gingerbread house recipe & templates

Marian ParsonsDecorating, Food, Holiday42 Comments

A few years ago, I got it in my head that I had admired gingerbread houses long enough and I was going to make them myself.  Not just the graham cracker/milk carton/kit variety, but ones that I made from scratch and decorated with traditional white royal icing.  Kriste and I played hooky from working in the studio and we spent the day baking and decorating cookies and houses.

It’s now a tradition and a staple of my holiday decorating.

When I share pictures, I’m often asked to share my recipe as well as templates, so here they are!

Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I just found and followed this gingerbread and icing recipe from The Food Network.  It’s been the recipe I’ve made three years in a row and it always turns out well.

This year, I made the dough a couple of days before I rolled it out and I found it dried out a bit and was crumbly.  I salvaged it by putting it back in the mixer and added some more water and flour until the consistency was right and the dough would hold together when I squeezed it in my hand.

I usually make two batches of the dough, so I have plenty to work with.  I have found that one batch will make about 3 small houses and 8-12 cookies, depending on the size.

For the templates, my favorite is the small house template from 36th Avenue…

I have printed up two different sizes – one at 100% and one at a smaller size, I think somewhere around 70-80%.  You can resize the template when you’re printing it off.

I also make a house that is my own template.  You can download that template HERE.  It’s just a scan of the cardboard shapes I made out of cereal boxes.

I made a large house the first year, but have since developed a preference for small houses.  They require less dough and icing, are easier to put together, and are quicker to decorate.  They are also easier to move around as you tweak your holiday decorating and nestle into little nooks and crannies on open shelving, counters, buffets, etc.

To make the houses, I roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick, place the template on top of the rolled dough, and cut them out with a clean xacto knife.  I always use a Roul Pat pastry mat I purchased years ago and an OXO non-stick rolling pin.  As much as I love marble boards and wooden utensils, these are just the best when it comes to easily rolling out and lifting doughs.

I also use a pastry cutter/scraper for lifting up and transferring the cut pieces.  I also use this tool for cutting straight lines.

I don’t use many shaped cookie cutters, but I do use a tiny square cutter for windows and doors.  I bought it in a set similar to THIS ONE.

I’ll also use the pastry cutter to add detail to the dough, like beams, logs, bricks, and shingles.

I’ll keep the pieces I cut out of the windows, cut them in half, and use them as shutters.  I found that you just need to set them on top and they’ll bake together.  You don’t need to use anything to make them stick.

Once I get a full sheet, they go into the oven.  I always use parchment paper when I bake.  It makes it easy to slide the cookies off, so they can cool on a rack.

Once cooled, they are ready to be iced.  Sometimes I do this all in one day, but this year I made the dough one day, baked the next, and decorated another.

(The deer cutter was from Ikea, but the antlers and/or heads fell off of all of them, so they were not successful!)

This year, I built most of the houses on small wood slices.  This made them easy to move around on a steady base (and it just looks cute!)

I put the royal icing in a piping bag (or you can use a ziplock bag) and just cut off the tip of the bag.  I just have more luck that way than squeezing it out of a pastry tip.  I twist it and clip the end of a bag with a metal clip (we use these for chips and such).

While I make a double batch of the dough, just one batch of the icing is enough.

A little sprinkle of powdered sugar adds a “snowy” look and hides any cracking or imperfections.  It also highlights any details, like shingles, created with the pastry cutter.

In addition to the wood slices, you can use small dishes turned upside down as a base for small houses.  This small house was made on an overturned ironstone butter pat…

I also make hearts each year and use them for ornaments and garlands.  HERE is a template I made for the hearts.  You can use a cutter, but I didn’t like the “bubbly” heart shape of most of them and wanted a pointier heart, if that makes sense!

Before baking them, I make a hole with a toothpick and then string them up on twine once they are decorated.

