Have you ever wondered how those amazing gingerbread houses are made? Seems pretty impossible considering most kits fall apart the second you put the frosting on. Not this recipe! This construction grade gingerbread house recipe is SO strong! I made my house three weeks ago and it’s still standing strong. You can trim it, sand it, bake it in molds and even pour sugar windows. Keep reading for more tips!
I’ll let you in on a little secret, not all gingerbread is created equal. You might be surprised to find out that the gingerbread that is used to make those amazing houses are made with something called “construction gingerbread” meaning it’s not meant to be eaten and is really only for building.
So if you try to build a gingerbread house from regular yummy gingerbread cookie dough, you might find your cookie dough spreading or cracking when you try to assemble the house.
This is the gingerbread house recipe that I got from my friend Christophe Rull who is the head pastry chef at the Parky Hyatt Aviara in San Diego. We used this recipe to build a gingerbread house that was over twelve feet tall! Granted we had a structure underneath because the house had to be on display for over a month but still, it was the best structural gingerbread I’ve ever used!
Christophe has graciously shared his recipe with me so I can give it to you guys! So you can make some amazing gingerbread houses too!
Gingerbread House Ingredients
First we need to get all our ingredients together to make the gingerbread house recipe. You probably already have all the ingredients you need in your pantry but check for molasses since that isn’t used very much anymore and you’ll need quite a bit. Molasses actually gives the gingerbread that nice dark gingerbread color.
Gingerbread House Step-By-Step
This gingerbread house recipe also uses shortening so make sure you have that on hand. Since we’re not eating this gingerbread house, you could really skip all the spices but they add a nice color and scent to the house that looks and smells really nice!
Step 1 – Sift together your flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a bowl and set it aside.
Step 2 – Melt the vegetable shortening in the microwave or on the stove until it’s just barely melted. I’m using shortening because we aren’t eating this gingerbread so the taste isn’t important.
Step 3 – In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the shortening, sugar, and molasses. Add in your egg and mix until smooth.
Step 4 – Add your dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms.
Step 5 – Divide your dough in half and roll it out 1/4″ thick directly onto a silicone baking mat so that we can pour sugar windows next.
Step 6 – After the dough is rolled out, put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. This just makes cutting out the templates a little easier and helps them to hold their shape. I try to keep my pieces pretty close together without being TOO close or they might touch during baking. This recipe doesn’t spread but it does puff a tiny bit. Keep your leftover dough for later.
Gingerbread House Pattern
I have a gingerbread house pattern that you can use to make your own gingerbread houses. I know it SEEMS very small but once it’s assembled, its actually the perfect size for an individual gingerbread house to decorate. One gingerbread house recipe will make three gingerbread houses.
Step 1 – Print your template. Cut your template pieces out.
Step 2 – Take your chilled dough from the freezer and lay your gingerbread house pattern on top. Don’t put them too close together or they will touch when they bake.
If you want to add a brick texture, now is the time to press it into your dough, BEFORE you cut. I used a x-acto knife to cut mine but any small knife works. Just don’t cut through your silicone mat!
Step 3 – Peel away the excess dough and set it aside to roll out for the other houses.
Step 4 – Bake the pieces in the oven at 300ºF for 50-60 minutes. Keep an eye on the color, if you feel like they are getting too dark, you can take them out sooner.
Step 5 – Let the gingerbread cool fully before picking it up to avoid cracks. Use your leftover dough to make the third gingerbread house.
OPTIONAL: How To Make A Brick Texture On Your Gingerbread House
For one of my houses I used a brick impression tool. I like this one in particular because it has nice sharp edges and doesn’t distort the gingerbread cookie dough when you push it in. I got mine from Nicholas Lodge.
I just pressed the embossing tool into my cookie dough before baking to get this awesome brick texture on my gingerbread house walls! I love how it turned out!
OPTIONAL: How To Make Gingerbread House Windows With Jolly Ranchers
You definitely don’t HAVE to put windows in your gingerbread house but if you’re extra like me (which I feel like you might be) then you’re going to want to make some awesome windows for your gingerbread house! lucky for you it’s SUPER easy!
All you need is some hard candies but the trick to windows that stay nice and clear is to use sugar free candy. Sugar free candy is made with something called isomalt and is actually more resistant to clouding than traditional sugar.
