This Gingerbread Christmas Tree is an easy to make, delicious, and a stunningly beautiful dessert. Made with delicious gingerbread cookies and decorated with the best buttercream, this cookie tree is a holiday favorite!
When I first saw this cookie cutter set, I thought initially I wanted to make a sugar cookie tree but I realized the dark gingerbread color with a beautiful green was what I really wanted.
Using my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe, I set out to create this beautiful display that tastes good too! This is something that I will make year after year.
What you need for a Gingerbread Christmas Tree:
- Cookie Star Cutter Kit: You can find this on Amazon and it includes piping bags, tips, and a recipe booklet (amazon affiliate link). Or one of two versions the Wilton set or a more simple version of it comes with just the cookie cutters. (Walmart Partner Link).
- Piping Bag and Piping Tip: Use a star tip and a piping bag (amazon affiliate links)
- Parchment Paper
- Rolling Pin
Cookies: Sugar, Unsalted Butter, Molasses, Buttermilk, Flour, Ginger Powder, Baking Soda, Salt
Frosting: Unsalted Butter, Powdered Sugar, Vanilla, Heavy Cream, Salt, Dark Green Food Coloring Gel, Christmas Sprinkles
How long does it take to make?
This recipe takes at least two days to make but is best if you plan for three.
Day 1: Make the dough and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2: Bake all the cookies and let cool. Once cool, decorate each cookie and allow frosting to set completely.
Day 3: Assemble and enjoy!
How to make Gingerbread Christmas Tree?
- In a mixer cream the butter and sugar.
- Then mix in the molasses and buttermilk.
- Add in the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.
- Divide the dough into three equal portions and refrigerate overnight.
- Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut the stars out.
- Bake, let cool, then decorate. Make sure to save a little frosting for the assembly day.
Can you assemble then decorate?
It is much easier to decorate each cookie then stack them. Plus, the goal is to have people eat the cookies so you want each cookie to be fully frosted.
How to assemble the Gingerbread Christmas Tree?
Add a dollop of frosting onto the stand you want to build the tree. Then place one of the 2 largest stars on top of the frosting to stick it to the plate.
Stack the stars in in descending size (larger on bottom to the smallest on top) alternating the points.
Each cookie is just sitting on top of another cookie. They aren’t attached so that it can be eaten but it does make it a little precarious because it is so tall.
How to move the tree once it’s built?
I don’t recommend moving this at its full height. I would dissemble it into 3-4 sections then restack them once you move the base.
How to decorate a Gingerbread Christmas Tree?
You can decorate the cookies however you like, using my butter cream frosting, or royal icing, or anything else you choose. Just keep in mind each cookie needs to be level since you will be stacking them.
Adding small sprinkles to the cookies is fine, but I’d avoid adding large peppermint or chocolate decorations until after you’ve assembled, then adding them on to each of the points where they will fit.
Rolling the Dough: I like to roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to help prevent sticking and then I need less flour too.
Cutting the stars: I like to start with the smaller stars first because then, if need be, you can roll the larger stars out a little thinner if you find yourself a little short on dough.
Large Stars: For larger cookie stars, if you have lots of trouble moving the stars, simply roll out the dough on parchment paper, then cut the paper around the star and carefully transfer to the baking sheet.
Topper: Save one of the smallest stars and decorate it with gold sanding sugar and place it standing up with some leftover frosting on the very top!
Gingerbread Christmas Tree
- Wilton Star Cookie Cutter Set (this comes with piping bags and piping tips) amazon affiliate link
- Piping Bag
- Piping Tips Star Tip #18
- parchment paper
- Rolling Pin
- 1 cup + 2 tbs granulated white sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened*
- 1 cup + 2 tbs molasses
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 6 cups flour
- 1 tbs ginger powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 3 cups butter at room temp
- 15 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tbs vanilla
- ¾ cup plus 3 tbs heavy cream
- Pinch of salt
- 1-1 ½ teaspoon Dark Green Food Coloring Gel*
- Extra Powdered Sugar as snow- optional
- Colored Candy or Sprinkles as Decoration
Note: This recipes is best done over 3 days so plan accordingly.
Day 1: Make the dough
- Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.1 cup + 2 tbs granulated white sugar, ¾ cup unsalted butter
- Beat in molasses and buttermilk.1 cup + 2 tbs molasses, ¾ cup buttermilk
- Add flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Stir until fully combined.6 cups flour, 1 tbs ginger powder, 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- Divide the dough into three and wrap each portion with plastic wrap, forming a disc. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
Day 2: Bake and Decorate
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness for soft cookies. * Dip your cookie cutter in flour then cut* the dough, cutting two of each sized stars and place on prepared baking sheet. I find dipping my spatula in flour helps it get under the star. *
- Work in batches since you will be cutting a total of 20 stars. Bake similar sized cookies on the same baking sheet.
- Bake 6-10 minutes for small cookies and 10-15 minutes for large cookies.
- Once baked, transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before stacking. While cookies are cooling make your frosting.
- In a stand mixer, whip your butter on medium high speed until the butter is light and fluffy.3 cups butter
- Alternate between adding the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and the heavy cream 1 tbs at a time until all is mixed in. Once mixed scoop out ~2 tsps. of white frosting and set aside (optional for decorating the star topper)15 cups powdered sugar, ¾ cup plus 3 tbs heavy cream
- Then add the vanilla, salt, and green food coloring gel. Start with 1 teaspoon of gel then add more until it is the color you want.4 tbs vanilla, Pinch of salt, 1-1 ½ teaspoon Dark Green Food Coloring Gel*
- Once cookies are cooled decorate each one by filling a piping bag with frosting and using a star piping tip to create stars and swirls. Add sprinkles after frosting each cookie before the frosting dries.Colored Candy or Sprinkles as Decoration
- To decorate the star topper, coat one of the two smallest cookies with the reserved white frosting then press into a small dish of gold sanding sugar or sprinkles.
Day 3: Assembly of the tree
- Place a dollop of frosting on the bottom of one of the largest stars, then place on plate or cake stand where it will be displayed. This will help it stay in place.
- Then stack each decorated cookie of same or one size smaller on top of each other, alternating the points. Check the tree as you build it so that you make sure it is straight.
- Once assembled you can either leave as is or lightly dust with powdered sugar, using a fine mesh sieve, to give the look of snow.Extra Powdered Sugar as snow- optional
- *Butter: To soften butter in the microwave simply heat for 15 second intervals at 30% power until soft.
- *Rolling the Dough: I like to roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to help prevent sticking and then I need less flour too.
- *Cutting the stars: I like to start with the smaller stars first because then if need be you can roll the larger stars out a little thinner if you find your self a little short on dough.
- *Large Stars: For larger cookie stars, if you have lots of trouble moving the stars, simply roll out the dough on parchment paper, then cut the paper around the star and carefully transfer to the baking sheet.
- *Color: If you don’t have food coloring gel you can use the liquid coloring but you will need 80 drops of green 12 drops of blue, and 2 drops of black to get a dark green color. Also, keep in mind the gel color will darken as it sits.