This Christmas cookie tree is actually spectacularly simple to assemble despite looking so stunning. It’s simply star-shaped sugar cookies stacked and glued together with royal icing. Easy peasy. Doesn’t matter whether the Christmas cookies are lavishly decorated or simply dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • Cookies–You can use your favorite roll-out cookie dough for making this cookie Christmas tree, but be sure to choose a cookie that is firm, such as sugar cookies, shortbread, or gingerbread. Avoid soft cookies as they can crumble when assembling the tree.
  • Icing–We recommend using royal icing here, as it’s easy to decorate with.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Make the cookies. Roll out your cookie dough and cut star shapes in several sizes. Bake, grouping similar sizes together, as directed by the recipe.
  2. Outline each star cookie with icing. Decorate with additional glitter or baubles, if desired.
  3. Assemble the tree. Stack the cookies on top of each other, starting with the largest size on the bottom, and turning each cookie slightly to create a helix shape. Use the icing as “glue” to stick the cookies together.


What type of cookies should I use?

This tree can be made with any firm cut-out cookie, whether a simple sugar cookie, gingerbread, chocolate, or shortbread. Avoid soft cookies as they will crumble when assembling the tree.

Can I use a different type of icing?

We love using royal icing here because it’s easy to work with, but if you prefer to be more decorative, get out your piping tools and make a batch of buttercream frosting. You can even tint it green to make it more tree-like.

How long will my Christmas cookie tree keep?

You can make the cookies for the tree up to 5 days in advance and store in an airtight container at room temperature. The assembled tree is best enjoyed the day it’s made.

Helpful Tips

  • Depending on their size, the cookie stars will have different baking times. Cook similar-sized stars together.
  • To make your cookie tree look like a frosted fir, sift confectioners’ sugar over the entire tree.
  • To add embellishment to the tree squeeze trails of multicolored royal icing (piping icing) all over the tree. Add glitter sugar and tiny shiny baubles, snowflakes, or any other exciting Christmas decorations to the trails before they set.

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A Christmas tree made of decorated cookies.

Christmas Tree of Cookies

5 / 4 votes
This Christmas tree of cookies is what your holidays have been missing. So stunning to behold. So surprisingly simple to assemble. Sugar cookies and royal icing. Done.
David Leite
Servings36 cookies
Calories66 kcal
Prep Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour


  • Your favorite roll-out cookie or shortbread dough in any flavor, whether chocolate, sugar, gingerbread, or some other snazzy incarnation–enough to make at least 36 cookies
  • 1/2 batch Basic Royal Icing
  • Optional embellishments, such as Confectioners' sugar, glitter sugar, shiny baubles and snowflakes
  • Toothpicks or slender wooden skewers, for when your outlining gets a little sloppy and needs to be erased
  • Cookie Cutters: Up to 6 different-sized 5-pointed stars
  • Pastry bag or a resealable plastic bag with the tip cut off, for piping icing


  • Roll out your cookie dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness specified in the recipe. Cut about 5 or 6 cookies in each star size—maybe a few more to allow for breakages and decorating goofs. Bake as directed. Let cool.
  • Outline each star with white piping icing. If desired, dust the cookies with silver glitter sugar and add a silver bauble to each star point using white piping icing as glue. Let dry.
  • Take a pretty plate and, starting with the largest stars, stack them on top of each other using white piping icing to “glue” each layer together and giving each additional star a quarter turn to make the helix shape. Let dry completely about halfway through so you have a stable platform on which to stack the smaller stars. It’s a good idea to make this tree close to where you’re going to eat it.


  1. Embellish–Sift confectioners’ sugar over the entire tree to make it look like a frosted fir. Or squeeze trails of multicolored royal icing (piping icing) all over the tree. Add glitter sugar and tiny shiny baubles, snowflakes, or any other exciting Christmas decorations to the trails before they set.
  2. Cookie sizes–Bake cookies of similar sizes together as larger cookies will have a longer cooking time than smaller ones.
Biscuiteers Book of Iced Cookies Cookbook

Adapted From

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Cookies

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 66 kcalCarbohydrates: 9 gProtein: 1 gFat: 3 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 2 mgSodium: 53 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 5 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Harriet Hastings | Sarah Moore. Photo © 2011 Katie Hammond. All rights reserved.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


    1. Hi Chris, any good study cookie or biscuit should be fine. I would stay away from soft cookies as they may become droopy when assembled.

  1. 5 stars
    This is gorgeous! This might very well be my son’s 1st birthday “cake” since he’s a winter baby.