This easy shortbread recipe is the perfect way to make quick Christmas tree cookies that you can decorate in many different ways. The dough comes together with 3 simple ingredients and then is cut out into tree shapes to be baked and dressed up for the holiday spirit or turned into an edible 3D Christmas Tree farm.
You only need three ingredients (plus decorations) for these super easy, super tasty Christmas Tree Cookies made from shortbread!
Use whatever cutter shapes you like, but we love making them into trees and standing them up 3D, for an edible Christmas tree farm.
Perfect for the day you go to choose your tree.
These tasty shortbread cookies are quick and easy to make, and they can be decorated simply or more intricately into beautiful festive Christmas trees.
This recipe makes a great treat or an edible Christmas gift.
Kids and adults will absolutely love them.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
You can involve your children to help decorate these Christmas tree cookies.
The shortbread dough is inexpensive and easy to make.
They can be made gluten-free or vegan with some simple swaps.
Great to give as a gift during the holidays.
The dough can be made ahead of time and frozen.
They look like they came from a bakeshop.
They're thick enough to stand up 3D so you can make your own edible Christmas tree farm. Perfect sprinkled with a little powdered sugar 'snow'.
Ingredients & Tools
Butter: This will need to be at room temperature in order to get the correct texture for your shortbread. Use dairy free butter for vegan shortbread.
Caster Sugar: This sweetens the dough while keeping a crunchy shortbread.
All-Purpose Flour: (aka plain flour) This is the base of the cookie and will bind the ingredients together. Swap 1:1 with gluten-free plain flour if required.
Powdered Sugar: Save some on the side to make a “snowy” appearance.
Vanilla Extract: Gives a hint of vanilla flavor to the icing.
Water: Helps thin out the icing to the correct consistency.
Green Food Coloring: Helps give these Christmas tree cookies a classic pine green color.
Alternatively, you can decorate them with tubes of store-bought writing icing.
Step By Step Tutorial
Follow this step by step photo tutorial, then scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and method.
Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and beat until smooth.
Gently stir in the flour until combined to a smooth paste.
Lightly dust the work surface with flour, then tip the dough onto it and roll out to ½ inch / 1 cm thick.
Cut into tree shapes with a cookie cutter.
Place the tree shortbread shapes onto a cookie sheet and place it into the fridge for 20 minutes to chill.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the shortbread turns lightly golden. Allow to cool in the tray for 2 minutes, then transfer the shortbread cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate the trees with green icing to look like trees. If you want the trees to stand up 3D, you’ll need to trim the ends with a sharp knife to get an even surface.
To make the green icing, mix the icing ingredients to create a fairly thick, pipable icing. If necessary to get the right consistency, add a little more water or powdered sugar.
Add to a piping bag with a small nib and decorate the completely cooled cookies as desired.
Try sifting on a little icing sugar for festive ‘snow’.
Dough must be chilled for at least 20 minutes in the fridge to prevent from spreading when baked.
If you don’t have a Christmas tree cookie cutter, simply cut the dough into triangles.
Don’t roll your dough too thin as the cookies may burn. It’s important to keep them ½ inch thick.
To get the trees to stand up as a nice display, cut the ends to make a surface that the cookies are able to stand on evenly.
Cookies must be cooled completely before decorating as icing may melt.
Make them along with these Vegan Snowball Cookies.
Serve with a slice of this Black Forest Cake.
You’ll love dunking them in this Vegan Hot Chocolate.
Put the tree cookies on your Christmas brunch table with these Fluffy Gingerbread Pancakes.
Serve your Christmas tree biscuits by the fire with a glass of Vegan Egg Nog.
Add 2 tbsp cocoa powder to the dough for a Christmas tree cookie with a light cocoa flavor.
Fold in some dried cranberries and orange zest to the dough for a fresh holiday taste.
Crush up some candy canes to sprinkle on top of the decorated cookie.
Add chopped nuts, such as pecans to the dough.
Grate in a little lemon zest for lemon shortbread.
Half your icing so you can make both red and green icing with red food coloring as well.
Add a drop of peppermint extract to the icing for a hint of festive mint flavor.
Add sprinkles and turn them into decorated Christmas trees.
To Make Gluten-Free: Swap the all-purpose flour for a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend that contains xanthan gum.
To Make It Vegan: To make these cookies vegan, replace butter with vegan butter in this recipe.
Storing: These cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container on the counter or in your pantry for up to 4 weeks.
Freezing: Shortbread dough can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to 2 months. You can also freeze baked cookies (once cooled) in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months.
What’s the difference between a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie? Sugar cookies are sweeter than shortbread cookies and have a lighter, crisper texture. Shortbread cookies contain a higher ratio of butter making them more of a biscuit texture.
Why is it called “Shortbread”? Shortbread refers to the fat content in the cookie as traditionally fats are called shortening in baking. They produce a “short” crumbly texture that is unlike a soft and chewy cookie such as a sugar cookie.
Why do you put shortbread dough in the fridge before baking? Since shortbread contains a high amount of butter, if they are baked immediately the butter may melt faster causing the cookies to spread. Chilling them helps keep their shape and texture properly.
You’ll Also Love These Christmas Cookie Recipes
Icelandic Christmas Cookies
Italian Pignoli Cookies
Linzer Cookies (Jammy Dodgers)
Icelandic Pepper Cookies
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
Bethmännchen (German marzipan Christmas cookies)
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Easy Christmas Tree Cookies
- ½ cup (125g) butter or vegan butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
- 1 ½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour (plain flour)
For the icing
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted (some reserved to make ‘snow’)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons water
- A few drops of green food coloring
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and beat until smooth.
- Gently stir in the flour until combined to a smooth paste.
- Lightly dust the work surface with flour, then tip the dough onto it and roll out to ½ inch / 1 cm thick. Cut into tree shapes with a cookie cutter.
- Place the tree shortbread shapes onto a cookie sheet and place it into the fridge for 20 minutes to chill.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the shortbread turns lightly golden. Allow to cool in the tray for 2 minutes, then transfer the shortbread cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate the trees with green icing to look like trees. If you want the trees to stand up 3D, you’ll need to trim the ends with a sharp knife to get an even surface.
- To make the green icing, mix the icing ingredients to create a fairly thick, pipable icing. If necessary to get the right consistency, add a little more water or powdered sugar. Add to a piping bag with a small nib and decorate the completely cooled cookies as desired.
- Try sifting on a little icing sugar for festive ‘snow’.