Ever wanted to create your own festive gingerbread house? This post has everything you need including a printable template and step-by-step instructions, including how to bake, construct and decorate your house from scratch!
I recently had a friend gauge how into Christmas someone was by saying from zero to making a gingerbread house. And if you weren’t already aware of it, I’m definitely tipping the scales on the gingerbread house end!
But until this year, I had felt intimidated to create one as assumed it would be a difficult process. And while you definitely have to be prepared to go all in, it’s actually a lot simpler than you might expect.
The key? Come prepared. Make sure you have everything you need ready to go and know exactly what the next step should be before you get there.
What you’ll need
- This gingerbread house printable template
- A solid gingerbread cookie recipe (see below in the recipe card)
- Royal icing
- Buttercream icing, optional
- Sprinkles and/or candies
- Gel food colouring
- Desiccated coconut, for snow decoration
Creating your own gingerbread house
To create your gingerbread house, you’ll need to start with a template to cut out the pieces of the house.
Print out this simple gingerbread house template and cut out the shapes. To make the house you’ll need cookie shapes of the front and back as well as 2 sides and 2 of the roof shape.
I’ve included the option for windows and doors as well, but these are optional depending on how you want to decorate the finished house.
Once you have your template, you’re ready to make your gingerbread. I use the same gingerbread cookie recipe as my gingerbread men but I like to cook it for a couple of extra minutes to make sure it’s a little more firm.
This gingerbread recipe will get nice and crisp but still a bit chewy, just how gingerbread should be and becomes the perfect base for this house.
Once the gingerbread has cooled and you are getting ready to construct your house, it’s time to make your royal icing. The royal icing is essential to ensure the structural integrity of the gingerbread house as it dries nice and hard. It also has a super glossy finish so the end result looks pretty as well.
For this recipe we are making royal icing from scratch. I usually like to use the packet mix from the supermarket which contains meringue powder and icing sugar, and that will certainly work fine if you’d prefer.
In Australia it’s difficult to find meringue powder outside of speciality cake shops, so when wanting to make royal icing from scratch I find it much easier to use egg whites as I always have those on hand in the fridge.
Make the icing by beating the egg whites and icing sugar until super thick and shiny. Once ready, add the icing to a piping bag with a round tip fitted and we’re ready to begin construction!
Build your house
To begin building your gingerbread house, select a flat cake stand or plate that you want to serve it on.
Layout the sides of the house and make sure you know where the pieces need to sit so that the house is in the middle of the plate. Place a line of royal icing on the bottom of the front piece of the house and stick it to the serving plate.
You’ll need to hold it there for a minute or two so that it stays in place, from there, prop the piece between two cans so that your hands are free. Use more royal icing to glue the side piece to the plate and the font of the house, again holding in place for it to set.
Repeat with the second side, followed by the back piece. Finally, place another line of royal icing along the joins on the inside of the house to reinforce it.
To complete the house, use the royal icing to stick the 2 roof pieces and carefully press them in place and again hold to allow it to set.
Set the house aside overnight for the icing to dry completely before decorating. Keep the remaining royal icing in and airtight container in the fridge until ready to decorate.
Tips for making a gingerbread house
While the first thing you notice when you look at a gingerbread house is the festive decorations, the most important part is the structural integrity of the house itself. These are my best tips to make sure you have success on the first try and the 50th!
- Use a ruler to help cut out the shapes to make sure the edges are straight.
- Roll out the dough on a sheet on baking paper and cut out your shapes. Remove all the excess dough and transfer the whole sheet of paper to the baking tray. This prevents any issues with the shapes breaking on transfer.
- Cut out the windows and doors before baking but leave the pieces in place. Once the cookies have been baked cut out the shapes again and let cool. This process means that the windows and doors will have nice clean edges.
- If the edges of the cookie pieces aren’t quite straight after baking, use the edge of the ruler to press them back into shape while the cookie is still warm.
- Cook the cookie pieces a little longer to make sure they golden as the extra bake time and extra crispness will help prevent the cookies breaking under the weight of the icing.
