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Christmas Tree Cake

Kick off your holiday festivities this year by making a Christmas tree cake. Not only is this recipe simple to make, but it’s a great way to create an annual tradition with the family. Tender and moist chocolate cake is decorated with festive sprinkles, maraschino cherries, peppermints, and a chocolate chip trunk.

Kick off your holiday festivities this year by making a Christmas tree cake. Not only is this recipe simple to make, but it’s a great way to create an annual tradition with the family. Tender and moist chocolate cake is decorated with festive sprinkles, maraschino cherries, peppermints, and a chocolate chip trunk.

angled photo of christmas tree shaped cake

I still remember baking a Christmas tree cake each year with my mom when I was young. She would bake, and I would help decorate! Recreating her recipe today gives me such nostalgia!

I urge you to try making one to treat your family and friends with during the holidays. Follow along with my step-by-step guide on how to prepare and decorate your very own Christmas tree cake recipe!

Why I Love This Recipe

  • Fun to make: Baking and decorating this Christmas tree cake is a kid-friendly activity that will put everyone in a happy mood for the holidays. Don’t be afraid to let things get a little messy!
  • Festive: If you’re headed to a Christmas party this year, a Christmas tree cake makes the perfect centerpiece!
  • Minimal ingredients: You will love how easy this recipe is to throw together! All that’s required is cake mix, frosting, and decorations of your choosing!
  • Flavorful: Not only is this cake vibrant and beautiful, but it also happens to taste incredibly delicious (especially if you’re a chocolate lover)!

What Is A Christmas Tree Cake?

Christmas tree cakes come in many different shapes and sizes, but the one I’m sharing with you today highlights simplicity! Both beginner and experienced home cooks will enjoy this baking project.

Boxed cake mix makes up the base, which is then coated with a green cream cheese frosting. Add some peppermint candies and maraschino cherries for ornaments, chocolate chips for the trunk, and a dusting of festive sprinkles for good measure.

Both kids and adults always go crazy for this cake whenever I serve it at holiday gatherings and events!

Special Equipment

You will need a Christmas tree cake pan for this recipe.

If you don’t own one, use a rectangular cake pan. Once the cake is baked, make two diagonal cuts starting from one of the short sides down to both bottom corners. Flip the two outer pieces to form a trianglur shape, and stack them underneath the middle triangle before icing it.

Ingredients For A Christmas Tree Cake

See the full list of ingredients in the recipe card below.

  • Chocolate cake mix: For the base of this Christmas tree cake, I use chocolate cake mix. Look for brands like Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, or Duncan Hines for the best results.
  • Eggs: To give the cake lift and a soft texture. Make sure they are large eggs!
  • Water: To thin the cake batter. If you want, you can use milk for a richer consistency.
  • Oil: Along with eggs, the oil creates a rich and tender cake texture. Make sure to opt for a neutral-flavored oil like canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, or vegetable oil.
  • Frosting: I prefer the slight tanginess of cream cheese frosting, but go for whatever you like! This can be store-bought or homemade.
  • Green food coloring: To mix with the frosting. The green color will act as the Christmas tree “branches,” and as a base to add decorations.
  • Festive sprinkles: Add any combination of red, green, and white sprinkles at the end of decorating your Christmas tree cake.
  • Maraschino cherries & peppermints: Use both maraschino cherries and peppermints for the ornaments. If you don’t have either one, use jujubes, gum drops, m&m’s, star candies, or any type of round candy you have on hand.
  • Chocolate chips: Dark or milk chocolate chips form the base of the Christmas tree. You can also use chocolate squares or melts if you’ve run out of chocolate chips.
supplies and ingredients for christmas tree cake

How to Make A Christmas Tree Cake

Step 1: Bake the cake

Bake the cake in the Christmas tree pan according to the package directions.

Then, carefully turn it out onto a cooling rack, a large cake plate, or a piece of cardboard wrapped in pretty Christmas wrapping paper.

chocolate christmas tree shaped cake on cooling rack

Step 2: Mix the frosting

To a bowl, add the frosting and a few drops of green food coloring. Stir until the color is mixed through, adding more drops as needed.