For my windows I used sugar free jolly ranchers and hard candies in pink, blue and green. I broke them up into smaller pieces with a mallet inside a plastic baggie so the pieces wouldn’t go flying.
Then all you have to do is put a few pieces of each color into the cut out of your cooked gingerbread. Don’t be afraid to fill it up because it thins out a lot once it’s melted.
I put the candy into the cutout areas during the last 5 minutes of baking. If they aren’t completely melted then you can do another minute but don’t leave them in too long or they will burn. Let your cookies completely cool before removing the silicone baking mat from the back. Voila! Super pretty gingerbread cookie windows! And so easy!
If you want clear windows you can use clear sugar-free candies or you can use isomalt. I like to buy mine pre-cooked and ready to melt from simi cakes and confections. Or you can make your own isomalt from raw granules by using my clear isomalt recipe.
How To Assemble Your Gingerbread House
If you’ve ever tried to put together a gingerbread house, you know it can be a bit challenging! The main thing you need is some THICK royal icing and some patience. First I recommend making up a batch of my royal icing. The stuff they sell in the kits is too soft!
You can also use melted isomalt or even caramel to assemble your pieces by dipping the ends in the sugar and gluing them together but be very very careful you don’t drip and get a sugar burn.
Step 1 – Place some of the royal icing into a piping bag and cut off the end to make a small hole or use a #2 piping tip.
Step 2 – Pipe a line on the sides of the front and back piece right along the edge. Don’t be skimpy with your royal icing!
Step 3 – Attach the sidewall and place it on a flat surface. Now attach the other sidewall. Then you can put on the back piece. Wipe off any excess royal on the outside but the inside should have lots. Even add more if you want! I let this dry for an hour or so before adding the roof just to be safe.
Pro-tip: If you are piping lots of decorations onto your gingerbread house, you can add all your decorations first, let them dry and then assemble your house.
Step 4 – To add the roof, I piped some royal along the top edge of one side of the house then add the first part of the roof. Then I pipe royal to the second part of the house and along the top edge of the first piece of the roof and add the final piece of the roof. Let this baby dry overnight before you start adding candy so that it’s rock solid.
Step 6 – Decorate! Once your gingerbread house is assembled you can start decorating with all kinds of candies and colored royal icing! I LOVE this gingerbread house by Freed’s Bakery and will some day attempt something like this. I’m in love with all the colors of the icing and the creative use of candy. If you want more gingerbread house ideas check out my 25 best gingerbread house ideas post.
How To Decorate A Gingerbread House
To decorate my gingerbread house, I used a combination of a bunch of candies like M&M, hard candies, candy canes, miniature starburst candies and chocolate bars. You can use whatever candies you like, just mix and match and have fun!
I used my stiff royal icing to attach the candy to the gingerbread house and let it dry overnight before I lifted it up to put the battery-operated tea lights underneath. These little houses look so cute on our bookshelf and make the best decorations for the holidays!
Gingerbread House Recipe Without Molasses
Did you run out of molasses? That’s ok! You can replace the molasses in this gingerbread house recipe with a few things. You can use dark corn syrup, honey, maple syrup or even brown sugar in place of molasses. Make sure you use the same amount by weight, not by volume (cups).
I honestly have not made a lot of gingerbread houses but I feel like I could do some legit complicated designs based on what I have learned with this gingerbread house recipe and making a couple of practice ones. I can’t wait to decorate these this weekend for Friendsgiving!
Gingerbread House Recipe
Gingerbread House Recipe
- 28 oz (850 g) AP Flour
- 3/4 tsp (3/4 tsp ) cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp (1/4 tsp) ginger
- 1/2 tsp (1/2 tsp) nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp (1/4 tsp) cloves
- 3/4 tsp (3/4 tsp) salt
- 7 oz (198 g) vegetable shortening
- 6 oz (170 g) granulated sugar
- 16 oz (454 g) molasses
- 1 Large (1 Large) egg
- 5 crushed jolly ranchers or isomalt for the windows
Stiff Royal Icing Recipe
- 16 ounces (454 g) powdered sugar sifted
- 2 ounces (57 g) pasteurized egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Stand Mixer with paddle and whisk attachment
- Piping bag and tips
For The Gingerbread House
- Sift your dry ingredients together, set aside
- Microwave vegetable shortening (or melt on stovetop in pot) until liquid but not hot
- In a stand mixer, whisk shortening, sugar and molasses together. Add the egg and mix until combined
- Switch to the paddle attachment and add your dry ingredients. Mix on medium/low until a smooth ball starts to form, do not over mix
- Roll out dough onto parchment paper or a baking mat to 1/4" thick. Try to make the dough as even in thickness as possible.
