Making Gingerbread Houses is a much loved holiday tradition and a perfect activity to bring friends and family together this season.
This gingerbread house turns out so darling and are fun to create. They are made with a sturdy dough that is great for construction and tastes amazing too. Plus, I have even included TWO free printable pattern that is easy to follow. This post is everything that you need to know on how to make a gingerbread house and I'm here for support and troubleshooting if you need it.
You are going to find success!
How to Make a Gingerbread House
The goal with this gingerbread house post is to show you that you can do it! I have loads of step by step photos on how to assemble your house, all of the steps you need to get your house cut out so that it will fit together, TWO patterns for gingerbread houses (one large and one smaller but still a great size), candy recommendations, royal icing recipes, and so many tips and tricks. You can do and I'm here to help. Let's DO THIS!
The thing I love about making gingerbread houses is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Creativity is king and I love to see how everyone chooses to decorate their individual houses. We get an assortment of candy and have a fabulous time designing.
I realize that you can buy pre-made gingerbread kits from the store but then you are missing out on the intoxicating smell filling your home and actual edible frosting. The store-bought kit candy always tastes weird to me and the royal frosting is just terrible! Give homemade gingerbread houses a shot. It is worth the extra effort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Royal icing is hands down the best option for gingerbread construction. It hardens up rock hard and is the glue that will hold the walls and roof of your house well while still being edible. It's also what you'll use to attach your candies to your house.
For the base of the gingerbread house choose something flat and sturdy. You have lots of options! You can use a cardboard cake board, a large platter or plate, a pretty cookie sheet, a cutting board, or a cake stand.
Feel free to use whatever you have on hand or your favorite candies to decorate your house with. Some popular ideas are gum drops, M&Ms, peppermints, Necco wafers, candy canes, mints, and anything red of green! And don't stop at candy, you can use cereal, pretzels of different shapes, gum, sprinkles, and just about anything. I wrote a whole post all about the best candy for gingerbread houses, so if you need more information, check that out!
Here's how you make gingerbread dough and the pieces for the house:
1. Mix together a simple tasty dough made from butter, molasses, an egg, spices, flour, and a few other things.
2. The dough will be CRUMBLY, that's a good thing! It lends to a sturdy dough that doesn't spread when baked.
3. Dump the crumbly dough onto a piece of parchment paper or onto a silicone baking mat. Carefully roll it out into a nice rectangle.
4. Place the parchment paper onto a baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes.
5. When the dough comes out of the oven let it cool 3-4 minutes and then use a sharp small knife to cut out your pieces.
6. Cut out all of the pieces you need.
7. Remove the extra parts around the pieces you cut (you get to eat these "scraps" your reward for the day!".
8. Cut around the pieces one more time to make sure they are nice and straight. Bake the pieces an additional 10 minutes.
9. To put your house together get a flat surface like a cake board, cutting board, or cookie sheet. Make your royal icing. Take the end of a gingerbread house (one of the pointed end pieces) and pipe a thick line of icing along the bottom.
10. Set it on your board where you want it to be and use tin cans to help support it.
11. Pipe a thick line of icing on three sides (two short and one long side) of a side wall piece of the house.
12. Place that piece on the inside of one side of the end house pieces (take a look at where it hits the house, it's on the inside of the end piece and you don't see the edge of the wall, this is the easiest way to make the house stable.
13. Pipe a thick layer of icing on the bottom of the other end other house and place it against the wall you just sat down.
14. Pipe a thick layer of icing on the second wall piece and put it in between the front and back of the house, opposite of the other wall. Use cans to help support the structure as needed and let this much of the assembled house sit for 15 minutes to allow the icing time to harder.
15. After your 15 minutes of waiting, pipe a thick layer of royal icing along the top of the walls and the angles of the roof.
16. Add a thick layer of icing to one edge of one piece of roof (the wide edge), this will be where the roof comes to a point and touches the other piece of roof at the top ridge line of the roof. Place both pieces of the roof on top where they go and gently press into place. Use a can to support the roof as needed. Let the house dry for at least 30 minutes before decorating.
