Home sweet home. Combining baking with design, gingerbread houses are a fun and creative way to celebrate the season. Whether starting from scratch or using a store-bought gingerbread house kit, we’ve compiled step-by-step instructions to build an architectural masterpiece. Even if you already know how to make a gingerbread house, this guide offers tips, tricks and inspiration to help you along the way.
Gingerbread House Materials
To start your homemade gingerbread house, you’ll need sturdy walls. For this, you can either purchase a kit, use graham crackers or bake your own gingerbread cutouts. If you’re working from scratch, print out or draw a gingerbread house template that has the exact shapes you’ll need. Use a serrated knife to cut the gingerbread or graham crackers into your desired shapes.
Next, you’ll need gingerbread house icing to hold everything together. Royal icing makes a perfect “glue” for securing the walls as well as any candies and decorations.
Finally, select a base. A sturdy, flat foundation will make it easier to safely move and store your gingerbread house. Cake and serving platters are great options that you probably already have on-hand.
Gingerbread House Decorations
To finish your candy home, you’ll need some gingerbread house decorations. Though you can use any candy you want, some practical options include small sweets such as gumdrops, chocolates, candy canes and peppermints. Use the leftover icing to draw details, like roof shingles and windows, as well as for securing pieces of candy onto your house. Some other popular gingerbread house candy choices include sprinkles, marshmallows, cereal pieces, pretzels and licorice.
How to Make a Gingerbread House
Once you have all your materials ready, it’s time to get building! To begin, transfer the royal icing to a piping bag or decorating bag substitute. Pipe icing along all four sides of one wall, then hold the wall onto the base until begins to stick. Next, ice the edges of another side of the house and attach it to the erected wall, holding until the icing partially dries (this may take a few minutes). Repeat these steps with the remaining sides of the house, using the icing to fill all seams.
Once the house walls are constructed, gently add the roof pieces. To adhere the roof, run a thick line of icing along the inside edges of one of the roof pieces, then secure it to the walls, holding it in place until it sets. Repeat with the second roof piece. Use icing to join the two roof pieces together. Let your finished building rest a few hours to set completely.
Once the icing is dry and the walls and roof are firmly in place, you can begin adding your decorations!
Gingerbread House Ideas
The classic cozy candy cottage might be tradition, but your gingerbread décor has no bounds. Here are some clever concepts for your eye-catchingly sweet centerpiece.
- Pretzel Log Cabin: Create a log cabin by stacking pretzels in a horizontal position up each wall, covering the gingerbread completely. Use icing to secure each pretzel in place.
- Minty Mansion: Decorate your gingerbread house with reds and whites. Candy canes, red and white icing and red candies can be used to create a vision of peppermint perfection.
- Gingerbread Presents: Rather than building a home, create gingerbread boxes and finish them with icing bows to create a picturesque (and edible) pile of presents.
- Gingerbread City: Create multiple gingerbread homes and cabins to design a gingerbread city. Let everyone decorate their own house, then arrange the town on a platter or table.
- Seasonal Sparkles: Add some glam with shimmery candies, sugar pearls and edible glitter.
- A Holiday Message: Skip the doors and windows and fill the walls with holiday imagery and warm wishes. Using an extra fine food marker or piping tip, try drawing trees, snowflakes, or writing holiday-themed words such as “joy,” “merry” and “cheer.”
For a truly impressive display, don’t stop at just the house! Use candies to create a path into your home, then add a few 3D gingerbread cookies to establish a yard. Recreate a fresh snow with a sprinkle of shredded coconut or confectioners’ sugar.
Remember, your DIY gingerbread house can be anything you want it to be, so have fun and let your creativity go wild. For more family-friendly winter inspiration, recipes and other festive goodies, head over to our Holiday Meal Shop.