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Dessert Recipes

Shortcut Gingerbread Trees and Bells

Store-bought cookie dough makes it easy to get to the real fun part: decorating!

Serving Size:


Active Time:

1 hr., 30 min

Total Time:

4 hrs.


  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 (16.5 oz.) pkg. refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 Tbs. molasses
  • 1 (1 lb.) pkg. confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tbs. meringue powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Red, green and yellow food colorings
  • Candy stars


  1. Combine flour, ginger and cinnamon; knead into cookie dough with molasses. Between 2 sheets of wax paper, roll out dough to ¼” thickness; freeze 10 min.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Remove top sheet of paper; using 5″ tree- and 3″ bell-shaped cookie cutters, cut out 15 cookies, rerolling scraps. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, placing ¾” apart. Bake until baked through, 18–20 min. Cool on pans 1 min. Transfer from pans to racks; cool.
  3. Make icing: On low speed, beat confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder and ⅓ cup warm water until glossy. Beat in. vanilla extract. If icing is too thick, beat in additional warm water 1 tsp. at a time. If icing becomes too thin, beat in additional confectioners’ sugar. (Keep icing covered when not in use.)
  4. Divide icing among 4 bowls. Leaving one bowl white, tint each remaining a different color with food coloring. Press plastic wrap directly against surface of icings until ready to use.
  5. Transfer some of each color to separate pastry bags fitted with small writing tips. Pipe outlines around cookie top edges; let dry. Spread icings over cookies within outline; decorate wet icings with line and dots of piped icing; immediately drag toothpick through icings to create patterns (see below). Attach stars to trees. Let stand until dry, 1 hr.
Decorating Christmas tree cookies with royal icing

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