Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

This Christmas tree sugar cookies recipe is the best cut-out cookie recipe ever! The finished cookies look festive. The cookie dough always holds its shape. And the white or green royal icing hardens but won’t break your teeth when you eat it.

Christmas tree sugar cookies recipe

Sugar cookies are a staple of Christmas baking.

And now that I’ve finally figured out how to make cut out cookies that hold their shape, I decided to make some for my own Christmas cookie tray.

And Christmas trees seemed like a good shape to start with.

They don’t require complicated icing designs but you can still make them look pretty with sprinkles.

So here’s my version of decorated Christmas tree sugar cookies.

Ingredients

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Here is your shopping list:

  • 1 egg
  • flavoring: 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (split), ¼ teaspoon almond extract – the almond extract is optional but I think it makes the cookies taste better.
  • baking supplies: 2½ cups all-purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons cocoa powder (optional), 3 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • sugar: 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 pound icing sugar
  • dairy: 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • food coloring: green gel food coloring* (optional), brown gel food coloring* (optional)
  • cookie decorations: I used these white sprinkles*, these snowflake sprinkles*, these red balls* and these blue decorations*.

Substitutions for Gluten-Free Cookies

  • use measure-for-measure gluten-free flour instead of regular all-purpose flour (this gluten-free brand* works the best)

Supplies

  • 2 mixing bowls
  • food processor
  • stand mixer with mixing bowl
  • cookie sheet – rimless cookie sheets work best since they allow even air flow that results in evenly baked cookies, but regular cookie sheets work, too.
  • parchment paper
  • rolling pin
  • Christmas cookie cutters –
  • metal spatula
  • wire cooling rack
  • plastic wrap
  • piping bag – I like to use these re-usable piping bags*
  • piping tip #4 – to fill in most of the cookie. You can use a smaller (#3) or larger (#5) tip if you prefer.
  • piping tip #1 (optional) – to fill in the tree trunk stem. Because it’s a small area, using the smaller tip makes it a little easier to control where the icing goes.
  • coupler (optional)

How To Make Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

Make The Dough

cookie dough being processed in food processor

For more details on how to make sugar cookies that hold their shape, click HERE.

In a small bowl, beat the egg.

Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon almond extract and ¾ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix together 2½ cups of flour, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon baking powder. Set aside.

Cut up 2 sticks (1 cup) of cold (straight from the refrigerator) butter into ½ inch chunks.

Add the butter and 1 cup of granulated sugar to the food processor and process until combined, about 30 seconds.

Mix in the egg mixture until combined, about 10 seconds.

Then add the flour mixture and process until all of the flour is combined, about 30 seconds.

Roll The Dough

cookie dough being rolled out

Divide the dough in half to make it easier to roll.

Put one ball of dough in between 2 large sheets of parchment paper.

Push the ball flat with your hands (inside the parchment paper layers).

Then use the rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 1/8″ thick.

Put the rolled out dough on a cookie sheet or tray, still keeping the parchment paper on both sides.

Repeat with the other ball of dough.

Stack the second sheet of dough on top of the first sheet on the tray.

Refrigerate the rolled out dough for 1½ hours, or freeze for 30 minutes.

Cut Out The Christmas Trees

Parchment paper being peeled off the chilled cookie dough

Take the first sheet of cookie dough out of the refrigerator (leaving the other one in).

Peel off the top layer of parchment paper.

How to cut out Christmas tree cookies

Use the Christmas tree cookie cutters to cut shapes in the cookie dough.

Put the cut out cookie dough back in the refrigerator (with the bottom piece of parchment paper still attached).

Repeat the process with the second sheet of cookie dough.

To make sure the cookies will keep their shape when you move them to the cookie sheet, refrigerate them for another 30 minutes or until the dough is stiff.

Bake The Cookies

How to remove Christmas tree cut out cookies

Use a metal spatula (or a cake knife) to separate the cookies from the bottom layer of parchment paper.

Put another piece of parchment paper down on a cookie sheet. This prevents the cookies from spreading too much and losing their shape.

Christmas tree cut out cookies on a cookie sheet

Then lay out the cookies about ½ inch apart.

Bake at 300℉ for 14 to 16 minutes, until the bottom of the cookies are slightly brown.

Only bake 1 sheet of cookies at a time since stacking them in the oven will cause uneven heating.

Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet.

Then move to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Repeat with the other sheet of cut-out cookies.

Roll out the extra dough to create another batch of cookies.