This year, I added some Dala horses…

…as well as some birds I strung into a garland on my antique birdcage…

The gingerbread will last a long time!  I usually have mine out until Valentine’s Day, but even then it’s not because they are going bad.  It’s just time to let go of the gingerbread!

If you’d like more gingerbread tips, I wrote THIS POST last year, sharing some more lessons learned.

And, for more Christmas cookie recipes and inspiration, here is an amazing round-up for your perusal…  (Those chocolate shortbread cookies are actually speaking to me.)

Cranberry Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies by Ella Claire | Pecan Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies by A Burst of Beautiful | Cinnamon Cookies by Zevy Joy | Gingerbread Houses by Miss Mustard Seed

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti by anderson + grant | Paleo Double Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies by Nesting with Grace | Chocolate Crinkles Cookies by So Much Better with Age | Cranberry Rosemary Butter Cookies by Nina Hendrick Design Co.

Gluten Free Coconut Fudge Bites by City Farmhouse | Maple Sugar House Cookies by Finding Home Farms | Honey Nut Rugelach by Love Grows Wild | Red Velvet Oreo Cheesecake Cookies by Nest of Posies

Mexican Spicy Chocolate Cookies by Maison de Pax | Coconut Shortbread Cookies by My Sweet Savannah | Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cookies by House 214 | Cinnamon and Sugar Lattice Pie Crust Cookies by Craftberry Bush

gingerbread house recipe & templates

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42 Comments on “gingerbread house recipe & templates”

  1. The houses are beautiful, I can never get over your artistic abilities! Every detail is a delight. And the hearts, and birds, and the horse! Your home could be ready for Christmas now, with only the addition of your tree, that’s how pretty these are!

  2. One year I baked gingerbread cookies and hung them from a small tree in the kitchen. I also dried orange slices and tied red gingham bows on it. It looked so cute! Then one morning as I ate breakfast, I heard something drop and it was a cookie! Evidently the moisture from the kitchen softened them and as they fell, my Sheltie was there to gobble them up. I found lots of loops of ribbon on the tree with no cookies attached. I don’t know how I missed them!!??!! The dog had a feast, though!

  3. Such lovely rustic, handmade prettiness these gingerbread creations add to Christmas – and I’m sure it makes the house smell wonderful during the baking too. I noticed the red raspberry candies near your Dala Horse. My husbands parents always brought these home for us from the west. Very hard to find around here, but oh so delicious.

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  6. Thank you so much, Marian!! I hope to get up my courage and make little houses and hearts soon. Have been researching royal icing-what’s your go to recipe, and opinion on meringue powder or not ?
    Blessings to you!

    1. I use the recipe that goes with the gingerbread (linked to in the post). It’s just powdered sugar, egg white, and vanilla. It’s very sticky and does a nice job holding shape and keeping the houses together.

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  8. First of all your cupboard is BEAUTIFUL! Love everything about it. And I am in love with the ginger bread houses. I have never made any and am way to old to have never done that, so I have printed everything out and it is on my list. And your tree. I have always loved the simplicity of the candles on the tree. And the gingerbread ornaments are perfect for it. I can’t tell you how many ideas I have gleamed from you in the years I have been following you. Thank you so much for sharing the talent God has gifted you with. What a precious season we are going into. And, I am so excited to see what else you are going to share celebrating the birth of our Saviour.

  9. Marian,
    I am loving taking some “down time” every time one of your blog posts arrives in my inbox. Thank you for your ideas, inspiration, and willingness to share the how-to’s of what you do! We talked of our German-ness when you came to Zion Springs. Your Target Christmas tree is perfect for my mom’s clip-on candle holders and real candles. I’ve always hung the Barvarian Erzgebirge ornaments with the candles but you’ve inspired me to do some gingerbread baking for a second tree.
    Also, whatever happened to your patterns that you submitted for the pillows or perhaps table runner contest from that one company. I loved everything you designed!
    Blessings to your entire family during this quickly approaching holiday season!

    Love, Chris

  10. Love this- especially tiny house on overturned butter plate, so cute! One question, for anyone who has any insight, I live in NC and we have bugs pretty much year round here. Do you think it would be possible to spray with some kind of varnish (obviously not going to eat) to make them less attractive to little critters?

  11. Rebecca – I googled how to preserve gingerbread houses and yes a clear sealer should do it.

  12. I cannot see gingerbread houses without thinking about the year I made houses using graham crackers with my students. We finished the masterpieces and left them to dry on the windowsill overnight. When I arrived the next morning I was shocked at the state of the houses! Some mice had quite a feast overnight. Those are times you just chuckle and move on. As always, Marian, yours are lovely!

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  15. Is there no limit to your incredible artistic abilities? Your work is just beautiful. Here in Alabama we would definitely have a bug or rodent problem if sweet edibles were left out like decorations. 😥 When I used to have a shop years ago, I carried some pieces like this made by a lady who made fake ones from some kind of non-sweet dough that were never meant to be eaten, and they were also sealed with spray shellac. They would last from year to year. Kind of a bummer because they looked very appetizing! I do love your style, and it is such a refreshing change from the over-the-top Disneyesque decor that seems so prevalent today.

  16. Thank you so much for the recipes and instructions! I’ve seen yours the past couple years and this years I’m determined to try! Can’t wait!

  17. The Historical Society in our little town owns and decorates the tiny home of our founding father. Every year it gets decorated for the holidays’ open houses. One Christmas I decided to make all sorts of gingerbread items to decorate the pantry/larder. Imagine my surprise when I went back to add the finishing touches and discovered many been nibbled on by mice!!!! Yikes!

  18. Thank you! Thank you!……for sharing not only your recipe, but so many pictures, links and tips I’m so excited to start making these. First time ever. Wish me luck😉

  19. Beautiful gingerbread houses! Speaking of Kristy, how are the two of you coping since your big move? It was exciting to read about your working days together in PA.

  20. Thanks so much for all of thewonderful info. I love the little houses so much! I need to have a baking and making day with my Mom. Was wondering if you bought both sizes of the little wood slices.

  21. World market the last 2 years had a mini gingerbread house cookie cutter there was a recipe on the package. I made a bunch of those was pretty easy 15-20 I think my decorations were not a cute as yours but they tasted really good and made great gifts. Also I have my German grandmothers gingerbread cookie recipe it is wonderful soft best ever cookie.if I could I would post pics of them

  22. You are so creative!!!
    I love the little houses and I love cookies made into ornaments, specially the pointy hearts and birdies!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

  23. Marian – I love your blog!! I will never ever make gingerbread houses or decorations but I admire your talent and I just love the pics – It also helps us get motivated to do other projects with your great ideas!! It gets us out of our comfort zone!! Thank you!

  24. Our family of nine has the tradition of decorating gingerbread houses every Christmas season. We have purchased a variety of different prebaked kits (sorry) through the years. The grandkids are now old enough to decorate their own creation. We add lots of our favorite candies the kits don’t provide. The end result of each house can get pretty creative and maybe not so traditional, but it makes for a fun afternoon! One year my son noticed that a certain candy was disappearing from their family’s gingerbread house. The culprit was their daughter, not mice!

  25. Thank you Marian! I have fond memories of making gingerbread houses with my Aunts when I was younger, although they were huge so I like these smaller ones for my kids to do now

  26. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve admired your gingerbread creations and have wanted to make my own, now I’ll know how!!!

  27. Such cute little houses. Thanks for sharing them with us. I have been making gingerbread houses with my kids for many years, when I want to cut the straight sides of the houses I use a rolling pizza cutter. It makes really smooth cuts and the dough doesn’t stick to the it. I also like to make the patten on freezer paper and lay it on top of the dough, then I can just cut around the pattern and freezer paper peels right off the dough.

  28. We always bake our gingerbread house every year too…..I can’t bring myself to snap together one from the store even though those are cute as well! I would just miss the smell of them baking! Yours are adorable!!

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