I made my first sugar cookie Christmas tree. So easy and beautiful! I used sugar cookies and a very thick but super simple powdered sugar icing. It's great to use as a centerpiece and to make with kids.
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The holidays are not my most productive time of the year, bake-wise.
Maybe because it's summer here (Buenos Aires), and the hot weather takes the fun of turning the oven on.
But a short trip to the US last month brought back cookie cutters. A lot of them.
Then I had to decide what type of cookie to use. While sugar cookies are a classic, I debated making my beloved gingerbread cookies with white glaze. They are perfect for hanging in the tree and taste so amazing.
But traditional won, and a white Christmas it was. A hot one.
December 8 (the day we decorate our tree here if you're into that) found me ready to tackle the sugar cookie Christmas tree, which is a bunch of frosted star cookies, all different sizes, that are piled, making sure the pointed parts are mismatched.
That way, you get the idea of a pine tree. Cute, very cute.
It comes together easily, rolls, and cuts without a glitch.
Make sure the dough is cold so the cutouts keep their shape. I put them in the freezer for a few minutes, and the problem was solved.
Assembling the tree
I glazed them with a simple confectioners' sugar and lemon juice glaze and added some red sugar crystals and crushed peppermint candy.
A lack of piping bag skills calls for some crushed stuff, the redder the better.
Turns out, a sugar cookie Christmas tree has no need for fancy decoration really. You can get away with some sprinkling. Or even with a top star that has a smudged glaze. I wonder whose fault was that, huh?
I hope they will be the centerpieces on my holiday table.
I say hope because I always make a list of homemade gifts and decorated cookies for the table and such, but they rarely come to life. Sad, I know. But so true.
Happy holidays everyone! Hope your days are filled with love, cookies, and harmony.
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For the cookies:
- ¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g) light brown sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the glaze:
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- a few teaspoons of lemon juice (or milk or water)
For the cookies:
- Beat butter with sugar until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
- Add egg and beat until incorporated.
- Add vanilla and almond extract and mix well.
- Sift dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt (I measure them and sift directly over the butter mixture). Add them in 2-3 times to the butter, mixing at low speed and only until combined and no dry spots remain.
- Divide the dough into two or three parts. Chill for half an hour.
- Place each portion of dough between sheets of parchment paper, roll about ¼ inch thickness (add some flour if needed to prevent the rolling pin from sticking) and place on cookie sheets.
- Refrigerate them for another 15-20 minutes, or freeze for five minutes, or until they are very cold but not starting to crack.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- With cookie cutters cut dough into the shapes you want.
- Place the cut cookies on baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, until dry and just starting to color. If you want chewy centers underbake them for a minute or two.
- Careful as different sized cookies will have different baking times.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack.
For the glaze:
- Mix confectioners’ sugar with a teaspoon lemon juice. Add drops until you have a thick and smooth consistency, similar to thick honey.
- Take the largest star cookie and glaze the top. Place on the serving plate and sprinkle the ends with colored sugar and crushed peppermint candy.
- Continue glazing and piling the other star cookies, from the largest to the smallest. Be sure to alternate pointed ends so you create a tree.
- Let the glaze set before you move the tree.
- Repeat if you made cookies for more than one tree.
- Bake ahead: the cookies can be baked ahead and kept in airtight containers or tins for about a week. The dough can be frozen for up to a month.
- I used the star cookie cutters from Sur La Table.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cooling + decorating time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking + glazing
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: christmas cookie tree