A gingerbread house is a wonderful way to decorate for the holidays and is fun for the whole family. There’s nothing like the warm, sweet smell of molasses, ginger, and cinnamon baking in the oven to remind us of the magic of the season, surrounded by family and friends, celebrating together.
The true joy of cookie houses is in the making. So have fun creating some wonderful memories. Or, how fun would it be to host a do-it-yourself gingerbread house party and let everyone make their own!
Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Gingerbread Cookie House
Never made a cookie house before, or maybe you’ve decided it was too difficult? No worries, we’ve made making cookie houses a piece of cake. No more rolling out the dough to get the walls and roof the same size and thickness. With our silicone cookie molds, just press the dough in the mold, bake, assemble, and have fun decorating!
Instead of buying a new gingerbread house kit every time you want to make one, that only lets you make one house and uses preservative-filled cookies and candies of unknown origin, let the whole family make their own using your own ingredients. Just start with a basic cookie house mold and get decorating!
Gingerbread House Dough Recipe
When making gingerbread cookies from scratch, you’ll want to use a Gingerbread Dough recipe which that is sturdy enough to support lots of decorations, but still tastes delicious. Use any remaining dough to make other fun shapes to match the season. It’s best to chill the dough for 30 minutes before pressing into the molds.
Or, you can use an easy gingerbread recipe that comes together in minutes using refrigerated sugar cookie dough found in most grocery stores. You’ll add some spices and flour to make the dough firmer, better for constructing a gingerbread house.
To plan ahead, you can make your dough a week before your planned decorating day and keep in the fridge. You can even freeze the dough for up to a month if it’s wrapped in plastic wrap.
After you press the dough into the molds, place them on a cookie sheet for stability. After baking, set the molds on a cooling rack for 12 minutes before removing the cookies from the mold. Let cool completely before assembling the house.
Assembling the Gingerbread Cookie House
Use a cake board, cake plate, or platter for the foundation. Or, you can cover a sheet pan with brown paper. Another idea is to use a Lazy Susan to construct and easily decorate the house. After the gingerbread pieces are completely cooled, fill a pastry bag with Royal Icing. The icing dries very quickly, so cover with a damp towel when it’s not being used.
1. Start With the Front Door Piece and Left Side First
Pipe icing on to all the connection points. Gently press together and hold for about a minute, or until icing sets. You can decorate the pieces before assembling, just make sure the decorations are completely set.
2. Continue Until All Four Sides Are in Place
3. Add the Roof Pieces One at a Time
If you are icing the roof or placing a lot of decorations on the roof, you might want to decorate first to avoid adding pressure when in place. Once all pieces are in place, fill in any gaps in the seams with additional icing. Let the icing completely dry before decorating.
Just for Show
If you want to make a cookie house to use as a decoration only and not to eat, use a glue gun instead of icing to build the house and attach the decorations. This way you won’t have to wait until the icing hardens before moving or transporting. Our test kitchen team took a cookie house on the road from Illinois to Ontario, Canada using this trick and it stayed together and still smelled great!
Decorating Your Cookie House
Now comes the fun part! The only rule for decorating is to use your imagination.
Tip: If you plan on eating your gingerbread house, do so in a couple of days. The longer it sits out, the more dry and flavorless it will become. If you plan on keeping the house on display longer, surround them with homemade gingerbread cookies decorated with softer icing for everyone to eat.
Some Ideas for Christmas Cookie Houses
Add candy cane pieces, jewel-toned gumdrops, red and green candies, red licorice, spice drops, sprinkles, confetti, jelly beans, or your favorite candy. Lay a path using crushed candy canes or pretzel sticks and top with powdered-sugar snow. To add a skating pond, spread out some blue icing or cut a blue fruit roll-up to make a circle. You could also flatten blue gummies with a rolling pin. Or even a small mirror. For some added cheer, make cookies in fun shapes like snowmen, reindeer, and presents and place around the house.
Some ideas for Halloween Cookie Houses:
Attach black and orange candy, candy corn, black licorice, mini marshmallows, or shredded cereal using icing as the glue. Lay a path to the front door with flattened candies, black jelly beans, or crushed cookie gravel. Add some cookies in fun shapes like skeletons, trees, tombstones, cats, spider webs, and pumpkins. Surround your house in pretzel-stick fencing or add pretzel sticks across the windows.
Glowing “Glass” Houses
And now for something completely different. How about a “glass” house that twinkles made from fruit-flavored hard candies like Jolly Ranchers®.
You’ll need 18 pieces for each side of the roof, 18 pieces for the front and back walls, and 16 pieces for the side walls. We used all the same colors but you can mix and match.
- Put the unwrapped candy pieces in the mold. Place the silicone molds on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F (176°C) for 12 minutes.
- Place on a cooling rack until completely cooled. As the candy cools, it will harden. Because of the flexible silicone, you can easily pop out of the mold.
- Assemble using icing in the same order as a gingerbread house (above).
- Let the icing completely set then place battery-operated tea lights in the house for a glowing effect, or use flickering lights for a twinkling effect. A small flashlight propped up also works great.