Gingerbread House Tips – 15 Tricks for Making Gingerbread Houses

These Gingerbread House tips will make sure that your next project will be a stunner. From using muffin tins for supplies to choosing the right icing, these steps will make the task of making gingerbread houses quick and easy.Supplies for a making a gingerbread house in a collage.

The taste of gingerbread desserts just seem to go along with Christmas in my mind. Check out these gingerbread Christmas tree cookie treats for another fun idea.

The history of gingerbread goes back many centuries and features many countries with good reason – it is the prefect medium for one of our favorite holiday traditions – the gingerbread house! 

15 Gingerbread house tips

We love to make gingerbread houses each year at our house. This has been a tradition ever since Jess was a little girl.

Even though she is now grown and living away, she comes home for the holidays and we always take the time to make a new gingerbread house.  

These 15 tips will make sure that a perfect Gingerbread house is not something that you only see on Pinterest or in food magazines!

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.

After all, that is how you learn to make a great gingerbread house. Practice makes perfect as they say.

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Gather some candy, put on an apron and come to my kitchen. It's time for some tips for making the perfect gingerbread house. #gingerbread #christmas #DIY πŸ€ΆπŸŽ„πŸŽ… Click To Tweet

Should I use frosting or hot glue when making a gingerbread house?  

Both of these options work well and depends on whether you want the gingerbread house to be edible or purely decorative. 

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.

Bag of powdered sugar in a red bowl with a hot glue gun.

A hot glued gingerbread house is quicker to make.  So, make the decision on whether to use glue of frosting first and then move on to the other tips. 

f 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.


Should I make a homemade gingerbread house of buy a retail 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.  

I recommend that, at least for 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!Gingerbread house kit in a box and pieces of formed gingerbread.

Decide on the design for your gingerbread house.  

Think ahead ~ How much space will you have to display the house? There is no point in spending the time to making 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. You can even make a cute gingerbread Train that would really delight young kids!Train made of gingerbread with candy decorations.

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 the candy gingerbread house turned out.  See the tutorial for the project here.Gingerbread house with frosted roof and candy decorations.

Choose a cool dry day to make the gingerbread house.

Gingerbread is susceptible to moisture. If you try to make the house on a day when it is humid, the results will be more crumbly. The pieces will also be softer and won’t stand up to house making as well.

The humidity in the air will also keep the frosting soft and you really want nice stiff frosting for best results in sticking your gingerbread house pieces together..Gingerbread house decorated with candy near a sunny window.

Be creative when deciding on a gingerbread house design.  

Sure, we all love basic gingerbread houses,  but making the same design year after year gets old fast.  There are lots of other ideas that you can use when deciding on your design.

The sky is the limit when it comes to gingerbread house designs! Plain gingerbread house with white icing near a Christmas tree with words reading "Gingerbread house tips."

You can choose to decorate the entire house in just royal icing, or go all out with every type of candy imaginable.

One year, our family made mini gingerbread houses and formed a small village with them.

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 before the gingerbread house decorating begins.

Make your frosting and have it ready, both in 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 process going. Doing this helps to cut down on the time that it takes to make a gingerbread house.  

A muffin tin is the perfect container to hold all the candy and toppings so they are handy when you need them.Candy in muffin tins, gingerbread house pieces, sugar and other supplies for making your own gingerbread house.

Protect the frosting for your gingerbread house.  

The aim is that the frosting will harden on the gingerbread house, not in the bowl.  

To keep it from going hard while you work, add a moist kitchen towel over the bowl that holds the frosting as you work on the house.gingerbread pieces, candy, icing bag and clean tea towel.

Which food coloring should I use for a gingerbread house? 

Many gingerbread houses use just white icing with no color, but there are times that you may want to color your frosting for special touches, like stars, or wreaths.

There are several types of food coloring – paste food color and liquid food coloring are two that are commonly used in this type of project. Which should you use when making a gingerbread house? 

