A gluten free gingerbread house recipe that really works, plus a royal icing recipe and tips to make sure it turns out. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance doesn’t mean you can’t keep this fun holiday tradition!
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How to Bake a GF Gingerbread House from Scratch
My family had to go gluten free for health reasons several years ago, and when we did, we lost our annual gingerbread house baking tradition. The kids really missed this part of our holiday winter celebrations, so this year we decided to try baking a gluten free gingerbread house. We were able to make it work!
Can I Just Buy a Gluten Free Gingerbread House Kit?
There are gluten free gingerbread house kits, but they are few and far between. They also tend to be extremely expensive! So I was super relieved when we found a way to make them gluten free.
Gluten Free Gingerbread House Recipe
We tested the recipe out with three different houses. My kids also made all sorts of things with the scraps. Days later, the houses are still standing!
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 cups GF flour (we used Bob's Red Mill)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- Cream the butter and sugar until smooth.
- Stir in molasses and egg yolks.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl: gf flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir until smooth. You will have a nice, thick dough.
- Cover and chill for at least an hour (longer is better).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees while you roll out the dough. We rolled ours out right on the cookie sheet, using a silicon mat to keep the rolling pin from sticking to the GF flour so that we would not have to add too much extra flour.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven. Cut out your house shapes, then return to the oven to finish backing (up to 20 more minutes, although this depends on the thickness). We cut ours with gingerbread house cookie cutters. You can also find printable templates online. This recipe was enough to make one 6-inch tall house (could have been more if we had rolled the dough out thinner). Cranial Hiccups has a printable template for smaller house that you can cut out of a single pan of gingerbread. You can make two houses out of this recipe if you use that template.
- Cool completely before removing from pan to decorate.
We used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 flour for this recipe.
A couple important tips: chilling your dough is really important! So is making sure that you cut the pieces out while the dough is still warm. Some people cut the pieces out before baking, but we found that gluten free dough doesn’t have enough integrity for that to work consistently. Cutting them out while the dough was still warm and then baking a little more if needed was a nice compromise.
Royal Icing Recipe
Growing up, we used the egg whites from the gingerbread recipe to make royal icing, but these days I worry about food poisoning. So we used this meringue powder royal icing recipe instead, which I’ve used ever since I made my first from scratch gingerbread house with my kids (back before we were all gluten free). This is the recipe I recommend:
- 1 Tbsp meringue powder
- 2 Tbps + 1 tsp warm water
- 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
Mix the meringue powder and water; gradually add in powdered sugar. Beat until the icing forms peaks.
How to Make a Gluten Free Gingerbread House
Make sure all of your gingerbread is thoroughly cooked and cooled before building.
You need a solid building platform. We used sheets of cardboard covered with aluminum foil.
How to Build Your House
Here are a few tips to help with gingerbread house building:
- Consider adding any piped on details, like windows, doors, and roof tiles BEFORE building the house. We didn’t to do this, and it would have been easier if we had.
- Use a generous amount of royal icing to attach one end piece, then a wall, then the other wall and end piece.
- Add the roof pieces last.
- Give a little bit of time for the frosting to set after each piece.
If you get unlucky and a piece cracks, use a little royal icing to put it back together. Let that sit, and then move on.
Some people bake their houses for another twenty minutes or so after building them, to add even more integrity. We didn’t do that, and ours held together pretty well, but if you have the patience it will make your house a little bit stronger!
Gluten Free Candy for a Gingerbread House
The kids LOVED selecting candy for their gingerbread houses! Here is that they picked out:
- Hershey’s kisses
- Hershey’s chocolate bars
- Peppermint buttermints
- Candy Canes
- Gummy bears
- Mini starbursts – these conveniently come unwrapped
- Sour gummy worms
- Fondant. This last one is rather fancy, but my kids love working with it.
They added a few other candies that they had saved. My kids are amazing at saving candy.
Getting to choose your own candy is one of the best things about making a gingerbread house from scratch! I loved seeing all of the creative ways the kids used their candy to decorate.
If you are working with gluten intolerances or allergies like us, be sure to check packaging to make sure that your candy is safe to eat!
Gingerbread House Decorating Ideas
Both Emma and Lily used royal icing to scallop on roof tiles:
Johnny tiled his roof with squares of Hershey’s chocolate:
The white Christmas tree above has a gingerbread scrap center surrounded by fondant and mini starbursts. Careful trips of royal icing were used to create icicles on the edges of the roof. The kids also piped on windows and doors. We probably should have added those before building, though!
The joy of gingerbread building is all in the details, from this little bear date…
To a present on a sled. I love the creativity that comes of mixing gingerbread scraps and candy!
Have you ever made a gluten free gingerbread house? How did it turn out? Please share photos if you try our recipe!
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