Find out how to make Christmas tree sugar (made with spruce, fir, or other edible conifer needles). This is a simple base recipe that can be used as an ingredient in a wide variety of other foods and beverages to add a unique Christmas tree flavor.
Using and making Christmas tree sugar
Christmas tree sugar is one of the base recipes we recommend in our Edible Christmas Tree Guide.
Christmas tree sugar is an excellent ingredient in desserts. Or mix it with Christmas tree salt LINK when making meat rubs, curing meat, or curing egg yolks.
You can substitute Christmas tree sugar for regular sugar in ice cream/sorbet recipes, cookies, pies, puddings, etc. to help turn them into the flavor of Christmas. It’s also marvelous coating a glass rim for adult beverages, mocktails, or eggnog.
When you want to create more intensely Christmas tree-flavored dairy-based desserts (like Christmas tree pudding or Christmas tree crème brûlée), you can also combine Christmas tree sugar and Christmas tree milk or cream LINK.
The same rule applies on the baking side. Christmas tree-flavored sugar cookies sound good? The combination of Christmas tree sugar + Christmas tree butter will make some seriously delicious cookies that taste like Christmas smells.
We detail three warnings in our Edible Christmas Tree Guide that we’ll briefly outline again here (read the guide for more info):
- You should know what type of tree you’re planning to eat (especially when foraging) because there are poisonous evergreen species. For instance, yews are deadly poisonous, although yews are not used for Christmas trees or ornamentation in the US.
- Commercial Christmas trees may have synthetic pesticide residues on them. In some locations, organic Christmas trees are available. Synthetic pesticides are not permitted on organic farms.
- Like any food, some people may have sensitivities/allergies to edible conifer needles. Especially if you’re prone to food allergies, try a small amount to make sure you have no averse reactions before eating larger quantities.
What are the best conifer needles for Christmas tree sugar?
The types of edible conifers/Christmas trees that will make the best Christmas tree sugar are:
- spruces (Picea spp.)
- firs (Abies spp.)
- Douglass-fir, which is not a true fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
- hemlocks (Tsuga spp.)
Some species of pines (Pinus spp.) would also work in a pinch, but the trees listed above will work better. Keep in mind that each genus/species of edible conifer tree listed above has different, unique flavor characteristics.
To find out more about the various species of edible conifers plus how to ID, harvest, and process the needles, please give our Edible Christmas Tree Guide a read!
Regardless of which edible conifer species you use for this recipe, we’d recommend using fresh, green mature needles for best results.
Blender or spice grinder: what’s the best tool for making Christmas tree sugar?
You can use a good, multi-bladed blender to make Christmas tree sugar. We started off with a 4-bladed Ninja.
However, Christmas tree sugar made in a blender will still have visible chunks of needles in it.
If you want the best results possible, we highly recommend using a spice grinder. A good one only costs about $40. (We use and recommend the Cuisinart SG-10 spice grinder.)
You won’t see any needle material when you make Christmas tree sugar in a good spice grinder. The sugar and the needles will be completely blended together into a light green, slightly moist powder (similar to the consistency of brown sugar).
Recipe: Christmas tree sugar
Now let’s start unwrapping the delicious flavors of your Christmas tree (or wild foraged conifer) needles with this recipe!
Christmas tree sugar (made with edible conifer needles)
A simple base recipe made from the mature needles of spruce, fir, or other edible conifers that can be used to add unique Christmas tree flavor to a wide variety of foods and beverages.
- 1/4 cup Christmas tree needles, ideally fresh or no more than a few days removed from branches 18 grams is measuring by weight
- 1 cup organic raw cane sugar - or pure white sugar for best color (or you can get fancy and use alternatives like maple sugar but the brownish sugar color + needles won't turn out as pretty as a white sugar base)
Add half of needles (1/8 cup) plus a quarter of the sugar (1/4 cup) to spice grinder and pulverize until smooth. You'll want to open the spice grinder and scrape the sides and bottom with a spatula to make sure all needles have been pulverized. Scrape into a bowl/storage container with a spatula. Repeat with the other half of the needles plus another 1/4 cup sugar. Transfer to same bowl. Finally, put remaining sugar in spice grinder and blend briefly to help remove any of the remaining goodies from the previous needle-sugar batches. This will make a more finely ground sugar, halfway between powdered sugar and caster sugar. Add this to the bowl and mix & mush everything together until uniform. Make sure to give your spice grinder one last scrape with the spatula to get any sticky conifer residue out, then wash the grinder with hot soapy water.
Store your Christmas tree sugar in an airtight covered glass or ceramic dish (or canning jar) in the fridge. It will last for months, but the color will slowly brown due to oxidation over time. We've had 6+ month old Christmas tree sugar that still tastes like new but has turned brownish in color - fine for baked and cooked recipes, but wouldn't make the most beautiful garnish on the rim of a glass.
Want to dig your fork deeper into edible conifers?
Start here: Tyrant Farms’ Edible Christmas Tree Guide
Other recipes that use this base recipe:
We’d also like to recommend two books for other Christmas tree eaters and food explorers; each contains delicious recipes you can make with your Christmas tree: