8 Amazing Gingerbread Houses (Plus Treats You Might Actually Make)
Truth be told, even with all the time-saving strategies we use during the holiday season (from pre-lit garland to store-bought eggnog to Amazon.com), making a full-fledged gingerbread house is still a tough sell. It’s like one big mega baking project and one big mega craft project all rolled into one, which roughly translates into “I can’t even begin to imagine tackling that during one of the busiest times of the year.”
(Which makes us think that maybe we should just give over the dead month of January to do all the holiday things that we’d like to do if only we didn’t have so many things we have to do during the friggin’ month of December.) And yet…
There’s just something about gingerbread houses that captivate us and inspire the kind of childish delight that you don’t often get to feel once you’ve discovered the scandalous truth about Santa Claus. Are they dessert or decoration? Who really cares.
Now, looking at the wacky and wild creations of people who seem to have an incredible amount of free time on their hands can either (a) inspire you to pursue your own towering gingerbread creation or (b) intimidate the bejesus out of you so you’ll never even consider frosting another candy-coated windowpane ever again.
How about something in the middle. Yes, we realize it’s unlikely that you’ll finish here and jump-start your own gingerbread replica of Tara, so we’ve included a handful of gingerbread treats that are a bit more realistic for a busy holiday season. Who knows? Maybe once you start making gingerbread, you won’t want to stop til Easter.
Why settle for one Victorian gingerbread house, when you can make a whole neighborhood? Renee Baumann at Kitchen Table Scraps won renown last year for her meticulous rendition of a classic Brooklyn brownstone (down to the hand-carved “stonework”). This year she’s making an entire block.
Get a double dose of whimsy when you mix making a gingerbread house with the world of Harry Potter. Mezcraft over at Craftster created this teetering version of Weasley’s house. (All those shingles are Rice Chex and the “wood” columns are cinnamon sticks.)
Every year the White House pastry chef oversees the creation of the famed manse in “miniature” gingerbread form. Really, though, it’s not so small, weighing in at 300 pounds — 50 pounds alone of white chocolate.
This year’s gingerbread White House even includes a winter vegetable garden made from marzipan. (Kale made from marzipan — kinda ironic when you think about it).
Who says gingerbread houses have to be all, well, gingerbread cute? This version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Falling Water by Melodie and Brenton at Garden Melodies uses 12 square feet of gingerbread, 40 sleeves of Smarties for the stacked stone, and hard candy for the famous waterfall.
But for a stunningly “simple” contemporary take on the classic gingerbread house, you probably can’t beat the Sugar Shack, created by Vancouver-based Nick Milkovich Architects.
Every year, This Old House sponsors a gingerbread house contest. Noah’s Ark here was (not surprisingly) one of the finalists last year. Contestant Mary E. says she just used “an X-Acto knife, paint brushes, a ruler and a level.” And a heck of a lot of imagination. There’s a giraffe’s head poking out of the ark!
Also a This Old House finalist was Tory T.’s rendition of Notre Dame. “I wanted to do a house with some ‘wow’ factors,” he says. No kidding. This sweet cathedral is more than two feet tall and four feet long. The stained glass? Hard candy. The roof is tiled with Trident gum.
You couldn’t get more spot-on with Russ R.’s replica of the house from the movie Up, another This Old House entry. “We used gelatin sheets for the windows. The balloons are gumballs on thin painted wires. The siding was made with fondant pressed with a pasta attachment on my KitchenAid mixer,” Russ writes.
For smaller (and somewhat more realistic) gingerbread houses, though, we just loved these diminutive dwellings perfectly designed to perch on the edge of a cup of cocoa from Megan at Not Martha (as in, Stewart — though, really, they look like a bona fide Martha project).
But if you’re looking for gingerbread houses that you’ll actually want to make with your kids, then this easy 1-2-3 recipe is perfect.
Or you can forget about fancy architecture altogether. If you love the taste of gingerbread, then these cupcakes are divine. (The houses on top are actually made from store-bought cookies — super easy!)
You could also forget about the house entirely and just make (and decorate) the facades. Then there’s no demolition to worry about when you want to eat the darn things!
Get your gingerbread on!
Explore all our Christmas gingerbread recipes!