Gingerbread House Recipe (VIDEO)

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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!

Homemade gingerbread house recipe and template

Welcome to the December Baking Challenge and recipe #6 in Sally’s Cookie Palooza!

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, so I decided to make December 2018 the month of gingerbread houses!! 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!

How to make a beautiful and SIMPLE homemade gingerbread house with royal icing and buttercream. Recipe and template on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Alright, 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!

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.

Gingerbread house cookie dough

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 Addiction 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!

Gingerbread house cookie dough

Gingerbread house shapes

*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

Constructing 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 + 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!

Frosting for gingerbread house decorating

Frosting for gingerbread house decorating

Candies for Decorating a Homemade Gingerbread House

  • gumdrops
  • M&Ms
  • candy canes (mini or regular size)
  • peppermint swirl candies
  • sprinkles (I use this 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!)

Candy 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.” So cute!

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!!

Homemade gingerbread house recipe and template

Join the December Baking Challenge

Make, assemble, and decorate the homemade gingerbread house recipe below. Recipe yields one house, but can easily be doubled or tripled. As long as you decorate a homemade gingerbread house using my recipe below, you’re participating in the challenge!

If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate December Baking Challenge:

After you make the homemade gingerbread house or alternate recipe, share your photos throughout December using #sallysbakingchallenge on your public Instagram or Twitter account. Or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group. Or email it to me. By sharing or sending your photo, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway!

Homemade Gingerbread House

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:

  • 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 or dark molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons 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

Directions:

  1. Print out my Sally's Baking Addiction 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, using a lightly floured rolling pin, 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!

Make ahead tip: 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.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Recipe yields one gingerbread house plus 6-8 3-inch cookies. Gingerbread house is about 7 inches tall (with chimney) and 6 inches wide.
  2. 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 (see blog post) 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!
  3. 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.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Rolling Pin | Pizza Cutter | Baking Sheet | Silpat Baking Mat | Meringue Powder | Squeeze Bottle | Wooden Server | Wood Slice Serving Board | Piping BagsAteco Decorating Tip #32 | Christmas Tree Decorations | Snowflake Decorations | Mini Candy Canes | Candy Canes | Gum Drops

50 Comments

All Comments

  1. You are the best Sally! I don’t know any other blogger who genuinely takes so much efforts to make her readers better bakers. Take a bow girl! You are an inspiration. You make it look everything so easy.
    Also, you have a very beautiful smile.

    Absolutely loved the tutorials and the house super cute.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words!! I truly appreciate your positive feedback 🙂 I hope you have fun making your gingerbread house this month!

  2. Just incredible, and inspirational. I feel I can do this now just by watching your video and listening to your insider tips! The outcome was adorable! Thank you for going above and beyond!

  3. Sally, my mom made a house every year for us kids. Here are her tips: roll to 1/4 in thick. Keep it whole, meaning DON’T pull away the extra dough, keeps the edges from puffing up and deforming.
    Royal icing and a few cans, to be extra hands to hold walls while it dries. Mom, used only candies, as brother and I got older it was our job to decorate the house.
    Sadly mom passed April 2017, and her recipe “disappeared” at the same time. Thanks for a new one.

    1. Wonderfully helpful tips, thank you for sharing! I hope this recipe lives up to your family’s. Please let me know how you like it!

  4. I made so excited to make this! I’ve never made a homemade gingerbread house before, but I love to decorate them!! This will be so fun!

  5. This gingerbread house is so pretty! I’ve never made one before but you make it look so easy! I really want to try and make one for the holidays! It will be hard to break it apart to eat it but I’ll want to because it looks so good too!

  6. I was just thinking about making a gingerbread house when this popped up in my inbox! Right on time!
    Any tips on making a gingerbread stable, like with a Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus and all that?

    1. Hi Kyryiann! Perfect timing 🙂 I haven’t attempted a gingerbread stable, but give it a google search. I’m sure there are many options and tutorials. Have fun baking and decorating one!

  7. Yess!! I’m so excited to try this. I was looking a recipe to make a gingerbread house for the first time but I couldn’t decide which to trust. Now I’m all set thank you!!

  8. Hi Sally,
    You discuss everything but the fondant holly leaves. Where do you get those or how do you make those? Thank you.

