Gingerbread houses trace back to the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians who used it for ceremonial purposes. Gingerbread itself was only introduced in Europe in 922 by a monk who brought it to treat indigestion and other stomach ailments.
Queen Elizabeth I is responsible for the first Gingerbread men when she asked her bakers to shape them to resemble visiting dignitaries to present to them as gifts. Gingerbread houses, meanwhile, became extremely popular in the 19th century after the release of Hansel and Gretel fairy tale.
Building a Gingerbread house is a fun family tradition during Christmas, but it requires considerable time and effort. As a result, many have resorted to gingerbread house alternatives as a way of keeping the family Christmas tradition alive.
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1. Graham cracker house
Probably the most identical and cheaper of the gingerbread house alternatives, using graham crackers is a great way to save time, money, and make less dirty dishes while still having as much fun. They are also great for kids or adults who like to eat broken parts of the house.
It also helps that graham crackers can be bought practically in every grocery store all year round, not just around the holidays. They can also be easily found online too.
Here is a link to some graham crackers on Amazon.
2. Pretzel house
For people who love to have a styled house, pretzels are great structurally, visually, and they taste great with the icing. There are many different pretzel shapes out there including snaps, short and long sticks, twists, nuggets, chips, and more that can help complete the house.
A good tip is that if you are using the short sticks, which is pretty popular and cheap, make all of the walls before putting it together. Otherwise, it is more likely to fall apart and take more time and icing.
Here is a link to some pretzels on Amazon.
3. Rice Krispie house
Simple and easy to make at home, this alternative may call for some baking (if you are making it from cereal and not the candy treats), but nothing that would take over 15 minutes or so. After that, it just takes some time to build the walls, before assembling them. Then it is ready to be put together and decorated.
Recipes can be easily found online and maybe even in a cookbook or two. Be pared to lick clean your sticky hands while shaping the walls, unless you decide to wear some plastic, no powder gloves.
Here is a link to some Rice Krispies on Amazon.
4. Sugar cube house
Unless you are making a castle or a flat-roofed house, this alternative requires a second base ingredient like graham crackers, candy canes, or anything flat. Using sugar cubes to make a house became especially popular because of Martha Stewart.
It can be a little costly when making large houses or multiple houses since 1 pound, which is 126 cubes, can be anywhere from 7 to 20 USD. However, if done correctly, it can be one of the most festively designed houses ever seen.
Here is a link to some sugar cubes on Amazon.
5. Candy cane house
Whether sticking with the classic peppermint, red and white candy canes or using a colorful and fruity flavor, you can candy canes to make the walls, roof, and decorations for your house.
They may be difficult to break, but there are also mini candy canes and round peppermint candies that can be used instead of breaking big ones. If you are using candy canes for most, if not all, of the project, buying in bulk is the best option and easier to be done online instead of some stores.
Here is a link to some candy canes on Amazon.
6. Veggie house
Especially great for holiday parties, a veggie house, also known as a garden house or a veggie lodge, can be made in many designs and with many different vegetables. Usually, the vegetables are held together with sour cream dip or some other popular dips. The most popular vegetables used are celery, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, and sometimes tomatoes.
Although it is usually better to use fresh vegetables from the grocery store, using canned or frozen ones are an option too.
Here is a link to some veggies on Amazon.
7. Chocolate house
Preferred for those who love chocolate, whether it is white, milk, or dark, this is possibly the best alternative. However, like with the Rice Krispies, be ready to lick your sticky fingers and be prepared to clean up chocolate puddle or chocolate goo if you blast the heat.
Some stores have holiday white chocolate with red peppermint pieces that pop out. These can make the house look more festive and give off a slight peppermint smell for a little while too.
Here is a link to some chocolate on Amazon.
8. Poptart house
The beauty with Poptarts is that they have two different sides that can be used to build the house, the frosted side, and the back. Many people use the frosted side for the roof to give it a snowed-on appearance and the back for the walls so they can be decorated.
While they are more sturdy than some of the other alternatives, it can be a bit challenging to cut out windows if you like to be able to look into the house. On the plus side, there are dozens of flavors that are easily found in stores and online, including gingerbread during the holiday season.
Here is a link to some Poptarts on Amazon.
9. Cheese and cracker house
Another great party option, this alternative is also best made fresh and can be done in two popular ways. The first is to use cream cheese or liquid cheese or to lean the crackers and/or cheese against a cardboard base and using the other material to decorate.
This alternative has almost no limitations when it comes to options because of how many different crackers there are when comparing sizes, flavors, thickness, and shapes. Do not forget about all of the different cheeses that can be used too.
Here is a link to some crackers on Amazon.
10. Marshmallow house
One of the more uncommon alternatives, using marshmallows can be one of the more challenging ways to make a house, especially with the roof. The easiest way to do it would be to make each wall and the roof against a flat surface like a piece of clean cardboard or tin foil, wait until they are dried and then put them together.
If you do not want to have an all-white house, you could always use colored marshmallows, but they can be a little more expensive than regular marshmallows.
Here is a link to some marshmallows on Amazon.
11. Waffle cone Christmas trees
If you do not have the room for a whole house, then having one or two Christmas trees is an option. They are fast and easy to make and can be just as fun to decorate. Just cover a waffle cone in green icing and add anything you want to decorate it.
For those of you who want to eat it afterward, just crumble it into a bowl of ice cream, over a desert, or use a pair of gloves and fill it up with a few scoops of ice cream.
Here is a link to some waffle cones on Amazon.
For those who want to make something to eat, decorate and share, gingerbread cookies are a classic substitute for a house. They can be shaped and topped in thousands of ways before they can be dunked in a glass of milk and eaten.
It is pretty easy to find both mixes and pre-cooked cookies online if you do not have the time or equipment to make them from scratch. Finding pre-baked cookies that have not been decorated can be slightly harder and more expensive than those that are decorated.
Here is a link to some gingerbread cookies on Amazon.
13. Gingerbread cupcakes
A softer option than cookies, gingerbread cupcakes can be made with gingerbread cake mix or from scratch but make sure to check the recipe in case more ingredients are needed. Many people have their own way to make them, including vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, cream cheese, pumpkin, or eggnog icing and a wide variety of toppings.
This can take longer than the other alternatives since the cupcakes have to be made, cooled down, and then decorated. Some people like to put mini gingerbread men cookies on their cupcakes, which can take even longer, especially if they are decorated too.
Here is a link to some gingerbread cupcake mixes on Amazon.
14. Variety house
For those who do not something make completely of sweets, vegetables, or cheese, using variety packs of snacks like chips, cookies, and other junk foods is an option. There will certainly be many different options available for building and decorating the house.
Since most are mostly smaller foods, it is best to use a cardboard base and use icing or glue to stick everything on, if you want your house to be edible or not.
If this does not sound as appealing as the other substitutes, blend it up and use several together. The combinations of all the different kinds of ingredients are endless, but keep in mind that some of them are more expensive to buy, especially if you are not buying in bulk.
Here is a link to some variety chip and cookie packs on Amazon.