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Here’s my completely homemade gingerbread house recipe including how to bake, construct, and decorate with royal icing and buttercream. There are no rules when it comes to decorating gingerbread houses. The ONLY rule is to have fun!

gingerbread house with frosting and decorations

One of the most common recipe questions I receive is how to turn my gingerbread cookies into a house. I’ve never really had a solid answer until now. I have it all for you today including:

  • solid gingerbread cookie dough recipe
  • a free gingerbread house template with the exact shapes you’ll need
  • all my decorating tips and recommendations
  • links to the products I use if you want to replicate this

Trust me when I say that I am NOT a crafty person, but I could EASILY decorate this beauty and I’m showing you exactly how I did it. This is perfect for beginners!

gingerbread house with frosting and decorations

Let’s get started. Here’s the video tutorial to guide you along. You can watch me make this gingerbread house from start to finish, including rolling out the dough and decorating the house. Sprinkled throughout are my highly recommended tips and methods to guarantee gingerbread house success.

Gingerbread House Video Tutorial


Starting Your Homemade Gingerbread House

We’re using a cookie dough that’s similar to my gingerbread cookies. The gingerbread cookies are soft in the centers and crisp on the edges, but the gingerbread house shapes are much more sturdy and solid. Let’s compare the house recipe to the cookie recipe:

  • small amount of baking soda for less puff
  • less butter so the house shapes are harder
  • less molasses so the dough isn’t as sticky
  • add water to make a smoother dough

Other than that, the recipes are pretty similar. Chilling the dough is imperative– otherwise the house pieces will lose shape and constructing will be impossible. The dough is a little sticky from the molasses, so I recommend chilling in two discs before rolling out.

Why two discs? It’s easier to roll out smaller portions of cookie dough.

2 images of gingerbread house cookie dough in a glass bowl and formed into discs wrapped in plastic wrap

How to Construct a Gingerbread House

Use my gingerbread house template. This template will give you a small-medium house that’s totally approachable. I find large houses difficult to construct and decorate.

This house is approximately 7 inches tall with the chimney and 6 inches wide.

Click this link for the PDF: Sally’s Baking Recipes Gingerbread House Template

Print out the template and cut out the shapes. Each shape will be used TWICE. For example, two roofs, two sides, etc. Use a pizza cutter or small knife. The chimney is totally optional, but I think it’s a cute addition.

2 images of rolled out gingerbread house cookie dough and cutting out a cookie dough shape
2 images of gingerbread house shapes and gingerbread house pieces on a silpat baking mat

*Best Method for Rolling the Dough*

The most successful way to roll out this gingerbread cookie dough is between two sheets of parchment paper. It will stick to your counter no matter how much you flour it.

Re-roll the scraps so you have enough dough for the entire house.

Baked gingerbread house pieces

2 images of constructing a gingerbread house and adding frosting to a gingerbread house

Gingerbread House Icing

Every house needs sturdy walls, right? Royal icing is the “glue” that holds the house together. It’s also the glue adhering any candies to the walls and roof. As you can see in these photos, I covered the roof with royal icing before piping the buttercream on. As the royal icing dried, it gently dripped off the sides and looked like snow.

TIP: Use as much royal icing as you need to for constructing the house. It dries hard and will look like snow. Plus, you can cover up any messy parts with buttercream or candy.


Crusting Buttercream for Decoration

Though I love working with both, I’m much better at decorating desserts with buttercream compared to royal icing. And maybe you’re the same? So let’s use some STURDY and THICK buttercream called Crusting Buttercream. Made with both shortening and butter, crusting buttercream “sets” and doesn’t stay sticky– it’s ideal for decorating gourmet cakes, cookies, and gingerbread houses.

