Surprise Santa This Year with a Plate of These Sugar Cookie Trees

Sugar Cookie Trees (Image: Weelicious)

If it is a custom in your house to leave a plate of cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, consider going the extra mile this year by baking up a batch of festive sugar cookie trees.

Now you’re probably saying to yourself that cookies in the shape of a Christmas tree are nothing new. But these are not just the usual flat cookies cut from a single tree-shaped cutter. They are little sculptures made of three different-sized cookies that achieve their height via layers of a decadent butter cream.

The recipe comes from our friend Catherine McCord, founder of the kid-friendly website Weelicious, where you’ll find other holiday baking and cooking solutions.


Sugar Cookie Trees


  • 3 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Icing:

  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp whole milk or cream
  • Dye-free food coloring
  • Sprinkles


  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl using electric beaters or in a standing mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar for 3 minutes on medium to high speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated.
  4. Turn the speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until a dough forms.
  5. Place the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, parchment paper, or wax paper and flatten into a round shaped disk.
  6. Wrap the dough disk and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least thirty minutes to overnight.
  7. Once chilled, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  8. Let dough sit for about 10 minutes or until soft enough to roll out.
  9. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until 1/4 thick and even.
  10. Use different-sized round cookie cutters to cut out circles. You’ll need a small, medium, and large circle for each tree.
  11. Using a spatula, transfer the cut-outs onto a cookie sheet.
  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes rotating halfway through until edges turn golden.
  13. Cool cookies on a rack.
  14. Meanwhile make the icing. In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter for 4-5 minutes or until thick and creamy.
  15. With the mixer continuing to beat, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated.
  16. Add in the vanilla, milk or cream, and food color until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. Add more milk or powdered sugar if needed to achieve desired consistency.
  17. Place the buttercream in a piping bag with star tip and pipe a thick layer of cream on largest cookie in a circular pattern. Top with medium-sized circle cookie and pipe another layer or cream in a circular pattern and finally top with smallest cookie. Pipe a circular pattern and end with a tip to resemble the top of a Christmas tree.
  18. Immediately add sprinkles so they will adhere.