David Atherton's Christmas tree cookies – festive biscuits that double up as tree decor

We are loving GBBO 2019 winner David Atherton's Christmas tree cookies recipe this year. Ideal for both eating and decorating the tree throughout the holidays

Christmas tree cookies on a bed of decorative straw
(Image credit: Photo by Valentina Dominguez on Unsplash)

Christmas goes hand in hand with festive food and baking, in particular. And there is nothing like traditional Christmas tree cookies to both decorate your spruce and enjoy with a little hot cocoa. As Christmas is one of the most wonderful, but often hectic, times of the year, when you can kill two birds with one stone in the baking world over the holidays, that's pretty good going!

This Christmas tree biscuit recipe was created by a baking champion, Great British Bake Off 2019 winner, David Atherton, and when it comes to festive baking, we would say we are on the same page...

Delicious? Yes. Decorative? Yes. There are so many joyful moments to be had around Christmastime, and these special Christmas cookies are easy to make, a doddle to decorate and one bake that you can definitely entertain the kids with too. Keep scrolling for this delicious Christmas tree cookie recipe.

Christmas tree cookies decorated with white royal icing near a spruce

(Image credit: Photo by Dilyara Garifullina on Unsplash)

Here is a bit of Christmas tree decorating and cookie making inspo straight from the baking pro himself.

"They’re great to get creative with and I encourage everyone to experiment with different shapes and decorations. Personally, I like to dress my tree in quite a classic style, so tend to use a simple white icing to contrast with the dark spicy cookies, but you can get as artistic as you like!

Makes: 30-40 cookies


For the biscuits:

  • 100g strong white bread flour
  • 160g plain flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 1 medium egg white
  • 200g icing sugar


1. Toss together the flour, spices and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl

Top tips:

"Bread flour gives the biscuits more strength which make them perfect for hanging."

"Adding a tsp of cocoa powder gives the biscuits a rich dark colour providing a strong contrast to your icing"

2. Next, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract until smooth.

3. Add the dry mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, combining well until it resembles breadcrumbs, at which point you want to add 2-3 tbsp of water to bring it to a dough. Be careful not to overwork the mixture.

4. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for one hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C (fan)/ 356 F.

5. Once the dough has rested, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface to 0.5cm thickness. Then use your favorite Christmas cookie shaped cutters to carve out your biscuits. 

6. Make a small hole using a metal straw or clean pen lid (like David) so that you can thread your ribbon through to decorate your tree. 

7. Line your baking trays with greaseproof paper and carefully place the biscuits on, before chilling for another 20 mins.

"Chilling biscuits prior to baking ensures they keep their shape and don’t spread in the oven."

8. Bake the Christmas tree biscuits for 10-12 minutes, then allow them to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

"Biscuits are still soft when coming out of the oven, but harden up as they cool."

9. Next, to get started on the royal icing. Beat the egg white and icing sugar together until smooth. Then transfer this mixture to a small piping bag.

10. Then it's time to decorate the biscuits as you wish. Simply allow the icing to dry until fully hard before you add another layer of decoration, or before threading with  ribbon and hanging on your tree.

David's recipe calls for royal icing which is made with egg white and sets rock hard, making it perfect for decorative biscuits.

"Doing fancy decoration is difficult, but doing little dots of icing always looks good."

We would say go to town with a little natural food coloring to make your Christmas cookies even more festive and there are loads of gorgeous cookie decorating kits out there too if you really want to make a day of it with the kids.

  • This recipe was courtesy of the Samsung and David Atherton partnership to celebrate its Family Hub™ fridge-freezer and Dual Cook Flex™ oven.