Ideas for a Showstopper Gingerbread House

gingerbread houses DIY

Baking is on the list of things to do this year to keep our families sane over the holidays. And of course, the perfect combo of holiday spirit, creativity, food: the gingerbread house. Check out some of our favorite ideas so you can be inspired to make some magnificent DIY gingerbread houses.

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What’s the History of the Gingerbread House?

It seems like a funny concept: a house made out of cookies. Apparently, the first known recipe for gingerbread comes from Greece in 2400 B.C. The hard cookies became a popular staple in Medieval England, France, Germany, and Holland. Queen Elizabeth I is credited with decorating the cookies in their traditional fashion with white piped icing, as she used to decorate them to resemble dignitaries who visited her court.

Gingerbread houses became popular in 16th century Germany, decorated with foil, gold leaf, and the famous piped icing. However, the concept was especially popularized by the Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel. The famous witch in their story lived in a gingerbread house adorned entirely with sweets.

gingerbread house ideas pretzels gummis
Photo by @supermakeit

What Can I Use to Make a Gingerbread House?

The beauty of gingerbread houses is their ability to be changed and customized to your own imagination! Typically, you’ll use a gingerbread base, which is a lot easier to make when you bake it with a gingerbread cookie mold. You can also use a template online to form your own gingerbread pieces.

For the dough, there are plenty of brands like Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines that make pre-made mixes where you simply add 2-3 ingredients, but you can also make it from scratch for an authentic flavor.

classic gingerbread house
Photo by @lena.zagreb

For an easy gingerbread house recipe with sturdy walls, all you need is 6 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 4 tsp ground ginger, 4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground allspice (or cloves), 1/2 tsp salt, 1-1/2 sticks of butter, 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 cup dark molasses, and 1 tbsp water. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, molasses, and water until fully combined. Beat half the dry ingredient mixture into the molasses mixture until smooth. Stir in the rest of the flour and knead until well-blended. If the dough is too soft, add more flour. Divide the dough and chill overnight.

colorful gingerbread house
Photo by @juliannavezza

How Can I Make an Easy Gingerbread House?

A gingerbread house kit can be really helpful, but it can also be challenging for younger kids (and their parents!) to assemble. So if you’re looking for how to make a gingerbread house in the easiest way possible, we recommend a small milk carton as the base and spread easy buttercream frosting on each side. Attach graham crackers to the four sides of the container, and use any frosting of your choice to attach your toppings of choice.

For the roof, you can use graham crackers, or skip the crackers and just add your favorite candies like gumdrops, Necco wafers, Twizzlers, M&Ms, or Sour Patch Kids. It might not be the best gingerbread house from an artistic perspective, but you’ll have a homemade gingerbread house that won’t fall apart too easily. It’s also much, much easier on the parents of toddlers and younger kids!

What Is the Best Icing for a Gingerbread House?

The edible adhesive for traditional gingerbread houses is called “royal icing,” and it’s made of cream, egg whites, and powdered sugar. While this is traditional, if you’re experiencing the frustration that I have in the past, and you’re not trying to eat your house, sometimes a little bit of real glue is necessary for decorating a gingerbread house.

gingerbread houses icing

Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses

The perfect icing that will hold together your beautiful gingerbread creation
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Craft
Cuisine American
Servings 32 tbsp
Calories 45 kcal


  • 2 large egg whites room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar


Royal Icing

  • In a mixing bowl, whip egg whites until light and foamy, then add the cream of tartar. Continue mixing for 30 seconds
  • Gradually add in powdered sugar, mixing well.
  • Turn mixer on high and continue beating until thickened and the icing holds its shape (this should be about 3-5 minutes).


Calories: 45kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 11mgSugar: 11gCalcium: 1mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Christmas
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Creative Gingerbread House Ideas

Get ready to break out of the traditional gingerbread house mold! Surprisingly, gingerbread houses don’t have to be made of just gingerbread! You can also use pop-tarts, graham crackers, or even waffles for a fun twist on the classic home. Here are some of our favorite gingerbread house decorating ideas.

