INSIDE: Learn how to make a gingerbread house. Start a new tradition this Christmas! We've got you covered with an adorable gingerbread house mold, the perfect dough recipe, an icing how-to video, and decoration ideas!
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Your kids are never too old to start a new Christmas tradition. We have been looking for ways to make the holiday feel special — at home. Will you join us in making a homemade gingerbread house this year?
In the past, we've always gotten the pre-made gingerbread house kit and done it with the kids. The project is a one-and-done afternoon activity that, quite honestly, always falls flat. My teen daughter asked if we could skip the kit and make a gingerbread house "like they do in the movies" this year.
What do they do "in the movies," you ask? They make the gingerbread house from scratch, of course, laughing in the kitchen while munching on candy with holiday music in the background.
The catch for us parents in the real world — Sometimes these 'little' Christmas baking projects don't end up being so Norman Rockwell. I've recently learned a life-changing trick that makes holiday baking less stressful and more joyful. Here's what you need to do...
How to Make A Gingerbread House & Still HAVE FUN With Your Kids!
Here's the secret — Spread this holiday tradition out over the course of a week instead of trying to cram it all into a single day.
Instead of heading into each of these activities exhausted and flustered (because you've been baking with the kids all day), you'll approach each section completely refreshed.
- PREP: Order the gingerbread house template, recipe ingredients, icing supplies, and candy decorations. Get all the details below!
- DAY 1: Invite the kids to the kitchen and make the gingerbread house recipe together. I encourage you to let them get in on the baking action! Store the dough in the fridge until you're ready for the next step.
- DAY 2: Roll the gingerbread dough out and bake it in your gingerbread house template — this is the one we use! Let the walls and roof cool overnight.
- DAY 3: Decorate! Make your gingerbread icing and decorate your four walls! Give the icing time to dry.
- DAY 4: Build the structure and let it dry overnight.
- DAY 5: Decorate the roof and add final details to the exterior!
Ok, let's dive into the details...
Gingerbread House Template
We use this Christmas holiday baking set which comes with three silicone gingerbread house molds (4.5 out of 5 stars). Pop on over to Amazon to see some of the customer photos in the reviews section. So cute!
Gingerbread House Recipe
We recommend using Ann Reardon's gingerbread house recipe from How To Cook That. My good friend Carey who recommended the gingerbread house mold to us explains, "This is THE BEST recipe for the gingerbread house. I didn't use it the very first time we made a gingerbread house and the dough rose WAY TOO MUCH in the molds. Anne's method and recipe are PERFECT for this mold."
Add the following gingerbread ingredients to your shopping list:
- Brown sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Golden syrup or treacle
- Ground cloves
- All-purpose flour
How To Make A Gingerbread House Using This Recipe & Silicone Baking Mold
After you've made the dough, be sure to watch the intro of this video on how to split the dough properly for the different sections of the mold!
While we're using this video's recipe and mold, we recommend using a different icing recipe for a stronger hold. Get that below!
^ We cannot decide if we want to do the candy coating or just a straight-up gingerbread house this year. Both are so cute!
Gingerbread House Icing
When making a gingerbread house you absolutely want to use royal icing as the structural glue. Classic gingerbread house icing recipes will likely include egg whites as an ingredient. If you're like our family and cannot resist eating the icing, I encourage you to use a safe recipe with meringue powder instead. We love Wilton as a frosting and icing resource!
We'd recommend doubling the Wilton royal icing recipe from the get-go if you've got a stand mixer with enough capacity. If you've got a hand mixer, simply make two batches. You're going to need:
- Powdered Sugar
- Meringue Powder
You'll want to start with a batch of icing for decorating. Then you'll move on and make a second royal icing batch of thick gingerbread house icing for securing the structure. We love being able to see what the icing consistency looks like in the video below.
^We just love her! These tips are all great.
Pro-Tips: 3 Easy Gingerbread House Ideas That Will Help You Keep Your Sanity
- Stop! Don't put the gingerbread house together quite yet. I want to share a quick pro-tip from a good friend, "We have found it works better to do the majority of the decorating of the panels while they lay flat. Once dry THEN assemble the house!"
