There’s really nothing more festive than Christmas Tree Cookies! Easy to make sugar cookies are layered with festive green frosting and sprinkles to serve as ornaments. It doesn’t get cuter (or sweeter) than this!
Decorating the tree is fun, but decorating these Christmas tree cookies is even more fun! Just make peace with the fact now that you’re a frosting piping master, and small mistakes won’t get you down. Even if you mess up the frosting a little bit here and there, it’s all good – after all, no Christmas trees ever really look identical! Or is that snowflakes? Either way, your cookie trees will be perfectly un-perfect.
If you really want to be the star of the next cookie exchange, these are the treats to make.
After all, who doesn’t love the simplicity of buttery sugar cookies with homemade frosting?! It’s a classic combo that’s made adorable with the tree presentation. While these stacked cookies are most notable for their picture-perfect presence, they’re also downright delicious, too.
Assembling these little trees really isn’t so bad, either. Just don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself, or you’ll likely end up angry at your piping bag/the world.
Instead, just realize that stacking three cookies on top of one another with festive sprinkles is a fun task, and they’ll turn out super cute with just a little focus! And while you could go without the sprinkles, let’s be real…why would you ever go without sprinkles?!
Ingredients for Christmas tree cookies
For the cookies, you’ll need:
- Salted butter – It needs to be softened, so let it sit on your kitchen counter for about an hour before using.
- Sugar – Plain white granulated sugar is all you need.
- Egg – I like to use farm fresh eggs when I can.
- Vanilla – Use pure vanilla extract, not imitation!
- Flour – All purpose flour is what creates the structure of these cookies.
- Baking powder – This is essential in making the cookies rise while they bake.
The frosting calls for:
- Powdered sugar – No frosting is ever really complete without it!
- Salted butter
- Milk – I like to use whole milk for the best consistency.
- Food coloring – I’ve found that gel food coloring creates the most vibrant color.
I don’t have vanilla extract – what else will work? I find that almond extract tastes delicious in these cookies as well.
Common questions about Christmas tree cookies
Can I add even more festive flavor? For a more festive flair, you can add a little bit of peppermint flavor to these trees! Just add a teaspoon of pure peppermint extract (not oil) to either the cookie dough or frosting for a little extra Christmas magic. You could also substitute the milk in the frosting with eggnog, but that may effect the color.
I find the cookies really dry – did I do something wrong? Please be careful how you measure your flour. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then use a flat edge like a knife to scrape the top and make it level. If you scoop the flour with your measuring cup you may get too much flour.
My frosting is too thick/thin – how can I fix it? The easiest way to fix too-thick buttercream is to add milk, just a teaspoon at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency. If your buttercream is too thin, add powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time.
I seem to remember cookies like this but they had nuts in them – will that work? Yes, you could add up to ¼ cup of finely chopped pecans or walnuts to the batter.
How long will Christmas tree cookies stay fresh? In an airtight container at room temperature, these cookies will stay nice and fresh for up to 1 week. Since they stay fresh for so long, they’re perfect for making ahead of time for your party or cookie exchange!
Can these cookies be made ahead of time or freeze them? Yes. I would recommend that you make all of the cookies and freeze them in freezer bags. Then, when you are ready to serve them, allow the cookies to come to room temperature and then assemble them with the buttercream. This way your decorations will still look fresh.
Check out more of my favorite cookies to leave out for Santa!
Christmas Tree Cookies
For the cookies:
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the frosting:
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup salted butter, softened
- 3 Tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Food coloring
- Sprinkles for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Then add this mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well blended.
- Next, we will shape the dough into 3 different sizes of cookies. (Each cookie will be rolled into a ball.)Use a rounded 1 teaspoon of dough to make 1 small ball. Then you will use 2 rounded teaspoons of dough to make a middle size ball. And 3 rounded teaspoons of dough to make a large ball. You want to have the same number of each size of ball. You should be able to make at least 15 balls of each size.
- Place the small balls onto 1 parchment paper lined baking sheet. Use a glass to gently flatten them a little. Place the medium size balls on another sheet and again press them down gently. And place the large balls on a separate sheet and press them down slightly. (The different sizes of cookies should bake on different sheets as they will not bake at the same rate.)
- Bake until the bottoms are just golden. Small cookies will take 4-6 minutes. Medium will take 6-8 minutes. Large will take 8-10 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and allow them to cool completely on wire racks.
- Prepare the frosting while the cookies are cooling.
- In a medium bowl, beat together powdered sugar, and butter. When this is well creamed together, beat in the milk and vanilla (and food coloring if desired).
- Use the frosting to “glue” together the 3 cookies (largest on the bottom, then middle sized, then the smallest on top) to make a christmas tree or snowman. Pipe (or spread) icing onto the top of the largest size cookie and place the middle size cookie on top. Pipe (or spread) icing on the top of the middle size cookie and place the small size cookie on top. Then continue decorating with the icing.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.