Frosty Christmas Trees

My long-time favorite cut-out cookie, with an easy-to-handle dough and lovely gingerbread flavor - with just a touch of chocolate.

Plus, how to host a cookie exchange, a favorite tradition at Christmas.

Frosty Christmas Trees | easy to handle, pretty to decorate, gingerbread spices with a touch of chocolate | Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2 | Kitchen Parade

"Totally delicious!" ~ momof3
"This is by far [my] most requested recipe ..." ~ Brooklyn Chick

It’s a family tradition: the annual cookie exchange. My mother hosted one for many years. Afterward we would all swarm into the kitchen to sample the goodies. Her friends were good bakers and those cookies didn’t last long!

I started hosting my own cookie exchange some years ago. Now my friends count on this annual event to simplify their holiday entertaining and as a source of homemade food gifts for family and neighbors.

Think of a cookie exchange as “instant baking”. The premise is simple: each person bakes many of one kind of cookie, then swaps these for many different kinds made by someone else! Here’s how we do it.

Invite a dozen or so friends to bake twelve dozen cookies. This number may seem daunting (if so, try six or eight dozen) but usually requires only a couple of batches, especially if you encourage small cookies ideal for cookie trays. We also encourage each other to bake things that are 'delicious and festive' rather than 'delicious but every-day'.

Whether or not there’s a cookie exchange on your calendar this year, your family will love the delicate ginger-chocolate flavor of Frosty Christmas Trees.

They make a colorful addition to a cookie plate and are a favorite of grandparents and grandchildren alike.

This time of year, I make Christmas tree cut-outs with white icing and green sugar – very pretty. The base cookie is so good, however, that the same recipe can be used for other holidays. A few weeks back, this same recipe turned out blaze-orange pumpkins. (These cookies are too good to be used just at Christmas, see Cut-Out Spice Cookies!)

Many cut-out cookie doughs are just too fussy. But after chilling overnight, this dough rolls out very easily – so easily, in fact, that children can handle it with just a little help.

And of course, kids love to get in on the decorating process! If so, you might make extra icing in different colors. Place each color in a small zip-lock bag with a corner snipped. Have plenty of colored sugars, sprinkles and sparkles on hand.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!


Mix: 15 minutes
Chill: Overnight
Bake: 1 hour
Makes 7 dozen small cookies
  • 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons water

COOKIES Cream butter, sugar, egg and molasses in a large mixing bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Separately, combine remaining dough ingredients, then mix until well blended. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Heat oven to 350F/175C. Cut dough into three pieces, working with one at a time. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with floured cookie cutter in shape of Christmas tree and transfer to cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining two pieces. Gather together scraps; roll and cut in similar fashion.

Bake 8 minutes until edges are lightly brown. Let cool completely.

ICING Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and water in a medium bowl and stir until smooth. Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until icing is spoonable and flows easily from a spoon. Makes 1 cup. Will be fairly runny but will harden.

Apply a light coating of icing to each cookie, then sprinkle with green-colored sugar.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per small cookie, plain/iced: 55/72 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 8/12g Carb; 0g Fiber; 16mg Sodium; 6mg Cholesterol; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1/1, WW PointsPlus 1/2

ALANNA's TIPS These cookies really keep! They stay fresh-tasting for a couple of weeks. Even the icing stays attractive. After a few days, the color might bleed a little but the cookies themselves stay crisp and fresh. People really like these cookies, they have the flavor of gingerbread cookies, or spice cookies, but the pretty appearance of cut-out sugar cookies. Some times I use lemon or peppermint extract in the icing. It should taste like something more than sugar! Look for lots of baking tips here, Holiday Baking Tips from a Certifiable Cookie-Baking Fiend

More Cookie Recipes Perfect for Cookie Swaps

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies Cranberry-Mac Morsels (Macadamia Nut-Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries & Fresh Nutmeg) Colored Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Menu Ideas for a Holiday Brunch

In the many years I've hosted a cookie swap, my friends and I have come to prefer a Saturday morning brunch, a relaxing start to the holiday week. We start off with champagne cocktails made "morning appropriate" with cranberry juice and just a splash of orange liqueur. Some of us are vegetarians so I often serve a mostly made-ahead tomato basil quiche and a winter fruit salad. Check out more of my favorite recipes for breakfast and brunch.
Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous12/17/2007

    Totally delicious! I was really impressed...the flavor really is delicate (I left out cloves, due to personal preference). It was really easy to work with, and even my three and five year old managed to roll out a few cookies. With my cookie cutters, the recipe made about 3 1/2 dozen. Since the cookies were a little on the thick side, 9 minutes and they were perfect. We endsed up making both gingerbread men and trees, and they really got me in the Christmas spirit. Thanks!

  2. Mom of 3 ~ Terrific, it really is an easy dough to handle. I haven't made this yet this year but it's on the list for the week. Thanks so much for taking a minute to let me know that it worked well for you!

  3. I cut this recipe out of a December 1980 issue of either Family Circle, McCall's or Women's Day...and I've made it every year since along with 12-14 other types of cookies which we pack up in tins and give away. This is by far the most requested recipe and I live in fear that my yellowed and tattered 3x7 piece of paper will be lost. Can't tell you how happy I am to be able to e-mail this link to everyone.

    BTW, the original article was written during an economic downturn and the tag was inexpensive treats to give away as gifts. They estimated that 3 dozen cookies would cost $3.63.

  4. Arlene2/24/2020

    Just a note to let you know that I enjoy your Seasonal Sundays. Love the stories & great recipes. [Over Christmas] I made your No Roll Christmas sugar cookies And Frosty Trees. Needless to say they disappeared quick and got rave reviews! Nothing like homemade cookies!

    1. Arlene ~ Oh very cool, thanks for letting me know! I’ve been making these for-ever.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna