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Sure, you’ve got your classic Christmas sugar cookies and festive yule log cakes, but nothing will put you in the holiday spirit like a gingerbread house. Decked out in sparkling gumdrops, graceful icing swooshes, and (one of our favorite techniques) pastel Necco wafer candies overlapping to create a shingled roof, gingerbread houses are the perfect whimsical addition to your winter tablescape. Ahead of this holiday season, SAVEUR editors set out to find the best gingerbread house kits for you to assemble and decorate with your friends and family. But before we embarked on our gingerbread house journey, we chatted with John Cook—a judge at the renowned National Gingerbread House Competition and the executive pastry chef at the Omni Grove Park Inn, where the contest takes place. Cook has been behind the judges’ table for five years now, so he’s an expert when it comes to distilling what qualities make a winner. “I feel that the Gingerbread house kits you get online or in the stores are a great starting point,” Cook says. “Everybody should walk before they can run, and they are an affordable way to expand your basic knowledge of construction.” Read on for our picks for the best gingerbread house kits—inspired by the real criteria chef Cook uses to critique the contest’s professional bakers.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Williams Sonoma Gingerbread House Kit
House Dimensions: 5 3/4″ x 5″ x 5 1/2″ | Kit Includes: 5 types of candy, icing mix, 2 piping bags, 2 decorating tips, gingerbread house pieces, and tray | Assembly Required: Yes
- Carving detail adds visual interest
- Includes five different candies
- Interlocking pieces make for a sturdier structure
- Includes piping bags and tips
- Mixing icing yourself takes extra time
Why we chose it: Leave it to Williams Sonoma to produce a gingerbread house kit fit for a baker, with a charming timeless house design and high-quality components.
This sweet kit offers all the makings for a house fit for a Christmas elf. The pre-cut cookie pieces are simple and easy to assemble thanks to their interlocking sides, which not only provide added structural support, but also resemble the exterior corner quoins you might find on stately historic homes. The carved details in each wall and roof piece is also lovely—especially the scalloping atop the roof slabs—and takes some of the pressure off your decorating squad, since they can leave those areas as is or use the channels as guides to place icing. We also love that this kit comes with ample candy for decorating, including five different jewel-toned varieties like shimmery gum drops as well as sugar stars and holiday lights.
What really makes this decorating set stand out, though, is the icing situation. Instead of pre-mixed icing, it offers a powdered icing mix for you to whip up yourself. It does require a little extra elbow grease, but it’s great for getting the consistency you want (extra tacky for structural use and a little thinner for decorating). And it’s easy to dispense with the kit’s two included piping bags and tips, which also come in handy if you’d like to add food coloring to some of the icing for extra flair. Bonus: it’s also vanilla flavored (not just generally sweet) for those who like to nosh on their creations afterward.
Best Value: Candyland Gingerbread House Kit
House Dimensions: 5.25″W x 6.12″D x 5.5″H | Kit Includes: Gingerbread pieces, icing, candies, gummies, sprinkles, paper cutouts and tray | Assembly Required: Yes
- Low price tag
- Wide array of included candies
- Etching detail in gingerbread
- Gingerbread chimney is a nice design touch
- Paper characters look cheesy
- No piping bags included
- Might need to make more icing
Why we chose it: Oodles of technicolor candy are included in this kit, so you get a big visual impact for under $20.
This gingerbread house is based on the beloved board game. And with included confections like gummies, sprinkles, and peppermint wheels, going with this kit won’t be a roll of the dice. Out of the box, the gingerbread pieces to make the house itself are sturdy and straight-edged, and also include a whimsical gingerbread chimney piece that adds more dimension to the house. The crisp edges of the gingerbread makes for a cleaner look and a solid foundation to hold ample sweet embellishments. And because it is a Candyland-themed house after all, you’ll want to go maximalist design here.
The selection of included candy is classic, quality, and varied for such a low-priced kit—featuring options like funky and colorful sugar shapes, festive peppermint wheels, and rainbow sprinkles (which can add a little extra interest to any icing flourishes you add). Though, we could use a little more icing to attach the ample amounts of candy. Our only other qualm with this kit is that the characters from the board game are made from paper (and not from sugar or gingerbread), which don’t feel very elevated. But for the price, every other element is top-notch.
Best Village: Gingerbread House Mini Village
House dimensions: N/A | Kit Includes: Pieces for four mini houses, lightbulb sprinkles; red, green and white sugar pearls; colorful sugar-coated gumdrops; white and red icing; green fondant; two decorating bags; two decorating tips and assembly instructions | Assembly Required: Yes
- Four houses make it great for groups
- Has uncommon decorating pieces like fondant
- Each house has a different shape
- Pieces come in a single sheet for you to detach yourself
- Red, green, and white color palate is limiting
Why we chose it: From adorable A-frames to a classic gambrel, this darling little village has a surprising amount of architectural variety (plus, it’s great for a group).
Standing around 4 inches high, these petite houses pack a lot of design in their tiny structures. We’re so impressed that this little village has given each house a different structure—two of which are the shape of actual houses and not just the simple, stylized gingerbread house shape we’re used to seeing. The pieces for each house come attached together in sheets, which is great because they won’t get mixed up or damaged (like they would if they were bagged together), but they are on the delicate side, so definitely take care with taking them apart.
We’re also impressed with the amount of decorating materials included in this kit, so you have more than enough for each house and to go around for a group, if you decide to make this a friends-and-family affair. Red and white pre-mixed icings are included (and can be applied cleanly via the included piping bags) as well as crystalline gumdrops, candy lights, and other sugar embellishments. What really stood out to us in the decor realm here is the inclusion of green fondant, which seems like a much more elevated choice for a kit. Use it to swath roof panels, cut out doors, and even make a little lawn for one of the houses if you’re going for a “holiday in Florida” feel.
Best Whimsical: Wilton Gingerbread Doghouse Kit
House Dimensions: 6.75” W x 3”H x 2” D | Kit Includes: Candy lights, two icing colors, corgi decoration, gingerbread panels, and base | Assembly Required: Yes
- Adorable sugar corgi decoration
- Two colors of icing
- Two proposed designs
- Easy to assemble
- Only includes one type of candy
- No piping bags
Why we chose it: With a festive corgi decoration front and center, there’s no way this cheery, charming gingerbread house won’t make you smile.
Pet lovers of all ages will enjoy putting together this festive gingerbread doghouse. (Seriously, I’m buying a few of these for me and my late-twenties-aged friends to decorate for a winter girls night.) The house has a simple structure that’s easy to assemble as well as accompanying instructions that outline two proposed designs for the canine abode. Of course, you can go off-book if your creative juices are flowing.
We love that this kit comes with two different colors of icing ready to go out of the package, though we do wish the kit came with piping bags and tips for a smoother application. (Sand piping bag, just cut one corner off of each bag and that should get the job done.) The included candy holiday lights make a big impact and perfectly complement the star of this kit: a smiling corgi wrapped in a strand of colorful bulbs.
Best for Gingerbread Haters: OREO Chocolate Cookie House Kit
House Dimensions: N/A | Kit Includes: Oreo House pieces, simple start tray, mini oreo cookies, 2 packs regular Oreos, icing and candy | Assembly Required: Yes
- Great decoration selection—including mini and regular Oreos
- Easy to assemble
- Chocolate color makes decorations pop more
- Will appeal to gingerbread haters
- House pieces have different flavor that regular Oreos
- Plastic try not as elevated looking
Why we chose it: Not in a gingerbread mood? No problem. This Oreo cookie house is a non-traditional option that still offers a festive feel.
It’s hard to believe anyone wouldn’t crave the comforting, sugar-and-spice goodness that is gingerbread come winter. But for those who aren’t partial to the holiday cookie, there’s this clever Oreo “gingerbread house” made entirely from chocolate cookie pieces. The pieces for the house seem to be slightly different in taste and texture than typical Oreos, but that can be expected, since the regular sandwich cookies aren’t meat to hold a house shape or be covered in candy (just slid apart and dunked into milk). They’re well-baked and structurally sound, with some etching details for kit users to pipe over with frosting.
The selection of decorations for this house is quite impressive: colorful candies like gumdrops and sugar buttons are included along with both standard-sized and mini Oreos that are perfect for creating cookie windows and walkways. We do, however, wish the kit came with a little more white icing to cover the plastic base tray, which isn’t as attractive as the gold-colored or white cardboard bases often seen on other kits.
Best for Design Lovers: Woodland Midcentury Modern Gingerbread House Kit
House Dimensions: 10.75″W x 4.25″D x 4″H | Kit Includes: Gingerbread cookies, white icing, green color powder, two icing pens, candy beads, gumdrops, sanding sugar, peppermint sticks, two piping bags, and four connector clips | Assembly Required: Yes
- Mid Century look will appeal to design-loving adults
- Included icing pens and piping bags
- Pastel-hued candies are a unique touch
- Includes two colors of icing, icing pens and piping bags
- Gingerbread pieces are thinner
- Not available in holiday colors
Why we chose it: If you prefer Mad Men over gingerbread men, this pastel-hued midcentury abode is the perfect holiday eye candy.
Our design-minded colleagues over at Domino mag would definitely appreciate this well-designed gingerbread house. This sweet mid-century ranch is a fresh take on the classic gingerbread cottage, complete with period-appropriate details like the asymmetrical roof and support beams. And the quality design elements extend beyond the house itself—this kit includes some of the best variety of icings and embellishments we’ve seen. It includes standard white as well as a retro green icing option (with piping bags of course) and blue and pink icing pens to add extra details like roof shingles and stone texture to the walls. A sprinkle of crystalline sugar adds sparkle to your designs.
Be mindful in assembling this kit, as the house pieces are thinner and more delicate than in other products we’ve seen. But the included clips will help keep your walls in place so your house can hold aloof your candy embellishments.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Gingerbread House Kit
Gingerbread houses are perhaps one of the only desserts where form takes precedence over flavor. When choosing a kit to put together, the top thing you should consider is the overall look and feel. Are you looking for more of a blank canvas to add your own embellishments? Or would you prefer to purchase a kit with elements like existing patterns pressed into the gingerbread and cut-out windows and doors? Most gingerbread house kits will feature a similar six-piece construction—a front and back wall, two side walls, and two roof pieces—but others might feature more facets and flourishes: we’ve seen everything from turn-of-the-century-style homes to reindeer barns.
Quality Kit Components
Yes, we know a lot of folks might choose not to nosh away on their gingerbread houses, but for those who do, a decent quality gingerbread base is a must. Look for a balance between a nicely spiced, lightly sweet cookie that’s still sturdy enough to handle heavy candy patterns with a little icing assist. And the icing that comes in the kit should be tacky enough to hold and almost concrete-like in consistency—an ideal texture would be similar to Royal icing. It’s also a plus when kits include useful extras like piping bags to give you the option to decorate with icing and not just use it as glue, since you have more control. Cook also reminds us of how important it is for these kits to include an ultra-supportive base on which to build your creation, since you’ll likely want to transport it form the building site.
Unless you’re building a gingerbread Leaning Tower of Pizza (which could exist somewhere), you want gingerbread pieces that are made with solid craftsmanship. Cook says to keep an eye out for even color and texture, clean cuts for windows and doors if the model has them, and uniformly shaped walls and roof pieces with straight edges that fit together seamlessly. “Any flaws in the construction will draw attention away from the details,” he says. And if a kit looks perfect at first glance, but then you notice wiggly edges, Cook suggests using a Microplane tool to gently shave down the edges until they’re even.
Room for Creativity
A kit provides a great base to make an eye-catching gingerbread house, but don’t be afraid to go outside the box (literally). “There are lots of fun embellishments that people can make at home to add personality to their Gingerbread house– stones to texture the house exterior house or line a walkway, three-dimensional shutters and piped window accents, even handcrafted shrubs and trees can be made out of ingredients you likely have in your pantry,” says Cook.
What is included in a gingerbread house kit?
The contents can vary from kit to kit, but all include the gingerbread pieces to construct the house itself (typically six of them), assorted candies to decorate, a bag or two of sticky icing to hold your house together and adhere your sweets to its surface, and a cardboard base for you to construct everything on.
What does it take to become a professional gingerbread house baker/decorator?
“In order to compete, bakers need a lot of self- discipline,” says Cook. “Crafting these complex pieces takes time, patience, passion, and a desire to show your abilities on a national level and be open to professionals critiquing your work. Self-critique is important as well. You need to know yourself enough to push your own boundaries and skill level.”
Should you decorate a gingerbread house before assembly?
It’s much easier to decorate your gingerbread house after you assemble it, since you won’t risk ruining any artistic candy patterns and icing swirls you made trying to put everything together. Plus, you can cover up any construction flaws with candy.
How can I become a judge for the National Gingerbread House competition?
In Cook’s case, he first earned degrees in culinary arts and international baking and pastries from the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach and also graduated from advanced chocolate and sugar courses offered by renowned Pastry Chef Ewald Notter. He also spent a decade teaching chocolate, pastry, and baking at Norman Love Confections in Fort Myers, FL and was recognized as Pastry Chef of the Year at the U.S. Pastry Competition in 2017. SO it’s safe to say you need some serious baking chops before you’ll be considered.
How do you keep a gingerbread house from falling apart?
The key is sturdy icing and straight walls. Also, we recommend letting the icing between your larger pieces set before you start loading up the house with candy, since it could weigh down the roof and walls and pull them apart while the cing is still wet.
Whether you’re going classic or quirky (or even if you’re not a fan of gingerbread), there are options to suit every house hunter. Our top pick from Williams Sonoma combines quality and craftsmanship, offering an elevated take on the classic cookie cottage. You can never go wrong with classic (or a kit that comes with high-quality icing and piping bags to apply it with.)
We chose these gingerbread houses like an expert would. That’s why we tapped chef John Cook, 5-year veteran judge of the National Gingerbread House Competition and executive pastry chef at the Omni Grove Park Inn, to nail down what’s most important in a gingerbread house and how those factors translate into the kits you can buy in grocery stores and online. We referenced the real criteria used to judge entries in the contest. Here are the categories: Overall Appearance, Originality & Creativity, Difficulty, Precision, and Consistency of Theme. First off, we wanted to focus on quality—looking at the shape and precision of the gingerbread pieces themselves to make sure they’re as flawless as possible out of the package. Taking note of the icing quality was also a huge element, because there’s no point in having a well-baked and constructed house if it can’t stay together. And of course, we took into account the overall creativity of these kits making sure we included elevated traditional kits as well as quirky, esoteric choices that will appeal to any builder in our list of the best gingerbread house kits.