I suggest using a paste food coloring. You can get bright colors with just a very small amount of the dye.

Liquid food coloring thins out the frosting too much and the colors have a light tint so more is needed to get deep Christmas colors.Gel paste food coloring in bottles.

Cut a sturdy base for your gingerbread house. 

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 thick 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.Foam board makes a great base for a gingerbread house

Decorate the pieces first

If you assemble the plain edges of the gingerbread house and allow it to set, it’s a little more awkward to decorate the sides, particularly the lower edges.

An easy trick is to decorate the sides before you assemble the house itself. Decorated pieces of a gingerbread house.

The roof area is easier to decorate after assembly, but it definitely helps to decorate the sides first.

When assembling the house, start with the seams.  

A gingerbread house needs to sit in position as you add the decorative parts to it. Start with the seams and let the icing harden in place. Glasses or cans of food will help to hold the pieces upright as they harden

Untidy seams can be hidden later with more icing in the form or icicles or by adding extra candy over them. Be sure to build the roof totally before you decorate it.

Royal icing makes good glue for gingerbread houses.

You can use lots of icing on the inside. No one sees this part and it will make the house structurally more sound.

What if my sides aren’t straight?

The perfect gingerbread house is one which fits together perfectly with straight edges.

Baking gingerbread in the oven means that the pieces you cut will “spread” a little while baking and have some slightly rounded outsides.

No problem! A microplane grater will file down the edges evenly and smoothly. Just sand the edges with the grater until they are nice and smooth.

Take plenty of time when decorating gingerbread houses. 

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 cannot be made in just a few minutes.  

The icing needs to set for at least a few hours and sometimes over night. If you plan to bake your gingerbread from scratch, you will need an extra day.

One day will be needed to make the pieces and one to decorate the gingerbread house.Decorated pieces for a gingerbread house.

Also, there can be lots of pieces to a large gingerbread house project and they take time to decorate. Slow down and enjoy the journey.

More gingerbread house tips that make your project shine

To give your gingerbread house some extra character, check out these ideas.

Don’t be limited by your gingerbread house kit.

A basic gingerbread kit will give you everything you need to make a house. However, with a bit of creativity, you can turn simple designs into much more professional gingerbread houses.

What else do you have on hand to add some extra pizzazz to the house? Some items that I like to add to add to my kit supplies are these:

  • Pretzels – These can give your gingerbread house design a log cabin look.
  • Striped gum – Change the look of your gingerbread house with pastel colored “shingles” with these sticks.
  • Ribbon candy – Stick these together to form unique striped Christmas trees to stand near your house.
  • Candy canes – Make great porch supports and front door decorations.
  • Mini marshmallows – These little pieces can be used in any number of ways to resemble snow.Marshhmallows, striped candy, pretzels, gumdrops and M&Ms in muffin tin for a Gingerbread house.

Add some “lighting to your gingerbread house.” 

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 to make!Ribbon, candy, gingerbread pieces and gum drop street lights on a wooden board.

Finishing touches for a gingerbread house.

All gingerbread houses are pretty, but you can add some special touches to make yours stand out from the crowd.

Making fallen snow 

The perfect gingerbread house has character. Nothing sets the scene for a winter scene more than fallen snow.Dusting a gingerbread house with a sifter and sugar.

Add the look of freshly fallen snow by using a sugar duster or small sieve to sprinkle the house with confectioner’s sugar.

How to make icicles for a gingerbread house

Use a #2 piping tip and flood icing to add icicles to the edge of the eaves.Icicles on a gingerbread roof.

Icicles give a delicate look to the roof area and also hide any seams that might be visible.

Waffle cone fir trees

A #18 star icing tip and stiff green icing piped over waffle cones make edible trees that are a delight to see and to eat!Waffle cone Christmas trees with green frosting near a gingerbread house.

Another way to make waffle cone trees is to add icing over them and roll in sprinkles.

