These Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies are easy and adorable tree shaped sugar cookies decorated with mini M&ms as Christmas lights. Perfect for the Christmas season!
These Christmas Tree Cookies are perfect for the holidays! They are so fun to make for a night of decorating cookies with your kids. They are perfect for putting on a plate or two and sharing some with your friends and neighbors. Or they are perfect for a holiday party!
I saw Dessert for Two’s Christmas Light Cookies where she used mini M&Ms on their sides to look like Christmas lights on a string. I just knew that would be the perfect way to decorate some Christmas Tree shaped sugar cookies, for a super easy, but totally adorable and spectacular cookie.
I’ve never been known for my dessert decorating skills. When it comes to frosting sugar cookies, or topping cupcakes, or cakes, mine are usually pretty basic and easy, and often a little sloppy if we’re being honest. But I swear to you these Christmas Tree sugar cookies are not hard to make at all.
These Christmas Tree cookies start with my favorite sugar cookie recipe. It’s a recipe passed down from my mother in law, but she actually got it originally from the Lion House Bakery Cook Book. The Lion House is a historical house here in Utah, in Salt Lake City, that now has a restaurant on the bottom floor.
This is a quick overview of some of the ingredients you’ll need for this Christmas Tree Cookie Recipe. Specific measurements and full recipe instructions are in the printable recipe card below.
- granulated sugar – to sweeten the cookie dough
- unsalted butter – to hold the cookie ingredients together and add a buttery flavor
- eggs – to help hold all the ingredients for the cookie dough together
- milk – to help hold the dough together so it isn’t too crumbly
- vanilla extract – to add flavor to the cookies
- all purpose flour – for the bulk of the cookie dough
- baking powder – to give the cookies lift so they aren’t too dense
- salt – to balance out the sweetness of the cookies
- meringue powder – if you want to make the simple royal icing recipe for frosting these cookies
- powdered sugar – to sweeten the icing, and give it substance
- green food coloring – to color the icing, I recommend using a gel food coloring
- black icing – for the light strings to decorate the cookies, you could also use melted chocolate
- candy stars – for the star on top of the Christmas trees
- mini m&ms – to add Christmas lights to your Christmas trees.
How to make Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies?
- Cream together the sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. I liked to use my stand mixer, but a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer will work too.
- Add in the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
- In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. You’ll need flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk them together.
- Then slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients while you’re stirring them together.
- Once the dough is formed roll it into a ball and cover it with plastic wrap or place it in a zip top bag and place it in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours. You can chill the dough for up to 3 days.
- When you’re ready to make the cookies preheat the oven and line a cookie sheet or two separate cookie sheets with parchment paper, or a liner.
- Lightly flour your counter tops, or other work surface, and roll out the sugar cookie dough with a rolling pin on the surface. You want to roll it to be about 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Cut the dough with Christmas tree shaped cookie cutters, and place them onto the prepared cookie sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Re roll the dough as needed to fill the pan with cookies. Then place the pan in the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes.
- Bake the cookies until the tops are just set, and the edges are set, but not yet golden. Remove the pan from the oven and let them cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the pan. Then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled carefully add your green icing to the cookies to decorate them. Then press a star to on the top of each tree. Pipe three small lines of black icing onto the Christmas trees to be the light strings, and press mini m&m candys next to the lines, on their side for the lights.
They’re the best homemade sugar cookies I’ve ever had. Sometimes, the the cookies do spread a little bit. Not too much that they totally lose their shape, but a little bit. If you care about that more than the taste you can try using shortening instead of butter, or maybe half and half with a third cup of each. I always use all butter though, so you can see what that does here.
One way to help the cookies not to spread as much is to put the pan of cut out cookies into the fridge for about 10 minutes before baking them to make sure the cookies are nice and cold. Butter melts at a lower temperature than shortening, so you want to keep the dough as cold as you can right up into baking the cookies.
I use a cheap Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter that I found at Target for like $1, but you can find some on amazon as well.
What type of icing to use on these sugar cookies?
I usually top my sugar cookies with a simple vanilla frosting, and that frosting works great for these Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies. It’s easy and only 4 ingredients.
But I wanted to switch it up with these cookies, so I could try piping the icing on instead of just spreading it with a knife. I decided to attempt an easy royal icing recipe.
I wanted to try out my normal frosting and the new piped icing methods to show you how they both look, so I made both the vanilla frosting and royal icing to top these cookies with. So you can really see side by side what the difference looks like. And then you choose which you style you prefer.
(Royal Icing on Top, Vanilla Frosting on Bottom)
I piped an edge on with the vanilla frosting as well to give the edges more of a finished look to outline the Christmas trees. Then used a knife to roughly spread more frosting in the middle.
With the vanilla frosting, the frosting is thick enough that you’ll spread it on the cookie and then you can immediately top the cookie with the “decorations”. You will take a small tube of black icing and draw two or three strings across the tree, then carefully press the m&ms on their side into the cookies, to look like Christmas lights. Press a candy star on the top of the tree if desired, and then let the cookies set for a couple more hours until the icing is fully set.
