Gingerbread Houses Article - Allrecipes.com
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Gingerbread Houses

Assembling and decorating a gingerbread house is one of the sweetest traditions of the season.


With our tested recipes, easy-to-follow template and decorating suggestions, it's not so difficult--just gather your supplies, get creative and have some fun!




Planning and Building

Supplies:

  • House template
  • Gingerbread dough: double the recipe
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie sheets
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plywood base or heavy cardboard, doubled to support the house
  • Royal icing, recipe doubled
  • Pastry bags and decorating tips
  • Butter knife, palette knife or flat sandwich spreader
  • A damp cloth for quick clean-ups
  • Glue gun (optional)


Helpful Tips:

  • Allow a weekend to complete the house
  • Have all supplies ready
  • Read all instructions before you begin: you will need to double the gingerbread recipe to have enough dough
  • Allow the gingerbread to cool thoroughly before assembling
  • Make icing ahead of time
  • Keep icing covered with a clean damp cloth (touching icing) and plastic wrap at all times to prevent it from drying out
  • Adjust the consistency of the icing by adding more egg whites if the icing is too dry or more powdered sugar if it is too wet. It should be thick and stiff
  • Prepare the base for your house by covering plywood or heavy cardboard with several layers of foil
  • Use canned goods from the pantry to stabilize the walls during assembly; remove them before adding the roof


The House that Jack Built

Visualize the "yard." Will you have a walkway? Trees? A fence? Set the house at an angle for a pleasing presentation.

To assemble, apply a generous amount of icing to one side of the joint and press an un-iced side to the edge and hold until set. (See step-by-step articles for more photos.)

Apply icing-glue to the bottom of your pieces for more stability; adhere them to the foil/plywood base.

Allow 30 minutes for the front, side walls and back of house to dry and firmly set before adding the roof.

You'll need an extra pair of hands when adding and securing the roof.

Allow house to dry completely before decorating: a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.



Problems?

Don't worry; you'll be able to fill gaps and cover errors later with more icing and decorations.

A fool-proof assembly method, if you're not going to eat the gingerbread, is to use a glue gun. Use icing to finish the look.

Icing can be kept at room temperature overnight. Be sure it is well-covered with a damp cloth and plastic wrap.


Decorating

Supplies:

  • Royal icing
  • Pastry bags and tips
  • Cookie sheets
  • Assorted candy (see step-by-step Gingerbread House articles)
  • Butter knife or flat sandwich spreader
  • Tweezers
  • Knife
  • Super glue (for adult use only; do not use if you will be eating the gingerbread house or candy)



Helpful Tips:

  • Have a plan for decorating. Think about how you want your house to look and what candy should go where
  • Have candy and decorating supplies ready
  • Save time and make accessory items ahead of time: snowmen, trees, carts, candles and fences can be made while you're waiting for the house to dry
  • Apply candy decorations by putting a small dab of icing to the underside of the candy and hold it in place until set
  • Use extra dough scraps for decorative cut-outs
  • Keep the tip of your pastry bag covered with a damp cloth in between decorating to prevent hardening
  • Use tweezers to adhere small items to the house
  • You may need super glue to adhere top-heavy items, like lamp posts


    Storage

    • Moisture is a decorated cookie's worst enemy: display the house in a cool dry place
    • Cover at night to seal out moisture and dust; lightly drape a clean trash bag over the house and base
    • Gingerbread houses can last up to a year, if you choose not to eat them. Spray with a clear lacquer for maximum protection
    • Cover with a plastic bag and store in a box with some Styrofoam “peanuts” to protect house from damage


      Quick Links:

        Comments
        marygendron 
        Nov. 4, 2009 2:24 am
        If useing laquar to preserve the house, post a note advertising that fact. Also if you don't want nibblers. I was decorating a huge display and turned around to put the last item on when a man went by and broke a piece off and started eating it! I wasn't even finished! It was at an Inn and of course we wanted people to see it and enjoy it, not destroy it.But it was a lot of fun putting it together.
         
        priscilla7 
        Dec. 7, 2009 2:59 pm
        its a lot of work hope u enjoyed the time spent knowing the fun u were having and the memories u made
         
        geome 
        Dec. 8, 2009 7:30 pm
        how do i save this on my recie box?
         
        ksquawd 
        Dec. 8, 2009 9:46 pm
        i always wa nted to make a gingerbread house but never had a chance . i am going to save these instructions and try my had at it even if it has to be after Christmas thanks kattie
         
        chickafullah 
        Dec. 8, 2009 11:56 pm
        I can't seem to add this to my recipe box either - help please!
         
        Jojo 
        Dec. 9, 2009 6:05 am
        I'd like to add to recipe box too! Please tell us how we can do this?
         