You can download your free gingerbread house templates by clicking the links below:
Free Small Gingerbread House Template - Size: 5.5 inches wide (front of house), 6 inches tall, 4.75 inches long (side of house); You will need one batch of the dough recipe for this house.
Free Large Gingerbread House Template - Size: 9 inches wide (front of house), 7.5 inches tall, 8.5 inches long (side of house); You will need three batch of the dough recipe for this house.
I'm here to help!
The recipe and instructions are very detailed, the notes section has ideas on what to mount your house on, tips for royal icing piping and how to make it without meringue powder, I have more posts on how to decorate gingerbread houses coming, and I have included free gingerbread house templates.
I want you to have so much success with this. If you have questions or need any support, please reach out! I'd love to help trouble shoot, answer questions, and lead you to success. Don't be afraid to ask.
More resources for your gingerbread house building:
- This is NOT the recipe I use for cookies, it tastes great and is perfect for house. For a truly perfect soft gingerbread cookie (that doesn't spread!) you'll want my famous soft gingerbread cookie recipe.
- Here's a full post on royal icing for gingerbread houses and recipes for icing using both egg whites and meringue powder.
- Want to know more about the best candy for gingerbread houses? You can read all of my suggestions here.
Full instructions on how to make a gingerbread house, royal icing recipe, 2 sizes of gingerbread house templates, instructions on how to put everything together and more. THIS is your one stop spot for all things gingerbread houses!
For the gingerbread house:
- ½ cup butter, melted
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup molasses
- 2 ⅔ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the royal icing:
- 4 cups powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar) (1 pound)
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder (see notes for using egg whites instead of meringue powder)
- 10-15 tablespoons water
- assorted candies, cereal, pretzels, sprinkles, optional (you can just use royal icing for decorating too)
To make your gingerbread house dough and pieces:
- Get our gingerbread house pattern downloaded it (small house here) (large house here). Get it printed and cut the house shapes out.
- To make the large gingerbread house you'll need 3 batches of this dough recipe and for the smaller house you'll need a single batch of this recipe (the recipe as written).
- Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F (a little hotter than 350 degrees F helps the gingerbread to be crisper and sturdier).
- In a large bowl beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg and molasses and beat to combine.
- Add the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt and mix until well incorporated. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Dump the crumbly dough into the center of a 15 by 11 inch piece of parchment paper.
- Use your hands and a rolling pin to press and roll the dough into a 13.5 by 10 inch rectangle. I normally start by pressing the dough with my hands, then rolling it out with a rolling pin. I'll use a flat edge spatula or a bench scraper to cut extra long edges into more of a rectangle and I'll press the pieces that I cut into spaces that need more dough. Once you do it a time or two you get the hang of it! Take your time here to get a nice rectangle, it's ok to cut and patch the rectangle together, just roll it smooth.
- Gently lift opposite edges of the parchment paper and set it on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake the slab of gingerbread for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool 3-4 minutes.
- While still warm cut, place your paper pattern on top of the warm cookies slab and cut out the desired shapes using a small paring knife.
- Carefully remove the extra "scraps" of gingerbread around the pieces you just cut (save them to eat them, they are delicious!). If any of your house pieces need a little more trimming so they have straight edges, so that now.
- Return the gingerbread house pieces to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully before assembling.
To make your royal icing:
- While your gingerbread house pieces are cooling, make your royal icing.
- Add your powdered sugar and meringue powder to a large mixing bowl. Add 10 tablespoons of water to the bowl.
- Use a stand mixer or a hand mixer to beat until well incorporated. If the icing is very crumbly, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it creates a thick but smooth icing. I normally end up adding 4 more tablespoons of water and sometimes the full 5, it'll depend on how you measured your powdered sugar though.
- Beat until the icing is shiny, about 6-8 minutes with a stand mixer and 8-10 minutes with with a hand mixture.
- The icing should be thick but not so thick you can't stir it with a spoon. Adjust the constancy as needed.
