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Cookie Christmas Tree Made With Stacked Star Cookies

by Lorena

I loved making this cookie Christmas tree! It’s not only pretty and easy to make but the cookies are very delicious :). I was scared that this would be a complete mess, that the tree would be awful, that it would fall and whatnot, lol! In the end, even though I was nervous at the beginning, I enjoyed it.

This cookie Christmas tree uses the same sugar cookie dough recipe as my decorated Christmas cookies. If you’re nervous about making and decorating cookies, I recommend that you first watch the video below. I think it can be helpful for you :). The cookies are VERY delicious, with lots of spices and very very Christmasy in taste, perfect for the holiday season! Also, they are decorated with royal icing, which is the easiest icing for decorating cookies. I love working with it! The cookie Christmas tree is easier to make than it looks. 

It’s worth it to make special things this Christmas. These are the details that make us smile at the end of a difficult year for us. Even dusting the cookie Christmas tree with icing sugar feels magical. Reserve some time for making this 🙂! For icing, I use royal icing which is stable and goes very hard at room temperature. That makes for a really good glue and ensures that the cake stays together. Make sure to add some to the base of the cookie tree so that it sticks to the plate underneath.

Equipment you might need

When making a beautiful Cookie Christmas tree you will need some bits of equipment to help you roll out, shape and bake them. Here’s the guide to what’s essential: 

  • Star cookie cutter set: For my Cookie Christmas Tree, I used cookie cutters in different sizes, they usually come in a star cookie cutter set. The dimensions, from tip to tip are 13, 11, 9, 7, 5 and 4cm. However, you don’t need specific cutters to make it. You can print different size stars and use them to cut cardboard stars. Then you can use a knife to cut the cookies around the cardboard for baking.
  • Piping Bags: A piping bag is essential to the decoration process of the Christmas tree cookies. It will also help when sticking them together. I like to place a really small 1mm opening piping tip to get that perfect pour-out of royal icing.
  • Rolling pin: My favourite types of rolling pins are the ones made for fondant. They might not look as pretty as a wooden or marble one but they are the best! Easy to clean, not too heavy and easy to work with.
  • Baking sheet: I love to use large baking sheets when making my Christmas Cookie Tree. It just makes everything more efficient and it also helps to see it all together so that you can count if you have enough stars of each size.

This Cookie Christmas Tree is worth the effort. I love that it’s pretty simple to make and the result is just stunning. It’s a lovely centrepiece for the holidays or even a gorgeous gift. They also taste better than regular Christmas trees haha! Here are the overall steps you will follow:

  1. Make the easy cookie dough: This sugar cookie recipe is fantastic and very easy to make. One option is to make it in a large bowl and use a whisk and spatula. An alternative is to turn to your trusted stand mixer or electric mixer if you have one. They’re the best cookies, with a basic sugar cookies recipe as a base plus lots of spices. They really make the most flavorful cookies.
  2. Bake the cookies: Roll out the cookies using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Then, use star-shaped cookie cutters to get the levels of the tree. Bake the cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure to let them cool down completely on a wire rack before decorating them.
  3. Make the royal icing: Traditional royal icing is made with raw egg whites which of course carries a bit of a risk. Instead, check out the recipe to see how it’s made using pasteurized egg whites or meringue powder. It’s a simple procedure! You just mix everything and then adjust the texture by adding more water or powdered sugar/confectioners’ sugar. Fill a piping bag set with a tiny piping tip and get ready to decorate. 
  4. Decorate the individual cookies: Using the cookie icing, decorate each cookie individually. You can be as intricate or as simple as you desire. I always opt for an all-white style. It’s easier to achieve an elegant-looking result minus the mess from using gel food coloring. Of course, if you’re not as freaked out about making a mess like me you can opt for a more fun color scheme.
  5. Assemble de tree: Give your cookies at least 15 minutes to dry before assembling and then use the remaining icing as glue. Use a blob of it between each layer. I also recommend that you stick the whole tree to the base. You will start with the largest star, using 3 of those, then go through the next size cookies, always using 3 stars per level. Finish with the smaller cookies and I like to top it with one of those standing up as well. Wait 30 minutes before moving the Cookie Christmas Tree around to make sure it has dried a bit.

Variations to the recipe

If you love a good Cookie Christmas Tree, you might want to give these variations a try! They make for a different version of this recipe and the results are great as well. It just comes down to your personal preference. 