        Amanda 
        Dec. 9, 2009 6:22 am
        I highlighted all the info, copied it and pasted to a word document. That was the only way I could save it. Hope this helped.
         
        pyv 
        Dec. 9, 2009 6:30 am
        save to favorites.
         
        linda 
        Dec. 9, 2009 6:51 am
        id like to add to recipe box
         
        Dec. 9, 2009 7:27 am
        if you want this in your recipe box then follow these instructions: It's easy! First, copy the article's web address (Url). Then click My Recipe Box at the top right corner of this page. Click Weblink at the top of your Recipe List and paste the Url in the space provided. (Note: If you get a "Sorry...broken link" message, ignore it! Enter a Weblink Title, click Preview, then Save Weblink. Done!)
         
        Jill 
        Dec. 9, 2009 1:03 pm
        Using the template provided how many houses does the recipe above make?
         
        Dec. 9, 2009 4:26 pm
        Thanks lovetobake! That was easy!
         
        Dec. 10, 2009 3:32 am
        Hi Lovetobake! Thanks for sharing how to save articles here that are not done the regular way into our recipe box! Very much appreciated! This will be my first gingerbread house, any suggestions for a newbie? I have only been online with this site for a month or so and have to say that the community feel is great and the recipes are WONDERFUL; great selections and great suggestions! Happy Holidays to Everyone!
         
        Dec. 12, 2009 1:39 pm
        I just bookmarked it and priinted out a copy of the page. It seems to ocme out during the holidays and the site wont let you save it in your recipe box.
         
        Dec. 12, 2009 1:40 pm
        ps my bad, lovetobake got it right! lol
         
        Catachrest 
        Dec. 13, 2009 1:48 pm
        I'm in the middle of my project (taking a break), and so far happy with the results. I'm not making a house (I'm making a merry-go-round) and I really should have waited before doubling the recipe; I'll have lots more gingerbread than I need. Not that that's a bad thing - can you have too much gingerbread?! I haven't made the icing yet - that's the next step.
         
        Aliboo 
        Dec. 16, 2009 8:37 am
        Gingerbread dough freezes well, you can make cutouts at a later date. They are yummy topped with lemon curd!
         
        Brendalee 
        Dec. 20, 2009 10:30 am
        I couldn't find a way to save it either so I just printed it. Weird?
         
        Dani Can Cook 
        Dec. 22, 2009 10:42 pm
        This recipe is great!!! It's sweet with a little touch of spice. Just FYI use a little less Ginger if you like your gingerbread on the sweeter side!!
         
        michael_decamp 
        Dec. 25, 2009 7:24 am
        You can print to a .pdf file and save it that way.
         
        Susanna 
        Dec. 31, 2009 8:05 am
        very cool
         
        Joni 
        Apr. 6, 2010 10:57 pm
        If I bake up all the pieces ahead, will they freeze well until I want to use them?
         
        cyndie 
        Oct. 14, 2010 7:44 pm
        you have to remember that when you build your house to be careful what you put on your roof. If candy us to heavy it will cause your roof to fall. I build gingerbread houses every year, some of which have been published in the newspaper. I usually build very large houses.Do not freeze your pieces, the mositure will cause your gingerbread to become soft, instead store your pieces in a container for later use. the harder they are the easier they are to handle.
         
        cyndie 
        Oct. 14, 2010 7:52 pm
        If you roll your gingerbread dough out and cut your patteren out on the backside of a cookie sheet you wont have pieces that are crooked. just cut and bake on the backside.
         
        netty 
        Oct. 15, 2010 9:47 pm
        I am gonna be making a gingerbread house and enter it in a contest, is this a good recipe or does anyone else out there have a better recipe? Also a good royal icing recipe would be great as well, the one that I have dose not seem to get hard when it dries. Help please.
         
        Marie 
        Oct. 20, 2010 8:50 am
        netty, yes. I use this recipe because there are no eggs and I have had great success for 20 years. 1/2 cup margarine-no need to use butter. 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 1/2 cup molasses 3 1/2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. gr ginger 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp. gr cloves 1/3 cup water mix thoroughly, work with hands til its smooth wrap with plastic wrap and chill for several hours. Bake at 350. Simple-I let it harden for a few days before putting it together.
         
        Leah Marie 
        Nov. 17, 2010 10:24 am
        The recipe I have used and really like is the "building gingerbread" one from this site with the addition of another tbsp of ginger. I do have a question for the experienced bakers out there though. I have an extra 50lbs of high gluten flour and am wondering if I can substitute? Any thoughts?
         