Making stained glass windows

Crush hard sugar candy and arrange them in clusters on a silicone mat. Bake at 250 degrees F for 6-8 minutes so that they run together.Stained glass windows in a gingerbread house.

Allow these to cool then remove and use some royal icing to attach them inside the window openings or your gingerbread house for a pretty stained glass look.

If you don’t want to bake the candy, cut pieces of Fruit Rollups will also give a semi stained glass effect to the windows.

Thatched roof for a gingerbread house

Attach mini frosted shredded wheat (or Life cereal with powdered sugar) to make a thatched roof. Frost the roof pieces first and then lay the shredded wheat, close together, to give this unique look.Thatched roof with eaves on a Gingerbread house.

These roof tiles will make your gingerbread house more “English looking.”

Overlapping Necco wafers also gives a unique roof style that has more of a pastel effect.

Making a gingerbread chimney

A chimney adds some extra dimension to the shape of your gingerbread house. 

To make a chimney, cut four small pieces of gingerbread and notch two of them to fit the eave or your roof shape.Adding a gingerbread chimney to the roof of the house.

Join the four pieces into a box with royal icing and position the notched pieces over the top of the roof and add icing to secure the chimney.

There are lots of ways that you can give your gingerbread house a special look. What ideas have you used?Use a sugar sifter to give the look of fallen snow.

Find a safe spot for the finished gingerbread 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.

So, find a safe spot for your finished gingerbread house out of of the reach of your pets.

Bulldog sniffing a gingerbread house.

Now that you have some tips for making a gingerbread house are you in need of some inspiration for a design?  Head on over to my holiday site – Always the Holidays for ideas for 17 Gingerbread House designs.

17 inspiring Gingerbread houses alwaystheholidays.com

Pin these gingerbread house tips for later.

Would you like a reminder of this post for how to make the best gingerbread house?  Just pin this image to one of your Christmas boards on Pinterest.Woman adding icing to a house with text reading "tips for making gingerbread houses."

Admin note:  These tips for the perfect gingerbread house first appeared on the blog in December of 2015. I have updated the post with new photos, a video and a printable instructions card.

Yield: 1 Gingerbread house

Tips for the perfect gingerbread house

Candy and gingerbread house on a counter

A kit gingerbread house will give you a basic form, but these tips will make your creation even more special

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 5 hours
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 5 hours 10 minutes
Difficulty moderate
Estimated Cost $15

Materials

  • 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
  • Waffle cones
  • Icing tips

Tools

  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks (if you won't be using icing to hold the pieces together.)

Instructions

  1. If you are making the cake from scratch, you'll need extra time to cut and make the pieces.
  2. A store bought kit has pre-cut and baked gingerbread, but you will be limited by the design.
  3. Make a royal icing for your house. (get the recipe)
  4. Use a piece of foam board to act as a base for your house.
  5. Make a basic box shape and use glue or icing to hold it together. Allow to set.
  6. Add the roof and hold the pieces together at the peak with icing or glue.
  7. Frost the top of the roof to resemble snow.
  8. Add candies on the roof top and along the top of the roof at the pointed area.
  9. Diving your royal icing into several bowls and add gel food coloring.
  10. Pipe windows, eaves, doorways and other design elements.
  11. If you have cut out window areas, melted hard candy attached inside the house will look like stained glass windows.
  12. Use candies to decorate the peak of the rook, a wreath for the door, a door handle, and path way to the house.
  13. Use lollipop sticks and gumdrops to make "street lights"
  14. Ring pop Santa, elf and reindeer make nice yard additions.
  15. Mini marshmallows can be used to create snowbanks and edges of the lawn..
  16. Place plain thinner white icing in an icing bag, add a round tip and pipe icicles from the eaves.
  17. Use candy canes and an extra piece of gingerbread to make a lean to.
  18. Add a star tip to green stiff icing and cover waffle cones for pretty trees.
  19. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to look like fresh snow.
  20. Display with pride (and keep away from the dog!)

Notes

Hot glue makes for a much faster project but is not edible in those areas.

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