Gingerbread Cottage: Use frosted mini-wheats for a thatched-roof look to complete your countryside hideaway.

Snow Globe Gingerbread House: I can’t believe I haven’t been making snow globe gingerbread houses since the beginning! Turn over an empty globe bowl and use it as the “globe,” which will not only protect your gingerbread house from the air and any potential mishaps that may knock it over. You can also use spray snow on the inside of the bowl to give the illusion of snow!

Hagrid’s Hut: You’re a wizard, Harry! Hagrid is everyone’s favorite groundskeeper from the iconic series. He’s always accidentally revealing information to the kids and fiercely loyal to his school and friends. While Hogwarts would also be a cool idea, Hagrid’s hut may just be a little more doable.

Less is More: Minimalism is in, and this stunningly decorated gingerbread house is no exception. We love this simple two-tone, classic gingerbread house look. And it means less extra candy lying around the house, ready to be eaten.

black and white gingerbread house

Photo by @cuppalinicakes

Spooky Gingerbread House: Whether or not this gingerbread house is intentionally spooky or not, we like the moody, dark look. We also love that they added a little smoke feature in the chimney (incense cones?). You can also use drippy icing to create icicles on the edges of the gingerbread house.

Go Big or Go Home

Gingerbread Hotel: Room service! If you’re feeling ambitious, take your ginger-bread making game to new heights with a hotel! This may not be for beginner builders, but it can be fun to design!

Show Stopper Gingerbread Hotel
Photo by @_sodiego

Gingerbread Church: For lots of families, Christmas is a religious holiday, and many spend more time than usual at church services. A gingerbread church is a great way to celebrate the reason for the season and it’s a cute alternative to traditional gingerbread houses.

Gingerbread Castle: Are you more of the type who prefers a chateau? We get it. You like nice things. That’s why you need a gingerbread castle in your life. Skip the traditional gingerbread house ideas and take it up a notch with some drawbridges, spires, and moats.

Gingerbread Lighthouse: I love this idea, especially with my home in Virginia Beach. It gives an old beachy vibe to the traditional sugary confection. You could surround it with blue icing as water.

gingerbread house lighthouse
Photo by @chestersonqueen— a part of the Chester Christmas Village

Gingerbread Hotel: Room service! If you’re feeling ambitious, take your ginger-bread making game to new heights with a hotel! This may not be for beginner builders, but it can be fun to design!

Gingerbread Barn: If you love all things country farmhouse chic, this is perfect for you. You could even include gingerbread animals to set the scene!

Out-of-the-Box Ideas for a Gingerbread House

Gingerbread Camper: Perfect for the adventurers among us. Finally, your gingerbread man can go camping in style!

Gingerbread Log Cabin: Use pretzel rods for the logs for a cabin fit for Honest Abe.

Showstopper Ginger Bread House Log Cabin
Photo by @ash.pai.zia

Winter Wonderland Gingerbread House: One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the potential for fluffy, white blankets of snow. Use lots of icing to contrast the candy canes and colorful candies and make your gingerbread masterpiece look like it’s just experienced fresh snowfall.

Winter Wonderland Showstopper Gingerbread House
Photo by @bakerpeabody

Gingerbread Nativity: It’s time to get back to the classics. This is a great opportunity to talk with your kids about the story of the first Christmas. And I can’t think of many things cuter than a gingerbread sheep.

Ideas for Roofs/Shingles:

  • Necco wafers
  • Pecans
  • Almond slivers
  • Piroulines
  • Cinnamon toast crunch
  • Mini nilla wafers
  • Gumdrops (dots)
Photo by @stressfreemickey–check out their blog!

Ideas for Siding

  • Almonds for foundry siding
  • Sticks of gum to create colorful siding
  • Sugar wafers for a pastel gingerbread house
  • Different textured jellybeans and nuts to create a stone effect

That’s the Gingerbread Rock

These are just ideas to get you started. Let your imagination run wild! Whether it’s an iconic house from one of your favorite movies or a replica of your own, let your creative side take charge and see what happens! Be sure to share photos of your gingerbread creations with family and friends on FamilyApp!

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