Two tools I highly recommend:

  1. A squeeze bottle for the royal icing “glue” around the edges of the house.
  2. A piping bag (reusable or disposable) + tip for decorating with buttercream. I only used 1 piping tip for the entire house: Ateco piping tip #32. This is a small open star piping tip and you can watch me use it in the video above. Makes a lovely design.
gingerbread house frosting in a glass bowl
2 images of frosting on gingerbread house roof and frosting in a piping bag

Candies for Decorating a Homemade Gingerbread House

  • gumdrops
  • M&Ms
  • candy canes (mini or regular size)
  • peppermint swirl candies
  • sprinkles (I used a holiday mix from Sweetapolita)
  • edible metallic beads/dragees (I use Sweetapolita)
  • marshmallows
  • coconut for “snow”
  • cinnamon sticks, Hershey’s Kisses, chocolate chips, cereal pieces!
  • icing decorations such as these snowflakes

I absolutely love the Wilton brand icing decorations you can find online or at craft stores. I bought them at Michaels craft store, which had a ton of gingerbread house decorating candies in the seasonal section including the pictured holly and snowflake icing decorations. (No sponsored, genuinely LOVE wilton and michaels craft store.)

Colorful candy in bowls for decorating gingerbread house

Gingerbread House Ideas

I gathered a few links for you to use as decorating inspiration. There are so many beautiful (and SIMPLE) decorated gingerbread houses out there.

Ditch the “pinterest perfection” goal and get messy. The piped crusting buttercream on my pictured gingerbread house hid about 100 mistakes. Remember, there are no rules when it comes to decorating. The ONLY rule is to have fun.

Decorated gingerbread house roof
Gingerbread house decorations

Watch me decorate a gingerbread house in the video above. I added two decorated sugar cookies to the “yard.”

I can’t wait to see your gingerbread house creations! This was truly one of the most fun projects; it was a complete joy testing, decorating, photographing, and filming this recipe. I truly hope it brings exciting memories to your family this holiday season. And even though they make a beautiful Christmas decoration, don’t forget to eat all your hard work!!

gingerbread house with decorations

Love to create and decorate? You’ll enjoy making this yule log, too!

See Your Gingerbread Houses!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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gingerbread house with frosting and decorations

Gingerbread House Recipe (VIDEO)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 day
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 day
  • Yield: 1 house 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Here’s my completely homemade gingerbread house recipe including how to bake, construct, and decorate with royal icing and buttercream. Everything can be prepared in advance, see my make ahead tip after the recipe instructions. House structure must completely set for at least 4-6 hours before decorating.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) unsulphured dark molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) water
  • royal icing (the “glue”)
  • assorted candies (see post for suggestions)

