These Christmas tree cookies have a spiced sugar cookie base and are topped with a fluffy ginger cream cheese frosting. They're easy to decorate but look phenomenal on a cookie tray!
As seen on my appearance in The Food Network Christmas Cookie Challenge!
- Creating This Recipe for Christmas Tree Cookies
- Special Ingredients in This Recipe
- How to Make Christmas Tree Cookies
- Other Frosting Options
- Christmas Tree Cookie Decorating Ideas
- Tips for Making Christmas Tree Cookies
- More Easy Christmas Cookie Decorating Ideas:
- Almond Ginger Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Creating This Recipe for Christmas Tree Cookies
There is nothing better than warming up with these flavorful cookies. Except, serving them to Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman!) on The Food Network!
That's right, I served a variation of this recipe for Christmas tree cookies to The Pioneer Woman herself when I competed on a TV show challenge for The Food Network!
I was asked to join the competition a few years ago (reruns still run every year!!). There were three rounds of interviews and I even had to cook for the producers before I was brought onto the show as a contestant.
I was one of five contestants and we didn't know what our challenges would be, nor did we know who the judges would be until we walked onto the set. Turns out one of the judges was my friend Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman! (Read more here).
Deciding Which Cookie to Make for the Show
I love decorating sugar cookies for Christmas. I typically make thick, fluffy sugar cookies, using sour cream to get the loftiness. They are delicious sugar cookies for cutouts.
I know my sour cream sugar cookies taste amazing, but most people on competition shows make crispy cookies. However, I knew I wanted to bring these Lofthouse-style cookies to the show. But I needed to make them REALLY TASTY.
I knew this would be a delicious cookie for the judges to eat in this competition, and I wanted to spruce it up a bit. Turns out The Pioneer Woman LOVED the taste of these cookies.
Tip: I used piping tips to pipe different colors of frosting onto Christmas tree cookies. Using start tips is easy and you can experiment. See more info on the specifics in the post below!
Special Ingredients in This Recipe
The Food Network competition called for using an ingredient often found in fruitcakes. There was a long list including dried fruits and nuts. I quickly chose sliced almonds.
I knew they would be tasty in cookies, and I hoped they would break up enough to cut with a cookie cutter when mixed into the dough. They did!
I added the sliced almonds to the cookies and both fresh and ground ginger to the frosting and cookie dough. It really helped the ginger flavor shine, and the crunch from the almonds takes this cookie to the next level.
Besides the special ingredients I just shared, this is a fairly classic sour cream sugar cookie recipe. For decorating, I made my go-to cream cheese frosting for sugar cookies.
How to Make Christmas Tree Cookies
Making the Christmas tree sugar cookies and Christmas cookie frosting is incredibly easy, and it's a fun recipe to make with family and friends!
- Whisk together the flour, salt, ground ginger and baking powder; set aside.
- In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in grated ginger.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream.
- To the wet ingredients, slowly add the flour mixture, followed by toasted almonds.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- Roll the dough to ⅜ of an inch thickness. Using 3-to-4-inch tree cookie cutters, cut shapes.
- Bake cookies until done, then decorate as desired.
Other Frosting Options
I usually pair Fluffy Vanilla Frosting with my thick and fluffy sugar cookies.
However, I was adding almonds and ginger to these Christmas tree sugar cookies, so I wanted an indulgent frosting — spiced cream cheese frosting, here I come!
In addition to using this cream cheese frosting for the sugar cookies, you could also try one of my other frosting options:
All of these homemade frosting recipes give cookies different personalities and flavor profiles. Depending on how you want to decorate your Christmas sugar cookies, you can choose different icings and frostings.
Christmas Tree Cookie Decorating Ideas
The best frosted sugar cookie recipe in the world needs gorgeous decorating! I colored my cream cheese frosting different shades of green.
It was really fun to tap into my inner artist and mix different shades of frosting. I made the same palette here as I did in the competition.
A play on blue spruce colors. Greens with hints of blue make these trees look festive, wintery, and still gorgeous and appetizing. Just use gel paste food coloring to tint the frosting.
Piping Techniques for Decorating Sugar Cookies
I played around with different piping tips for these almond ginger cookies. Thanks to my friends Colette and Ayelet for decorating with me! It was so fun to get creative.
- We used tips like star numbers #16, #19, #20, and #35.
- Other fun tips were the ribbon tip #47, also known as the basket weave tip.
- You can also try leaf and petal tips like numbers #69, #79, #102 , #103, #199 and #352.
We had such a great variety of Christmas trees — you know that no two trees are ever alike! Two of my favorite tips to use were #35 closed star tip and #352 leaf tip, both gave a really artistic look to the cookies.
Any tip you want to use will work perfectly for these Christmas tree cookies. Don't worry too much about your piping skills, you can always cover up mistakes by hiding them under sprinkles!
Using Sprinkles to Decorate Sugar Cookies
Speaking of sprinkles, I used all kinds, plus sugars and dragees. Don't you love those metallic dragees they have in blues and greens?
