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!
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!
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.
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.
*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.
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:
- A squeeze bottle for the royal icing “glue” around the edges of the house.
- 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.
These baking tools would be great to add to your holiday wish list. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out my Holiday Baking Gift Guide. Lots of fun ideas in there, either for yourself or other baker friends!
Candies for Decorating a Homemade Gingerbread House
- candy canes (mini or regular size)
- peppermint swirl candies
- sprinkles (I used a holiday mix from Sweetapolita)
- edible metallic beads/dragees (I use Sweetapolita)
- 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 these similar snowflake icing decorations. (Not sponsored, genuinely LOVE wilton and michaels craft store.)
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.
- picture of fun roof ideas
- slideshow of 40 cute gingerbread houses
- even more adorable gingerbread houses
- log cabin gingerbread house
- you could also cut windows out of the house’s walls before baking and add crushed hard candies, just as we do with stained glass window cookies
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.
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!!
Love to create and decorate? You’ll enjoy making this yule log, too! And of course, Christmas sugar cookies.
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. 🙂Print
Gingerbread House Recipe (VIDEO)
- Prep Time: 1 day
- Cook Time: 18 minutes
- Total Time: 1 day
- Yield: 1 house
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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 (spooned & leveled)
- 1/4 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 (do not use blackstrap; I prefer Grandma’s brand)
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) water
- royal icing (the “glue”)
- assorted candies (see post for suggestions)
- 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
- Print out my Sally’s Baking Recipes Gingerbread House Template and cut out the shapes. Set aside for step 6.
- Make the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- 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!
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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
- Recipe Yield: One gingerbread house plus 6-8 3-inch cookies. Gingerbread house is about 7 inches tall (with chimney) and 6 inches wide.
- Royal Icing: Decide how much royal icing you want to use. I suggest making the entire royal icing 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!
- 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 Comments & Reviews
Do not use the royal icing recipe.. it was a total disaster. I have used others in the past and wanted to give this one a try but it ruined my gingerbread house. It took a really long time to set and was just not manageable compared to other recipes. The gingerbread biscuit itself is sturdy but there is not point making this only for the icing to ruin it.
Hi! This recipe looks really fun, and I’m planning to surprise my sisters with it! I love the idea of making stained-glass windows, but I’ve never tried adding candy to any cookies before – do you have any tips? Would I just add crushed candy pieces before baking?
Yes! Here’s our post on how to make stained glass window cookies. The same method would work great with this dough for gingerbread house windows 🙂
Hi Sally, I always look to your blog for reliable and successful recipes so I’d love to use this to make a gingerbread house with my mum. However, we are British so don’t have molasses. Can we use black treacle instead? We also have golden syrup? Many Thanks,
Hi Bethany! Black treacle should work in a pinch, but note that the taste will be stronger and somewhat bitter compared to the dark unsulphered molasses. Hope you and your mom have fun decorating the gingerbread houses!
Hello Sally I would also like to make a large gingerbread man is there left overs once house is made?
Hi Mel, there will be a few scraps left over, so it will depend on the size of the cookie cutter you’re using.
Hi sally, I really would like to know which kind of paper did you used to print out the template
Hi Salua, just regular computer paper will work fine!
Thanks Sally! This recipe and template are great. I used a mixture of all-purpose, gluten-free, and bread flour, because I had a few packages that were half empty. I didn’t know how that would work out, but the three houses we made turned out great! The cookies were hard enough to make the houses the same day, and the bit I tasted was delicious. We did find roofs were hard to put on, but stiffening the royal icing with more powdered sugar helped. For one of the houses, I melted sugar on the stove, dipped the pieces of the roof in, and used that as glue. It worked great because it hardens almost instantly. Great recipe, will be my go-to!
Hi Sally, I don’t have molasses, could I replace it with golden syrup.
Hi Ingrid, some readers have reported success doing so, but it will change the flavor profile of the cookie and it won’t taste like gingerbread. For best results, we recommend waiting until you can use molasses.
