Do you love the smell of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg filling your kitchen? These spices smell amazing and make baked goods taste heavenly, as all baked goods should. That is why I use all these spices in our holiday favorite Spiced Christmas Tree Cookies.
Nothing says Christmas like decorated cutout cookies
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These cookies are very simple to make; they taste great and are super cute. They just make you want to sing carols.
Decorating cookies is fun, but over the years, I have moved away from making heavily iced cookies that I used to make in the past. I am fond of these adorable Christmas tree cookies because they have a simple design with just a red, white, and green color scheme. Sometimes, less is more.
Reasons To Love This Recipe
- This is the easiest dough to work with.
- The dough isn't sticky, so it rolls out nice and smooth; it cuts clean and is easy to transfer to your cookie sheets.
- These cookies are not overly sweet and have a wonderful flavor from all the spices.
- Get the kids involved with this recipe; they love working with cookie cutters.
- Set out a platter of these festive Christmas tree cookies during the holidays, or give them as gifts. They are always a favorite.
- Simple powdered sugar icing and food coloring are all that is needed for decorating.
- There is no need to invest in decorating supplies since you can just put your icing in a small plastic storage bag and snip a little hole on one end to make the dots.
Christmas Tree Cookies Ingredients
- Butter: It's essential to use unsalted and softened butter in this recipe. It provides the base for the cookie and adds a rich, creamy taste.
- Brown sugar: Light brown sugar is preferred as it imparts a subtle sweetness and a hint of caramel flavor that significantly enhances the overall taste.
- Eggs: Large eggs are best for baking as they offer volume and structure to the cookies.
- Vanilla: Vanilla extract adds a sweet, creamy aroma, heightening the cookies' flavor profile.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is used to structure the cookies, allowing them to maintain shape while baking.
- Spices: Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, and Nutmeg provide a warm, aromatic flavor characteristic of these cookies.
- Salt: A pinch of salt is needed to balance the sweetness and enhance the flavor of the cookies.
- For the icing: A mix of powdered sugar, corn syrup, milk, and food coloring makes the perfect icing. The powdered sugar offers sweetness, the corn syrup provides a shiny texture, the milk helps to achieve the right consistency, and food coloring allows for personal creative touches.
There are many recipes for spice cookies that use molasses, but these cookies rely on just four spices that give the cookies a light, spicy flavor. These spices are included in this Baking With Spices Guide, along with other favorites.
How To Make Christmas Tree Cookies
The recipe for these spice cookies is simple, and the dough mixes quickly.
Step 1. Add the softened butter and brown sugar in a large bowl, mixing until creamy using an electric mixer or handheld mixer.
Step 2. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed, then add the vanilla, scraping the bowl as needed.
Step 3. In a small bowl, add the dry ingredients: flour, all the spices, and salt, and mix. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and beat slowly until the flour is incorporated. If using a handheld mixer, beat a medium speed.
Step 4. Divide the dough, place it on plastic wrap, and flatten. Wrap up the dough and chill for about 30 minutes to firm up.
Step 5. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare two or three cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Step 6. On a floured surface, roll out one portion of the dough to a ⅛" thick, and using a Christmas tree cookie cutter or your favorite cookie cutter, cut out the tree shapes and place them on the cookie sheet.
Step 7. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven, let cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
Step 8. Repeat cutting out the cookies with the remaining dough, baking, and rerolling any scraps.
Step 9. While the cookies are baking, you can make the icing by mixing the powdered sugar, corn syrup, and milk in a small bowl.
Step 10. Divide the icing into three small bowls and add a few drops of the red food coloring to one bowl and the green food coloring to another, mixing thoroughly to color the icing. Add some food coloring to each bowl until you get the desired color.
Step 11. To make the dots on the cookies, place a #4 icing tip into a disposable icing bag and fill it with the icing. You can make a piping bag out of parchment paper—pipe dots on the cookies with different colors. Set aside to let the icing dry for about an hour.
Or, you can fill a plastic food bag. Snip off a small piece from one end and pipe dots onto the cookies.
Another option is to ice the cookie with a small knife and add some sprinkles for fun!
Step 12. Once the icing is dry on the cookies, you can store them in an airtight container for a week.
I own a lot of cookie cutters, and most of them are for Christmas cookies, but I use this Christmas tree cutter the most. I love the size and shape of the trees. Other cutters will be just as fun if you don't have a tree cookie cutter. You can even look around your kitchen for some fun shapes to cut out the dough; believe it or not, a cup works great.
All done and decorated with red, white, and green.
- When using cookie cutters, try to place the cutter close to the edge of the last cutout so you have less cookie dough left when done.
- After cutting out the cookies, gather all the scraps into a ball, reroll the dough, and cut out more cookies.
- The more you reroll the dough, the more you will cause the cookie dough to dry out because you add more flour to roll the dough in. This is another reason to cut the cookies out as close together as possible to reduce the leftover dough.
- If you are making quite a few cookies, using three cookie sheets is helpful since you want to avoid the cookies being too close together; you can only place a few cookies on one sheet. Also, while baking one sheet, you can cut out more cookies and have them ready to bake.
- Always let the cookie sheets cool between batches; putting cookie dough on a hot pan will cause the dough to melt and produce misshapen cookies—another reason to use several cookie sheets.
- One ingredient that I highly recommend if you like to decorate with icing is this Americolor Food Coloring Kit. The kit has eight gel paste colors, which I prefer over liquid food color, with basic colors to choose from.
