprinkle the red sprinkles above the mini marshmallows to create the Santa hat. Place one more marshmallow on the cupcake to create the pom-pom on Santa’s hat. 
  5. Place two mini chocolate chips under the brim of the hat for the eyes and a red M&M for the nose.A Santa cupcake with a hat, eyes, and nose - but no beard yet.
  6. Sprinkle shredded coconut under the M&M nose to make Santa’s beard. 

Serving Suggestions

These Santa cupcakes taste great after classic holiday dinners like:

You can also serve these Santa cupcakes alongside sweet treats like:

Recipe Tips

  • It’s best to buy or make cupcake frosting that isn’t runny or too thick/sticky.
  • Make sure you let the cupcakes cool fully before you decorate them. If the cupcakes are warm, the decorations will melt right off!
  • The paddle attachment on a stand mixer is best for mixing things like cupcake batter and frosting.
A Santa cupcake on a snowflake-patterned table cloth.

How to Store Cupcakes

  • Without the decorations: you can store plain cupcakes in an airtight container or ziplock bag at room temperature for 2 days or in the fridge for 1 week.
  • With the decorations: store the decorated cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. Make sure the container is tall enough so the cupcakes don’t get squished.

How to Transport Cupcakes

The easiest option for transporting your cupcakes is to buy a specialized cupcake-carrying container. Otherwise, you can transport your cupcakes in a generic airtight container. But you’ll have to make sure the cupcakes don’t slide around or touch the top of the container!

Dietary Considerations

With a few adjustments, these Santa cupcakes can be:

  • Gluten-free: swap the regular boxed cake mix for a gluten-free cake mix.
  • Dairy-free: use dairy-free frosting and chocolate chips. Swap the red M&Ms for Skittles.
  • Vegan: follow the instructions above for “dairy-free.” Additionally, buy vegan marshmallows and use an egg replacer instead of egg with your cake mix.
A Santa cupcake on a white surface.

FAQs

Can I make Santa cupcakes without a piping tip?

Put the frosting in a ziplock bag, snip off a small portion of the corner, and frost away!

What cupcake mix should you use when making Santa cupcakes?

A white or vanilla cupcake mix would work best. The mix can be regular, gluten-free, or keto if you want!

What’s the best frosting for Santa cupcakes?

My personal favorite is vanilla buttercream frosting; I like a medium-thickness frosting like buttercream. But you can use a thinner or thicker frosting if you like that better! 

How can I tell when my cupcakes are done baking?

There are many methods out there, but I find the simple toothpick strategy is the most helpful. Just insert a toothpick into a cupcake and if it comes out clean then the cupcakes are done baking!

A Santa cupcake surrounded by red sprinkles on a wood countertop.

Easy Santa Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Easy Santa Cupcakes are made from gluten-free cupcake mix and fun things like marshmallows, sprinkles, M&M's, chocolate chips, and coconut!

Ingredients

  • boxed baking mix (can be gluten-free)
  • 1-2 cups of white frosting
  • 1 package of mini chocolate chips
  • 1 package of mini marshmallows
  • red sprinkles
  • 1 package of M&M's
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box. Pour the cupcake batter into the pan.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  5. Let the cupcakes cool.

For the decorating:

  1. Set out your cooled cupcakes. Put your frosting in a piping bag or a medium bowl.
  2. Pipe the white frosting onto the cupcakes in a thin to moderate layer.  
  3. Place 5 mini marshmallows in a row on the cupcake to create the brim of the Santa hat.
  4. Sprinkle the red sprinkles above the mini marshmallows to create the Santa hat. Place one more marshmallow on the cupcake to create the pom-pom on Santa’s hat. 
  5. Place two mini chocolate chips under the brim of the hat for the eyes and a red M&M for the nose.
  6. Sprinkle shredded coconut under the M&M nose to make Santa’s beard. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 371Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 251mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 2gSugar: 45gProtein: 2g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily via Nutrifox.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Have you started your holiday cooking or baking yet? Would you make these Santa cupcakes?

shannon photo and sig oct 2022

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