Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas

Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas | A Couple Cooks

A season for unity

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? 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 in Beruit and Paris and California and right here in my own city. My soul aches for that Capture the Flag moment. Couldn’t there be a world where we realize it’s just a game and 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 on the same team.

Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas | A Couple Cooks

Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas | A Couple Cooks

How to make pesto Christmas tree pizzas

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 pesto Christmas tree pizzas. We’ve had this tradition with our nieces and nephews, and as we’ve become parents, it’s a tradition we hope to continue with our son Larson.

Making Christmas tree pizzas 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 peels are listed here. If you’re making a large tree 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 smaller trees, which are easier to slide onto the pizza stone.

Once you’ve made the pizza shape, decorating 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: Want to know more about pizza dough, pizza peels, and the best type of flour for pizza dough? Here’s everything you need to know about making artisan pizza.

Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas | A Couple Cooks

Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas | A Couple Cooks

Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas | A Couple Cooks

Looking for more pizza recipes?

Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas | A Couple Cooks

Christmas Pizza-007


Pesto Christmas Tree Pizzas

1 Star (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 1)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 large trees (8 small)
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian


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


  • 1 pizza dough (2 boules)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto (purchased, homemade or  vegan pesto)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Kosher salt


  1. Prepare the dough using either the stand mixer or food processor methods (you also can knead by hand; follow this video instruction for more). Follow the preparation instructions in the dough recipe if prepared in advance.
  2. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 550°F.
  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. When the oven is ready, roll out the dough into a triangle shape, adding a small rectangle for a trunk. Place the dough on a floured pizza peel. (Note: in this case, the conveyor pizza peel works very well for larger trees like the one pictured. If using a standard peel or a well-floured flat surface, smaller trees are easier to slide onto the stone.)
  5. Quickly assemble 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. Transfer the pizza to the oven on the pizza peel, and bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.

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


About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    December 6, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      December 6, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      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 :)

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 6:20 am

    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!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 8:34 am

    This is fabulous. I make pizza once a week, and my boys are going to LOVE this! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Kristen @ Dinner for Two Blog
    December 7, 2015 at 9:08 am

    I love your message of capture the flag. It was a beautiful story and so perfect for this time of year. And this Christmas tree is adorable!

  • Reply
    Bethany @ Athletic Avocado
    December 7, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    How cute are these ? It brings out my inner kid at heart :)

  • Reply
    December 8, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    i love this idea! thanks for your words, too.

  • Reply
    Emily | Gather & Dine
    December 9, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Gonna try to make this happen for this Friday’s pizza night! So cute! Love hearing about your faith in Jesus too. Wishing you so much joy this season.

    • Reply
      December 21, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      Ooo I hope these worked out! Let us know what you think — and wishing you so much joy right back!

      • Reply
        Emily | Gather & Dine
        December 22, 2015 at 1:03 pm

        It was so perfect! Kids loved it. My daughter squealed with delight when I told her we were shaping the dough into a Christmas tree. Shape makes all the difference. :) Merry Christmas!

        • Reply
          December 23, 2015 at 10:34 am

          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 :)

  • Reply
    Jo Grabarek
    December 10, 2015 at 9:03 am

    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!!

    • Reply
      December 21, 2015 at 9:13 pm

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

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