Christmas tree cupcakes start with a box mix and get transformed into festive treats. These whimsical cupcakes are easy to decorate with step-by-step instructions.

Close up photo of Christmas tree cupcakes.
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Christmas Tree Cupcakes are so easy to make using a box mix. With easy step by step instructions, anyone can easily transform each one into Christmas trees. It is such a cute Christmas dessert along with Meringue Christmas Trees.

Festive Christmas desserts are so much fun to make with the kids. We also make Santa Hat Cupcakes, Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies Recipe and Christmas Cake Pops.

Why we love this recipe:

  • It’s so simple with a cake mix. The cupcakes are so easy.
  • Adorable decorations. The pretty icing and festive touches make this great for the holidays.
  • Perfect taste and texture. The recipe not only looks great but tastes delicious.

Ingredients

Ingredients for Christmas tree cupcakes.

FOR THE CUPCAKES: 

  • Chocolate Cake Mix.
  • Red Cupcake Liners 

THE ICING: 

  • Solid Vegetable Shortening 
  • Clear Pure Vanilla Extract 
  • Powdered Sugar (sifted) 
  • Green Gel Food Coloring 

FOR THE DECORATIONS: 

  • Yellow Sugar Stars (for topping) 
  • Candy Balls (for the ornaments) 

Get the complete ingredient list at the bottom of the post.

Cupcake flavor variations:

  • Red Velvet
  • Vanilla or White Cake Mix
  • German Chocolate

You can use any type of cake mix that you prefer in this recipe. This is such an easy Christmas tree cupcake recipe. I tend to use what we have in the pantry.

Feel free to use what your family loves the most.

How to make Christmas tree cupcakes

Cupcakes on wire rack.

Step 1. Go ahead and prepare the chocolate cupcakes with large eggs and the other ingredients. Pour the batter in the cupcake pan. Bake according to the box instructions. Remove from the cupcake tin. Allow to cool on a wire rack once out of the oven.

Mixing bowl with icing.

Step 2. Use a large mixing bowl to cream together the shortening and unsalted butter mixture.

Powdered sugar added to bowl and mixed together.

Step 3. Slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar. I usually add 1 cup at a time on low speed until well combined. 

Milk and vanilla added to bowl and combined.

Step 4. Whisk in the vanilla extract and milk until combined.

Green food coloring added to bowl and combined.

Step 5. Next, add a few drops of the green food coloring until the green frosting is a bright green color. You can adjust as needed.

Cupcakes decorated with toppings.

Step 6. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1M piping tip. Fill it with the green vanilla buttercream frosting. 

Frosting swirled on top to resemble a tree.

Step 7. Carefully frost each cupcake by slowly building up a thin layer of frosting on top of the cupcake using a circular motion. It should resemble a Tree shape on top of the cupcake.  

Frosting on top of each cupcake and sprinkles and stars added.

Step 8. Top with a star on the top of each cupcake and use the candy balls to decorate the cupcakes to resemble ornaments.

Piping tips:

  • Use a circular motion to gradually add icing to form a tree shape on the cupcakes.
  • Make sure the icing ingredients are softened to room temperature. This will make it easier to pipe.
  • Green gel food coloring is best. I do not recommend using liquid. It will thin out the icing and make it difficult to pipe into a tree.
  • Place the icing in two separate piping bags. The heat from your hands will cause it to soften. This will help to prevent all of it from getting to soft.

Decorating ideas:

  • Sprinkles. You can embellish the cupcakes with any type of sprinkles that you like for these Christmas cupcakes.
  • Cupcake Liners. We used red but a pretty plaid in Christmas colors would be cute too.
  • Star. You can use candy star shapes or just top with a bunch of gold sprinkles. Either would be cute.

Make sure to add the decorations immediately after you frosting the cupcakes as they will not stick if the frosting has already fully set.  

Frequently asked questions

Can you make frosting in advance?

Yes, the cupcake icing can be made in advance up to 24 hours. Place in fridge and then add the food coloring when ready to use.

The frosting may need to be beat with a mixer for a minute to make it fluffy again and easier to work with.

How to store?

Store the leftover cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.  I would use parchment paper as well.

If you live in a warm climate, they may need to be refrigerated. Just make sure to give them time to sit at room temperature before serving.

Close up photo of Christmas tree cupcakes.

More Christmas Tree Desserts:

It’s your turn to make this festive cupcake recipe. Leave a star recipe rating once you do!

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

4.80 from 5 votes
Christmas tree cupcakes start with a box mix and get transformed into festive treats. These whimsical cupcakes are easy to decorate with step by step instructions.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 24
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Calories 260

Ingredients

FOR THE CUPCAKES:

  • 1 Chocolate Cake Mix
  • *Plus the ingredients to prepare the cake mix based on the package instructions
  • Red Cupcake Liners

FOR THE ICING:

  • 1/2 cup Solid Vegetable Shortening
  • 1/2 cup Butter softened at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Clear Vanilla Extract
  • 4 cups Confectioners’ Sugar shifted
  • 2 Tbsp Milk
  • Green Gel Food Coloring

FOR THE DECORATIONS:

  • Yellow Sugar Stars for topping
  • Candy Balls for the ornaments
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Instructions

  • Preheat the chocolate cake mix based on the cupcake instructions using the red cupcake liners and all the cupcakes to cool completely at room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and butter until combined and smooth.
  • Then slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar (1 cup at a time) on low speed until well combined.
  • Then stir in the vanilla extract and milk until combined. Then add a few drops of the green food coloring until the frosting is a bright green color similar to a Christmas tree.
  • Then use a 1M piping tip and a decorator’s bag, fill it with the green frosting.
  • Gently frosting each cupcake.  You want to slowly build up the frosting on top of the cupcake using a circular motion to resemble a Tree sitting on top of the cupcake.
  • Then place a star on the top of each cupcake and use the candy balls to decorate the cupcakes to resemble ornaments.
  • Then the cupcakes are ready to serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*Store the leftover cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. 
*Make sure to add the decorations immediately after you frosting the cupcakes as they will not stick if the frosting has already fully set.  

Nutrition Facts

Calories 260kcal, Carbohydrates 33g, Protein 2g, Fat 14g, Saturated Fat 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat 3g, Monounsaturated Fat 6g, Trans Fat 1g, Cholesterol 24mg, Sodium 185mg, Potassium 68mg, Fiber 1g, Sugar 27g, Vitamin A 141IU, Calcium 32mg, Iron 1mg

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Carrie. Welcome to Desserts on a Dime!

I’m on a mission to help you create delicious desserts on a budget and do not require a ton of time. Together, we are going to make something sweet that the entire family will love!

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