gingerbread house decorated for christmas

Gingerbread has been enjoyed in Britain since the Middle Ages, although the recipe has evolved quite a lot since then! And Queen Elizabeth I would give beautifully crafted figures made from expensive ginger dough to her guests.

As the spice became more available, gingerbread developed into a popular festive treat across the country and evolved into more of a biscuit texture. The quirky tradition of gingerbread houses became popular in the early 19th Century, after Grimm’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’ tale was published.

Today, making a gingerbread house is something lots of us look forward in the Christmas holidays. It’s a brilliant way to spend time together in the kitchen, and make something pretty awesome at the same time. Here’s how to make the ultimate gingerbread house.



The perfect gingerbread needs to be bursting with spices, filling your home with festive aromas and Christmas joy. The gentle hum of cinnamon, subtle warmth of nutmeg and allspice, and a fiery kick of ginger all join together to make the ultimate gingerbread.

Nutmeg: The hard nutmeg seed is ground or grated and used in both sweet and savoury recipes. It is fragrant, warming and very slightly sweet.

Ginger: Sharper than some other spices, ginger has a powerful heat to it, as well as powerful citrus flavours which go brilliantly with more earthy spices.

Cinnamon: Distinctively warming, cinnamon spice comes from the dried bark of the cinnamon tree. It’s gentle and really aromatic.

Allspice: Small, dried berries that look a bit like peppercorns – allspice got its name because it was thought to taste like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves together.



  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons treacle
  • 160g muscovado
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1 orange
  • 460g plain flour, plus extra
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 free-range egg whites
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Sweets and edible glitter, to decorate



  1. Put a small saucepan on a low heat, add the maple syrup, treacle, sugar, ginger and cinnamon with 4 tablespoons of water and combine with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the mixture boils.
  2. Carefully take the pan off the heat, then cube up and add the butter, saving 1 piece. Let it all melt in, stirring to combine, then grate in the orange zest.
  3. Stir in the flour and baking powder until everything comes together as a dough – if it’s very sticky, dust it with flour, then wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.



Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease a baking tray with the reserved butter. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour, then roll the dough out to about 5mm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut out pieces for your house.



You’ll need six pieces in three different shapes, downloadable here.

Sides: 20cm x 14cm
oof: 21cm x 7cm
Gable ends: 10cm (base) x 14cm (outer sides) x 18cm (apex).

  1. Any scraps can be pressed together and rolled out for the next pieces. Place your house pieces onto the tray, leaving a 1cm gap between them. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden and slightly darker around the edges. Let the gingerbread cool completely before icing.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks then, while whisking, gradually mix in the icing sugar till you have a dense stiff meringue. Use this to glue your gingerbread pieces together.



Attach sweets and chocolate buttons, using icing as glue, then very lightly dust with glitter for sparkly snow. Alternatively, try using dried fruits, Christmas nuts, candied peel, piped melted chocolate and orange zest for something different.


If you want to get ahead on your gingerbread house, make your dough, roll it out in the dimensions you need, then freeze it. Once frozen, wrap the pieces individually in clingfilm and bundle them together, then you can unwrap and bake straight from frozen when you need to.

Once baked, your gingerbread house will be good to eat for about 5 days.

If you’re not ready to go straight into a gingerbread house, why not practice by making Jools’ gingerbread men:

Discover Jamie’s ultimate recipes for all the festive classics in Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Book , on sale now. And take a look at the Christmas Hub for ideas for everything from cocktails, and edible gifts to special diet recipes and tasty leftovers.


Baking, Family, How to