This recipe works perfectly and tastes incredible! Thank you so much for providing weight measurements and for such detailed instructions! This was our first ever gingerbread house and we were absolutely delighted with the flavour of the cookie itself, as well as how easy it rolled out, etc. For the flour, I used a mix of regular flour and einkorn, as this was all I had on hand, but it worked out totally fine (I just made sure to have the same weight as the recipe called for). I omitted the TBS of water because when you use einkorn you are supposed to decrease the liquids slightly. Dough came together beautifully and I really had very little issues with it sticking – rolling between parchment was key, as you note. I used a different royal icing recipe to glue the houses together based on what I had on hand – as I didn’t have any shortening (675 grams icing sugar, 3 egg whites, 3 tsp lemon juice) and this held it together perfectly (and quickly actually – I didn’t have to wait for it to set).
I made this house last year with great results. This year I cannot get the house to stand up. I’ve followed your Royal Icing instructions. Could there be a problem with the icing? Could the pieces be too thick? I’m so frustrated!
Hi Lynne! Perhaps your royal icing could be bit thicker to help things hold together this year. You could try whisking in more powdered sugar if possible. Hope you can make it work!
Is it possible to substitute gluten free flour in this recipe?
We haven’t tested a gluten free version of this gingerbread house but let us know if you do!
Hi Sally! I am new to making gingerbread houses and I wanted to know if this dough is edible. I love gingerbread cookies, but I’ve always found the house dough to be too hard and tasteless. What do you recommend? Could I use the cookie dough recipe for the house?
Hi Ellen! A sturdy dough is really necessary to support the structure of a gingerbread house. Our gingerbread cookies recipe is too soft to use for constructing a house – we recommend sticking with this recipe!
I just made these and am wondering now… what is the molasses used in this recipe supposed to taste/smell like? I’m not American and molasses is not widely used where I live, but I found some and used it. However, it has a pretty strong liquorice smell and flavour to it, which is pretty noticeable in the end product as well. I’ve never had actual gingerbread so I don’t know if that’s what it’s supposed to taste like, but to me it was a pretty unexpected flavour for cookies.
Hi Suzanne! The potency of taste and smell will depend on the type of molasses you used — how was yours labeled? We typically use dark unsulphered molasses for best taste. Blackstrap molasses is the most potent and almost has a bitter taste to many and is not ideal for most baking. In general, molasses is a pretty unique flavor unto itself which makes it a bit hard to describe, but its typically used in spiced cookies/breads/cakes like gingerbread. Hope this helps a bit, and thank you for giving this recipe a try!
Can you please provide the measurements for the house parts? We currently don’t have a printer, so I can’t print the pattern pieces.
Hi Linda, Do you see the link above where it says “Click this link for the PDF”? If you open that you can see all of the measurements for each piece even without printing it (for example the side of the house is 3×6 inches).
This looks so much fun. How many days prior to Christmas can i make this for it to taste perfectly well on the day of Christmas. I live in Delhi and we have mild winter here.
Thanks in advance…
Hi Prerna, The entire house can be completely constructed up to 1 day in advance. See the make ahead instructions in the recipe notes for more details. Have fun!
Hi Sally, do you think it would be ok to swap out all the butter for earth balance?
Thanks so much!
Hi Maura, we haven’t tried it ourselves so we’re unsure of the result. Let us know if you try anything!
Thx for this recipe, loved making this. And kids loved decorating! I don´t think we´ll eat it though, it´s too nice 😀
What can be used as a substitute for molasses in the gingerbread recipe?
Hi Pamodhi, Unfortunately, molasses is what gives gingerbread its signature flavor and color (along with the ginger/spices). There aren’t many good substitutes and a lot of flavor will be lost without it.
Hi! I’ve seen people use golden syrup or dark corn syrup in place of the molasses but it definitely won’t taste like gingerbread. So if that’s ok with you, use the corn syrup. I’d probably just use a sugar cookie recipe instead.