Since I didn’t want to deal with raw egg whites for this royal icing recipe, remember we are going for easy here, I used meringue powder. It actually turned out great, and if I can make royal icing, you can make royal icing too – because remember, I’m really not a decorator.
If you haven’t used royal icing before, what you typically do is pipe an edge with a thicker frosting, (this was like a thin toothpaste consistency for me), then you have some of the frosting thinned out more, by adding a little more water, (to get it more like a honey consistency) and that frosting gets spread around in the middle of the piped edges. It’s thin enough that it spreads a little on it’s own and you can use a toothpick to spread it carefully to fill in all the spots.
The royal icing is much thinner than the frosting so for these I iced all the cookies, and since it takes a few minutes to do all of them. Once they were all iced I went back to the first one that I iced and added the decorations to that one. You don’t want the icing to harden all the way before you decorate the cookies because it will crack when you push into it if it is hard.
I used ziplock bags, but a piping bag would work too, to decorate all of these cookies. So remember, if I can pipe frosting/icing onto cookies, so can you!
These cookies are not only delicious, but they are totally adorable! The cutest Christmas Tree cookies ever! They are so fun to make and so fun to eat!
These tasty Christmas tree cookies are such a fun Holiday cookie. They’re great chewy sugar cookies decorated to look like the cutest Christmas trees out there, and would be so fun for a holiday party, cookie exchange, holiday movie night, or packaging up to share with your neighbors.
Looking for more easy Christmas Cookies?
- Reindeer Cookies
- Eggnog Cookies
- Hot Chocolate Cookies
- Hershey Kiss Cookies
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
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Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2/3 cup butter (softened)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 TBS milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Royal Icing:
- 4 TBS meringue powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 6 TBS warm water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 drops green food coloring (or 1/4 tsp gel food coloring)
For the Vanilla Frosting:
- 1/2 TBS vanilla extract
- 4 TBS butter (softened)
- 3 TBS milk
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 6 cup green food coloring (or 1/4 tsp gel food coloring)
- 1 small tube black icing
- 36 small candy stars
- 1/2 cup mini m&ms
- Cream together the sugar and butter, for about 2 minutes until light and totally mixed.
- Add in the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract and stir in.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients while mixing.
- With your hands, shape the dough into a ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or place in a ziplock bag. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- After the dough has been chilled, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
- Lightly flour your counter tops and roll out the dough. Roll the dough out to be about 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. (Keep the extra dough in the fridge till needed)
- Cut your dough into Christmas tree shapes and place cookie dough about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet.
- Re roll the remaining dough and cut into trees.
- Place the cookie pan back in the fridge for about 5 to 10 minutes to chill again.
- Bake cookies for 6 to 7 minutes, or just until the top is set.
- Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes on the pan, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the Royal Icing:
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together meringue powder and powdered sugar.
- Slowly add in the water and vanilla while the mixer is running on medium speed. Continue beating the mixture until stiff peaks form, around 7 to 10 minutes (around 10-13 minutes if you're using a hand mixer)
- Whisk the food coloring into the icing.
- Add in 1/2 tsp of water at a time until you get the frosting into the texture of soft toothpaste.
- Put about a third of the icing into a ziplock bag and snip the corner of the bag.
- Pipe the edges of the frosting onto the cooled cookies.
- Thin the remaining frosting another 1/2 tsp of water at a time until the icing is a honey like texture.
- Spread the flood icing into the middle of the cookies, and allow it to settle some. Use a toothpick to fill in the gaps to spread the icing around to fill the whole cookie.
- After icing all the cookies, go back to the first cookies and decorate. (Skip down to the decorating instructions).
For the Vanilla Frosting:
- Mix together the vanilla, butter, milk, and powdered sugar till frosting is smooth.
- Fold in 4-5 drops of liquid green food coloring (or about 1/4 tsp of gel food coloring). Add more if needed for desired green color.
- Scoop about 1/3 of the frosting into a ziplock bag.
- Snip the corner of the ziplock bag, and carefully pipe an edge on the cooled cookies.
- Fill in the middle of the cookie with frosting.
- Press a star shaped candy on to the top of the Christmas tree.
- Pipe three small black lines onto each cookie to be the Christmas lights string.
- Press mini m&ms side ways next to the lines for the Christmas lights.
Sandi Berrett says
My favorite sugar cookie recipe ever!
Can these be frozen?
I haven’t tried it with these, I’m not sure how all the layers with the frosting and m&ms would do, so I can’t guarantee good results, but I’ve read you can freeze cookies with Royal icing, so I think it should work. Make sure the cookies/icing is totally set and keep parchment between the layers.
these look goood
I’m guessing the instructions about “putting them back in the oven to chill” is supposed to read putting them back on the fridge to chill but just wanted to confirm thanks! They look so cute 🙂
Oops! 🤦🏼♀️ Thanks for catching that, yes chill them in the fridge!
I think these are the cutest little Christmas trees. I have to make them.