Bake a simple and sturdy gingerbread house that kids of all ages will love to decorate for Christmas! In this post I'm sharing a recipe for rock-solid gingerbread and icing that's perfect for DIY gingerbread house construction, plus lots of tips and decorating ideas for how to make a homemade gingerbread house.
There are so many wonderful traditions that help to make the holiday season such a magical one. For me, those traditions include baking (and eating!) my favorite Christmas cookies and decorating the tree while enjoying a glass of egg nog. And, of course, decorating a gingerbread house!
My siblings and I used to decorate a gingerbread house together every year. We'd each get to decorate one side of the house, and the end result would be a hodgepodge of icing and candy. It wasn't always pretty, but we always had fun decorating the house together. So today, in the hopes that you and your family will find the same joy in baking and decorating a house together, I'm sharing a version of the tried-and-true homemade gingerbread house recipe that my family has been using for decades.
How to Keep a Gingerbread House from Falling Apart
My best tip for making a gingerbread house that will hold up through the entire holiday season: use a rock-solid gingerbread house recipe!
If you're looking for a gingerbread recipe that makes soft, delicious gingerbread cookies perfect for decorating and eating, this is NOT it. (But I've got you covered; head right this way for my recipe for perfect gingerbread cookies.) This recipe makes gingerbread that's as hard as a rock. You'd crack a tooth trying to eat it. But it's excellent for building a nice and sturdy gingerbread house that will last all season.
And you don't just need sturdy gingerbread. You'll want strong "glue" too. This recipe uses an icing that dries hard to securely hold the house together. I've adapted the gingerbread house recipe that my family has been using for years, and while the gingerbread and icing are technically edible, they're designed to create a solid gingerbread house.
Keep scrolling for my homemade gingerbread house recipe, tips and tricks for building your own gingerbread house, and exactly how I decorated the house shown here!
Tips for Making a Homemade Gingerbread House from Scratch:
- Use a gingerbread recipe that will create a hard cookie for a more sturdy house. Use an icing recipe that will dry hard to securely hold your house together. Keep scrolling for my gingerbread house and gingerbread house "glue" recipes!
- Use a silicone baking mat to get perfectly cut pieces. Instead of rolling out your dough on the counter and moving your cut pieces of dough to a baking sheet (and risking stretching the dough slightly in the process), roll and cut your dough right on your baking mat. Then remove the excess dough without moving the cut out pieces and transfer the baking mat onto a cookie sheet. This will ensure that your cut out shapes don't get stretched our squished and retain their shape so that all the pieces of your house will fit together nicely when it's time to construct the house.
- If adding intricate designs to the sides of the house (such as piped "glue" design or the "bricks" shown here, I suggest adding these decorations before you assemble the house. It will be much easier to create your design with the sides of the house laying flat. Just be sure that your design is completely dry before assembling the house.
Gingerbread House Decorating Ideas (and How I Decorated My Gingerbread House):
- Roof - I created the look of a shingled roof using Crispix cereal and dusted the roof with confectioners' sugar to look like a dusting of snow.
- Brick - I wanted the exterior of the house to look like brick, so I used red sour candy belts, which I cut into small rectangles. (I wasn't able to find these at grocery stores or big box retailers, but eventually found them at a local candy store. I also found them in bulk on Amazon here.) I attached the bricks to the front, back, and sides of the house before assembling the house.
- Wreaths - I cut extra circles from the gingerbread dough to create the wreaths. I then covered the front of the wreaths in "glue" and dipped them in green sanding sugar. On the larger wreath, I added small red sprinkles to look like decorations.
- Wreath Bows - To make the bows, I used Twizzlers pull'n'peel candy. I carefully peeled the individual pieces and shaped them into a bow, securing them with "glue".
- Windows - To create the windows, I piped "glue" onto a piece of wax paper in the shape of the window and window panes. Once this hardened, I peeled them from the wax paper and used more "glue" to attach them to the house around each window.
- Shutters - I used these wafer cookies to create the shutters. I split the cookies in half and used the side without the cream filling. I cut each cookie piece into smaller rectangles to fit the windows I had cut.
- Walkway - I used chopped walnuts to create the walkway to the front door.
- Snow - For this gingerbread house I used confectioners' sugar as snow. It looks great, but I actually don't recommend this if you're planning to leave your gingerbread house on display because if someone sneezes near it you're going to have a huge mess! Shredded coconut would be a less messy option. Or you could use extra "glue" to frost your base.
- Icicles - I made icicles along the roof by carefully piping "glue" down from the edge of the roof.
Recommended Tools for Making a Homemade Gingerbread House:
You can absolutely make a gingerbread house without these tools, but they will definitely make your life easier!
- Gingerbread house cookie cutter set (I used this set)
- A silicone baking mat makes moving your cut shapes from the counter to the baking sheet a breeze (I love my Silpat mat). You could also use parchment paper.
- A piping bag and a small, round piping tip (I like Wilton's disposable piping bags and used this piping tip to make my gingerbread house)
- A sturdy base to build your house on (a cutting board, marble slab, or large piece of thick cardboard will work great)
This post was updated in November 2020 to provide an improved user experience.