Texas Living

How to Make a Holly Jolly Gingerbread House

By M. Elise Giller 12.7.16

Fruit Roll-Up or welcome mat? Licorice or windowpane? Sprinkles or green grass? Unleash your imagination this holiday season by creating one-of-a-kind edible masterpieces (that doubles as holiday decor!) — homemade gingerbread houses. It’s a great family activity that combines two yuletide pastimes: art and cooking. As an added bonus, it will coat your home with a sweet aroma for days.

Here’s what you’ll need:


To make the gingerbread 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Assorted candy for decoration

To make the icing 

  • 1 pound or 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1–2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, lemon juice, or almond extract

Making the Gingerbread cookies

Cream butter, brown sugar, molasses, and spices until fluffy; then add baking soda, flour, and water. Chill for 30 minutes, and then roll out the dough on a flat surface. Using a sharp knife, cut the following patterns:

  •       Two large rectangles for the front and back of the house
  •       Two smaller pieces for the sides of the house that are wider at the base and slanted to a peak at the top (think a triangle on top of a rectangle)
  •       Two medium rectangles for the roof

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the cookies until dough feels firm or about 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet until hardened.

Preparing the Icing

Combine powdered sugar with egg whites and vanilla extract (or lemon juice/almond extract) with an electric mixer, and then transfer to a pastry bag. *If you don’t plan on consuming your gingerbread house right away, we suggest using an egg white-free icing (1 cup powdered sugar and 2–3 tablespoons of water). 

Building and Storing the House

On a piece of cardboard, working on one side of the house at a time, pipe icing along the edge and press against the next side, holding for a few minutes until the icing dries. If needed, prop the cookies up with cans as you assemble the entire house. Pipe icing where the base meets the cardboard. Decorate with more icing, peppermints, gumdrops, and licorice! For a uniquely Texas twist, add pralines and Texas-sized jelly beans to your creation.

Now that you’re done putting the final touches on your gingerbread house, use one of these methods to preserve your creation through the holidays.

  • Wrap in plastic wrap at night to keep dust and bugs at bay. 
  • Place on a cake pedestal or stand and cover with the glass dome. 
  • If you don’t plan on eating your gingerbread house, you can spray your masterpiece (in a well-ventilated area) with spray lacquer or varnish to preserve it for up to a year.

Want more ideas for creative family-friendly holiday treats? Check out our twists on classic hot cocoa!