In today’s post: Skip the gingerbread and make Christmas houses the EASY way, using graham crackers instead. Use our no-fail method for constructing graham cracker gingerbread houses – they won’t collapse and kids (and adults) love decorating them! Plus our substitute for royal icing is so much easier and works much better.
Making gingerbread houses is one of those holiday traditions that often seems like it’s going to be more fun that it actually is. Making homemade gingerbread is a lot of work, and trying to “glue” houses together with royal icing is an exercise in frustration for everyone – it takes SO LONG to set up! Then the kids want to start decorating before the frosting has hardened, leading to inevitable house collapse and tears.
I have figured out the EASIEST way to make gingerbread houses for the holidays! First off, skip the homemade gingerbread and use graham crackers instead. That swap alone will save you hours of baking time. Seriously. Next, ditch the royal icing (everyone thinks it tastes gross anyway) and use melted white chocolate chips for your glue. It’s way simpler – no need to beat egg whites for an eternity – and it sets up so much faster! Third, follow my step by step guide for building cute little houses that won’t collapse. It’s time to turn gingerbread house building into a Christmas activity your whole family will actually enjoy!
NOTE: If you have the time and would like to make your own gingerbread, I recommend this recipe + A-frame house template from Tikkido.
NOTE #2: If you really want to make construction easy and don’t plan to eat the houses later, use a low temp hot glue gun to assemble the houses!
Please Read This
If you will be decorating houses with a young child (or if you are outnumbered by children), save yourself a lot of hassle and ASSEMBLE THE HOUSES IN ADVANCE. The actual house construction is very simple for an adult or older child (8+). However, it requires about ten minutes of patience, which most younger kids just don’t have when they are anxious to start stuffing candy on a house.
If you are working with toddlers, preschoolers, or more kids than there are adults, you will have a much more pleasant experience if you just construct the houses in advance and let them harden up (10 minutes is all it takes) before you unleash the children for decorating. How do I know this? Because I have kids. And they have cried during holiday house making before. Don’t do that to yourself.
If your kids are a little older (8+), they may need a bit of help cutting the front and back pieces but should be able to glue the house together all on their own.
How to Make a Gingerbread House out of Graham Crackers
For each graham cracker house, you will need 4 full graham crackers. You’ll cut two of them in half to form the roof and side walls, and the other two will be cut with a triangle at the top to make the front and back walls. I have found that the Great Value brand of graham crackers (from Walmart) work very well. You can cut through them easily and they don’t tend to break. HoneyMaid graham crackers, on the other hand, DO tend to snap in half, making them harder to use.
You’ll also need some white chocolate chips or candy melts to use as glue, and a couple of small ziplock bags to put it in. Finally, you’ll also use a cutting board and a serrated knife.
Cut the Graham Crackers
Place one full graham cracker on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife, carefully cut diagonally across the top half as shown (a gently sawing motion works best). Cut diagonally the other way so the graham cracker has a triangle shape on top. Repeat with a second graham cracker.
Cut the other two graham crackers in half so you have four graham cracker halves and two graham cracker halves with triangle shapes on top (they will support the roof).
Apply White Chocolate
Place some white chocolate chips into a small ziptop bag and microwave for 30 seconds. If the chocolate isn’t fully melted, microwave again in 15 second intervals until it’s melted. Snip a *very* small bit of the bag off along one corner so you can “pipe” the chocolate out of the bag. NOTE: As you decorate, the chocolate in your bag may cool and begin to harden. Just pop it back in the microwave for 15 seconds to warm it back up if this happens.
Lay one roof support cracker in between two graham cracker halves. Pipe a line of melted white chocolate down each side of the graham cracker halves.
Assemble the Walls
Fold up each graham cracker half and press it again the edges of the roof support cracker. Hold for about a minute, then carefully lift up all three crackers to a standing position and insert the other roof support cracker. If you do this on a small cutting board, you can pop the house in the fridge to help the white chocolate set up very quickly.
Add the Roof
You now have the four walls put together. Wait until they feel firm before adding the roof, about 5 minutes at room temp or 2 minutes in the fridge. Pipe white chocolate or frosting along the top edges of all four crackers and use the two remaining cracker halves as roof panels, piping additional white chocolate along the peak of the roof. Let house stand for 10 minutes at room temperature to set up completed before decorating (it will take less time in the fridge).
Decorating the Houses
Once the chocolate has set, these houses are very sturdy and they will not collapse, not matter how much candy you load them up with. Give each kid a bag with a small amount of melted chocolate in it and let them go to town decorating. Because these houses are a bit smaller than traditional gingerbread houses, smaller size candies work well, such as M&Ms, mini M&Ms, and holiday sprinkles. My kids like having small candy canes to use, as well as Twizzlers, gummy bears, and gumdrops. Small peppermints, mini marshmallows, and pretzels are fun to have on hand as well! Try these fun decorating ideas:
- Cut chocolate bars into squares to make shingles.
- To make “snow” on top of the houses, smeared on extra melted white chocolate, then top with coarse decorating sugar or coconut flakes.
- Cut chimneys from the graham crackers scraps and add them to the top of your houses.
- Make a cute wreath of the front of the house by piping a circle of white chocolate, then covering it with sprinkles or mini M&Ms.
- 4 full Graham Crackers Walmart Great Value brand works well!
- White Chocolate Chips
- Christmas Candies
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- Place one full graham cracker on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to carefully cut diagonally across the top half as shown (a gently sawing motion works best). Cut diagonally the other way so the graham cracker has a triangle shape on top. Repeat with a second graham cracker.
- Cut the other two graham crackers in half so you have four graham cracker halves and two graham cracker halves with triangle shapes on top (they will support the roof).
- Lay one roof support cracker in between two graham cracker halves. Pipe a line of melted white chocolate (or royal icing) down each side of the graham cracker halves.
- Fold up each graham cracker half and press it again the edges of the roof support cracker. Hold for about a minute, then carefully lift up all three crackers to a standing position and insert the other roof support cracker.
- You now have the four walls put together. Pipe white chocolate or frosting along the top edges of all four crackers and place the two remaining cracker halves on as a roof, piping additional white chocolate along the peak of the roof.
- Let house stand for at least 10 minutes to set up, and then decorate with candy as desired.