Gingerbread Houses

I was beginning to think I'd never get this posted. Our power has been on and off all day. Looks like it's finally on to stay.

I began making gingerbread houses when I just had Bon Bon and Semisweet. It has become a tradition we all look forward to every year. It is always a blast!

Here's the template I made up years ago. The house is just big enough to decorate with plenty of candy but not so big I have gingerbread dough coming out of my ears and I'm baking for half the day.

Gingerbread House Template (small) pdf

I made up the template I used for my house this year. But thanks to Calandria I found out Bob Vila has one already done up in a very similar colonial style. He also has basic instructions for putting a gingerbread house together and several templates for other styles of houses here. I was going to crush up hard yellow candy (jolly ranchers) and sprinkle it in the windows to bake when I cut out the front of the house but ran out of candy. That would have been a neat stained glass effect. If you do that make sure to bake your dough on a foil lined baking sheet for easier removal of the house piece off the pan.

Here's my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe. I cut it out of a Martha Stewart magazine years and years ago. Each recipe of dough will make about 4-5 houses. I make the dough, cut out and bake the pieces the day before our decorating day, and let them sit out overnight to harden up. Each child gets their own to decorate when they turn three. I give them each their own small ziploc sandwich bag with a corner snipped off filled with royal icing and let them have at it.

Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Cream together margarine and sugar. Add molasses and mix well. Sift together dry ingredients. With mixer on low speed slowly add dry ingredients and 1/2 cup water to molasses mixture. Mix until smooth. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a rectangle. wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. On floured surface roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters or use template to make gingerbread house pieces. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes 4 dozen cookies or 4 gingerbread houses.

Royal Icing

3 TBSP. meringue powder*
4 cups confectioner's sugar
7 TBSP. water

Beat with electric mixer for 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. If icing is too thick add 1 tsp. of water at a time until you get better consistency. I usually end up making three batches of this so there is enough for everyone.

* I buy the Wilton's Meringue Powder that comes in a can in the cake decorating aisle.


♦ I cut up old boxes and cover the pieces with foil to put our houses on.
♦ Assemble the house first and let set for about 15 minutes so the icing has time to harden a little before decorating your house.
♦ Use your imagination to find candies, cookies, cereal, and other edible goodies for your house. We use sugar cones turned upside down for trees, shredded wheat for snowy rooftops, tootsie rolls for a pile of logs outside the house, swirled chocolate chips, gumdrops, red hots, M&M's, candy canes, wafer cookies, the possibilities are endless.
♦ Don't stress! Letting each child have thier own to decorate however they want is part of the fun. I love seeing the uniqueness of each house each year. It does get messy but that's okay!
♦ Make extra house pieces to use in case someone does happen to break one of theirs. Honestly we've only ever had three pieces break in the 10 years we've been doing this.
♦ Invite friends over for a grand party! Brownie's birthday is December 18. For her eighth birthday we had 12 kids gathered round the table making their own gingerbread houses. It was so much fun!

Cocoa Signature


  1. I love this tradition. We have done it a few times with graham crackers. I think this year we will try the gingerbread. Thanks for posting the recipes. Especially the royal icing. I always have to search forever to find which one worked best the previous year.

  2. Wow! I am so impressed that you made up that colonial template. Awesome! I have never done a separate gingerbread house for each kids, but we're trying it this year. Thanks for the royal icing recipe--for some reason I hadn't been able to find one.

  3. Mmm I can almost smell the gingerbread baking! I've copied down your recipe and we're going to go try it.

  4. I'm so glad you posted this! I have some gingerbread dough sitting in the fridge waiting to bake, I just needed to find or make up a gingerbread house pattern... the one you posted is exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

  5. It turned out great! I love gingerbread! We haven't made ours yet this year, but I'm looking forward to it.

    I've found that baking the gingerbread and then cutting out the pieces immediately while its still hot & soft gives you nice sharp edges that fit together well. Then let them harden overnight before assembling your house. And that way, you get all the trimmings to frost and eat as cookies. YUM!

  6. So fun . . . thanks for the recipe. I've always wanted to try making gingerbread houses with my kids. So do you ever "eat" these houses or are they just decoration? Just curious!

  7. We did this for the first time this year. I made the houses the night before so they could harden and so the kids could get straight to the fun part. We divided the kids and their friends into three teams and let them go. They decorated not only the houses, but the entire "yard" and "forest" around the houses. My favorite was the Boogie Board house, complete with gingerbread man in the hot tub, with his burgers on the grill next to him!

  8. I love all the houses! The competition is stiff, but I think my favorite is Bon Bon's. Her trees are so inviting it makes me just want to jump into the picture and hop on the stepping stones one at a time!

    We're doing ours on Wednesday, I'll post pics! Good luck with the next few days. It sounds like you will be busy!

  9. I should have read this post before tonight. It would have saved me some major headaches. =)


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