- Freeze dough for 20 minutes (optional)
- Cut shapes out using your templates. Remove excess dough (can be used to re-roll out and make more pieces)
- Bake in an oven set to 300º F for 50-60 mins until very firm
- Once gingerbread is done, remove from the oven and let fully cool before moving. Your gingerbread is now ready to be assembled.
For The Royal Icing
- Combine your egg whites, sifted powdered sugar, and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attached.
- Mix on low to get the ingredients combined then bump up to high for 1-2 minutes. Add in your vanilla extract and whip until it's white. No need to mix for longer than 5 minutes.
- Place the royal icing into a bowl or container with a lid. Your THICK royal icing is now ready to be thinned down to the consistency you desire.
106 comments on “Construction Grade Gingerbread House Recipe”
I’m excited to try this recipe! How far in advance can you make the dough? We are trying to make a larger house this year and I want to make some ahead of time. Thanks!
You can make it as far in advance as you need to <3
how do u print out the templete.
Just click on the gingerbread house template link (text) in the blog post and it brings up the image to print
Good morning! I just need to make a small house for the top of a 6” cake; can this recipe be halved?
Also, did you use cooking molasses or fancy molasses in the recipe?
Yes you can half the recipe if you want. I don’t know specifically, it doesn’t say on the bottle. It was just grandmas unsulphered molassas.
Please forgive the dumb questions but I’m still learning a lot about baking and the basics. I get the measuring by weight – I have a scale and have realized how off my flour can be especially on a doubled+ recipe. But when it comes to liquids I wanted some confirmation… the molasses says 16 oz. is that fluid ounces like 2 cups? I remember watching one of those cooking shows and a judge commented that someone used the dry measuring cup for wet ingredients (or vice versa) and really blew my mind.
So I know this is basic stuff but if you could clarify the molasses and shortening measuring so I can make sure I’m doing it correctly with the correct tools. Thanks so much for your time and this awesome recipe. My gingerbread houses are going to be on point this year!
Everything is by weight, liquids too. Makes it very easy. I don’t use volume (cups) measurements at all because of how inaccurate they can be even with liquids. Oil is heavier than water, but not as much as sour cream. So I just weigh everything.
THANK YOU! What’s odd is if you pour an 12 oz bottle of molasses into your food scale it’s 16 ounces. I know it’s fluid ounces but is this recipe done with pouring out the molasses and weighing it? So confused!!!
That is so annoying! That is why I weigh everything! If you take butter out of the wrapper its not 8 ounces either!
Thank you so much for responding with that extra clarification. I made it once and did weigh it but second guessed myself. It resulted in a super sturdy hard gingerbread, although like other commenters it was darker than the pictures which was fine with me.
Can’t wait to construct and decorate our gingerbread houses, soon!
I’m baking challenged and don’t have a scale (maybe Santa will get me one). I wanted to make this for my grandkids so I had to figure it out.
A 2 pound (32 oz) sack of flower measured out to a little more than 5 cups so I used 5 cups of flower.
A 12 oz bottle of molasses measured out to 1 1/2 cups so I used 2 cups of molasses.
A 16 oz box of sugar measured out to 2 cups so I used 3/4 cup of sugar.
It came out great, thanks for the recipe!
Thanks, excellent recipe, I make mini houses four my Xmas tree. Wonderful!!!!
Have you tried baking the cut outs with another cookie sheet on top? Just wondering if that could prevent bubbling and give it that flat look like the kits you buy in the store. Thanks!
I haven’t tried this but I think it would work great since this recipe does not rise at all
Hi. Can you substitute the vegetable shortening with margarine? I live in a country where veg. shortening is really expensive, but margarine is not. I normally use butter in everything, but if it’s not going to be eaten, I’d prefer to use marg. Thanks!