Step 3: Frost the cake

Once the cake is completely cool (at least several hours or overnight), spread the green frosting to all of the edges, including the trunk of the tree.

spreading green icing on baked christmas tree cake

Step 4: Decorate the tree

Place peppermints and maraschino cherries on the tree just like in the photos below. These decorations should look like Christmas tree ornaments.

adding peppermints to a christmas tree cake

Step 5: Add finishing touches

Cover the trunk of the tree with chocolate chips, and lightly add sprinkles as a finishing touch.

Recipe Variations

  • Use another cake mix: Instead of a chocolate interior, use vanilla, red velvet, gingerbread, or even confetti cake mix!
  • Stack the cake: Make a layered Christmas tree cake recipe by cutting the baked cake in half and spreading icing in between layers.
  • Make Christmas tree brownies: Instead of cake, try making triangle brownies with green frosting, ornaments, and pretzel trunks.
  • Use white frosting: Skip the green food coloring and use a simple white frosting, or add streaks of white on top of the green to make a snowy Christmas tree cake.

Tips For The Best Recipe

  • Bake a springy cake: For the best results, bake the cake until it feels springy when gently pressed in the center.
  • Let the cake cool: Make sure you wait for the cake to cool completely before icing it. This will prevent a runny mess of icing and decorations.
  • Flatten the top: If the top of the cake is quite rounded, use a serrated knife to slice it until it is flat enough to stay in place while you decorate it.

What To Do With Leftovers

  • Room temperature: I don’t recommend storing this cake for more than a few hours at room temperature since it contains eggs.
  • Fridge: It’s best to keep the cake under a cake cover or large container. If you don’t have those, loosely cover it with foil or wax paper.
  • Freezer: To store the cake for longer than 1 week, transfer it to an airtight container and it will keep in your freezer for up to 3 months. Let the cake thaw at room temperature before serving it again.  

Additional Christmas Recipes 

If you enjoyed this Christmas tree cake recipe, make it part of an entire Christmas spread with some of these other delicious recipes:

More Christmas Recipes here…

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this Christmas tree cake ahead of time?

Yes, you can make it up to 1 day ahead of time. Bake the cake and keep it covered in your fridge until you are ready to ice it. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it for much longer than that since the texture will dry out too much. 

Can I make this Christmas tree cake gluten-free?

To make a gluten-free Christmas tree cake, swap out the regular cake mix with a gluten-free cake mix. Other than that, just double-check that the frosting, sprinkles, candies, and chocolate chips are certified gluten-free.

christmas tree shaped cake decorated with peppermints, sprinkles, and chocolate chips

Easy Christmas Tree Cake

Kick off your holiday festivities this year by making a Christmas tree cake. Not only is this recipe simple to make, but it’s a great way to create an annual tradition with the family. Tender and moist chocolate cake is decorated with festive sprinkles, maraschino cherries, peppermints, and a chocolate chip trunk.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Decorating Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix any flavor; Pillsbury, Duncan Hines, etc. all work
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup oil

For the Decorations

  • 16 ounces white frosting any flavor; I prefer cream cheese (see notes for link to homemade)
  • 2 drops green food coloring
  • sprinkles green, red, and white sprinkles
  • peppermint candy
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • maraschino cherries

Instructions

  • Bake the cake in the Christmas tree pan according to the package directions. Carefully turn out onto a cooling rack, large cake plate, or a piece of cardboard wrapped in pretty Christmas wrapping paper.
  • Add the frosting and 2-3 drops of green food coloring to a bowl. Stir until the color is mixed through. Feel free to make this green tint as dark or light as you desire.
  • When the cake is completely cool (at least several hours or overnight), spread frosting on the cake to all of the edges, including the trunk of the tree.
  • Place peppermints and maraschino cherries on the tree for the “ornaments” on the tree.
  • Cover the trunk of the tree with the chocolate chips.
  • Lightly add sprinkles over the top of the tree as a finishing touch.

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Easy Christmas Tree Cake
Serving Size
 
28 grams
Amount per Serving
Calories
367
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
19
g
29
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Trans Fat
 
0.1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
6
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
8
g
Cholesterol
 
32
mg
11
%
Sodium
 
294
mg
13
%
Potassium
 
121
mg
3
%
Carbohydrates
 
47
g
16
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
36
g
40
%
Protein
 
3
g
6
%
Calcium
 
60
mg
6
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutritional values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.
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