A gingerbread house is only as good as it’s glue!
And that is why I have been on the search for the absolutely best gingerbread house icing.
We’ve all been there…graham crackers ready, icing ready, kids ready. They start to assemble their creative masterpieces, and then….
A collapse of epic proportions. All that hard work down the drain!
This often results in meld-down central.
Gingerbread House Frosting
The best way to avoid Gingerbread-Sadness is to start with a strong, quick drying icing. Kids don’t want to wait, and frankly, you don’t want to sit there and hold each piece for five minutes either!
Our Cub Scout boys made a Homemade Gingerbread House this week and I was excited to find a gingerbread icing that worked perfectly…it’s simple but made ALL the difference in the world.
Super-Duper Strong Gingerbread House Icing Recipe
- 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (available wherever cake decorating supplies are sold)
- 1 lb powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)
- 4-6 Tablespoons cold water
How to Make Icing for Gingerbread House
- In a glass bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
- Add 2 T water.
- Mix well.
- Add more water as necessary to reach a very thick consistency. When you drag a knife through it, you want to see a clean path left. If it’s too thick, add a tiny amount of water, mix, and pull your knife through again. If it’s too runny, add more sugar.
- Put icing into a zip-seal baggie & cut off a corner. I found a slightly large hole worked best (my icing came out about as thick as a squirt of toothpaste).
What I love about this Gingerbread House Frosting is how quickly it dries! If you get a nice, thick consistency, there is no need to hold each piece in place forever (about 10 seconds will do).
So, no more tears this year (from Mom or kids!).
Give our gingerbread house icing a try and I promise you’ll be much happier!
How to color gingerbread icing
- Separate your room temperature white icing into separate bowls so each bowl of icing will be a different color.
- Add desired color drops of food coloring to each bowl, stirring after every few drops to assess the icing color. For a dark shade, continue to add food coloring. For rich colors, add a few drops of a complimentary color.
My favorite type of food dye is gel food coloring, but any type of liquid food coloring or gel paste or natural food coloring will work.
You could use a hand mixer on a low speed to mix the colors, but I find the best way is hand mixing with a spoon or spatula. Generally you won’t be adding enough color to thin icing consistency, but if that happens simply add some additional powdered sugar .
When making black icing, the preferred method is to start with black food coloring. I find it difficult to mix enough deep colors to achieve black royal icing!
Once you have the different colors you need for your gingerbread house decoration, add the colored icing into a pastry bag or piping bag outfitted with the proper piping tip.
How long does it take for gingerbread icing to harden?
When you are working with a royal icing recipe at room temperature, there are still several things that will affect how long it takes for the icing to harden. The reason I like this gingerbread icing recipe is that it doesn’t take a long time for the drying process to be able to connect two pieces of gingerbread with a little support as long as the icing has a stiff consistency.
For the gingerbread house icing to be fully dry, let it sit out on a flat surface overnight.
- 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (available wherever cake decorating supplies are sold)
- 1 lb powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)
- 4-6 Tablespoons cold water
In a glass bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add 2 T water. Mix well. Add more water as necessary to reach a very thick consistency. When you drag a knife through it, you want to see a clean path left.
If it’s too thick, add a tiny amount of water, mix, and pull your knife through again.
If it’s too runny, add more sugar.
Put icing into a zip-seal baggie & cut off a corner. I found a slightly large hole worked best (my icing came out about as thick as a squirt of toothpaste).
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Homemade Gingerbread House Candy Decorations
There are so many tasty choices when it comes to the best candies to use for gingerbread house decorations! Sorting them into muffin tins in your gingerbread decoration area makes them easily accessible. Here are a few of our favorite types of candies and how we like to use them:
- Candy canes make great structural details for a gingerbread house yard fence, break candy canes into smaller pieces and trim a gingerbread roof or crush for the perfect topping to icing snow.
- Candy Christmas trees work really well as gingerbread house yard landscape and the smaller candy Christmas tree versions are perfect for gingerbread house holiday decorations.
- Tootsie Rolls are the best fireplace logs or stacked wood outside your gingerbread home.
- Jelly beans are a great way to decorate in unlimited ways. You can use all the jelly bean colors or sort them by a colors like using just red and green.
- Necco wafers can be easily cut in half and layered into gingerbread tile roof shingles.
- Chocolate bars like Kit Kat Bars (or whatever you have leftover from Halloween) are a great way to create candy bricks for your gingerbread house foundation or decorative yard elements.
- Hard candies and spice drops used throughout your design can give that festive Candy Land gingerbread house look.
- Don’t overlook the value of adding Hershey Kisses, candy rocks, fruit strips, cookie pieces like Oreo cookies or any other type of candy you have around for those extra details.
Best Gingerbread House Kit
So what about those cute gingerbread kits that you see in the stores? Last year they were literally EVERYWHERE!
Putting a gingerbread house kit together with kids is one of my favorite family activities.