Yes you can
I beg to differ about this recipe not being for eating. I have used this recipe, or one that is very similar, to make gingerbread houses for years, and it is awesome for construction, but also delicious. This is important to me because I think gingerbread houses SHOULD be eaten, especially if you have kids. I also have found that it can be rolled thinner than 1/4 inch and still holds up fine. This contributes to the edibility. When fresh, the cookie is hard and crispy, which is how I like my cookies. After sitting out for a few days, it becomes soft, but still very tasty.
Happy Holidays!! Will the cookies stay crispy if I bake them several days in advance of construction? I’m thinking I’ll let them cool and then wrap in plastic until ready build the houses. Your thoughts?
They will stay crisp forever. No need to wrap them.
I’ve never made a real gingerbread house until today. Thank you for this great tutorial and the tips for making the candy windows; they turned out great!
Awesome! I’m so happy it worked well for you
This was my first ever time making gingerbread house dough and it was soo much easier than I expected. There were zero broken pieces, and the house assembly was incredibly easy. I followed the directions to a t, used the attached house template, and measured the 1/4″ heighth of the rolled out dough at many points and was not able to get three houses out of one batch. I would say you could probably get 1 1/2 houses maybe 2 houses per batch. I ended up making this recipe three times in two days and made three houses (with some dough leftover) and I will definitely be using the recipe again. Thank you!
Hi I know you have already said that we can make the dough early and keep. But does it have to be refrigerated ? Can we leave it in room temperature for a day ?
I would put it in the refrigerator
Thank you for this recipe! It really was perfect structurally. But as others mentioned, came out a lot darker (looks like chocolate) than your photos. We embraced the difference and are very happy with our creation. But for future reference, do you mean 16oz molasses by weight (e.g. 453 grams), or 16 oz by volume (e.g. 2 cups)? Thanks again!
Everything is by weight, I’m not sure why some peoples gingerbread comes out darker. I’ve made this several times now and it’s always the same. I’ll be sure to update the recipe if I do find out.
Can I replace 1/2 the molasses with dark corn syrup? Didn’t have as much as I thought and hoping a 50/50 would still be ok. Thanks!
Yes you can
Thanks for your response. I’m guessing darker because we used 16 fluid ounces of molasses.
This looks like a good recipe and template, thank you. I will use it this week for my house. A few comments… It would be helpful to mention that all measurements are by weight on every recipe card so there is no confusion. It might make it easier, if making 3 houses, to portion the dough into 3 equal balls to roll out. Also, instructions to thin the royal icing would be handy in one spot as well.
Awesome recipe! The color on mine is perfect. For those struggling with dark dough, make sure you measure by weight for the molasses and not by volume. I bought a 12 fluid ounce jar and did not use all of it up even though the recipe calls for ’16 ounces’. I hope this helps others! 🙂
This was a great recipe and easy to make, though I did not add quite as much flour as it was crumbly. I let my dough rest in plastic wrap to come together lile pie dough and then it was easy to work with. I have a convection oven and did not need 50 minutes – more like 40. I added a crushed peppermint steeple on top (ice cream cone) and it became a cute little church (and I am not religious but it was still cute).
My kids and I decided that for our first ever by-hand (not a kit) gingerbread house we would attempt a gingerbread Hogwarts. I knew I would need a really sturdy gingerbread for something so big but also wanted something that could be eaten. I searched all over and I am so happy that I finally found this recipe. I did half white and half brown sugar, and half shortening and half butter (a little more than half butter), just to make it a bit tastier. The dough was incredibly strong but still tasted good (we ate our mistakes). It turned out amazing! We did the Hogwarts Great Hall and Main Staircase Tower with a couple smaller structures and towers. The Main Tower is 8″ in diameter and 26″ high so it’s really big but completely structurally sound. I used various consistencies of the royal icing to both construct and decorate it. Thinning it out was really easy. Just a note, I don’t have a stand mixer so I used my hand mixer and my hands to make the dough. I think we made about seven or eight batches! By the tine we got to the last batch I had perfected it (a little less flour made it more malleable for forming the different non-flat pieces). It was definitely a workout but so worth it. Thank you for sharing this recipe and making our first gingerbread adventure a huge success!