- Keep it simple! Below are a bunch of playful gingerbread house candy and decorating materials. More isn't always better, sometimes it is just more. Ensure a cute gingerbread house by picking just a few decorating materials and being creative with them!
- Let go of that image of the perfect gingerbread house! Enjoy the creative process and don't fret if things don't end up looking like you originally planned. This is a new holiday tradition, which means you can try again next year.
We've always loved this solution to a gingerbread house gone wrong.
Be Prepared: Get A Gingerbread T-Rex
Gingerbread House Candy
There are so many fun options for gingerbread house candy! Here are some of favorite decorating candies to consider adding to your shopping list.
- Classic Gumdrops
- Candy Canes
- Starlight Mints
- Holiday M&Ms
- Mini Starbursts
- Jelly Belly Beans
- Red Hots
- Nesco Wafers
- Chocolate Kisses
- Peanut Butter Cups
- Nonpareils + Snowcaps
- Chocolate Chips
SAFETY NOTE: If you have a dog in your house as we do, I recommend staying away from chocolate for their safety. Or be sure to put your gingerbread house up safely out of reach!
We absolutely LOVE this tip for rolling out and cutting classic gumdrops into custom shapes. We just bought a 3-pound bag of gumdrops on Amazon to play! SO FUN.
Here are a few of our other favorite gingerbread house ideas!
- Classic Christmas M&MS and Candy Canes
- Cookie & Candy Cane Sleigh
- Chocolate Christmas Trees Tutorial
- Rock-Colored Jelly Bean Fireplace — The Gingerbread Journal has so many awesome photos for advanced bakers!
Gingerbread House Decorations — Going Beyond Candy!
While I absolutely love classic candy decorated gingerbread houses, we've seen some stunning examples of playful alternatives. Here are some ideas to add to your shopping list if you want a beautiful, more natural-colored gingerbread house.
- Nuts, nuts, and more nuts: sliced almonds, full pecans, naturally colorful pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts
- Pretzel of all shapes and sizes: Pretzel square roofs, pretzel rod cabins, the possibilities are endless
- A minimalistic house with powdered sugar to accent the mold design
- Sugar ice-cream cones frosted into pine trees
- Fresh herbs "holiday decorations"
- Chex mix cereal rooftops
- Mini marshmallows
- Biscoff wafers
- Nilla wafers
How cute are these gingerbread house decorating ideas?!?!
Putting It All Together
When your four walls are decorated, it is time to use the gingerbread house icing to glue the structure together. Both the videos above offer great tips for making this process run smoothly, including using a cup or can to give the gingerbread house extra support while you work!
Be sure to let your gingerbread house dry for at least two hours before continuing to decorate. We recommend letting it dry overnight, if possible. The baking company Wilton warns, "When it comes to building gingerbread houses, patience is a virtue! Give your gingerbread house plenty of time to dry when working."
How To Make a Gingerbread House The Right Way
The "right way" to make a homemade gingerbread house depends on YOUR FAMILY in this season of life.
If you've got little ones, maybe you want to involve them in making the dough and icing, but save the decorating as a gift for yourself at night while you sip cocoa and watch a holiday movie. That is perfectly okay, my friend.
If your kiddos are older, you might involve them in all the steps. This is the perfect opportunity to let them take charge of decorating and embrace imperfection.
If you've got teens in the house, use this chance to put them in charge of holiday fun. Building a gingerbread house together is a great tradition that gives you lots of time to connect in the kitchen while you work. That being said, if this is too much teen-time consider collaborating independently!
In my humble opinion, the only real requirements beyond the gingerbread house supplies are Christmas music and hot chocolate while you work.
Wishing you and the people you love most in this world a healthy and joyful holiday season.
P.S. A big THANK YOU to my friend Carey for inspiring our family to take on this new holiday tradition. We are always inspired by your creativity! xo
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