The result doubles as decoration for the rest of the season.*
*In my experience you need to set an “expiration date” for the gingerbread house. I once visited my mom’s house in February and saw my gingerbread house still on display…NOT ACCEPTABLE! 🙂
But Really, What is the BEST gingerbread kit?
This was the Gingerbread House Kit we did on the Ultimate Challenge Show last night: Wondershop at Target Classic House Gingerbread Kit.
It was absolutely amazing. And the reason for that goes back to what we have been talking about here…the need for super strong gingerbread house icing!
The icing came in an icing bag that had a tip that could be cut to the desired size. I cut mine a little too big which is why you see the detail work on the house is a little messy.
But the icing also tasted delicious…a combination of marshmallow fluff and sugar.
And the Wondershop Gingerbread Kit dried surprisingly quickly. At no time was I holding things in place for hours! In fact, what you see in the picture is NO HOLDING. Yes, if I had held it at times, things wouldn’t have slipped, but the structure held strong. For excited decorators, this is the most important thing!
Target Gingerbread House
Target also carries a pre-built version that is a little more architectural than the one we created also made by Wondershop. Unless you are really adverse to building it yourself, I would recommend the one we did!
Oreo Holiday Chocolate Cookie House
Oreos are a delicious alternative for those who may not enjoy the flavor of Gingerbread.
Frozen II Sugar Cookie Castle Kit
This is the one my daughter requested, this year! She has never liked Gingerbread, so this is an amazing option for her! She’s super excited to build it, together!
Wilton Super Mario Gingerbread Castle
This is the gingerbread castle kit that my sons requested to build, together! It has cute mushroom decorations and Mario himself.
The Easiest Gingerbread House Kit
Though not a house, Santa’s Workshop is super easy to make, and still beautiful. It is a blessing when working with tiny, impatient hands.
How to Make a Homemade Gingerbread House out of Graham Crackers
The entry project for becoming a full-blown gingerbread house obsessed builder is graham cracker gingerbread houses! It is such an easy (and inexpensive) DIY gingerbread house kit!
What you need to make a graham cracker gingerbread house:
- Graham crackers
- Super-duper Strong Royal Icing for Gingerbread House (recipe above)
- Paper plate
- Assorted candy for decorations (see above for ideas)
- Plastic bags for the icing
Making a Graham Cracker Gingerbread House
This is much more about process and fun! We spread the graham cracker gingerbread house supplies down the middle of the table and place a paper plate and prepared baggie of the super-duper strong gingerbread house frosting at each place.
Then each gingerbread builder can create their gingerbread vision!
The amazing thing is you will give the same building supplies to a group of kids and they will all come up with something completely different. It is a great group or family activity!
How to Make Gingerbread House
There are just a few basic things that you will likely need for any gingerbread house project. We have covered the best gingerbread house icing recipe above, but what about the other things you might need?
Gingerbread Recipe for Creating a Homemade Gingerbread House
We found a few recipes that we recommend if you are going to start from scratch…
Gingerbread House Recipe from The Food Network: This recipe is rated as EASY (super important to us here at Kids Activities Blog) and will take you about 1 1/2 hour to prep. The cooking time is 15 minutes. The ingredients include: butter, brown sugar, light molasses or dark corn syrup, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, baking soda, flour and water.
Gingerbread House Dough Recipe from The Spruce Eats: I like this recipe because it is even easier than the one above. It will take you about an hour. The prep time is 15 minutes and the baking time is 20 minutes. The ingredients include: light corn syrup, light-brown sugar, margarine, flour, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger and ground cloves. The overall appearance of this house is a lighter color than a lot of gingerbread, but it is warm and lovely.
Gingerbread House Recipe from Epicurious: Here is one more I found that is a traditional recipe for gingerbread that is a little more complicated. I like the addition of cadamom. The prep time will be a little longer on this one and it requires chilling. Baking your gingerbread house parts will take about 13 minutes. Ingredients include: flour, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ground cardamom, solid vegetable shortening, sugar, eggs, dark molasses and baking soda. This recipe also encourages the use of parchment paper for baking which I think is a really good idea to make sure you don’t go through all the baking process and are left with dough stuck to the pan.
Candy for Gingerbread Houses
Oh let me count the ways! There are so many creative uses for candy when it comes to decorating your gingerbread house.
Some favorite Gingerbread House Candy: candy canes, starlight mints, red hots, red licorice, gummy ribbon, gumdrops, gumballs,M&Ms, mints, shaped candy, lollipops, chocolate kisses, crystal candy, chocolate malt balls, jelly beans, candy confetti, holly candy, candy lights, gummy worms, holiday mints, gummy raspberries, nerds, lemon drops, caramel crunch, pearls, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and whatever else you can find!
Non-candy decoration ideas: pretzels, cereal, coconut flakes, powdered sugar and for some cookie inspiration, keep reading…there are some cute gingerbread house ideas below.
