Christmas Tree Cupcakes

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If you’re looking for a dessert that is absolutely delicious but also looks great on the holiday dinner table, these Christmas tree cupcakes are it! Moist vanilla cupcakes topped with homemade buttercream frosting that almost look too good to eat!

If you couldn’t already tell, making festive desserts is one of my favorite things to do around Christmastime. A few more fun and festive desserts to try this holiday season are these Christmas tree sugar cookies, cornflake wreaths, and Grinch cookies!

Hero image of Christmas tree cupcakes on a white marble serving board. There are ornaments and a garland surrounding the cupcakes.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

If you’re ever unsure of what dessert to make, cupcakes are always a good choice. They’re easy, bite-sized, and always a hit with everyone. If you’re looking to take your Christmas dessert game to the next level, try out these Christmas tree cupcakes for your next get-together! Not only are they moist and delicious with the BEST buttercream frosting, but they’ll add a little extra holiday cheer to the meal!

The cupcakes themselves are vanilla-flavored, but don’t be fooled! There’s nothing simple about them! (Vanilla is so underrated!) These cupcakes are moist, rich, and buttery soft! I always like to pair my vanilla cupcakes with some buttercream frosting, but you can always go for cream cheese frosting if you want more tang! Either way, these Christmas Tree cupcakes are going to be a hit. And if you’re looking for more festive recipes to complete your meal, try this Santa veggie tray or Christmas tree charcuterie!

Ingredients You’ll Need

With grocery stores being so busy this time of year, I gravitate towards recipes with ingredients I already have at home. You may need to make a run for the holiday sprinkles, but everything else is probably in your pantry right now! Check out the recipe card below for exact measurements.

Cupcakes

  • Cake Flour: I like to use cake flour for cupcakes because it has a fine, light texture. If you don’t have any on hand, all-purpose flour works as well! It will just give your Christmas tree cupcakes a slightly different crumb.
  • Granulated Sugar: Regular white sugar works great to sweeten up the cupcakes.
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Both are a must-add to make sure your cupcakes rise in the oven!
  • Salt: Boosts the overall flavor of the cupcakes.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk is the key ingredient to moist, soft cupcakes. If you don’t have any on hand, you can easily make some with milk and vinegar using my recipe here!
  • Milk: I recommend using whole milk because the higher fat content will make your cake more moist.
  • Vanilla Extract: Since vanilla is the main flavor here, use pure vanilla extract if you have it!
  • Vegetable Oil: Makes your cupcakes nice and moist.
  • Egg Whites: Help to make your batter light and fluffy and bind all of the ingredients together when baked.

Buttercream Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter: This acts as the base of the frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar adds the best sweetness! It also gives the buttercream frosting a smooth texture.
  • Milk: To adjust thickness.
  • Vanilla: Adds flavor to the frosting.
  • Salt: You only need a pinch to give the frosting a little extra flavor.
  • Green Gel Food Coloring: For that classic Christmas tree color!
  • Sprinkles and Toppings: This is the fun part! Feel free to decorate your Christmas trees with whatever sprinkles, toppings, and decorations you’d like!

How to Make Christmas Tree Cupcakes

These festive cupcakes are so simple to make but will impress everyone at your holiday party. They’re so cute! It only takes a few simple steps to whip them up. Let’s get started!

  1. Preheat Oven, Prepare Pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add Wet Ingredients: Add the buttermilk, milk, vanilla, and oil to the dry ingredients and whisk until fully combined. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until you get medium-stiff peaks, and then gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  4. Add to Muffin Tin: Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill the liners only halfway full, or the cupcakes will puff over the top of the muffin tin.
  5. Bake: Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
4-photo collage of cake batter being mixed together.

How to Make the Buttercream Frosting

  1. Combine Ingredients: Add the butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, salt, and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir on low to incorporate and increase the speed slowly as the butter absorbs the powdered sugar.
  2. Add Food Coloring: Beat on high speed until the frosting is white and fluffy, about 10-15 minutes. Add your green food coloring until it has reached your desired color.
  3. Frost Cupcakes: Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a fluted piping tip. Pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes to resemble a tree. Add sprinkles and other toppings to decorate your cupcake trees for Christmas!
Buttercream frosting being prepared and added to the cupcakes.

Customizing Your Cupcakes

This recipe is really all about being creative and festive, you can use your favorite cupcake base recipe (these chocolate cupcakes are a great choice!), and any frosting that will hold a stiff shape. For a fun twist, you can add food coloring to the cupcake base as well as the frosting. Here are a few more frosting recipes to try! Feel free to make a few small batches of different frosting types to give your trees some variety in color. White frosting would be great for snow-capped Christmas trees!

Top-down view of Christmas tree cupcakes, garnished with sprinkles and a pretzel star.

How Long Will My Cupcakes Last?

Since the frosting contains dairy, you’ll want to store your Christmas tree cupcakes in the fridge for best results.

  • In the Fridge: Whether you’re making these ahead of time or storing leftovers, your cupcakes will stay good for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
Front view of a cupcake cut in half.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

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If you're looking for a dessert that is absolutely delicious but also looks great on the holiday dinner table, these Christmas tree cupcakes are it! Moist vanilla cupcakes topped with homemade buttercream frosting that almost look too good to eat!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients
  

Cupcakes

  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 egg whites

Frosting

  • 2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • green gel food coloring
  • Sprinkles and toppings of your choice.

Instructions
 

Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add the buttermilk, milk, vanilla, and oil to the dry ingredients and whisk until fully combined. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until you get medium-stiff peaks, and then gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  • Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill the liners only halfway full, or the cupcakes will puff over the top of the muffin tin.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

  • Add the butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, salt, and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir on low to incorporate and increase the speed slowly as the butter absorbs the powdered sugar.
  • Add your gel food coloring until it has reached your desired color. Beat on high speed until the frosting is white and fluffy, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a fluted piping tip. Pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes to resemble a tree. Add sprinkles and other toppings to decorate your cupcake trees for Christmas!


Nutrition

Serves: 24

Calories396kcal (20%)Carbohydrates62g (21%)Protein3g (6%)Fat16g (25%)Saturated Fat10g (50%)Polyunsaturated Fat1gMonounsaturated Fat4gTrans Fat1gCholesterol42mg (14%)Sodium192mg (8%)Potassium82mg (2%)Fiber0.3g (1%)Sugar53g (59%)Vitamin A498IU (10%)Calcium40mg (4%)Iron0.2mg (1%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword christmas cupcakes, christmas tree cupcakes
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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