Crusting Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup (95g) shortening, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Print out my Sally’s Baking Recipes Gingerbread House Template and cut out the shapes. Set aside for step 6.
  2. Make the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, molasses, and water on high speed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Cookie dough will be very thick.
  4. Divide cookie dough in half, flatten into discs (about 4-5 inches in diameter), and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 3 days.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. Cut into shapes: Remove each disc from the refrigerator and roll each out in between two pieces of parchment paper. Watch me do this in the video above– gingerbread cookie dough will stick to your counter no matter how much you flour it. Parchment is best. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. You want thick pieces for your gingerbread house. Lightly flour the underside of gingerbread house template shapes. (The dough is sticky and the paper may stick to it otherwise.) Using a pizza cutter or small knife, carefully cut the dough into the gingerbread house template shapes. You will need TWO of each shape. Re-roll dough scraps so you have enough dough for the whole house. Use any extra dough to create fun shapes using cookie cutters. I made a few gingerbread stars!
  7. Carefully arrange gingerbread house shapes onto prepared baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. If they lost some of their shape transferring to the baking sheet, straighten out the edges (see my video above).
  8. Bake house pieces for about 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Bake chimney pieces for about 12-13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow shapes to cool completely on the baking sheets or on the counter. A flat surface is KEY for cooling– the gingerbread house edges very slightly curl up otherwise. Cooled gingerbread house pieces can be made up to 1 week in advance, cover tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, thaw at room temperature before using.
  9. Construct the base of the house: Select a base for your gingerbread house. I used a wooden cake server. Watch my video above to guide you through constructing the house. Start with two pieces: the front of the house and 1 side. Using a squeeze bottle, run a thick line of royal icing on one long edge and one short edge of the side of the house piece. Stick it to your base. Use whatever you have around the house to help it stand up. You can see in my video that I use snack bag clips. You can also prop it up with soda cans, a tall cup, water bottle, etc. Run a line of royal icing along the bottom of the front of the house piece. Stick it to your base, adhering it to the side of the house piece. Hold the two in place for a few minutes until the icing is partially set, propping them up as necessary. Repeat with the 2nd side of the house piece and back of the house piece. Pipe royal icing inside any seams, inside and outside of the house, to fill any voids. Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the royal icing “glue” — when it dries, it looks like snow! Allow it to set at room temperature for at least 1 hour before adding the roof pieces.
  10. Add the roof: The roof pieces will be placed on top of the house base. Run a thick line of royal icing on the inside edges of one of the roof pieces and adhere it to the base. Hold in place for a few minutes. Repeat with 2nd roof piece. Run a thick line of royal icing where the two roof pieces meet at the top of the house. Hold in place for a few minutes.
  11. Optional Chimney: The chimney is optional, but it’s a lot of fun. I recommend putting together the chimney separately, then adhering to the roof. It’s easiest to glue the chimney pieces together upside-down. Use thick lines of royal icing to assemble the chimney in the same way you put together the base of the house. (Except you’re not adhering it to a base because it’s going on the roof!) Allow icing to set by propping it up as necessary. Once set, adhere onto the roof. The chimney may not fit to the exact angle of the roof because both puffed up or lost some shape during baking and cooling, so use as much royal icing as necessary and you can cover any bare spots with buttercream during decoration.
  12. House must set: Before decorating, the icing on the entire house must completely set. Allow the entire house to set at room temperature for at least 3 hours, preferably 4-6 hours or even overnight before decorating. Cover and store leftover royal icing at room temperature or in the refrigerator during this time. It will be the glue for adhering candies to the house.
  13. Prepare the buttercream: Buttercream can be prepared up to 1 day in advance– cover tightly and store in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before piping/decorating. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the shortening and butter together on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Frosting will be very thick, which is what you want. If much too thick, add another splash of milk. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I add 1/8 teaspoon salt.)
  14. Use buttercream, leftover royal icing, and candies for decorating. See my candy suggestions in the blog post above. I only used 1 piping tip for the entire house: Ateco piping tip #32. This is a small open star piping tip and you can watch me use it in the video above. Makes a lovely design.
  15. Don’t forget to chow down on your beautiful creation if you’re in the mood for eating it. Use your best judgment here, obviously the food will taste old after a few days!

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Royal icing can be prepared the day before, see recipe note below. Crusting buttercream can also be made the day before, see step 13. Cookie dough can be made up to 3 days in advance, see step 4. Baked and cooled house pieces can be made up to 1 week in advance or frozen for up to 3 months, see step 8. House can be completely constructed up to 1 day in advance, see step 12.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Rolling Pin | Pizza Cutter | Baking Sheet | Silpat Baking Mat | Meringue Powder | Squeeze Bottle | Wooden Server | Piping Bags (reusable or disposable) | Ateco Decorating Tip #32 | Christmas Tree Decorations | Snowflake Decorations | Mini Candy Canes | Candy Canes | Gum Drops
  3. Recipe Yield: One gingerbread house plus 6-8 3-inch cookies. Gingerbread house is about 7 inches tall (with chimney) and 6 inches wide.
  4. Royal Icing: Decide how much royal icing you want to use. I suggest making the entire recipe so you have plenty for constructing and decorating. You can make the royal icing the day before– cover and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight. Let it come to room temperature before using. You can freeze leftover royal icing (instructions in that recipe) or use it to decorate Christmas cookies. As you can see in these photos, I covered the roof with royal icing before piping the buttercream on top. (Let the royal icing dry before adding the buttercream on top.) As the royal icing dried, it gently dripped off the sides and looked like snow!
  5. Shortening: Shortening is what makes this buttercream “crust” or “set” after a couple hours. If you want a sticky buttercream, you can replace the shortening with unsalted butter.

Keywords: gingerbread house

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Thank you! I doubled the recipe and printed your template out at 75% to get 3 houses for my 3 kids; had some cookie dough left over for yard decor. They all cooked and put together perfectly! I wish I could post pictures!

  2. I don’t know who this Sally thinks she is saying we could make extra shapes with left over dough….ms girl- there was literally an inch of dough to spare if that. I am not exaggerating it was not fun to try to get it to all get together.

    1. I had plenty leftover to make an additional side and end piece (to fix my first ones ) plus a few little trees. Maybe you rolled it out thicker? That would use more dough.

