Gingerbread House Recipe

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 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.

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 + 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 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.)

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!

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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*


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.


  • 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
  • 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


  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 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!


  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 | Wood Slice Serving Board | Piping BagsAteco 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 (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!
  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.


  1. Jerilyn Moyer says:

    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!

  2. 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!!

  3. What type of clips were used I the video when assembling the base of the house? they were blue and yellow.

    1. Just basic snack chip clips– found them in the snack aisle of our grocery store. 🙂

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. Hello! Just wanted to ask if it will work with coconut oil instead of the butter? Thanks in advance!

    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!

  8. My first gingerbread house without a kit was a huge success! My cousin and I had a great day of bonding. Thanks for all the time putting all the details into your recipes. The videos are also a great tool. Another tradition has been added to my list:)

  9. I made this gingerbread house for my little sister on her birthday – I sat it on a large board and spread marshmallow fluff thickly all around the house and stuck gingerbread trees upright in the ‘snow’……she couldn’t have been more thrilled!! Thank you so much Sally!

  10. I have used your gingerbread cooking recipe for gingerbread houses for a few years. The only change I made to your recipe was reducing the baking soda. I use a cast iron gingerbread house mould which helps keep the edges straight and flat. Like you mention, letting the pieces cool completely on the pan is essential to success. We love that the gingerbread never gets brittle and it is still edible with hot apple cider when we break and eat it on New Year’s Day. I use a 7 minute frosting to “glue” the pieces together. You need to reduce the water or it takes too long to dry. This works in our dry climate – it may not work as well in a more humid climate. I may try your “crusting buttercream” next year.

  11. Jeannette Sharp says:

    Getting ahead of planning a gingerbread house decorating party. I want to make 8 houses… any way to make this into two smaller houses so I only have to make the recipe three times? If you had a template for that, that would be amazing.

    1. Hi Jeannette! I don’t have the measurements or template for a smaller house, but this dough would be plenty for 2 smaller houses.

    2. This recipe was amazing! Thank you!
      Just wondering how to keep it ?(we have had an early Christmas here in Australia)
      How long will it last before going bad?
      Thanks again!

  12. Mayanka Khetarpal says:

    Hi Sally,
    For the base can I use a cake board ?
    Also can the ready ginger bread house be decorated by a 3 year old child considering they are not very gentle with handling things?

    1. A sturdy cake board should work well for the base! It is fairly sturdy to decorate, spread frosting, sprinkle candy over, etc. but can be smashed by any size hands that hits it hard enough 🙂

  13. Thank you for your dough recipe…I will be trying it soon! A couple of tips that might speed things up and give sharper shapes: When you roll out the dough between pieces of parchment, make the top sheet the exact size of your baking tray, then when you roll it out, you can see your goal. Trim, then flip right onto your tray. Peel off the now upper sheet, use your templates, and remove excess dough. You can fit many more pieces on one sheet, and pieces do not lose their shape in the transfer to the pan. A second tip: do almost all your decorating on pieces when they are flat on the counter…much easier! After they dry, it is very easy to erect the sides and roof, so all that is left are the seams. Also, please let your readers know: if it is humid, gingerbread and icing will not work. Thanks for sharing your expertise 🙂 and Merry Christmas!

  14. Hello! I have silicone gingerbread house molds I’d like to try with this. Do you think that I could press this dough in the molds and bake it ok? Any suggestions? Thanks Sally, I’m a big fan of your page. It’s my “go-to” for all things yummy.

    1. Hi Christie! Happy to help. You can try it, but this dough is ideal for chilling as discs, rolling out, and cutting into the specified shapes. (The template I provide is free!) I wouldn’t want you to waste your time and the silicone mold not turn out.

  15. This is the most detailed gingerbread house article and recipe I’ve read. Thank you so much for breaking everything down. We had a lot of fun baking and decorating this. Success! And it’s beautiful too.!

  16. Hello Sally,
    Thank you for this great recipe. I always , always follow your blog for all my baking experiments ..Thank you so much for always posting such incredible recipes and tips <3 <3. I just finished making the gingerbread house and everything seemed to be perfect!!(Thanks a lot for the template) I did, however think the gingerbread was harder than a general cookie …is this how it is supposed to be (I have never really tasted a gingerbread house before, so i don't know :P) Otherwise do you have any ideas why it would have gone so hard?(it wasn't burnt, baked perfectly for 16 min)
    Thank you so much!

