Dough for gingerbread construction projects is perfectly edible; it just has more flour in it to make it sturdier than gingerbread cookie dough. It’s simple to put together, and should chill for at least an hour before being rolled out and cut for baking. The dough can be made and baked off in advance, and stored in an airtight container until ready to decorate or finish. Use our template to cut out your own gingerbread house.
Use our recipe for Royal Icing. Watch our video on how to fill a pastry bag.
Video—How to Decorate a Gingerbread House
Tips for making a gingerbread house with royal icing:
- Working quickly is very important as royal icing dries very fast once it has been piped.
- If the Royal Icing seems too thick, it can be thinned with a tablespoon of water.
- Royal icing dries very quickly. In order to keep it from hardening while you are working with it, store the icing in a sealed container with a damp paper towel directly on its surface.
- If you don’t have a pastry bag available, simply use a heavy duty resealable plastic bag with one small corner cut off for the piping tip, to decorate your house.
- Be sure to let your assembled gingerbread house dry for at least one hour before adding the candy decorations. This way, you can ensure that the weight of the candies will not collapse your structure before the Royal Icing has set.
- It is best not to rush this process and to allow plenty of time between assembly steps so that the royal icing can properly dry.
- For ease of piping, designs such as latticework can be piped on the pieces before gluing them together, but no candy should be placed until the house is assembled. The weight from the candy could make the house more likely to fall down while the icing dries.
- Looking for healthier options when it comes to gingerbread house decorations? Try nuts, raisins, pretzels, dried fruit, or any other snacks that are readily available in the bulk foods section of most supermarkets.
- Once you have completed decorating the gingerbread house, spread any leftover icing onto the base to look like snow.
- Any leftover royal icing should be thrown out once the house is decorated, as it contains raw egg white, and should not be saved for later use. You may prefer to use pasteurized egg whites in this recipe to eliminate any food safety concerns.
- For a finishing touch, sift a little bit of powdered sugar over the house for a “freshly fallen snow” look.
This recipe was created by CIA Chef Todd Knaster and appears in our Cookies at Home with The Culinary Institute of America (2011, Wiley), which is available at bookstores nationwide