Gingerbread House Tips & Homemade Royal Icing Recipe

Making gingerbread houses is so fun, easy, and delicious! I've got tips & a homemade icing recipe to help you get started!

Last updated on
December 19, 2022 1:06 PM
Alyssa McDowell

Do you and your family make gingerbread houses during the holidays? Up until this year, I hadn't made one! Can you believe it? I mentioned to a friend that I'd always wanted to and she invited me over to make them with her kids. Y'all! It was so fun, easy, and delicious, that I just had to share it with you! Here goes:

What You Need to Make a Gingerbread House

There are a few key ingredients that you’ll need for your gingerbread house. The ingredients you use will depend on the type of house you want to make, but here are the basics:

House Pieces: Why didn't I call it gingerbread? Well, because we used GRAHAM CRACKERS instead! Talk about cutting down on the hassle! What a brilliant hack! You can use gingerbread of course. You can make your own or buy a premade mix. My friend says she's yet to find a premade kit that tastes good so they opt for the graham crackers instead.

Glue: Most people use icing to hold their houses and decorations together. I've seen online where you can use melted sugar too. (If you go this route be careful! Melted sugar is very HOT!)  It's recommended to use royal icing for your glue because it dries quicker and harder than regular icing. My friend says her kids prefer the taste of their homemade icing and even shared the recipe with me! (See Below)

Decorations: Everything from sprinkles to your favorite candy can be decorations. Some staples include candy canes, gumdrops, sprinkles, M&Ms, wafer cookies, and more! We were definitely on a sugar high after we were done.

Tips for Constructing Your Gingerbread House

If you're using traditional gingerbread you'll want to use a template. Before you start, it’s a good idea to use a cookie cutter or other template to mark out where the walls, roof and doors will go. This will help you keep everything symmetrical and make sure everything is in the right place. Since we used graham crackers, we broke them into squares and rectangles and laid them out in a pattern as to how they would stand up together.

Start from the inside - Start building your gingerbread house from the inside out. This way your walls will be able to support the weight of the roof and decorations. Be careful with the roof - Gingerbread roofs (even graham cracker roofs) are often delicate, so be careful when adding the roof to your house. Make sure it’s sturdy enough to support the weight of the decorations.

How to Decorate Your Gingerbread House

Once your gingerbread house is constructed, it’s time to decorate! You can use extra icing, sprinkles, colored sugar and miniature candy to decorate your house any way you want!

Use icing to decorate - If you are using royal icing to decorate your house, simply fill a piping bag with icing and go to town! You can also use a squeeze bottle or a ziplock bag with a small cut in the corner. At one point we were using a spoon straight from the icing bowl to drizzle it on!

Homemade Royal Icing Recipe

Royal icing is used to decorate many types of baked goods and desserts. It's generally comprised of a simple recipe of powdered sugar, water and a few drops of food coloring but my friend's recipe has been handed down through generations and calls for a few extra ingredients.


3 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tarter (it's in the spices aisle)


Beat all of the ingredients together at high speed for 7-10 minutes. Use immediately.


Don't wait to clean up. This recipe dries hard.
Make sure your bowl and beaters are free from grease or it won't set right.

There’s nothing like the winter holiday spirit that comes along with a lively session of gingerbread house decorating! Regardless of whether you use a premade kit or go from scratch with graham crackers and homemade icing, the entire experience will bring smiles and laughter to all involved. So don’t be intimidated, just grab your ingredients and get started!