Nothing can dampen the fun of the holiday season more than feeling like a prisoner of the kitchen. Complicated holiday spreads are festive and impressive, but at what point do the hosts of these ultra-luxe feasts get to chill tf out?! For this reason, we wholeheartedly believe the best Christmas recipes are the simplest ones—bonus points if they are as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious.
In my constant quest for recipes that look complicated but actually take very little time to put together, I found the ultimate Christmas fancy-food hack: the cheesy pull-apart spinach and artichoke Christmas tree. It’s a mouthful both linguistically and physically, takes as little as three ingredients to make, and is bound to be the new annual request for Christmas shindigs for years to come.
Oh Christmas Tree, Edible Christmas Tree
On top of being irresistibly delicious, this festive tear-and-share platter is an impressive display of twisted golden dough “branches” interlaced with strands of leafy green spinach, orange cheddar, and creamy artichoke dip. The edible fir tree is a universally seasonal holiday dish, but let’s be honest—warm, cheesy bread and rich spinach and artichoke dip is a mouthwateringly good combo any time of year. This recipe could be a Christmas tree or a Fourth of July tree, or a just-because tree.
To keep this recipe as simple as possible, canned pizza crust is used to make a party-size Christmas tree that’s covered in jarred spinach and artichoke dip and shredded cheese. The tree is then sliced, twisted, and baked to create a super simple but stunningly creative centerpiece for festive gatherings, both big and small.
Make it Your Own
Kick the flavor up a notch with grated parmesan cheese, sauteed onions, or pepperoni Christmas ornaments. Spices and herbs that would also complement this dish well are thyme, oregano, dill, smoked paprika, and rosemary. If you enjoy a kitchen challenge, both your pizza dough and spinach and artichoke dip can be made from scratch.
Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Christmas Tree
- 1 can pizza dough
- 1 cup spinach and artichoke dip
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 tablespoon butter, optional
- Sheet pan
- Parchment paper
- Pizza cutter or large knife
- Grater (optional)
- Pastry brush
Preheat the oven to 400º F.
Roll out pizza dough into a large rectangle. From the center of one of the short sides, cut a triangle with both legs meeting the second shorter side’s corners. This should leave you with one large, whole triangle and two smaller triangles. (They might be misshapen, but that’s okay!)
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Transfer the two smaller triangles to the parchment paper, molding the dough to meet in the middle to form one large triangle. Stretch and roll the dough as you need to match the general size and shape of your first dough triangle.
Spread spinach and artichoke dip over the triangle in the sheet pan. For less mess later on, thin out the dip ½” away from the outer edge. Top with grated or shredded cheddar.
Carefully lay the first dough triangle over the filling. Using a pizza slicer or large knife, make the “branches” of your tree by making horizontal cuts down either side of the tree, leaving 1” of the center intact.
Take each section of the tree starting at the top and twist. The first several branches will probably only need half a twist; as you get to the wider part of the tree, you’ll likely need to twist the dough two or three times.
Brush the beaten egg evenly across the top crust.
Bake for 24-26 minutes on the bottom rack. The bottom layer of dough will bake slower than the top, so make sure to check both layers before removing it from the oven.
Brush the top crust with melted butter and add any extra spices you’d like; I used garlic powder, thyme, and cayenne pepper.
- Runny spinach and artichoke dip can cause a leaky Christmas tree. Beef up from-scratch dip with extra spinach and less creamy ingredients like mayo and sour cream. If your store-bought dip is overly runny, a sprinkle of corn starch well-mixed in can help bring ingredients together more nicely. Stopping the dip ¼” from the border of the crust can also help cut down on potential leakage.
- The “branches” of your tree should be no wider than 1” across; any wider makes it more difficult to twist the sections without making a huge mess. Another pro tip: twist with gusto! Tentatively twisting your sections can cause ingredients to slide out before you get a chance to make your twists, so be sure to twist carefully but firmly and quickly.
- If spinach and artichoke dip isn’t your cup of tea (or if you’re looking for new flavors to try), substitute the creamy spinach dip with homemade pesto, tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella, roasted vegetables, or smoked gouda and a cozy blend of cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and cardamom.