- Make sure your royal icing is really thick when using it to glue the house together. Add more icing to the inside of the house at the joins to reinforce it.
- To prevent collapse, you want to hold the pieces for a few minutes to allow them to stick together. Grab a couple of cans from the pantry to prop up the pieces and hold the sides together.
- Let the gingerbread house dry overnight before decorating. This will again help to prevent collapse.
- When you’re not using the royal icing, make sure to keep it covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.
Decorating your gingerbread house
And now for the fun bit! For this step, there really are no rules, but let me go through what I chose to do.
Create the roof with a butter knife and royal icing to give the effect of roof tiles. Thin out the royal icing a little bit and squeeze over the join on the top of the roof. The icing will run down the roof and side and look like melting snow.
Use a thin, round piping tip to draw detailed decorations including windows on the house. Use sprinkles to enhance the outline of the windows and add a little sparkle.
Continue to pipe decorations around the house and enhance with your sprinkles or candy pieces.
Use buttercream frosting around the entire house to cover the plate and then press desiccated coconut over it to make it look like the ground is covered in snow.
I also cut out some additional shapes from the remaining cookie dough to help decorate the house. The star I stuck over the round window and covered in sprinkles, and the tree found a home outside in the yard.
You can use any chocolate, sprinkles, lollies, cookies etc to make your house your own, as well as tinting the icing any colours you want. I kept mine simple with a light pink, and a light green for the tree outside.
Finally, dust some icing sugar over the top for that magical final touch.
When it comes to decorations, there really are no rules. Royal icing will dry hard and is recommended if you want to store the gingerbread house for longer, however the buttercream frosting is a nice simple option but it will remain soft.
It sounds cliché but the most important part to have fun and enjoy! This is a nice way to spend an afternoon and is very much like crafting but with food. So turn up the Christmas carols and get started on the perfect holiday project.
If you do make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and rating below! And tag any of your creations on Instagram with #eightforestlane as I would love to see.
- 2 ¼ cups plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup (185 grams) dairy-free butter
- ¼ cup golden syrup
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 3 cups icing sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and spices and mix together. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, cream together the dairy-free butter, dark brown sugar and golden syrup. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat until a crumbly dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of baking paper that has been lightly dusted with flour to prevent the dough from sticking, and with floured hands press the dough into a flat, round disk before using a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about a 5mm thickness. Make sure to flour the rolling pin if the dough is getting too sticky. Place another piece of baking paper over the rolled out dough and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour to chill.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Print out the gingerbread house template and cut out the shapes. Remove the dough from the fridge and trace the shapes with a ruler and a knife to cut out all pieces of the house. You will need to combine the excess dough and roll it out again to get all shapes.
- Place the cut out shapes carefully on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake the shapes in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until they are starting to turn golden. Let the cookie pieces sit on the tray for 10 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the royal icing. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the egg whites and begin whipping until frothy. Add in the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue beating until it has all been combined. Add in the vanilla and continue beating until a thick and shiny mixture appears. If it’s too stiff add a very small amount of water a little at a time until the mixture is smooth but be careful not to add too much as you want to make sure the icing will stand on its own.
- Assemble the gingerbread house. Select a flat cake stand or plate that you want to serve it on. Layout the sides of the house and make sure you know where the pieces need to sit so that the house is in the middle of the plate. Place a line of royal icing on the bottom of the front piece of the house and stick it to the serving plate. Hold it there for a minute or two so that it stays in place, from there, prop the piece between two cans so that your hands are free. Use more royal icing to glue the side piece to the plate and the font of the house, again holding in place for it to set. Repeat with the second side, followed by the back piece. Finally, place another line of royal icing along the joins on the inside of the house to reinforce it.
- To complete the house, use the royal icing to stick the 2 roof pieces and carefully press them in place and hold to allow it to set. Set the house aside overnight for the icing to dry completely before decorating. Keep the remaining royal icing in and airtight container in the fridge until ready to decorate.
- Finally, decorate the house with more royal icing, sprinkles, and anything else you wish. See the body of the blog post for more ideas. Let the gingerbread sit overnight to dry before covering and storing in a cool, dry location.
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