Gingerbread House Ideas
I thought it would be fun to find some pictures of gingerbread houses and include them here for inspiration. There are so many creative ideas for your next gingerbread house!
A Frame Gingerbread House Idea
What I like about this gingerbread house is that it is so simple. While this one is made out of traditional gingerbread, this could easily be recreated with graham crackers or sugar cookie dough.
Frosted Roof Gingerbread House Idea
This is adorable. The pink frosted roof sets this apart from some of the other gingerbread house ideas that I have seen. Creating the frosting grid on top of the roof might take some skill, but even unskilled builders could do a layer of frosting or a different color to create this effect.
Consider separating some of the super-duper strong gingerbread icing recipe into another plastic bag and adding a few drops of food coloring.
Tiny Gingerbread House Idea
Size can change the entire gingerbread house! I liked this because it could be the inspiration for a one-square graham cracker gingerbread house. Simply start with a stack of graham crackers snapped in half.
What if you took it even further and used just 1/4th of the graham cracker?
The use of the balls from the holly candy as a delicate decoration.
Here is a tiny gingerbread house that was placed in a glass for a snow globe look. How cute would a series of these lined up across a table or fireplace mantle be?
Tiny Gingerbread House Ornament Idea
While we generally think of building gingerbread houses in 3D, this simple flat home makes a lovely and nostalgic ornament for a tree.
A simple square graham cracker could be the base for a frosted version of this.
Gingerbread House Covered with Cookies Idea
This gingerbread house is covered with cookies. My favorite is the use of rolled wafers on the edges. I also really want to find that lattice cookie they use for windows! That is so cute.
So instead of spending all your time on the candy aisle when shopping for your next gingerbread house, try cookies!
Gingerbread House As A Gift Idea
You know those people that your kid wants to give a gift to, but you don’t know exactly WHAT?
This is the perfect idea. Simply wrapped the gingerbread house in a clear bag tied with a colorful ribbon. Be sure to let the house completely dry before wrapping!
What is a LEGO Gingerbread House?
I have three boys so there are literally millions of LEGO bricks in my house. It is a little insane.
When I mentioned building gingerbread houses to them, there was a chorus of “Let’s build a LEGO gingerbread house!”
So I did a little research and found that there IS SUCH A THING.
But don’t be sad because they are not edible.
The good news about making this gingerbread house is there is no expiration date! You could use it every holiday season or enjoy it throughout the year.
Shopkins Gingerbread House Kit
If you have a Shopkins fan in your house, you will be excited (and relieved) to know there is a Shopkins Sweets Shop Gingerbread House Decorating Kit:
The reviews are mixed on this product with the main complaint being it arrived broken or stale. When it did arrive in one piece, people who have made it reported it was fun, the kids needed just a little assistance, but the final gingerbread house is a bit smaller than expected.
Gingerbread House Templates
There are a million different ways to construct a gingerbread house, but if you are looking for some templates that can help you, here are some we found:
Traditional Gingerbread House Template from The 36th Avenue: Y’all know how much we adore 36th Avenue, but she has outdone herself on this one. It is a simple, doable gingerbread house template that is easy enough to get the entire family involved.
Building a Gingerbread House Template from King Arthur Flour: This template is super simple and would be easy to follow. There are also instructions from start to finish to create a really awesome gingerbread house from scratch. I would substitute our super-duper strong gingerbread house icing recipe instead of what they suggest.
Gingerbread House with Windows Template from The Flavor Bender: This gingerbread house has just the right amount of tradition and whimsy. The template can make it something completely doable!
Gingerbread House at Walmart
Gingerbread house kits are available everywhere these days. And Walmart is no exception. Each year they will feature different selections, but this year they have a huge selection from Wilton plus some other favorites.
This is the ultra-cute Wilton Build-it-Yourself Gingerbread Mini Village Decorating Kit from Walmart. The price is a very reasonable $8.97.
If you want something a little more traditional, then this Wilton Read-to-Decorate Gingerbread Townhouse is a good option and is also at Walmart. It is also priced at $8.97.
Create the gingerbread house of your dreams with Walmart’s Wilton Build-It-Yourself Gingerbread Manor Decorating Kit. Getting an entire estate for just $17.97 doesn’t seem too bad!
My favorite of Walmart’s gingerbread kits is the Wilton Build-it-Yourself Gingerbread Camper. Your holiday “vacation” will be super cheap at $4.88.
Gaudi Gingerbread House in Barclona
Last year we traveled to Barcelona and saw the amazing real-life gingerbread house created by the master artist, Gaudi.
While completely inedible :), this was such an amazing thing to see up close. The rock and tile mosaic work is mind-blowing. Sitting at the edge of Park Guell, it is so whimsical and unexpected.
Let your next gingerbread house project channel your inner Gaudi!
Homemade Gingerbread House
I hope all this information about gingerbread houses has you inspired to create your own with your kids. It really is a perfect holiday project. You get to spend some quality time together and have a festive decoration in the end…no matter how they turn out!