Easy Gingerbread Salt Dough Recipe for Houses and Ornaments: long lasting gingerbread decor with white hot glue and puffy paint.
I love the idea of gingerbread, but I’m not a big fan of the actual taste. Gingerbread houses and gingerbread ornaments are so beautiful. But by the time they sit and are admired for weeks, they may not taste too great, or be stale and dusty. Gingerbread salt dough is the perfect way to get the look, without wasting real gingerbread. These also smell amazing! The cinnamon in the recipe makes them smell like real gingerbread cookies. These gingerbread salt dough ornaments and houses will last year after year also. So you can enjoy them even longer than the real thing. They’re really easy to make too.
Many people have made salt dough ornaments, but another great idea is to use the gingerbread salt dough to make a mini gingerbread house. I love how cute the mini size is, and they’re easier to make with salt dough than with real gingerbread, because you can use hot glue and paint, instead of royal icing! You’ll get the look and smell of gingerbread, and you can use them year after year.
We used hot glue to put our salt dough gingerbread houses together. This works much better than craft glue, since it dries so quickly. You can use regular hot glue, but it dries clear and doesn’t look quite like icing. You can paint it over it with a little white acrylic paint to make it look a little more like icing, but we have an even better solution. Use white hot glue to glue your salt dough houses together. You can order hot glue sticks in all different colors, and white is the perfect one to look like real icing. Make sure to get the size that will fit your hot glue gun, we used mini.
Add as little or as much of the glue as you like. After getting the house secured together, you can go back and add more to look like snowy icing, or icicles if you wish.
To make our icing details we used some dimensional paint. Look for this at the craft store. We found ours with the t-shirts, fabric paint, and tye dye. This puffy paint adds some dimension, and looks more like real icing than plain white craft paint would. We found it was easiest to paint the fronts of the houses first, while they were flat, and then let them dry overnight before putting them together. You can glue it first and then paint if you want to finish this in one day, we just found it easier apply the white puffy paint while the pieces were flat on the table.
Canal Houses Pattern
We made our gingerbread houses into Amsterdam Canal Houses. I made a series of crafts inspired by the canal houses for a European feel. We used the Cricut to make a felt banner and some kitchen canisters with the same design -see the blog post of how I made these here. I love how it all coordinates. Even the white icing details on the front were all the same too.
To make the pattern to cut our the salt dough, I cut out the houses on my Cricut -you can access my cut file in Cricut Design Space here. I adjusted the size so that they were about 5 inches tall. Once I had the cardboard pieces, I cut out two, one for the back and one for the front, then I used the same piece to cut out two side pieces that were the same width, and worked out the height, based on where the roof began to slant. The I made two roof pieces of the same width, and adjusted the height so that they would meet in the middle. My DIY pattern pieces worked really well.
I love the little canal houses, but you could also do a more traditional gingerbread house shape, if you prefer, and add a little chimney too.
The salt dough worked perfectly for making mini gingerbread houses. If you wanted to make larger houses, you would have to adjust the baking time, and might want to make the dough slightly thicker so it would be stronger. Thicker dough means even longer baking time. You would want to make sure the salt dough was very dry so that would be strong enough to hold for a larger house. You should definitely experiment with it, it you want a larger gingerbread house.
Gingerbread Salt Dough Ornaments
You can also make homemade ornaments with the gingerbread salt dough. They smell really amazing and would look beautiful on a Christmas tree. Ornaments would be really fun to make with kids -since there’s no glue gun required. The salt dough is lovely and soft and smooth and easy to roll out and work with. Kids could choose their favourite cookie cutters and make all different handmade ornaments. Salt dough gingerbread men are a great choice too.
Before baking, just be sure to add a small hole to the top where you can add some thin ribbon or baker’s twine for hanging. A plastic straw works really well for making the hole.
Baking time varies based on how thick your dough is rolled out and how big your piece is. Smaller ornaments, or pieces like the roof will dry out more quickly than the larger pieces. Bake your salt dough at a low temperature for the drying process. You can also air dry your salt dough, but it takes longer. It does take quite a long time even the oven. We baked some of our pieces for 2 hours. You should start with 1/2 hour and keep checking it. It will continue to dry out and harden after it’s baked, so it doesn’t have to be completely and perfectly dry when you remove it from the oven. The drying time will vary for each piece.
We rolled our dough out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. You want the dough to be thick enough that it looks like real gingerbread and will be strong enough to form a house, but thin enough that it will bake and dry out well.
What If My Salt Dough Turns White?
As your salt dough dries in the oven, the salt will rise to the top, and the cinnamon salt dough will look lighter and even white sometimes. Don’t panic. We’ve put quite a lot of cinnamon in our cinnamon salt dough recipe, so that it will be quite dark on the side that is on the baking sheet. Once baked, flip the ornament or house piece over and you will see the dark gingerbread colour. This side will also be nice and flat. Do your painting and decorating on this side.
You can also use a little olive oil on a paper towel and rub it over the lighter side to darken it up.
What If My Salt Dough Is Puffy?
Sometimes if you dry out your salt dough in an oven that is too hot it will puff up. If you’re dough is puffing up, reduce the oven temperature, or alternatively try the air dry method, although it will take much longer.
If your dough is only puffing up slightly, just use the flat side that was against the tray as your good side. This side should also be darker.
The cinnamon in this recipe is strictly for the smell and look of gingerbread. We’re not going to be eating it. So be sure to use an inexpensive cinnamon for your gingerbread salt dough recipe if you can. We got ours in the bagged spices section of our grocery store and used the cheapest store brand. Even your old cinnamon at the back of the cupboard is fine for this recipe. Some gingerbread salt dough recipes use less cinnamon, but this one really gives the deep brown color of real gingerbread when its baked and it smells so good as well.
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup cinnamon
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
- Combine the flour, salt, and cinnamon in large bowl.
- Add in 3/4 cup of water and mix with to combine. If the dough is dry add up to 2 tbsp more of water, to make a smooth soft dough.
- Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper with a rolling pin. To a thickness of around 1/4 - 1/8 inch. Cut out your gingerbread house pieces with a knife. Or use cookie cutters to cut out your cinnamon ornaments. Don't forget to make a hole with a disposable straw in the top of each ornament for hanging. Re-roll leftover dough to make more.
- Place the pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to bake. Bake in a 200 degree oven for 30 min - 2 hours depending on the size of the pieces, and thickness of the dough.
- Let cool and decorate with dimensional puff paint. If making a gingerbread house, let paint dry overnight and then use white hot glue to assemble the house. If making a Christmas ornament, after the paint dries overnight, add some pretty ribbon for hanging.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 139Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9433mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 6gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g
If you’re looking for fun Christmas crafts this year, making salt dough gingerbread houses or Christmas decorations is a great idea. This is the perfect craft to get the look of gingerbread but still be able to enjoy it next year. Our salt dough creations look and smell amazing with the addition of cinnamon. I love how they actually look and smell like the real thing, but are so long lasting. And one of the best things about this salt dough idea, is that I look forward to bringing them out year after year for the holiday season.
With gingerbread salt dough houses and ornaments, life really is a party!
More Christmas Inspiration
You might also like our DIY Gingerbread Decor Ideas To Make With Your Cricut blog post here.
Also check out our Homemade Gingerbread Milkshake Recipe here.
You might also enjoy Homemade Gingerbread Latte Recipe here.