Knowing how to make a gingerbread house is essential Christmas stuff. And it’s surprisingly easier than you could ever imagine. Here’s all you need to know, including a recipe, template, and decorating ideas.
Knowing how to make a gingerbread house entirely from scratch may not have been on your bucket list, but it’s not nearly as complicated as you would imagine. With a little patience and a lot of sugar, you can construct a gingerbread creation that would make the Brothers Grimm proud—and everyone with a sweet tooth in your vicinity quite, quite happy. Here’s everything you need, including recipe, template, and decorating ideas. Originally published December 16, 2016.–Angie Zoobkoff
How To Make A Gingerbread House
- Quick Glance
- 2 H
- 4 H
- Makes 1 Gorgeous House
Special Equipment: Instant-read candy thermometer; sturdy paper or card stock for printing the templates
- For the gingerbread house
- 2 recipes Light Gingerbread or Dark Gingerbread Cookie Dough
- For the caramel glue
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cold water
- For the decorations
- Royal Icing
- Mini candy canes and lots of other colorful sweets and chocolates
- Prepare the stencil
- 1. Print the gingerbread house template on sturdy paper or card stock and enlarge as needed.
- 2. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Adjust the oven rack to the center position.
- 3. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out the gingerbread dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (6 mm). Place the template on the dough and using a sharp knife, cut out the house pieces. Leaving the dough on the parchment, carefully transfer everything to a rimmed baking sheet. If desired, cut out a door and windows for your gingerbread house. Gather any scraps of gingerbread cookie dough and roll them out on a second piece of parchment paper and use cookie cutters to make gingerbread trees or men to go with your gingerbread house or wrap the gingerbread cookie dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for another day. (Never throw away scraps of gingerbread cookie dough. The extra dough will come in handy if you end up breaking a piece of the house.) Place the baking sheet with the gingerbread cookie dough in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- 4. Bake the gingerbread cookies in the oven until the cookies are golden brown at the edges, 10 to 20 minutes for smaller pieces and 20 to 25 minutes for larger pieces. Let the gingerbread cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.
- To make the caramel glue
- 5. Just moments before you undertake construction of your gingerbread house, combine the sugar and water in a large, low-sided saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Using a big frying pan for this makes it easy to dip the pieces of our gingerbread house into the pan to coat the edges. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat the sugar water mixture, without stirring, until it registers 320°F (160°C), about 8 minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’ll know the syrup is ready when the sugar dissolves and turns a light golden color.
- 6. Tilt the pan to gently swirl the syrup and even out the coloring. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few moments to thicken ever so slightly to the consistency of honey. The caramel will be extremely hot and should not be handled by children. If the syrup begins to harden in the pan, place it back over low heat until it has returned to the required consistency. Immediately begin to build your gingerbread house.
- To assemble and decorate your gingerbread house
- 7. Dip one edge of a front wall into the caramel glue until the edge is completely covered. Attach it to a side wall at a 90° angle and hold together for a few moments while the caramel glue hardens and sets. The caramel glue will dry very quickly. [Editor’s Note: The caramel glue is extremely hot. Assembly should be done by an adult only.]
- 8. Attach another wall and the back panel to the house so you have the base of the gingerbread house. Hold together for a few minutes while the caramel glue hardens and sets. Then use cans or jars to prop up and support the walls while they set. Let it set, undisturbed, for 30 minutes.
- 9. Remove the supports from the house and attach the roof panels. You will probably need to reheat the caramel glue to return it to a liquid state. Use a pastry brush to coat the edges of the roof panels and edges of the base of the house where you will stick them. As the angle is steep, you will need to hold these firmly with your hands for a few minutes while they begin to set. Then let it set, undisturbed, for 30 minutes.
- 10. If necessary, add a little water to the royal icing or add some confectioners sugar until you reach soft peak consistency. Spoon the royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle or spoon it into a large resealable plastic bag and use a scissors to snip off the very tip of one of the bottom corners. Only fill the bag halfway so you have room to twist the bag and gently put pressure on the icing to ensure it comes out in a smooth, steady amount. Decorate your house by piping outlines of windows and doors, and elaborate scalloped patterns on the roof. If you prefer a more rustic, snowy look, simply use a larger tip in your piping bag or snip a slightly larger hole in your plastic bag. If you miss any spots in your decorating, let the icing on the house set, and then go back and fill in missing spots. To attach candy to your gingerbread house, use a dot of royal icing to secure them and gently stick them to your house. It really is almost too good to eat!