Grandma's Gingerbread House Recipe

gingerbread house

Here's my grandma's original gingerbread house recipe. I've asked her permission to share it so I'm not going rogue giving away family secrets! Growing up, my mother used to make these gingerbread houses every year and sell them. I decided to follow suit in college one year and I realized it's a lot of work to make and sell gingerbread houses. The detail that goes into them takes a steady, strong hand and lots of hours (when you're making 20+). After that year I gave up selling them, but I still love to make one during the Christmas season for my home. They are especially fun to make with kids!

Gingerbread House

1. Cut all pattern pieces from a lightweight cardboard WITH TABS…(about the weight of a manila folder).  These pieces will be used for the frame of your house. 

{Note: I didn't ask my grandma for her pattern because I know it isn't digitalized and I didn't want to bother with that when there are plenty of choices online already. Visit our friends over at Cupcakepedia for 20 Free Gingerbread House Patterns.}

2. Make patterns out of wax paper omitting tabs…cut out the windows and doors. Be sure to bake windows and doors.

3. Make gingerbread cookie dough.

Gingerbread Dough Recipe

3-1/2 C  Sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 C  Shortening
1 tsp  Baking Soda
1/2 C  Brown Sugar (packed) dark brown
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/2 C  Dark Molasses
1 tsp  Ginger
1/2 C  Buttermilk
2 tsp  Cinnamon
1/2 tsp  Vinegar (white)

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Blend in molasses…..sift half the flour with soda, spices and salt …..stir into the molasses mixture. Combine buttermilk and vinegar…..add alternately the rest of the flour to molasses mixture…..beginning and ending with flour.  Cover and refrigerate the dough overnight.

Preheat oven 375 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheets.  On lightly floured surface roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness….one half at a time.  Place wax paper pattern on dough. With a sharp knife cut around pattern. (Don't forget to cut out the windows and doors and bake them!) Using a very broad spatula place cut pieces on prepared cookie sheet two inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes….remove to rack and allow to cool overnight before handling.

4. If you have very small gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters make some from leftover dough and bake them.

5. Store the baked sections of your house carefully so they will not break.

6. Make a double recipe of Royal Icing.  (Make one recipe at a time).

Royal Icing Recipe

Pour 1/2 C boiling water over 3/4 C granulated sugar.  Stir until dissolved and cool to room temperature.  Stir in 1/4 C meringue powder and beat until stiff.  Stir one box of powder sugar (sift first) into mixture and beat until well incorporated and icing stands in high stiff peaks.  Make icing using very clean, grease-free utensils.  Store only in glass, not plastic container.

Tips on decorating (these are some things we did to decorate the house and make it look festive!):

  • Make Christmas trees from upside-down waffle cones (use a leaf tip to cover the whole thing in leaves) and don't forget to put one inside before you put on the roof!
  • Candy canes makes a cute fence
  • Powdered sugar for snow
  • Ribbon candy for presents
  • M&Ms for shingles/cobblestone path
  • Get creative with any candy you like!

Amber Hawthorne
Amber Hawthorne


Amber Hawthorne is the founder and formulator of Bambu Earth, a natural handcrafted skincare line made in small batches based out of Southern California where Amber resides with her husband and children.

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