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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. Gingerbread houses look great as a festive addition to winter tables. SAVEUR’s editors decided to search for the most popular gingerbread house kit kits that you could assemble and then decorate together with friends and family ahead of the holiday season. 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: “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.
These are our top picks
Top Overall Williams Sonoma Gingerbread House Kit
House Dimensions: 5 3/4″ x 5″ x 5 1/2″ |The kit includes 5 kinds of candy and icing mixture, 2 piping bags with decorating tips, gingerbread pieces, 2 decorating tips, and a tray |Assembly required
There are pros
We chose it because:Williams Sonoma has created a gingerbread house kit that is perfect for bakers. It features a timeless design, high-quality parts and a beautiful house design.
This kit includes all you need for building a holiday home. Pre-cut pieces of cookie are easy to assemble because they have interlocking sides. These provide additional structural support and resemble exterior corner quoins found on historic stately 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. This kit includes plenty of candy to decorate, with five jewel-toned types including sugar stars and holiday lights as well as shimmery gum drops.
This decorating set is truly unique because of the way it uses icing. This icing set offers you the option to make your own powdered mix, rather than pre-mixed. 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.
The Best Value Candyland Gingerbread House Kit
House Dimensions: 5.25″W x 6.12″D x 5.5″H |This kit contains: Gingerbread pieces and icing. |Assembly required
There are pros
We chose it because:You get lots of technicolor candy included in this kit. This will give you an impressive visual impact for less than $20
Based on the popular board game, this gingerbread house uses the same recipe. And with included confections like gummies, sprinkles, and peppermint wheels, going with this kit won’t be a roll of the dice. You will find the pieces of gingerbread to build the house in the box. They are strong and straight-edged. Because of its crisp edges, the gingerbread provides a clean look as well as a strong foundation for sweet decorations. 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). We could have used a bit more frosting to attach all the 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. The price is not a problem, however.
Best Village: Gingerbread House Mini Village
House dimensions: N/A |The kit contains pieces to make four miniature houses; lightbulb sprinkles and colorful sugar pearls. There are also two decorating bags and two assembly tips. | Assembly is required
There are pros
We chose it because: 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).
These tiny houses, measuring approximately 4 inches in height, pack lots of style into their small 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. The kit includes both red and white premixed icings that can be used cleanly with the included piping bags. We were particularly impressed by the addition of green fondant to the kit. This seems like an even more expensive option. 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.
Top Whimsical:Wilton Gingerbread Doghouse Set
House Dimensions: 6.75” W x 3”H x 2” D |The kit contains: 2 icing colours, candy lights, base, gingerbread panels and corgi decorations. |Assembly required
There are pros
We chose it because: With a festive corgi decoration front and center, there’s no way this cheery, charming gingerbread house won’t make you smile.
This gingerbread house is a great gift for pet lovers of any age. (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. If your creativity takes you to the next level, however, it’s possible to go against-the-book.
This kit has two types of icing. We like that it comes in a package. However, we would prefer piping bags or tips to make the application easier. You can use a sand piping bag to do the trick. Just cut off one corner of each bag. Candy holiday lights are a great addition to this kit. They make an impact on the main star: A smiling corgi, wrapped in colorful bulbs.
Best for Gingerbread Haters: OREO Chocolate Cookie House Kit
Measurements of a House |This kit contains: Oreo House pieces (simple start tray), mini Oreo cookies (2 packs regular Oreos), icing and candy |Assembly required
There are pros
We chose it because:Are you not in the gingerbread mood? You don’t have to be. The Oreo Cookie House is an alternative option, but it still gives off a festive feeling.
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”This house is entirely made from pieces of chocolate cookies. 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.
This house comes with a wide variety of decorations. There is a selection of colorful gumdrops and sugar buttons, along with mini Oreos in both regular and small sizes that can be used to make walkways or cookie windows. 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.
For Design Lovers Woodland Midcentury Modern Gingerbread House kit
House Dimensions: 10.75″W x 4.25″D x 4″H |The kit contains: Two piping bags with four connector clips; gingerbread cookies and white icing. |Assembly required
There are pros
We chose it because:This pastel-hued Midcentury home is perfect for holiday eyes if you like Mad Men rather than gingerbread men.
Over at, design-oriented colleagues DominoThis gingerbread house is sure to please mag. The sweet ranch design is an updated version of the traditional gingerbread cottage. It features period-appropriate details such as the support beams and asymmetrical roof. 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. The kit includes both standard white and retro green icing options (with piping bags), as well as blue and pink icing pen pens that can be used to create extra details, such as stone texture and roof shingles. Sprinkles of crystal sugar can add 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. However, the clips provided will keep your walls in their place and allow you to display all your embellishments.
There are some things to consider before buying a gingerbread house kit
Gingerbread houses may be the most popular dessert in which form is more important than flavor. You should think about the look and feel when selecting a kit. You may prefer to have a blank canvas for your personal embellishments. You might prefer to buy a gingerbread kit that has elements such as existing designs pressed into it and cut-out windows or 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.
High Quality Kit Parts
While we understand that some people might not want to eat gingerbread homes, others will. However, it is important for everyone who does eat gingerbread. 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 recommends looking for consistent color, texture and smooth cuts to windows and doors, if there are any, as well as uniformly-shaped roof and wall pieces that can fit seamlessly together. “Any flaws in the construction will draw attention away from the details,”He said. 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.
There is still 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,”Cook.
What are the contents of a gingerbread house kits?
While the exact contents may vary, most kits include six gingerbread pieces, candies, and sticky icing.
Is it possible to be a professional gingerbread decorating/baker?
“In order to compete, bakers need a lot of self- discipline,”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.”
Is it a good idea to decorate gingerbread houses before they are assembled?
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. You can also cover any defects in construction with candy.
What is the best way to become a National Gingerbread House judge?
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. In Fort Myers FL, Cook spent 10 years teaching pastry and chocolate at Norman Love Confections. He was also named the U.S. Pastry Chef-of-the Year. 2017 Pastry Competition SO it’s safe to say you need some serious baking chops before you’ll be considered.
How can you prevent a gingerbread home from falling apart completely?
Strong icing and straight walls are the keys to success. You should also allow the icing to dry between larger items before filling the house with candy. Otherwise, it can weigh down your roof and walls, and make them fall apart.
The Final Thoughts
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. Williams Sonoma’s top choice is a combination of quality and craftsmanship. It offers a modern take on the traditional cookie cottage. It’s hard to go wrong when you have classic.
This gingerbread house was chosen by us like an expert. 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. These are the actual criteria we used to evaluate entries to the contest. These are the main categories for the contest: overall appearance, originality and creativity, difficulty, precision, 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. We also considered the creativity and included both traditional gingerbread kits along with more unusual, quirky options that are sure to appeal to builders.