Christmas Tree Cupcakes

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These Christmas tree cupcakes brim with seasonal magic. It’s a December tradition to assemble these elegant treats that look like evergreen trees. These Christmas desserts ring in the holidays with festive joy and cheer!

📌 PIN CHRISTMAS TREE CUPCAKES

Christmas tree cupcakes on a holiday dessert table with milk.

Looking for a fun family project to do together over winter break? This is it! Christmas tree cupcakes. They’re just as festive as gingerbread houses, but much more snackable because they’re super tasty chocolate cupcakes.

As a family tradition, sing the song Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree once the treats have been assembled and before they’ve been eaten!

If you make a double batch, you can save some to serve at a holiday party. They’ll steal the show! These hand-held desserts are also known as “O Tannenbaum cupcakes”. They’re adored by both children and adults.

At first glance, these Christmas tree cupcakes look super intricate. But I’m sharing the secret. The trees are upside down sugar cones with piped on stars of green-colored frosting for leaves, and sprinkles of powdered sugar to mimic snow. They do take some work, but are super simple to assemble.

Three ice cream cone Christmas Tree Cupcakes on a holiday dessert table with milk.

🛒 INGREDIENTS

For these sugar cone Christmas trees, we make chocolate cupcakes for the base (the “earth” beneath the Christmas trees). Then we assemble buttercream frosting to make the combination of branches and leaves.

Here’s what you’ll need to make Christmas tree cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Whole milk
  • Vegetable oil
  • Large eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Unsweetened baking cocoa
  • Baking powder
  • Sea salt
  • Ground cinnamon
Ingredients for Christmas tree cupcakes recipe.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • Salted butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Green food coloring (like Wilton gel food coloring)
  • Small sugar cones (pointed brown cones used for ice cream)*

👉🏻 ABOUT SUGAR CONES: Use mini sugar cones, about 2 1/2 inches tall. They’re often called waffle cones. If using full size cones, 4 1/2 inches tall, you’ll need to double the frosting recipe. Select cones without deep ridges. The type with deep ridges make piping frosting more difficult.

Ingredients for buttercream frosting plus sugar cones for Christmas tree cone cupcakes.

🥣 easy ingredient substitutions

Missing an ingredient for these Christmas tree cupcakes? Don’t put on your shoes and head to the market. Instead, head to your fridge or pantry. Check for these easy ingredient swaps.

It’s convenient and money-saving to use ingredients you already have on hand! Especially during stay-at-home times.

  • Whole Milk: Sub with 2% low-fat milk. You can also use half and half that’s been lightly diluted with water. If you have heavy cream on hand, use 60% cream to 40% water. Or use dairy-free vanilla milk.
  • Vegetable Oil: The best substitute is canola oil. Other swaps include a 1:1 substitution: melted butter or melted coconut oil.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: Use maple syrup, bourbon, brandy or amber rum.
  • Granulated Sugar: Use light brown sugar instead.
  • All-purpose Flour: The best 1:1 substitutes for this ingredient include cake flour and pastry flour.
  • Unsweetened Baking Cocoa: Use Dutch process cocoa instead.
  • Ground Cinnamon: If you don’t have this on hand, just leave it out!
  • Salted Butter: For the buttercream frosting, use unsalted butter with a pinch of salt. Other good subs are margarine and butter-flavor shortening.
  • Powdered Sugar: Make your own powdered sugar from granulated sugar. Process sugar in a blender or food processor until fine and fluffy. One cup granulated sugar yields about 2 cups powdered sugar.
A Christmas Tree Cupcake being lifted off a wooden serving stand.

📖 recipe steps

Chocolate Cupcakes

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.

  • STEP 1: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add granulated sugar. Whisk well to combine.
  • STEP 2: Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon to the bowl. Whisk just until no large lumps remain. Don’t over-mix.
  • STEP 3: With a metal scoop, portion out the batter. Evenly divide it between the 12 wells of the cupcake pan. Each well should be 3/4 full.
  • STEP 4: Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of 3 cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

RECIPE TIP: Allow cupcakes to cool 1 hour before decorating. Although they will feel cool to the touch much earlier, there’s still heat in the center that will rise up to escape. If sugar cones are put on top of the cupcakes too soon, the icing will become warm, limp and droopy.

How to make sugar cone Christmas tree cupcakes in 4 easy steps.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

RECIPE PREP: Fit a piping bag with a small star tip.

  • STEP 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the softened butter until light and fluffy.
  • STEP 2: Drape a lint-free cloth over the mixer to protect your countertop from puffs of sugar. With the speed on low, slowly add powdered sugar to the bowl. After sugar is fully incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla extract.
  • STEP 3: Increase the speed to medium. Beat 2 minutes or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy. Add green food coloring to the frosting (I started with 3/4 teaspoon Wilton green gel food color) and mix well. Add additional coloring as needed, until the frosting reaches the desired shade of green.
  • STEP 4: Transfer 3/4 of the frosting to the prepared piping bag with tip. Reserve remaining frosting for spreading.
Vanilla buttercream frosting colored with green food gel in a metal mixing bowl.

🎄ASSEMBLE CHRISTMAS TREE CUPCAKES

  • STEP 1: Work with one sugar cone at a time. With a mini off-set spatular or butter knife, spread a very thin layer of reserved frosting over one of the sugar cones. Place the cone, pointed side up, on a chocolate cupcake.
Three sugar cones with thin layers of frosting on top of 3 chocolate cupcakes.
  • STEP 2: Starting at the base, pipe short bursts of frosting onto the cone. Continue piping around the whole cone and all the way up until all surfaces are covered. Dust the trees with powdered sugar. Repeat process with remaining sugar cones and cupcakes.
Three partially decorated Christmas tree cupcakes on a metal rack.

RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly asked questions when making the best Christmas Tree Cupcakes, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

WHAT DECORATING TIP FOR CHRISTMAS TREE CUPCAKES?

For piping star-shaped branches with leaves on the Christmas trees, a #30 metal tip, or an open star #16, will deliver stunning results. If desired, use a leaf tip for a varied look.

HOW TO MINIMIZE THE MESS DURING DECORATING?

Decorate Christmas tree cupcakes on a mini baking tray or a small rimmed platter. If decorating is a family affair, cover the table with a disposable tablecloth (or one with a wipe-down surface). Provide each person with a rimmed tray or plate as an enclosed decorating area.

HOW TO MAKE CHRISTMAS TREE CUPCAKES MORE FESTIVE?

Apply an even layer of white buttercream frosting to the top of the cupcakes. Sprinkle it lightly with powdered sugar to mimic a fresh layer of snow on the ground. Decorate trees with edible silver, pearl, or multi-color ornaments (Christmas candy sprinkles, non-pareils).

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE FASTER?

Use a store-bought cake mix for the chocolate cupcakes. For the buttercream, use two 16-ounce containers of creamy white frosting or vanilla frosting. If the icing is too thin, thicken it up with powdered sugar. Mix in a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

WHAT ARE O TANNENBAUM CUPCAKES?

They’re the same as Christmas tree cupcakes. “O Tannenbaum” is a German phrase from a folk song that translates to “O Christmas Tree” in English. By the middle of the 19th century the words “O Tannenbaum” became akin with the traditional Christmas tree.

HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER CUPCAKES?

Store undecorated (completely cooled) cupcakes in an airtight container with snap-down lid. Stored at a cool room temperature away from sun and heat, they’ll stay fresh on the countertop up to 2 days. For longer storage, refrigerate up to 3 days.

A sugar-cone Christmas tree cupcake with the cupcake wrapper pulled down, ready to eat.

🧁 MORE CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES

If you enjoyed these Christmas tree cupcakes, you’ll love these special treats. Each cupcake recipe is easy to make and a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Print your favorites for later. Pin them to Pinterest.

RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Family and friends who’ve enjoyed these chocolate cupcakes adorned with decorated sugar cones say these are the BEST Christmas tree cupcakes!

If you agree this dessert is delicious and super special, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with a friend.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com
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Christmas tree cupcakes on a holiday dessert table with milk.

CHRISTMAS TREE CUPCAKES


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Description

Christmas tree cupcakes are a December family tradition. Chocolate cupcakes are adorned with sugar cones featuring piped-on frosting. Decorate these elegant desserts with family and friends.


Ingredients

Units Scale

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) salted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Wilton green gel food coloring
  • 12 small sugar cones (pointed brown cones used for ice cream)*

*ABOUT SUGAR CONES: Use mini sugar cones, about 2 1/2 inches tall. They’re often called waffle cones. If using full size cones, 4 1/2 inches tall, you’ll need to double the frosting recipe. Select cones without deep ridges. The type with deep ridges make piping frosting more difficult.


Instructions

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add granulated sugar. Whisk well to combine.
  2. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon to the bowl. Whisk just until no large lumps remain. Don’t over-mix.
  3. With a metal scoop, portion out the batter. Divide it between the 12 wells of the cupcake pan. Each well should be 3/4 full.
  4. Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of 3 cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely (about 1 hour) on a wire rack.

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

RECIPE PREP: Fit a piping bag with a small star tip.

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat softened butter until light and fluffy. 
  2. Drape a lint-free cloth over the mixer to protect your countertop from puffs of sugar. With the speed on low, slowly add powdered sugar to the bowl. After sugar is fully incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla extract. 
  3. Increase the speed to medium. Beat 2 minutes or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy. Add green food coloring to the frosting (I started with 3/4 teaspoon Wilton green gel food color) and mix well. Add additional coloring as needed, until the frosting reaches the desired shade of green.
  4. Transfer 3/4 of the frosting to the prepared piping bag with tip. Reserve remaining frosting for spreading.

ASSEMBLE CHRISTMAS TREE CUPCAKES

  1. Work with one sugar cone at a time. With a mini off-set spatular or butter knife, spread a very thin layer of reserved frosting over one of the sugar cones. Place the cone, pointed side up, on a chocolate cupcake.
  2. Starting at the base, pipe short bursts of frosting onto the cone. Continue piping around the whole cone and all the way up until all surfaces are covered. Dust the trees with powdered sugar. Repeat process with remaining sugar cones and cupcakes.

Notes

Recipe Tip: Allow cupcakes to cool 1 hour before decorating. Although they will feel cool to the touch much earlier, there’s still heat in the center that will rise up to escape. If sugar cones are put on top of the cupcakes too soon, the icing will become warm, limp and droopy.

How to store leftover cupcakes: Store undecorated (completely cooled) cupcakes in an airtight container with snap-down lid. Stored at a cool room temperature away from sun and heat, they’ll stay fresh on the countertop up to 2 days. For longer storage, refrigerate up to 3 days. 

  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Christmas Tree Cupcakes, Ice Cream Cone Christmas Tree, Sugar Cone Christmas Trees

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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5 Comments

  1. Our Christmas Tree cupcakes turned out so cute! Just like here on your blog. What a creative idea to use ice cream cones to help structure the tree on the cupcake. My kids and I can’t wait to make these again next year! It’ll be a new family tradition.