I used sanding sugar and non-parielles, little candy balls, and chocolate candies with colored coating. No one ever hates a little glitz and glam on their cookies!
Tips for Making Christmas Tree Cookies
- Don't forget to tap into your inner child when decorating these almond ginger cookies. Have fun by using multicolored frosting and a variety of sprinkles and dragees!
- Those crunchy almonds add great texture to these cookies, and get softer as the cookies sit for a day or two. They don't mess up the cookie cutter shapes either. Feel free to leave them out if you want.
- For the TV show, I used all the different shapes of holiday cutters. Here I recreated it with my collection of Christmas tree cookie cutters. I love the different shapes and sizes. Find your own tree cutters here.
More Easy Christmas Cookie Decorating Ideas:
I have lots of easy Christmas cookie recipes on my blog already, but here are some of my favorites:
- Santa's Face Sugar Cookies
- Peanut Butter Rudolph Reindeer Cookies
- Chocolate Snowman Cookies
- Honey Cinnamon Cut Out Cookies
Almond Ginger Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Almond Ginger Cookies
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- ⅔ cup sliced almonds toasted
Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter softened
- 1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 5 cups confectioners' sugar
- Gel paste food coloring
- Sanding and Crystal sugar
- Whisk together the flour, salt, ground ginger and baking powder; set aside.
- In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in grated ginger, continue to mix for 30 seconds.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Continue to add vanilla extract and sour cream. Slowly add the flour mixture, followed by toasted almonds, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl until dough is formed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- Heat oven to 400ºF and line baking sheets with parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to ⅜ of an inch thickness. Using 3-to-4-inch cookie cutters, cut shapes. Transfer to baking sheets and bake until cookies are just done, 8 to 10 min. Cool on pans. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling scraps once.
- While cookies are cooling, in an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add grated ginger and pinch of salt, until just combined. Slowly add confectioners' sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl. Continue to mix until fluffy.
- Divide frosting and tint with gel food coloring to desired colors. Fill pastry bags fitted with tips and decorate cookies as desired. Use sprinkles and sugars to decorate. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Makes about 3 dozen 3-inch cookies
- Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting makes about 4 cups of frosting
Festive Christmas Recipes
About Tara Teaspoon
I’ve been in the food publishing business for over 20 years, creating recipes & food-styling for magazines, books, television & advertising. Order my new cookbook & stick around for amazing things to eat.
Recipe and images Tara Teaspoon
Mary Bench says
Prettiest I've ever seen!
Brittany Smart says
i'm obsessed with almond & i'm obsessed with ginger, so I'm definitely a big fan of this recipe!! Also these trees are perfect and gorgeous, almost don't want to eat them!
Jesse Yuen says
I think there is an error in the recipe. the ingredients say baking powder but the instructions say baking soda. I'm assuming its baking soda vs powder.
I am curious which to use as well. Soda or powder? I used powder from the ingredient list. Not sure ? if I am fully happy they turned out. I will see how they are after Icing
These cookies are gorgeous! I hope mine turn out as nice. Thanks for the great recipe!
Tara Teaspoon says
Julie, you are going to love these cookies and I'm sure yours will turn out beautifully. Happy Holidays - Tara
Also noticed the baking soda/baking powder mix up so I split it and used both. Cookies definitely really puffy, and did not hold their shape well at all. Also This only ended up making 1.5 dozen. Cookies taste pretty bland tbh, I'm hoping once icing goes on it'll be better.
Thanks for letting me know baking soda was noted in the method. The cookie calls for baking powder and that is the correct leavening. As I mention in the post these cookies are soft and a fluffier sugar cookie, especially because of the sour cream. These cookies are not the crisper sugar cookies that hold their exact shape. For that type of cookie, try my Santa Face Sugar Cookies. Yes, certainly any frosted cookie will taste best, and complete with the frosting on top. I hope you found the end result tasty and will make them with the correct ingredients again! Thanks!
The kids and I will be making these this weekend, can't wait!
Can't wait to see them! Tag @tarateaspoon if you share on social!
Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert says
These Christmas tree sugar cookies would disappear in our house!
They do at mine!!
Toni Dash says
This is so amazing! A must-have for our holiday baking! Thanks for the recipe!
These Christmas tree cookies are too cute! I must make them with my kid!
Almond ginger cookies sound amazing! These are so perfect!
Patricia @ Grab a Plate says
These are lovely! And I especially love the flavor - a really nice addition. These will be the hit of the cookie platter 🙂
Sandra McCollum says
This recipe is so perfect!! A must-make for the holidays!
Megan Palmer says
These cookies are adorable!
Trisha MacKenzie says
I always bite off more than I can chew . . . and I thought I had done it again, but I made these with my granddaughters, and they honestly turned out just like Tara's. Easy to follow directions, incredibly tasty cookie AND frosting! These are my new favorite Christmas cookie. If I can make these, YOU can make these!!!
Tara Teaspoon says
What a great memory with your granddaughters. Thrilled to have been a small part of your day. Tara