  • Use frosting instead of royal icing if you prefer the flavour and softer texture. You can do a white frosting or a green frosting to emulate the colour of an actual Christmas tree. It works just as well although it won’t dry as hard. That makes it a bit less stable for your sugar cookie trees.
  • Add flavourings you like: I suggest a spice mix for this recipe. However, please feel free to adapt it to your taste and pantry. You can also add flavourings aside from the vanilla extract such as almond extract, for example. 
  • Decorate as you please: Listen, Christmas is all about having fun. If you’re making this Christmas Cookie Tree with kids, feel free to let them add mini M&M, stick their toys or candy canes on with royal icing and just have a blast. 
cookie Christmas tree

Cookie Christmas Tree

I loved making this cookie Christmas tree! It’s not only pretty but the cookies are very delicious :).
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: christmas recipes, Dessert, Tea Time
Keyword: christmas, christmas tree, royal icing, spiced, sugar cookies
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 1 cookie christmas tree
Author: Lorena Salinas from Cravings Journal


For the cookies

  • 110 g unsalted butter soft, at room temperature
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 250 g all-purpose flour + more to dust the surface for rolling

For the royal icing (option 1)

  • 1 egg white or 30g pasteurized egg white
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • Water

For the royal icing (option 2)

  • 150 g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder
  • Water


For the cookies

  • Use a whisk to beat the butter, sugar and salt together until you have a creamy consistency.
  • Add the egg and mix it in until fully incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla and spices and mix once again.
  • Add the flour and baking powder and mix using a spatula. Once the spatula isn't helping anymore, knead slightly with your hands.
  • Cover the dough and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • If your dough has been in the fridge for more than 30 minutes, it's possible that you will have to wait a few minutes for it to come back to room temperature before rolling it out to prevent it from breaking. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it's 2-3mm thick.
  • Use cookie cutters to cut the cookies. I cut 3 cookies per size which measure from point to point: 13, 11, 9, 7, 5 and 4cm. You get to cut a bit more than this so I made a few extra small ones: one for the tip and the rest for eating ;).
  • Use a thin metal spatula to lift out the cookies from the surface.
  • Place the cookies on a non-stick baking tray. If your tray is not non-stick, line it with baking paper or silpat first.
  • Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 180°C / 350°F for 8-12 minutes or until slightly golden.
  • Let them cool down completely before decorating or the royal icing will melt.

For the royal icing (option 1)

  • Place the egg whites in a bowl and add the icing sugar through a sieve or colander.
  • Beat them until they come together, then adjust the texture. To see if it's at a good texture, make a line or dot on a dish or piece of paper. It shouldn't spread out but also, it should be easy to use. If you see that your icing is too hard, you can add a bit of water or lemon at a time. If it's too loose, you can add more icing sugar, always through a sieve or colander.

For the royal icing (option 2)

  • Mix the sugar with the meringue powder and add a small amount of water at a time until you get a thick paste. To see if it's at a good texture, make a line or dot on a dish or piece of paper. It shouldn't spread out but also, it should be easy to use. If you see that your icing is too loose, you can add a bit of water or lemon at a time. If it's too hard, you can add more icing sugar, always through a sieve or colander.

For decorating

  • If you're not going to use the icing sugar immediately, place 2 layers of wet kitchen paper on top of it, touching the surface of the royal icing.
  • Once you're ready to use it, assess the thickness once again and adjust if needed. Remember that if you're using food colouring, these will thin out the icing.
  • Place your royal icing in a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle (it works a lot better than just cutting off the tip of a piping bag).
  • To decorate, squeeze on the piping bag slowly but at the same rate and let the string of icing drop onto the cookie. The tip of the nozzle should be around 3mm above the cookie so that you place the string of icing as it falls. I only make the nozzle come closer to the cookie whenever I'm done with a stroke or need it to stick to another line I made. You can correct and smooth out lines and textures using a toothpick. For my tree, I drew a line all around the cookies, leaving about 3mm of edge. Then, I added dots all around the outside of that line. For that, you need to let the line dry first for about 5 minutes so that the line and dots don't blend together. I don't recommend that you over decorate your cookies because you will only be able to see the tips.
  • Let the cookies dry for about 10 minutes before assembling the tree. Stick one to each other using a small dollop of royal icing. Before moving or handling the tree, let it dry for 30 minutes.
  • If you want a snowy effect, dust the tree with icing sugar.
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