How To Make White Royal Icing

white royal icing in a bowl

You can find all of our tips and tricks for making royal icing HERE.

Mix 4 cups icing sugar, 3 Tablespoons meringue powder and ½ cup of WARM water in a stand mixer on low speed

Once they are combined, increase to medium speed.

Mix for 5 to 8 minutes until the icing forms soft peaks. (When you remove the whisk, the icing should create a hill with a tip that leans over.)

Test The Consistency Of Your Icing

Next test that the icing is the right consistency for outlining and flooding (or filling in) the cookies:

  • Run a knife through the middle of your icing and count how many seconds it takes for the cut to close.
  • If it takes longer than 15 seconds (or it doesn’t close at all), the icing is too stiff. Add in a few drops of water.
  • If it’s closing faster than 15 seconds, mix the icing for a little while longer until it gets stiffer.
  • Repeat the test until the cut in the icing closes in about 15 seconds.

How To Make Brown Royal Icing

brown royal icing in a bowl

To make the tree trunks, we’re going to use brown royal icing.

I like to use cocoa powder to do this. But you can also use brown food coloring.

Move about ½ cup of the white icing into a small bowl.

Then mix in about 1 to 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder. Dutch cocoa powder works best since it is a darker color.

If you want your icing to be a darker brown (or you don’t want to use cocoa powder), add in a little bit of brown gel food coloring.

Do the consistency test again. You may need to add a little more water because of the cocoa powder.

Cover the top of the icing with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

How To Make Green Royal Icing

I like to decorate some of my Christmas trees with white icing for a modern, snowy look, and some with green icing for a more traditional look. (Of course, you can decorate the cookies however you like.)

If you want to mix and match like I do, you’ll want to keep some of the white icing. In this case, move some of the white icing into another bowl to be colored.

If you want all of your trees to be green, you can put the green food coloring directly into the bowl of white icing.

How to add green gel food coloring to white royal icing

Add a little bit of green gel food coloring.

green royal icing in a bowl

Then stir it into the white icing. If it’s not dark enough, mix in a little bit more.

Don’t add too much since food coloring can affect the taste of the icing.

The color will get darker as it dries so don’t worry if it looks too bright.

How To Decorate Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

Christmas tree sugar cookies with cookie decorating supplies

Put the white or green icing in a piping bag with a #4 piping tip.

A #3 or #5 tip will also work depending how much icing you like to have come out at a time (the smaller the number the smaller the hole is so the less icing will come out).

How to pipe the Christmas tree cookies with royal icing

Outline the edge of your Christmas trees with the icing except for the stem.

How to flood the Christmas tree cookies with royal icing

Then flood (fill in) the middle.

How to fill in royal icing gaps on Christmas tree cookies

Use a knife or small spatula to spread the icing out and fill in any gaps.

Christmas tree sugar cookies with white icing and white sprinkles

While the icing is still wet, add some sprinkles and sugar pearls.

For these modern white Christmas tree cookies, I only decorated half the tree.

I started with the white sprinkles, snowflakes and balls.

Christmas tree sugar cookies decorated with white icing and red and white sprinkles

And then added a few red sugar pearls to some of the trees.

Christmas tree sugar cookie decorated with white royal icing and blue and white sprinkles

And blue ones on others.

Christmas tree sugar cookies decorated with green icing and white and red sprinkles

For the green Christmas trees, I used white and red sprinkles all over the tree.

Pipe The Tree Trunk

Wait a few hours for the white icing has dried before continuing. Otherwise the brown color could bleed into the rest of your Christmas tree icing.

Put the brown icing in a piping bag with a #1 tip.

How to pipe the brown Christmas tree trunk onto the cookie

Outline and fill in the stem of the pumpkin. Use a toothpick to spread the icing around if there are any little gaps.

How To Store Cookies

The Christmas tree cookies can be stored in an airtight container:

  • at room temperature for about 3 days.
  • in the refrigerator for about a week.
  • in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To keep your cookies looking their best, place a layer of parchment paper between each layer of cookies.