- When you aren't working with your royal icing place a clean wet dish towel over the top of the icing so that it doesn't start to harden. You can also press a piece of plastic wrap against the top of the icing.
To assemble your gingerbread house:
- To put your house together get a flat surface like a cake board, cutting board, or cookie sheet. Put about 2 cups of your royal icing in a piping bag or a good quality freezer zipper-topped plastic bag. Use a frosting tip that is about ½ inch wide circle or cut about ½ inch off the tip of one corner of your baggie. Take the end of a gingerbread house (one of the pointed end pieces) and pipe a thick line of icing along the bottom.
- Set it on your board where you want it to be and use tin cans to help support it.
- Pipe a thick line of icing on three sides (two short and one long side) of a side wall piece of the house.
- Place that piece on the inside of one side of the end house piece (take a look at where it hits the house, it's on the inside of the end piece and you don't see the edge of the wall, this is the easiest way to make the house stable.
- Pipe a thick layer of icing on the bottom of the other end other house and place it against the wall you just sat down.
- Pipe a thick layer of icing on three sides of the second wall piece and put it in between the front and back of the house, opposite of the other wall. Use cans to help support the structure as needed and let this much of the assembled house sit for 15 minutes to allow the icing time to harden.
- After your 15 minutes of waiting, pipe a thick layer of royal icing along the top of the walls and the angles of the roof.
- Add a thick layer of icing to one edge of one piece of roof (the wide edge), this will be where the roof comes to a point and touches the other piece of roof at the top ridge line of the roof. Place both pieces of the roof on top where they go and gently press into place. Use cans to support the roof as needed. Let the house dry for at least 30 minutes before decorating.
To decorate your gingerbread house:
- I like to move to a smaller icing tip or place more icing in another baggie and cut a smaller tip in the bag. You don't need as much icing to decorate.
- You can use just icing to decorate, or you can use candies. This is the fun part! Place your candies out in little bowls (or in the sections of a muffin tin) and place things where you would like. You can use things like pretzels, gum, cereal, and more too. The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating your house. Enjoy the process and be creative!
- One you have added your candy, let the house dry another 30 or so minutes and it's done! You can eat it within a few days (or even weeks, the cookie just gets hard), or you can keep it all season and enjoy the beauty.
- I think cutting the cookie pieces out of the cooked slab of gingerbread makes for a much sturdier and much easier to assemble house. Getting your slab nice and even might take a few minutes but it's worth the effort! The house pieces are thicker, they don't spread while baking, your edges are nice and straight and stay that way. I'm here to convince you to go with this method because it is the best!
- Those "scrap" pieces of gingerbread are your little gift for making the house, eat them up like cookies hot off the pan or dip them in milk when they get a little harder once cooled.
- I often make gingerbread houses over multiple days. I'll do all of my dough making, baking, and cutting my pieces on one day. Assemble the house and decorate another day. It takes a lot of time for all of the steps but that's half the fun.
- You can use just about anything to put your house on! Use a cake stand, pie plate, serving platter, cardboard cake board, or a cookie sheet. If you are going to do something like put foil over cardboard be sure to glue the foil to the cardboard really well. I didn't one year and the weight of the gingerbread house ripped the foil and the hold thing slid off and broke one year.
- *You can make royal icing without meringue powder and with egg whites instead. If you'd like to try that method, please see this royal icing post for that recipe. It's a great option but raw egg whites makes some people squeamish.
- This is NOT my go-to gingerbread man cookie recipe! I LOVE this soft gingerbread cookie recipe and if you are looking for a cookie recipe, try that one. It's perfection.
- When making the royal icing you can have NO LEFTOVER GREASE in your bowl. Make sure your bowls, spoons, and icing bags are totally free from grease. That fat keeps the icing from coming together and will ruin the batch.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 30 min
- Category: dessert
- Method: bake
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: how to make a gingerbread house, gingerbread house, gingerbread house recipe, gingerbread house template free
Making Gingerbread Houses is really fun and a great activity to put you in the holiday spirit. They make a fun Christmas decoration that you can enjoy too! I can’t wait to see what you create.