    1. So happy you enjoyed making this gingerbread house! Yes, the cookie pieces are crunchy and a little hard. You need sturdy pieces to construct the house. 🙂

  17. Hi Sally! I used your gingerbread cookie recipe and gingerbread house recipe for a holiday cookie competition, I and won with “Gingy’s Ugly Sweater Party! Your instructions for both the cookie and the house were great! I needed all the detail I could get as I’ve never made either recipe before. They were super fun to make! I made big cookies for the contest and smaller cookies to wear little ugly sweaters on the house display. I can’t wait to do this again next year with a different theme! (I tagged you on Instagram so you can see the photo from the contest as it says to do in your article! Let me know what you think!!)

    1. YAY!! Congratulations on winning, I hope you’re very proud! I can’t wait to see it. Thank you for tagging me!

  18. Hi Sally! I used your gingerbread cookie recipe and gingerbread house recipe for a holiday cookie contest, and I won with “Gingy’s Ugly Sweater Cookie Contest”! Both recipes were great, so thank you for those! I posted a photo of the display from the contest and tagged you on Instagram as it says to do in your recipe article! Let me know what you think!

    1. Also, meant to leave five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  19. This recipe looks perfect! Changing things up this year and decided on a friendly sibling Gingerbread House decorating contest on Christmas Eve (should go over well with four type A competitive siblings). I am going to use your recipe to make the structure of the houses so everyone starts off the same with a great base!

  20. I made this with my 5 year old grandson, and he loved it! Thanks so much for the template. It is a good size, not too big. I’m delighted with the crusting buttercream recipe. I will use it for other desserts also. Merry Christmas!

  21. Your recipe was perfect. I used caramel to glue the house together. 🙂 The extra dough made some tasty cookies.

  22. Hi, I’m going to have a go at the lovely looking gingerbread house, I have never made one before and I haven’t got the molasses, can I substitute with equal amount of black treacle? Would it ruin the texture of cookies? Any helpful answer will be very much appreciated.

    1. Hi Niki, I haven’t tested this gingerbread house cookie dough with treacle instead of molasses, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. It would be best to stick to the recipe though. I highly recommend using molasses.

  23. Este año hare mi primera casita de galleta ¡estoy muy emocionada! Me encanta hacer galletas para navidad y ya guarde varias de tus recetas para hacerlas este año. Me fascina tu blog y la manera tan detallada en que explicas cada receta. Muchas gracias!

    1. Muchas gracias. Mi español no es muy bueno, pero solo quiero agradecerles por el lindo comentario. ¡Disfruta de todas las galletas!

  24. Quick question: would it be relatively easy to add food coloring drops to the buttercream if I want red or green icing also for decorating and piping?

    1. Absolutely! Liquid or gel food coloring would be fine.

  25. Could this recipe be made with non dairy substitutes? (Butter, milk etc?)

    1. I haven’t tried it that way, but you certainly can! Vegan butter (such as Earth Balance brand) is usually great in cookie recipes as a replacement for butter.

  26. Is there anything I can use instead of molasses?

  27. Hi, I made the cookie dough tonight and will refrigerate it until tomorrow… I am worried because the dough was super sticky and softer than yours in the video … it’s very hot weather where I am right now… will this work after the dough has cooled?

    1. Hi Nissele, as long as you use enough flour when rolling out, it should be just fine.

      1. Thanks, I doubled the recipe so each kid could decorate their own and they turned out great! We got beautiful Christmas photos with the houses. It was a lot of work this first time in humid hot weather but it worked. Thank you for this recipe. Everyone loved the cookies.

  28. Hi,
    Does each recipe make one house? I need to make enough for 6 houses so I thought I’d check before pouring in 30 cups of flour. 🙂

    1. Hi, Josie! Each recipe yields one house plus 6-8 3-inch cookies.

  29. Hi, sally! I was thinking about making a haunted gingerbread house type thing for Halloween, and was wondering if I could add some coco powder to the dough to make it darker? Would that change the consistency or stability? Should I do something else instead? Thanks.

    1. Hi Beatrice, what a fun idea! I haven’t tested this, but you can try replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder. Cocoa powder, when inside a wet cookie dough, becomes very sticky so I fear this dough will be difficult to roll out and shape. Have extra flour for rolling out and shaping (or even cocoa powder) on hand to prevent sticking.

  30. I made 8 of these gingerbread houses and I have a couple of suggestions. First, I rolled out the dough between parchment paper and glad wrap. The glad wrap on top allowed me to see and better feel the thickness of the dough.
    Secondly, I used ALOT of flour. The first time I used my template, it actually stuck on the dough and I had to scrape it off. So I learned to flour the dough before placing the temple on it.
    This is extremely sticky dough but lends itself to being rolled out again and again without compromising the pieces.
    Thanks for this recipe
    Jerrye from Colorado

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