Hi Sally. I have used many of your recipes. Just a week ago I made you red velvet cake. YUM!! I have made your gingerbread cookies. So delicious! My question is: does this gingerbread house recipe good tasting?
Hi Carol, It tastes just like our gingerbread cookies. If you enjoy those, you will also enjoy this!
Thanks for the recipe! Do you think this recipe would be sturdy enough to construct a two-story gingerbread house, or would it collapse under the weight?
Hi Muriel! We haven’t tried a two story gingerbread house, but it sounds so fun! Let us know if you give it a try.
Can gluten-free all-purpose flour be used?
Just batched together the dough, and letting it sit in the fridge! Have you tried cutting out a door and/or windows in the dough? If I tried, should I do this before or after baking?
I have, yes! Do this before baking.
Hi! I’m trying to only use butter that is organic from humane sources in my baking which can be quite expensive. Can I substitute coconut oil in place of the butter for the gingerbread recipe?
Hi Chelsea, we haven’t personally tried this gingerbread house cookie dough with coconut oil, so we can’t say for sure. You can try with solid coconut oil so that it can be creamed with the brown sugar. Let us know if you give it a try!
Chelsea – we have dairy issues and use plant based “butter” in all of our baking. It is usually fine and worked great with this recipe!
Hi there – can’t wait to make this with my kids, thanks! I’ve only got blackstrap molasses at home. Will that work out ok? Thank you
Hi Dominique, blackstrap molasses has a very strong, potent taste, but you certainly can if you / your kids like the taste of it. Or, if you don’t plan on eating the actual house, you can use it. Hope you all have fun making and decorating!
Hi Sally, love this! I was just wondering if your sugar cookie recipe could be used here instead of gingerbread? Or what changes would need to be made to that recipe in order to do so?
Thanks so much!
Hi Daisy! This recipe works 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!
I can’t get the link to the template for the gingerbread house. Any ideas?
Hi Margie, it seems to be working on our end! The link is under the section titled “How to Construct a Gingerbread House” or in Step 1 of the written recipe. It will open in the same window, but just make sure you don’t have any settings on your computer that are blocking access to PDFs. Hope this helps!
Do you think this recipe would work well in cookie moulds? (I’ve had mixed results with other recipes, mainly puffing up too much.)
Once the shapes come out of the oven, I lay the template back on. top and recut so the edgers are sharp. It makes fitting it all together much easier.
Hi again! Well, I had 2 students make the first batch of gingerbread dough. It looks ok, just a little dry. Does that sound right? We plan to roll, cut and bake tomorrow. Any advice appreciated – thanks!!!
Hi Barbara, how did you measure the flour? Be sure to spoon and level (or weight measure) the flour to ensure there isn’t too much in the dough, which can dry it out. Let us know how the gingerbread houses turn out!
Gotcha, but if this batch is a little too dry, what can we do to fix it to a better consistency before we roll, cut and bake, which we plan on doing Tuesday, 11/23 (tomorrow). We need to get this first set done before the holiday.
You want a sturdy dough for these gingerbread houses, Barbara – it should be ok! There’s not a good way to add moisture to dough once it’s already made.
I don’t have any shortening products available in my country, is there anything else I could use to achieve the same result of the crusted buttercream?
I use unsalted butter for my buttercream unless it’s humid and the cake is going to be outside in the heat. It should be fine. Where are you located?
Hi – I’m trying to find the video for the gingerbread house. I would like to show my students this before we dive into making them. Do you have one that goes to this recipe?
Hi Barbara, There is a video under the title, Gingerbread House Video Tutorial. It may look like a picture collage, but push the triangle in the middle and it should start! Have fun making these with your students!
Do you think that I could possibly make two ginger bread houses out of this recipe? How much smaller would I have to make them? I was thinking about making this recipe then freezing the gingerbread till Christmas when we put them together. Do you think that it would work?
Hi Christine, 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). You can certainly try making smaller houses out of this recipe — we haven’t tried it ourselves and are unsure of the dimensions. Let us know what you try!