        Samantha M. 
        Dec. 1, 2010 12:00 am
        This will be my first gingerbread house, but I want to do a cool twist on it, as I will be taking it to work as well. Has anyone ever tried to do one "dollhouse" style (cut down middle and able to decorate inside)? Is it even doable?
         
        Dec. 2, 2010 3:47 pm
        AWESOME! Never thought of just making the actual gingerbread house walls and stuff at home.
         
        MiaM 
        Dec. 5, 2010 2:51 pm
        As a norwegian I am an experienced gingerbread house maker! :) We make tons for x-mas every year, so I wanted to add some tips that will make your house building easier: - I recommend using melted sugar to glue the pieces together. It's super easy, just dip the edges of the house in hot melted sugar, and bring pieces together. Sets in a few seconds as the sugar chills. This is dries faster, and is way more solid than using the frosting. Also, you can still eat it if using sugar, don't destroy it with superglue. - It's way easier to do most of the decoration _before_ putting the pieces together, when they are lying flat on the table. After you put the decorated parts together, use what remains of the frosting to hide the edges. The other fun part, except for the making and the decoration of the house is to crash the house with a hammer after x-mas (or whenever you feel like it). Kids love it! Make it seremonial! The gingerbread still tastes good after a couple of weeks on
         
        RKCCCCCW 
        Dec. 6, 2010 9:24 am
        the link is right there under the recipe......gingerbread house and icing recipe....it is a double batch of the cut outs as stated at the beginning....tricky...
         
        Linda 
        Dec. 6, 2010 7:52 pm
        i have a question for MiaM...you recommend using melted sugar to put the pieces of gingerbread house together...How do you melt the sugar? I have made gingerbread houses for years, but the last two years have been disasters because for some unknown reason, my royal icing has been too soft and wont set up...thanks for all the good advice!!
         
        karen 
        Dec. 8, 2010 2:02 pm
        We make each cousin their own house to decorate every year (we end up making about 20 houses)and we just make our royal icing very thick. Just keep adding powdered sugar until very thick and the icing will dry very hard and hold all the pieces togther.
         
        BnE 
        Dec. 15, 2010 3:32 pm
        use a double boiler or two pots one slightly bigger than the other. fill the larger pot with water and put the sugar in the smaller pot and place it on top of the bigger pot stir frequently for even melting
         
        Dec. 16, 2010 8:23 am
        Cyndi's comment of rolling dough out on the cookie sheet, cutting it to size and then baking it with out moving it was brilliant!!!! Made it so easy! Also cut cookie shapes around the edges and just removed excess and baked. cookies and house pieces all in one.
         
        Kit Kat 
        Jan. 8, 2011 3:34 pm
        can you eat the gingerbread template
         
        dianscot 
        Nov. 15, 2011 12:50 pm
        Good tip! That is so rude... You'd think anyone would see all the work is meant for the enjoyment of more than the first people to walk by. Therefore don't wreck it by breaking off parts!
         
        Nov. 27, 2011 5:35 am
        awesome
         
        1quad1 
        Dec. 7, 2011 11:59 am
        to Miam, how do you melt sugar?
         
        Karen carter 
        Dec. 14, 2011 3:25 am
        The melted sugar is one thing I have not tried using, good tip will try this weekend.
         
        montycook 
        Dec. 24, 2011 8:59 pm
        Thanks for the instructions! I'm in the midst of making my house, and so far, so good. The recipe will provide way more cookie dough than needed for one home - I baked 33 cookies! There's a lot of flour, so, the dough won't taste truly like gingerbread (though, I had to use some cake flour, as I ran out of regular flour - this might have been my problem.) But the spices are lovely. Tomorrow, the decoration begins! Wish me luck!
         
        Nadim 
        Jan. 1, 2012 7:55 pm
        Thanks for the recipe! I used it to build the house according to the template last year, and it worked just fine. This year, my daughter and I made a rather more ambitious castle from plans I drew up myself. A few tips from these (both successful) experiences: 1) I think the recipes as given both result in building materials a little less sturdy than ideal. I found that using 9 cups of flour instead of 8 resulted in more workable dough. And more importantly, when making the royal icing, 2 lbs of confectioners sugar with that amount of egg whites resulted in icing that was too soft. Keep beating the icing while adding more sugar until it's stiff. The first time, I did it until the icing wouldn't pour out of the pastry bag nozzle without pressure (after poor performance at first). The second time, I eyeballed it and it came out okay, but in both cases, maybe an extra 1/2 cup or so of sugar was needed. When thick enough, I was able to set castle walls in seconds, with no need f
         
        mlk 
        Nov. 21, 2012 1:12 pm
        Take a cup of sugar and put it in an electric skillet on about 400 until it melts then dip your house sides in it and put it together it works wonderfully. It is very hot have an extra person to help
         
         
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