- Cinnamon Star Cookies: Replace the four spices in the recipe with two tablespoons of ground cinnamon. After cutting out star shapes from the dough, dust them with additional cinnamon before baking for a more pronounced flavor.
- Gluten-Free Spice Cookies: Substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. Choose a blend that includes xanthan gum, providing the needed cookie structure.
- Vegan Spice Cookies: Replace the butter with a vegan butter substitute and the eggs with flaxseed meal (1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal mixed with 2.5 tablespoons of water equals one egg). Ensure your sugar is vegan; some brands process it with bone char.
- Fruit-Infused Spice Cookies: Add ½ cup of finely chopped dried fruit, such as cranberries or apricots, to the dough for flavor.
- Iced Gingerbread Cookies: Replace the four spices in the recipe with two tablespoons of ground ginger and one teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Before baking, brush the top of each cookie with a little bit of milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. After the cookies have cooled, decorate them with icing designs as desired.
I own many cookie cutters, most of which are for Christmas cookies, but I use this Christmas tree cutter the most. I love the size and shape of the trees. Other cutters will be just as fun if you don't have a tree cookie cutter. You can even look around your kitchen for some fun shapes to cut out the dough; believe it or not, a cup works great.
This Ann Clark cookie cutter is the perfect size and shape for those who want a Christmas tree cookie cutter.
All done and decorated with red, white, and green color.
Yes, you certainly can. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the dough for up to 3 months. Just let it thaw overnight in the fridge before rolling it out.
Absolutely! Feel free to get creative with your decorations. Sprinkles, sugar crystals, edible glitter, or even small candies can make fun and festive cookie additions.
If your Christmas trees spread too much while baking, it may be because the dough was too warm when it went into the oven. Try refrigerating the cut-out cookies on the baking sheet for 10-15 minutes before baking.
Store leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. They should stay fresh for up to a week. If you want to keep them longer, you can freeze the cookies for up to 3 months.
More Christmas cookies
- Bake these fun holiday cookies, simple but impressive Christmas Surprise Inside Cookies. A cookie with red, green, and white sprinkles and a delicious surprise filling is hard to resist. And if you love color bake these festive Christmas Pinwheel Cookies.
- This recipe is the perfect way for kids to help. These no-bake White Chocolate Covered Cookie Wafers are dipped in a fun assortment of holiday sprinkles, sugars, and candy. Making these is so much fun and great for a holiday party.
- If you love baking for Christmas, read this handy guide and How Far In Advance To Bake Christmas Cookies. There are lots of good tips in there. Learn how to freeze cookies before baking, a great holiday baking tip.
- You can bake a batch of this Christmas Biscotti early in December; it will still be good at Christmas. These cookies also make a great cookie gift to give.
More to make and eat!
The tradition of cookie baking for Christmas
- Cookie baking is a tradition in many homes at Christmas time, and these sugar cookies filled with warming spices are both deliciously sweet and spicy and perfect for your holiday table, cookie exchange, or gift-giving.
- Did you know the ritual of baking cookies for Christmas started in Medieval Europe?
- Cookie cutters started to appear in the 1400s in Italy and soon became popular with cookie makers in England and the Germans and Dutch in America.
- Gingerbread cookies are the most popular cookies at Christmas time.
- The beloved tradition of leaving cookies for Santa started during the Great Depression in the 1930s to show gratitude to others and the importance of giving.
Spiced Christmas Tree Cookies
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Making the dough
- NOTE: This dough needs to be chilled before rolling.
- In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and brown sugar until creamy. You can use either a stand mixer or a handheld mixer.
- Mix in the eggs one at a time at medium speed, then add the vanilla. Scrape the bowl and mix again to totally incorporated the ingredients.
- In a small bowl add flour, all the spices, and salt then mix together. Add this mixture to the bowl and mix on low speed until the flour is incorporated. If using a handheld mixer, beat at medium speed.
- Divide the dough and place it on plastic wrap and flatten. Wrap the dough and place it in the refrigerator for ½ hour.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. and prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat. I use three cookie sheets at a time for baking.
- Once the dough is chilled place it on a floured surface, roll out one batch of dough to ⅛" thickness, and cut with floured cookie cutters.
- Set the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for five minutes then move the cookies to a cooling rack.
- Repeat cutting out and baking the remaining dough. Rerolling the leftover dough. Make sure the cookie sheets are cooled before adding more cutouts to the pan.
Powdered Sugar Icing
- Mix the powdered sugar, corn syrup and milk in a small mixing bowl until smooth.
- Add more milk if the icing is too thick, but you want this icing thick enough to pipe and not spread on the cookie.
- Divide the icing into three bowls and tint one with red food coloring and one with green food coloring.
- Place the icing in a piping bag with a #4 tip and slowly pipe dots all around the cookie in different colors.Options - you can place the icing in plastic food bags and snip off a tip of the bag for piping.Or, you can ice the entire cookie.
- Allow the icing to dry for an hour.
- Store the cookies in an airtight container. Make sure the frosting is dry. Also this icing does not get totally hard, so be careful if stacking the cookies.
- When using a cookie-cutter try to get as close as possible to the cutouts so there is minimal dough leftover.
- With the leftover dough gather all the scraps and form into a ball then reroll the ball.
- One thing, the more you reroll the cookie dough the tougher the dough will get especially if you are adding more flour for rolling, so keep the cookie cutouts close together.
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing sweet and savory family-friendly recipes for your cooking and baking inspiration.