    1. Hi Genny! Listed under the “candy” section 🙂 I found them at Michaels along with the snowflakes, but I can’t find anywhere to purchase the holly decorations online.

  9. What a perfect challenge for this month! Your video gives a great visual to the details. I made a Noah’s Ark years ago when my children were small. It was very imperfect but a lot of fun. If you ever get the chance, visit the National Gingerbread Competition in Asheville, NC at the Omni Grove Park Inn, or see some of the entries online. Last year was the first year I went and it is phenomenal! They are on display throughout the Christmas season.

  10. You made this look so easy I may even try it. But I know my kitchen would be a mess. Yours was perfectly neat and clean! Have a sweet Christmas!

    Linda

  11. My sister and I have made numerous gingerbread houses in the past; we made it a tradition to construct one every holiday with our friend. Unfortunately, we have to quit that tradition, since we have moved to Nanaimo. Our houses always collapsed into a sad rubble, so we dubbed them “gingerbread ruins” instead of gingerbread houses. This post has inspired my sister and I to try again this year! Thanks for the detailed instructions and videos! They’re very helpful.

  12. Excellent video, Sally, but although I’m a warrior executing many of your great recipes, it still looks daunting to me. Inspiring, though, but I’m a coward on the gingerbread houses!

  13. Hi Sally , I don’t like royal icing I think the flavor is gross. I was wondering if I could use the crusting buttercream instead.
    Thanks Amber

    1. Hi Anna! I haven’t personally tried this gingerbread house cookie dough with coconut oil, so I can’t say for sure. Let me know if you test it!

Reviews

  1. Sally gives really clear and good instructions for your gingerbread house to turn out beautifully. I did not go with the buttercream, but instead stuck with the royal icing as I wanted the gingerbread house to last more than a few days. I decorated mine with nuts, raisins, cranberries, etc. It was so much fun! Will also upload a picture on Pinterest.

    Oh, and if you don’t find molasses in your country, honey is a good replacement!

  2. In the process right now. I made 2 batches of dough and it smells so nom, nom, delicious that it was hard to put away as disks in the freezer. It still feels tender as I do. Tomorrow I will bake and take on the hard part. Construction. Thanks for this December challenge and I can’t wait to get started on some of the cookies on your cookiepalooza

Questions

  1. Hi Sally,
    what a cute gingerbread house! Thanks for providing us with a template, that is so helpful 🙂

    But, one big question (and some follow-ups): why is the house decorated with buttercream? I’ve literally never heard of that before… I would think that it makes keeping the house difficult – shouldn’t it be refrigerated? How long could one keep the house and at what conditions? And wouldn’t the gingerbread get soft (and thus unstable??) rather quickly?

    We always decorate our gingerbread house solely with royal icing – the kids love to help! They each get to decorate one half of the house and it is always so much fun (and a considerable mess ;-))

    1. Hi Sina! You can decorate the house however you’d like and I wanted to use a crusting buttercream. It’s made with shortening, so it’s much more shelf stable than buttercream made solely with butter. One of my gingerbread houses is almost 10 days old and the house is rock solid. Definitely not soft and unstable. It’s, of course, your own judgement call for how long you wish to keep it out at room temperature before eating.

      1. Thank you very much for your reply – I hadn’t meant to critisize, I was just so curious because I never heard of it before and therefore have no experince with it. Ten days is wonderful 🙂

  2. Hi!!
    Can the gingerbread dough be made ahead of time and frozen or should it be baked first then frozen??? Our church is having a Christmas party and it’s gingerbread themed!

    1. Hi Jerilyn! I suggest baking the cookie pieces, letting them cool completely, then freezing them. Thaw before constructing. Have fun!

  3. Hey Sally! This gingerbread house looks amazing (and not intimidating at all!) and I know my dad (who’s a Christmas baby) will love it in lieu of a birthday cake. I just have one question: is there a comparable Wilton tip I can use instead of the Ateco you recommend? I have the large set of Wilton tips and would love to use what I already own. Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you’re going to make this! Yes, there is a Wilton brand equivalent. Wilton tip #32 will give you the same look or any smaller star tip like this. Even my favorite Wilton 1M star tip works too!

  4. So excited to try because my son has been asking for years can we make a gingerbread house but I’ve been too intimidated to try. Thank you! I’m wondering how long the decorated house lasts and is still safe to eat.

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