Bring a pop of holiday cheer to your gatherings with the Caprese Christmas Tree – a crowd-pleasing appetizer that combines the flavors of a classic appetizer in a festive, edible arrangement.
Sprinkle some holiday magic on your table this season with a playful twist on the classic Caprese appetizer – the Caprese Christmas Tree. All you need is cherry or grape tomatoes, bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls), basil leaves, wood skewers and some balsamic glaze (store-bought is fine).
Make the caprese tree any size you wish, depending on the size of your holiday gathering. You’re only limited by the size of your serving board or tray, and the amount of ingredients you have on hand!
Tips for making this recipe
- Fresh ingredients: Use the freshest , sweetest tomatoes you can find. Also, make sure to use basil that is bright green without any brown or wilted spots.
- Uniform Skewering: For a polished look, try to thread similar-sized tomatoes and mozzarella on each bamboo appetizer skewer.
- The Balsamic Glaze: For ease, I opted to use store-bought balsamic glaze. It can be found in most well-stocked grocery stores or online. I used the Trader Joe’s version. Alternatively, try your hand at making homemade balsamic glaze. It’s very easy to make! Try the maple version that I made to accompany my Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin.
- Decorate the Tree: Enhance the festive vibe by decorating the Christmas tree with additional basil leaves. Tuck them around the edge of the skewers to look like leaves. Arrange extra cherry or grape tomatoes to look like a star on top of the tree and place a few skewers at the bottom to form a trunk.
- Serve at Room Temperature: If you pre-make the skewers and are assembling the tree immediately after taking the skewers out of the fridge, allow the Caprese Christmas Tree to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving. This enhances the flavors, especially those of the tomatoes and mozzarella.
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How to make a caprese Christmas tree
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
THREAD THE SKEWERS: Start by threading cherry or grape tomatoes, bocconcini, and fresh basil leaves onto bamboo appetizer skewers. I threaded them in this order: tomato, basil leaf, bocconcini, tomato.
FORM THE TREE: Lay out your skewers on a serving board, forming the shape of a Christmas tree. First, arrange the skewers to form the outer “branches” of the tree. Fill in the center of the tree with extra tomatoes (not on skewers). These tomatoes will form the base to support the remaining skewers. Arrange the remaining skewers on top of the base to form the rest of the branches (see photos).
DECORATE THE TREE: Tuck basil leaves around the base of the skewers to look like extra greenery on the tree. Use several cherry tomatoes to form a star at the top of the tree and arrange several skewers at the bottom of the tree for a trunk.
DRIZZLE: Use a small spoon to drizzle the balsamic glaze over the tree to look like garland. Place a bowl of balsamic glaze, along with a small spoon, on the side in case your guests want to drizzle on extra glaze. For extra seasoning (optional), sprinkle the tree with kosher salt and serve with a bowl of extra virgin olive oil for drizzling.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Prepare the skewers up to one day in advance and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Assemble the tree and garnish with the balsamic glaze and salt just before serving.
How to serve it
We typically eat this appetizer straight off the skewer. If you prefer, serve the caprese skewers with slices of baguette. Brush the slices with olive, then lightly toast in an oven set to 350 degrees F.
Other appetizer ideas to round out the appetizer table:
- Shrimp Deviled Eggs
- Smoked Salmon & Cucumber Appetizers
- Ahi Tuna Poke Appetizers
- Turkey Pesto Tortilla Roll-Ups
Frequently Asked Questions:
According to U.S. Dairy, soft cheeses can be set out at room temperature for up to 2 hours. However, unlike hard cheeses that can be re-wrapped and refrigerated, soft cheeses (like the bocconcini in this recipe) should be discarded if left out for two hours.
Absolutely! Adjust the quantities of ingredients to fit the size of your gathering. You can create a petite tree for an intimate gathering or a grand one for a larger celebration.
That depends on the type of bocconcini you use. Rennet is used to make bocconcini, so be sure to look for versions labeled as vegetarian or made with non-animal rennet.
Certainly! To make your balsamic glaze, simmer good-quality balsamic vinegar on low heat until it thickens to your desired consistency. Optionally, add a touch of honey, maple syrup or brown sugar for sweetness.
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If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and comment underneath the recipe card below. Thank you!
Caprese Christmas Tree
- 16 ounces small grape (or cherry) tomatoes (See Note 1)
- 12 ounces bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls)
- 35 small basil leaves (See Note 2)
- Large basil leaves for garnishing
- 2 tablespoons store-bought balsamic glaze plus more on the side (See Note 3)
- Kosher salt optional
- Extra virgin olive oil on the side (optional)
- Bamboo appetizer skewers
- Thread the tomatoes, bocconcini, and small basil leaves onto small appetizer skewers. I threaded them in this order: tomato, basil leaf, bocconcini, tomato.
- Arrange the skewers on a serving board, forming the shape of a Christmas tree. First, arrange the skewers to form the outer “branches” of the tree. Fill in the center of the tree with extra tomatoes (not on skewers). These tomatoes will form the base to support the remaining skewers. Arrange the remaining skewers on top of the base to form the rest of the branches (see photos).
- Tuck the large basil leaves around the base of the skewers to look like extra greenery on the tree. Use several tomatoes to form a star at the top of the tree and arrange several skewers at the bottom of the tree for a trunk.
- Using a small spoon, drizzle the balsamic glaze over the tree. Place a bowl of balsamic glaze, along with a small spoon, on the side in case your guests want to drizzle on extra glaze.
- For extra seasoning (optional), sprinkle the tree with kosher salt and serve with a bowl of extra virgin olive oil for drizzling.
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