Tips For Making a Gingerbread House

From Recipe Short-Cuts to Printable House Plans

Whether your kids beg you every year, or it's on your bucket list this holiday season, making a gingerbread house isn't as difficult as it might seem. With the right recipes, tools, and techniques, it's a snap, and fun for the whole family.

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Watch Now: Easy Gingerbread House Dough Recipe

  • 01 of 09

    Pick a Gingerbread House Style and Theme

    Side view of a Victorian gingerbread house
    Side View of Victorian Gingerbread House.

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek

    From fancy to farmhouse, you can make your gingerbread house any way you imagine. Here are a few ideas to follow or be inspired by, from the more simple to the colorful and elaborate. You can select a style based on the type and amount of candy used or the level of difficulty. 

  • 02 of 09

    Gingerbread House Dough Recipe

    Cardboard gingerbread templates and gingerbread doubh on a work surface
    Gingerbread dough should rest 30 minutes before rolling.

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek

    This economical recipe is for "structural" gingerbread, meaning, while it's edible, it's meant for building, not for eating. With only five ingredients plus common spices, this dough is something you can probably put together without running to the store. Although it doesn't need to rise, the dough should be left to sit for 30 minutes to rest. And it is best if baked one day and assembled the next.

  • 03 of 09

    Betty Crocker Limited Edition Gingerbread Cookie Mix

    Side view of a gingerbread house made with a kit
    Gingerbread House Made with Betty Crocker's Gingerbread Cookie Mix.

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek

    This limited edition mix (don't confuse this with Betty Crocker's Gingerbread Cake and Cookie Mix) makes great houses. The dough bakes up sturdy enough to support lots of candy and icing—and it is a real time saver. You only need to add three ingredients—butter, egg, and water—and the dough rolls nicely and cuts easily.

  • 04 of 09

    Gingerbread House Patterns

    A cardboard template for the side of a gingerbread house
    A simple three-piece pattern. Cut two gable sides, two long sides and two roofs.

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek

    Perhaps one of the most challenging steps in making a gingerbread house is creating the template—making sure you have all of the measurements correct and the pieces are proportional. The beauty of the internet is that you can find a variety of house patterns to pick from! Just print and cut out the designs, transfer to lightweight cardboard, place the templates over rolled-out dough, and cut.

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  • 05 of 09

    How to Roll and Cut Gingerbread House Dough

    Gingerbread house pieces being cut from dough with a pizza cutter
    Use a nonserrated pizza wheel or pastry cutter to cut out the patterns.

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek

    Uneven, sticky dough can make rolling and cutting it very frustrating. By following these steps, you can cut out your gingerbread house pieces in no time. Rolling out the dough onto parchment paper means you won't have to worry about it sticking to a pastry board or countertop. And using a pizza cutter makes cutting a breeze.

  • 06 of 09

    Making the "Glue"—Royal Icing Recipe

    A decorated gingerbread house on a cardboard base covered with

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney 

    Nothing is worse than watching your completed gingerbread house come tumbling down, so it is important that you use a reliable "glue" to keep the pieces together. Royal icing, a mixture of sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar, is essentially the mortar that will keep the walls intact and the roof on top of your gingerbread house. It is easy to make and comes out perfect every time. 

  • 07 of 09

    How to Fill a Pastry Bag

    A plastic pastry bag being cut with scissors to be fit with a coupler and pastry tip
    Use a plastic coupler and ring for ease in changing pastry tips.

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek

    This isn't really the best time to use a short-cut and try the zip-top bag method (where you just snip a corner, fill the bag with icing, and squeeze)—you need to be more precise, and that's where a pastry bag, coupler, and icing tips come into play. Plus, the different tips allow for more creative decorations. If you are new to using a pastry bag, no worries—these step-by-step instructions show how to fill and use a pastry bag with ease.

  • 08 of 09

    How to Assemble a Gingerbread House

    A work surface with candy, icing and gingerbread house pieces ready to be assembled
    Have all your equipment at the ready before you begin to assemble a gingerbread house.

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek

    Before you can begin assembling the house you need to choose a base—a cardboard cake round works well. Then pipe an "L" of icing and secure two gingerbread house walls. Continue with the icing—piping between the cookie pieces as well as on the base—until you are ready to attach the roof. Let the house dry before beginning to decorate.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    How to Decorate a Gingerbread House

    A partially decorated gingerbread house on a cardboard cake circle with candy supplies in the background
    Beauty is in the mind of the beholder. Kids usually like to overload their houses with candy, so let them.

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek

    Here is where it gets really fun—let your imagination run wild or have the kids show their creativity. It's best to lay out all of the candies ahead of time and have a general idea of what you're going for. These step-by-step instructions for decorating a gingerbread house are merely a guide—follow them exactly or let them inspire.