    2. She’s someone who’s sharing a lot of useful information for free. I had enough dough for the house plus another tray of cookies including two rather large dinosaurs. Initially I rolled the dough too thick and wouldn’t have had enough. 1/4″ is just about perfect.

  3. Hi, I was wondering if I would be able to replace the brown sugar with either white granulated sugar or raw sugar? Also would it work alright for me to take out the molasses entirely or what would work as a substitute? Thanks.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, Without the brown sugar and molasses these won’t have the signature gingerbread taste. Unfortunately there isn’t a good substitute for molasses that will give the same taste. Instead, these direction with our regular sugar cookies. You may need to 1.5 or double the recipe to have plenty to construct 1 house. We would make a few separate batches of dough so there’s plenty to work with. We’ve also done it with our chocolate sugar cookies and you need a lot of royal icing to hold it together since the cookies are a bit denser than gingerbread cookies. Have fun!

    1. Hi Elena, in terms of structure, texture, and taste, we’ve had the best success with this recipe using butter. You can try solid (room temperature) coconut oil so that it can be creamed with the brown sugar, although we haven’t personally tried this gingerbread house cookie dough with coconut oil, so we can’t say for sure. Let us know if you give it a try!

  4. Hello! The house is finished, we would like to wait to eat it on Christmas, 5 days away! Can we put it the fridge to keep longer ?
    Thanks again!
    Marcy

    1. Hi Marcy! Use your best judgment here, obviously the food will taste old after a few days and the fridge won’t help much for this assembled house. Hope you enjoyed building and decorating your gingerbread house!

  5. Question- I do not have/cannot get meringue powder. Do you have another substitution for frosting?

    1. Hi Ali! We would do a quick search for a royal icing recipe that uses egg whites instead of meringue powder and following that recipe instead 🙂

  6. For anybody who has time to plan ahead, if you leave the dough in the refrigerator for 5-7 days it becomes much easier to roll out. It doesn’t stick to everything and you don’t need parchment paper, because it dries out somewhat, just right for rolling but still bakes up nicely. Probably for an edible cookie it might make it too dry, but for building a gingerbread house that wouldn’t be a problem.

  7. The recipe is fantastic and tastes great! I love making different shapes houses/ trains, etc and I actually made two houses from this recipe. Thak you so much.

    1. Hi Deon, Use your best judgment here but it should be ok covered for few days.

  8. Just echoing some other comments here already, but the 350g measurement for the flour is not enough. The dough with that measurement was like tar and too moist. Might be better to use the cup measurements instead (I’m not sure how much extra flour I ended up adding). Luckily the dough is pretty forgiving so you can just add flour little by little until you get the same consistency as the video.

    When assembling I’d also recommend waiting for the walls to dry before adding the roof.

    I used a different recipe for the royal icing as I’m not sure where to get meringue powder in my country 🙂

    4 stars because the flavour of the cookies is really nice and the template was great – the house is a perfect little size!

    1. Oh! That makes sense! I was trying to make this, I made the dough yesterday and refrigerated it over-night, but this morning when I was trying to roll it out, it was getting everywhere, sticking to everything (even the floured parchment paper, and just was soo sticky! I had measured it out using weight because I like it to be the exact right weight. Thanks!

  9. Too sticky to even get off the baking paper let alone bake. Had to toss the whole lot.

  10. This is an EXCELLENT recipe. It was easy to follow and made a sturdy little house. The aroma from the gingerbread house was incredible and the cookies still tasted good dipped in coffee several weeks later when the house was smashed.

  11. This recipe was easy to follow and absolutely made my eight-year-old child’s Christmas! Instead of printing out the template, I just copied the dimensions onto parchment paper and cut them out, it worked a charm and there wasn’t any floury residue on my construction materials. (Fortunately, I didn’t experience the same issue with stickiness that others have encountered.) The gingerbread was sturdy and tasty and it was so much fun to decorate! These cute little houses really add a lot Christmas cheer. When family came over, they were inspired to make their own!
    (I opted to use an eggless royal icing recipe because their was no way that I would get meringue powder in time but I will definitely be using the royal icing recipe from this recipe next year.)

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