Other Christmas Cookies You Might Like

christmas tree sugar cookies

Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

Wanda Simone
This Christmas tree sugar cookies recipe is the easiest way to make festive holiday cut-out cookies that will hold their shape.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins
Chilling/Cooling Time 8 hrs
Total Time 10 hrs 30 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cookies

Equipment

  • 2 mixing bowls
  • food processor
  • stand mixer with mixing bowl
  • rimless cookie sheet
  • parchment paper
  • rolling pin
  • Christmas tree cookie cutters
  • thin spatula
  • wire cooling rack
  • plastic wrap
  • Piping bag
  • Piping tip #4
  • piping tip #1
  • Coupler (optional)

Ingredients
  

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup 2 sticks cold unsalted butter

Royal Icing

  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder or a few drops of brown gel food coloring optional
  • 3 Tablespoons meringue
  • 1 pound icing sugar
  • green gel food coloring
  • sprinkles and sugar pearls

Instructions
 

Sugar Cookies

  • In a small bowl, beat an egg. Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon almond extract and ¾ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix together 2½ cups of flour, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon baking powder. Set aside.
  • Cut up 2 sticks (1 cup) of cold (straight from the refrigerator) butter into ½ inch chunks.
  • Process the butter and 1 cup of granulated sugar in the food processor until combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Blend in the egg mixture until combined, about 10 seconds.
  • Then add the flour mixture and process until all of the flour is combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Divide the dough in half to make it easier to roll.
  • Put one ball of dough in between 2 large sheets of parchment paper.
  • Use the rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 1/8" thick.
  • Put the rolled out dough on a cookie sheet or tray, still keeping the parchment paper on both sides.
  • Repeat with the other ball of dough.
  • Refrigerate the rolled out dough for 1½ hours, or freeze for 30 minutes.
  • When the cookie dough is stiff, take the first sheet of cookie dough out of the refrigerator (leaving the other one in).
  • Peel off the top layer of parchment paper.
  • Use the Christmas tree cookie cutter to cut shapes in the cookie dough.
  • Put the cut out cookie dough back in the refrigerator (with the bottom piece of parchment paper still attached).
  • Repeat the process with the second sheet of cookie dough.
  • Refrigerate the cut-out cookie dough for another 30 minutes or until the dough is stiff.
  • Use a thin spatula (or a cake knife) to separate the cookies from the bottom layer of parchment paper.
  • Put another piece of parchment paper down on a cookie sheet.
  • Then lay out the cookies about ½ inch apart.
  • Bake at 300℉ for 14 to 16 minutes, until the bottom of the cookies are slightly brown.
  • Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Then move to a wire rack and let them cool completely.
  • Repeat with the other sheet of cut-out cookies.
  • Roll out the extra dough to create another batch of cookies.

How To Make White Royal Icing

  • Mix 4 cups icing sugar, 3 Tablespoons meringue powder and ½ cup of WARM water in a stand mixer on low speed
  • Once they are combined, increase to medium speed.
  • Mix for 5 to 8 minutes until the icing forms soft peaks.

How To Make Brown Royal Icing

  • Move about ½ cup of the white icing into a small bowl.
  • Mix in about 1 to 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder or a few drops of brown food coloring.
  • Cover the top of the icing with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

How To Make Green Royal Icing

  • Mix a few drops green gel food coloring into white icing a little bit at a time until you get the color you want.

How To Decorate Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

  • Put the white or green icing in a piping bag with a #4 piping tip.
  • Outline the edge of your Christmas trees with the icing except for the stem.
  • Then flood (fill in) the middle.
  • Use a knife or small spatula to spread the icing out and fill in any gaps.
  • While the icing is still wet, add some sprinkles and sugar pearls.

Pipe The Tree Trunk

  • Wait a few hours for the white icing has dried before continuing. Otherwise the brown color could bleed into your tree icing.
  • Put the brown icing in a piping bag with a #1 tip.
  • Outline and fill in the stem of the pumpkin. Use a toothpick to spread the icing around if there are any little gaps.

Notes

  • Using parchment paper on both sides of the cookie dough while rolling will keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.
  • Refrigerating the cookie dough prevents the cookies from losing their shape while they are baking
  • Chilling the dough after cutting the shapes will make sure the cookies keep their shape while being transferred to the cookie sheet.
  • Parchment paper on the cookie sheet keeps the cookies from spreading
  • Only bake 1 sheet of cookies at a time since stacking them in the oven will cause uneven heating.

How To Test Icing Consistency

Run a knife through the middle of your icing and count how many seconds it takes for the cut to close.
If it takes longer than 15 seconds (or it doesn’t close at all), the icing is too stiff. Add in a few drops of water.
If it’s closing faster than 15 seconds, mix the icing for a little while longer until it gets stiffer.
Repeat the test until the cut in the icing closes in about 15 seconds.

How To Store Cookies

The Christmas tree cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days, in the refrigerator for about a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To keep your cookies looking their best, place a layer of parchment paper between each layer of cookies.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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