Making the perfect Gingerbread House is a cinch with these tips. From using muffin tins for supplies to the right icing, these steps will make the task of making gingerbread houses quick and easy.
The taste of gingerbread desserts just seem to go along with Christmas in my mind. Check out these gingerbread Christmas tree treats for another fun idea.
Making the Perfect Gingerbread House is Easy with these 15 tips.
We love to make Gingerbread houses each year. It has been a tradition ever since Jess was a little girl. And even though she is grown and living away, she comes home for the holidays and we always take the time to make a new house.
These 15 tips will make sure that a perfect Gingerbread house is not something that you only see on Pinterest!
Making Gingerbread Houses is such a fun family pastime. There is lots of eating and talking and laughing when things start to topple over, as they always will at some point in the process.
But that is how you learn to make a great gingerbread house. Practice makes perfect as they say.
This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience.
Frosting or Hot Glue?
Both of these work well. For me, the perfect gingerbread house starts with the perfect icing. A frosted house is edible (and that is a lot of the fun of making a gingerbread house, isn’t it?)
If you choose to use hot glue, only parts of the design will be edible and you’ll have to avoid the glued areas, so it is, perhaps, more decorative.
But a hot glued house is quicker to make. So make that decision first and then move on to the other tips. If you plan to use an icing, see my recipe for Royal icing. It is made with just three ingredients and keeps the house together perfectly.
Homemade or store bought kit?
There are lots of inexpensive Gingerbread house kits out there and they make a very nice house. We often used these in the past.
But at least one season, bake the Gingerbread by hand and cut it to size. Imagine the delight when you tell everyone that it really was made from scratch!
Decide on the Design.
Think ahead ~ How much space will you have to display the house? There is no point in spending the time to make an enormous gingerbread village if all you have room for is a tiny 9″ sized cottage.
Also….Gingerbread creations do not have to be just houses. Think outside the box. This cute Gingerbread Train kit would really delight young kids!
For this year, I decided to make a traditional candy style Gingerbread house. Jess loves these and I wanted to surprise her with one similar to those we did when she was a little girl. Here is how it turned out. See the tutorial for the project here.
Choose a cool dry day to make the project.
If you try to make the house when it is humid, the results will be more crumbly. The humidity in the air will also keep the frosting soft and you really want nice stiff frosting for best results.
Think outside the box.
Sure, we all love basic Gingerbread houses, but making the same design year after year gets old fast. There are lots of other ideas to go with too.
If your family is a Peanuts fan, try a Snoopy dog Gingerbread house. Do you love to move your Elf on a Shelf around for the kiddos? Why not make a whole Elf on a Shelf House this year? The kids will adore this idea!
Assemble all your supplies.
Make your frosting and have it ready in both bowls and in piping bags with tips. This will make the whole process go much faster. Unwrap the candies and have a sort of production line kind of thing going.
All this helps to cut down on the time. A muffin tin makes the perfect place to put all the candy and toppings.
Protect your frosting.
You want the frosting to harden on the gingerbread house, not in the bowl. Keep it from going hard while you work by adding a moist kitchen towel over the bowl holding the frosting.
You can color your frosting for special touches, but if you do, use a paste food coloring. Liquid food coloring thins out the frosting too much.
Cut a sturdy base.
You will want a base for your house to sit on. There are lots of ways to do this. For the least expensive way, just cut out a sturdy cardboard base to put under the area where the house will sit.
This gives focus to the work area and it can be moved around as you work instead of you having to re-position yourself to work on various areas of the design.
For my house, I used a piece of foam board that I had on hand.
The base is pure white and won’t need finishing on the edges when done. I have also used cellophane covered cardboard too, and that worked fine.
Start with the seams.
A gingerbread house needs to sit in position as you add the decorative parts to it. If you make the seams first and let the icing harden in place before you start on the other decorations, it will be much more sturdy.
You can also cover the untidy seam areas later when you add more icing. So build the house totally before you add any other decor items.
Take plenty of time.
Making gingerbread houses takes time and patience. Sure, we all want that project to be done so that we can move on to other pressing holiday things, but a good gingerbread house takes time to make.
The icing needs to set for at least a few hours and sometimes over night. If you plan to bake from scratch, you will need an extra day. One to make the pieces and one to do the decorating.
More tips for making Gingerbread houses that shine
Don’t be limited by your kit.
A basic gingerbread kit will give you everything you need to make a house, but think outside the box a bit. What else do you have on hand to add some extra pizzazz to the house? Pretzels, striped gum, ribbon candy, and candy canes all make great decor items. Mini marshmallows can be used in any number of ways to resemble snow.
Add some “lighting.”
Make some lamp posts by simply adding a gum drop to a cake pop stick. Instant lighting! What could be easier to do? They take all of one second!
Add those Finishing Touches.
The perfect gingerbread house has character. Add the look of freshly fallen snow by used a sugar duster to sprinkle the house with confectioner’s sugar.
Use a piping tip to add icicles to the edge of the eaves. There are lots of ideas that can be used to give your house a special look.
Find a safe spot for the finished house.
One of the funniest (and most frustrating) moments of our gingerbread making attempts was the year that our dog, Rusty, ate our whole Gingerbread house after it was perfectly finished and we went to bed. Trust me. Dogs LOVE gingerbread…and frosting…and candy…and everything else that goes on the perfect gingerbread house.
Need some inspiration for a design? Head on over to my holiday site – Always the Holidays for ideas for 17 Gingerbread House designs.
Would you like a reminder of this post for the perfect gingerbread house? Just pin this image to one of your Christmas boards on Pinterest.
Admin note: These tips for the perfect gingerbread house first appeared on the blog in December of 2015. I have updated the post with extra photos, a video and a printable instructions card.
- Gingerbread house kit or home made gingerbread pieces
- Confectioners Sugar to Make Royal Icing.
- Candy and extra supplies for decorating
- Gel food coloring
- White Foam board for a base
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks (if you won't be using icing to hold the pieces together.)
- If you are making the cake from scratch, you'll need extra time to cut and make the pieces.
- A store bought kit has pre-cut and baked gingerbread, but you will be limited by the design.
- Make a royal icing for your house. (get the recipe)
- Use a piece of foam board to act as a base for your house.
- Make a basic box shape and use glue or icing to hold it together. Allow to set.
- Add the roof and hold the pieces together at the peak with icing or glue.
- Frost the top of the roof to resemble snow.
- Add candies on the roof top and along the top of the roof at the pointed area.
- Diving your royal icing into several bowls and add gel food coloring.
- Pipe windows, eaves, doorways and other design elements.
- Use candies to decorate the peak of the rook, a wreath for the door, a door handle, and path way to the house.
- Use lollipop sticks and gumdrops to make "street lights"
- Ring pop Santa, elf and reindeer make nice yard additions.
- Mini marshmallows can be used to create snowbanks and edges of the lawn..
- Place plain white icing in an icing bag, add a round tip and pipe icicles from the eaves.
- Use candy canes and an extra piece of gingerbread to make a lean to
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar to look like fresh snow.
- Display with pride (and keep away from the dog!)
Hot glue makes for a much faster project but is not edible in those areas.
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