Making this Christmas pizza recipe with pesto and veggie ornaments is the perfect holiday time tradition, especially with kids!

Christmas pizza

When I was young, I loved playing the game Capture the Flag. Two teams each have a flag at the other team’s base. The point is to run into the other team’s territory, capture their flag, and make it safely back home. There’s a jail for enemy players who get tagged when venturing into your territory, and a prisoner can be freed from jail if a member of their team makes it to jail, tags them, and they run back to the home territory. What is it about these “war”-like games that is so natural to children? Keep reading for more on kids games, unity, and how that relates to this Christmas recipe.

Related: Homemade Pizza for Beginners


A season for unity

One day while playing, an opposing team member tripped into my path. We were hidden by trees from the others, and he broke character for a moment, his eyes welling up with tears. I broke character too, and instead of tagging him out, I motioned him to run back to the safety of his own territory. Our eyes held a glance, and my heart welled up. What magic there was in forgetting which “side” we were on and choosing unity instead of division!

To this day, I remember that moment as one of the first times I felt a strong desire deep at my core: to create moments where enemies become friends. Where we forget which team we’re playing for and instead join hands. Reconciliation. Unity. Sometimes I find myself weirdly sentimental when I see a star quarterback bear-hugging an opposing team member after a big game.

The past month has been full of events that leave my heart in little pieces, attacks around the world and right here in my own city. My soul aches for that Capture the Flag moment. Could there be a world where we break character and all start laughing at the same inside joke? Or hold hands and help each other up? Share a meal together around a table? In this season of light and holiday cheer, my heart pines for moments like those. Unity and reconciliation. Peace and light. Bear hugs and inside jokes. Because we’re all on the same team.

Pesto and mozzarella

How to make Christmas pizza

Food has a way of bringing unity, where we all gather around the table and set aside our differences. Around the holidays, one of our favorite traditions is to make Christmas pizza: pizza in the shape of a Christmas tree! We’ve had this tradition with our nieces and nephews, and as we’ve become parents, it’s a tradition we’ve continued with our son Larson.

Making Christmas pizza is pretty simple, but it does require some finesse with the pizza dough to make the Christmas tree shape! To make the Christmas tree, you roll out the dough into a triangle shape, and then add a small rectangle of dough for a trunk. Make sure to use a pizza peel for this one: our favorite pizza peel is this standard peel or conveyor pizza peel. If you’re making a large Christmas pizza like the one in the photograph, the conveyor pizza peel works very well for sliding it into the oven without sticking. If you have a standard peel or if you’re trying it with a well-floured flat surface (like a baking sheet), consider making a few smaller Christmas pizzas, which are easier to slide onto the pizza stone.

Once you’ve made the pizza Christmas tree shape, decorating it is fun and customizable! You can use any veggies you like to decorate. Here we’ve used basil pesto for the green in the tree, red pepper as ornaments, and sliced red onion as garlands.

Related: How to make artisan pizza at home

Christmas pizza
Topping pizza

Looking for more pizza recipes?

Outside of this Christmas pizza, here are some of our favorite other artisan pizza recipes to make at home:

Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas | A Couple Cooks
Christmas Pizza-007
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Christmas Pizza

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 large trees (8 small) 1x


Making this Christmas pizza recipe with pesto and veggie ornaments is the perfect holiday time tradition, especially with kids!




  1. Follow the Best Pizza Dough recipe to prepare the dough. (This takes about 15 minutes to make and 45 minutes to rest.)
  2. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. OR preheat your pizza oven (here’s the pizza oven we use).
  3. Prepare the toppings: Dice the red pepper. Thinly slice the red onion, then rinse it under cool water and pat it dry (which removes some of the bite).
  4. Place the dough on the pizza peel: When the oven is ready, dust a pizza peel with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can use a rimless baking sheet or the back of a rimmed baking sheet. But a pizza peel is well worth the investment! In this case, a conveyor pizza peel works very well for larger trees like the one pictured. If using a standard peel or a baking sheet, smaller trees are easier to slide onto the stone.) Roll out the dough into a triangle shape, adding a small rectangle for a trunk. Place the dough on the pizza peel. 
  5. Quickly top the pizza: Spread a thin layer of pesto, then sprinkle with cheese. Add the “decorations” of red onions and peppers. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  6. Bake the pizza: Transfer the pizza to the pizza stone using the pizza peel, and bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Pizza, Vegetarian Pizza, Pesto Pizza, Artisan Pizza, Christmas Tree Pizza, Vegetarian, Homemade Pizza

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. I cried reading this. And not just because I’m delirious from studying corporate taxation and econometrics for 12 hours today, but because YES. THANK YOU. We are on the same team and we can live and love together. Our faith doesn’t have to alienate and justify hate. It’s not hard to love others as Jesus loves us.
    Isn’t Facebook unbearable these days? gah.

    1. Erica, you are so sweet! I cried writing this so that makes two of us, haha! Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments. Praying for unity :)

  2. I love this post and your capture the flag story is beautifully written. I feel like I’m on the same page with you on wanting unity. I’m also praying that more people would take the time to celebrate what the season is truly about, God’s gift of Jesus to this world. Thank you so much for boldly sharing your faith and I hope you have a blessed Christmas!

        1. YES! So glad to hear this — this is exactly why we created the recipe. Except that I am really excited about the shape too, so I think it works for all ages :)

  3. I love that you recreated the Christmas tree pizza! It’s inspiring to watch your blog [and business] grow. Thanks for setting a good example for young bloggers :) Also! I finally convinced my picky eater to try roasted cauliflower and it got a big thumbs up!!

    1. Thank you so much, Jo! :) It’s so fun to hear about your picky eater’s palate — keep us posted as the horizons expand!