family fun

The Fool-Proof Gingerbread House Recipe

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Skip the pre-made gingerbread house kits at the store and make your own this year! It's not as difficult as you think and with these fool-proof recipes, you can have a custom gingerbread house sure to wow your friends and family. Whether it's been a family tradition for ages, or it's your first time, don't be intimidated! Whip up some healthy hot cocoa and get to work on the best gingerbread house you've ever made.


Start by finding your favorite template. There are some great amazing resources online that provide free printable gingerbread house templates! Once you have your template printed and cut, you've gotten through the most difficult part! You can even tape your template pieces together just to ensure that everything fits properly. From here, you're ready to get into the fun stuff!

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Fool-Proof Gingerbread House

Project Necessities

  • Gingerbread dough
  • A base for your house
  • Royal icing
  • Hot sugar glue
  • Candy, candy, candy

Start by whipping up a batch of this wonder dough. A little bit like fondant, this dough is tough, durable, easy to work with, and uses basic inexpensive ingredients.

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Dough ingredients

  • 2 cups dark corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups of margarine
  • 9 cups white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Prep Instructions

1. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the corn syrup, brown sugar, and margarine until all ingredients are melted and smooth when stirred.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Add syrup mixture and stir until the dough comes away from the sides. The dough will be quite stiff, like playdough.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic. Let rest at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

4. Cut parchment paper to fit your baking sheets. (For gingerbread baking I traditionally turn my cookie sheets over and bake on them upside down so I'm not fighting with the lips on each side of the pan)

4. After 30 minutes, remove dough from wrap and roll out on a floured counter. Roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness on the cut parchment paper. If the dough is too hard to roll out, it can be softened in the microwave for 30 seconds.

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5. Place your drawn templates lightly on the dough about 1 inch apart from one another. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut out templates and remove excess dough.

6. Grab the opposite edges of your parchment paper and move them to the turned over baking sheets. An extra set of hands may be helpful here too.

7. Carefully place sheets in oven to bake for 12 to 15 minutes. If you've turned your baking sheets over, the parchment paper can slide easily. Keep a good grip on it to prevent it from making it into your over before your pan does.

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8. Gingerbread is done when it's lightly browned around the edges.

9. Remove the pans and lightly place the templates back on the warm cookies. Re-trim the cookies if you desire a tight fitting gingerbread house.

Once this dough is cooled it's almost indestructible. If dropped, it can still break, but it's sturdy enough that you can even sand the edges if needs be, when assembling the house.

Doubling this recipe made just the right amount of gingerbread for me to make quite a large house that was about 18"X18"X12".

Next you'll need the glue that holds the house together.

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Hot Sugar Glue

Forget trying to balance your house with cans while the old-fashioned royal icing dries, try hot sugar glue! As strong as hot glue, hot sugar glue is a quick way to assemble the pieces of your gingerbread house so it's ready to decorate immediately.

Put 1 cup of white sugar in a non-stick skillet or frying pan and heat until it's melted. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the sugar melts and liquefies - about 5 to 10 minutes. Leave the hot melted sugar on a low heat to keep it workable and be very careful handling it because it is extremely hot.

Edges of each piece of your gingerbread house can simply be dipped and stuck together. Look at working with your hot sugar a lot like hot glue. Dip quickly and stick quickly to avoid hardened glue that then has to be removed. Some people recommend wearing gloves to prevent dripping hot melted sugar from getting on your fingers and hands.

Once your house is assembled, the fun of decorating awaits! The last prep needed is the royal icing. Royal icing is soft when wet, and hard when dry. It's the perfect thing to use to pipe designs and stick on candies. If you're not lucky enough to live near a Blickenstaff's store like I am, walk around the candy aisle of your local grocery store. Just be creative! There's no standard for what works and what doesn't!

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Finally it's time to decorate! Get your candy all laid out and start 'gluing' it to your base and your house. Starting from the top and working down toward the base is easiest.

Royal Icing

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 egg whites, beaten


1. In a bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and cream of tartar. Using electric mixer, beat in 2 eggs whites for about 5 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to hold it's shape.Frosting can be thickened with more confectioners' sugar or thinned with a teaspoon of water a time, if needed.

With a little time and patience, your finished product could look a little something like this, a house my friend Jill Swensen entered into a local gingerbread house contest for Ivory Homes.


Happy decorating!

What are a few of your favorite family traditions?

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