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Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies with Buttercream

up-close shot of Christmas tree cookies, decorated with sprinkles and green buttercream

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Bring these Christmas tree sugar cookies to your next holiday party this season! Use a piping bag and buttercream to decorate these cookies.

Ingredients

Units Scale

Cookie Ingredients

  • 12 T butter (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups + 2 T (380 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cold, large eggs, straight from the fridge

Buttercream Ingredients

  • 6 cups (750 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (170 grams) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (150 grams) heavy cream (see notes)*
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Lemon juice to cut sweetness
  • Food gels to dye your frosting

Instructions

Sugar Cookie Dough

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  2. Cream butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and sugars together in your mixing bowl for 3 minutes.
  3. Stop the mixer and add salt, baking powder, as well as your eggs and flour. Mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Dough will initially look crumbly but pull together. 
  4. Roll the dough into a ball on a clean, flat, floured surface. I like dividing half at a time and rolling it out to about ¼ inch before pressing the cookie cutters into the dough. 
  5. Use a spatula to lift and transfer dough onto ungreased aluminum baking sheets, with about 2 inches between each of them. Bake for 11-14 minutes (longer time for larger cookies, shorter for small ones).
  6. Transfer them to cooling racks after they’ve sat on the baking sheets 5 or so minutes outside of the oven and are firm enough to handle. 

Buttercream Frosting

  1. Combine unsalted butter, powdered sugar, almond and vanilla extracts, heavy cream, and salt in mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer in very short bursts to avoid confectioners’ sugar flying everywhere before you increase the mixer speed to high for about 3 minutes.
  2. Taste test. Add splash of lemon juice if too sweet.
  3. Spend 3-4 minutes dragging the spatula from the middle of your bowl to its edges to achieve nice, smooth frosting. 
  4. Divide buttercream. To keep it simple, I used two shades of green food coloring, along with red. After mixing each color, put them into separate piping bags, leaving some white in your mixing bowl for backup.

Cookie Assembly

  1. Load buttercream into piping bags, fitted with a small open round or open star tip. For my green, I used tips 14 and 21 for variety. 
  2. With the narrow end of the tip pointing outward, squeeze frosting from your piping bag onto the surface of your cookie. As you continue to apply pressure, lift the piping bag slightly, and then release the pressure to create design. Do this at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Continue piping trees in a consistent pattern, repeating steps for every cookie. Feel free to switch between piping tips for different colors and texture. 
  4. As a last step, use your red frosting in a piping bag (fitted with a small round open or star tip) to add berries or ribbons. Alternatively, you can use your favorite blend of holiday sprinkles or M&Ms for wreath decor.

Notes

Regarding the buttercream: When my kitchen is colder, I add more liquid to my bowl. The moisture helps colder, stiffer ingredients mix together more easily. If your kitchen is humid and/or warm, start with about 1/3 cup (80 grams) of heavy cream and add more from there.

Keywords: Christmas sugar cookies, cutout cookies, frosted cookies, holiday cookies, seasonal cookies, tree cookies