Tiny gingerbread houses on a pillow of vanilla bean ice cream. These make ahead edible snow globes are the cutest, easy Christmas dessert in the land. 

Tiny gingerbread church in a clear glass on a bed of vanilla ice cream for an easy Christmas dessert.

Today I have for you a winter dessert that’s so much fun and so easy to make that I’ve taken the liberty of including the link to the Nobel Prize website so you can take the next obvious step and nominate me.  Might I suggest your nominations be either in Physics or the Peace Prize.  Dealer’s choice. I expect to be very busy fielding calls from them shortly so let me quickly run you through how to make your own edible snow globes.

These little holiday desserts are easy to make even though they look mind bogglingly impressive. I make these for my annual Christmas Eve party, but they’d be a perfect Christmas Day dessert if your family isn’t into plum pudding. 

And if you aren’t confident in your tiny house making abilities (which is ridiculous because I KNOW you can do this), then you can make regular gingerbread cookies and serve them so they look extra special on a cookie stand like the one I made a few years ago. You can read the full cookie stand tutorial here.

Pressing out gingerbread dough onto a sheet of parchment paper with floured hands and rolling pin.

Make your favourite gingerbread dough (or use the recipe I’ve included lower down in the post.)  Press the dough out into a large rectangle and then roll it it until it’s very thin.  Around 1/8th of an inch or even less. I like to roll mine out on Parchment paper. Then you can just slide the entire hunk of rolled out dough, along with the Parchment paper onto your baking sheet.  

1/8" thick gingerbread dough just pulled out of the oven after baking.

Bake a little less than according to the recipe directions.

For cookies, I like the gingerbread to be hard and crunchy. But for these snow globes, you need them to be a bit softer so you can cut into them with a spoon when you’re eating them.

Cutting baked gingerbread dough with a pizza wheel into 1" wide strips.

After the gingerbread has cooked, immediately start cutting it. 

** You’re cutting the shapes after the big, whack of dough has cooked.  Not before.** 

The finished houses are TINY.  Teeny tiny.  So cut some strips that are 1″ or less wide. These will be the sides of your house.

Cutting tiny house front out of a sheet of baked gingerbread.

You can use a pizza cutter or a paring knife for cutting.  Because the gingerbread is quite soft when you take it out of the oven you can do fairly precise cutting with it, like cutting out doors and windows.

Tiny house cutouts ready to be glued together with royal icing.

For a basic house shape you’ll always use these shapes: two square pieces for each side of the house & a pointed square piece for the front and back of the house.

You can make the houses as big or as small as you like.  And you can make any shaped house you want.  

Cutting a piece of gingerbread roof with a paring knife on parchment paper.


To make the roof cut 2 pieces that are slightly larger than the sides of the house.  You can also wait to cut the roof until you’ve “glued” the house sides together.

Icing the front Royal Icing glue onto the front of tiny gingerbread house.

The glue you use is Royal icing. It works great.  If you’re doing a great BIG gingerbread house you can also melt toffee to use as glue.

Assembling golden gingerbread pieces into a house shape with Royal Icing. Make sure you glue the sides like you see me doing it here.  With the sides behind the front piece, not on either side of it.  Otherwise your house will look unfinished from the front and be very wide.  Maybe even double wide. Assembly of tiny gingerbread houses.

The left photo shows the depth of the house: almost 1.5″.  The right photo shows the front of the house, which is only 1″ wide.


Placing roof on tiny gingerbread house showing the different thicknesses of roof pieces.

 Cut, trim and shave your pieces as you need to.  If your roof seems too thick for example, you can slice the thickness right in half to make the roof a bit more delicate.  In the photo above, the right side of the roof has been thinned and the left side has not.  

Detailed shot of cutting a piece of gingerbread roof shingle in half with a paring knife to make it thinner.

A paring knife works best for this.  If your gingerbread starts to harden WORK MORE QUICKLY.  Also you can use a breadknife to cut gingerbread that’s getting hard and brittle.

Fully assembled tiny gingerbread house with chimney and icing door.

Once your house sides are sturdy and the royal icing has dried a bit you can add the roof and a chimney.

Placing a thin steeple onto a tiny gingerbread church with tweezers.

Then you can finish decorating the house or adding tidbits like a steeple to make it seem like a tiny chapel. Use long, needlenose tweezers for delicate work like applying the razor thin steeple. Hey!  Did you hear I’m going to be nominated for a Nobel Prize?  Yeah, it’s kindda all over the news by now I think.  So embarrassing.

Collection of tiny gingerbread houses and churches.

You can spend as much or as little time on these houses as you want. I’m sure you’re happy I’ve given you that kind of freedom.  Normally we Nobel Prize winners are kindda dictatory.  Not me though.  I’m more of an  “of the people” kind of Nobel Prize winner.

Tiny, mid century modern gingerbread house.

You also don’t have to make conventional gingerbread house shapes.  Like midcentury modern?  Make a midcentury modern gingerbread house.

Edible snow globe Christmas dessert with a tiny gingerbread house on a pillow of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with pistachios. The houses can be made days in advance.  If you use an icing recipe with raw egg whites you just have to keep them in the fridge.  If you use one that uses meringue powder you can just keep them in an airtight container. The night you’re going to serve them just plop a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream in a glass.

Let it melt a tiny bit before you put the gingerbread house on top.  Serve as is, or top with some chopped pistachios like I did in the photo above. For Royal Icing I don’t really use a recipe. I just add 1.5 cups of powdered sugar to my Kitchen Aid with one egg white and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and mix. If it needs a bit more thinning I add tiny bits of water at a time until it’s the consistency I like.

It should be thin enough to pipe but not so thin it’s runny when you pipe it.  Then I add 1 tsp. of artificial, clear vanilla.  If you use real vanilla which is dark brown, your icing won’t be pure white.

Edible Snow globes

Tiny gingerbread houses on a pillow of vanilla ice cream served in a glass.
4.67 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Christmas
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time per batch: 4 minutes
Author: Karen Bertelsen



  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 cups flour all-purpose
  • chopped pistachios

Royal Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp clear vanilla If you use regular vanilla extract which is brown, your white icing won't be pure white.


  • Beat the shortening and butter on medium for 30 seconds. (whether you're using a hand mixer or a stand mixer) Add the sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in the egg, molasses, and vinegar. Finally, beat in the flour little by little. Divide the dough in half, form into 2 discs, cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, (190 C). Roll out one disc of dough to 1/8" on parchment paper into a rectangular shape. Bake the first batch for 5 minutes and the second batch for 4 minutes. (the second batch will cook more quickly) If the edges start to brown remove the gingerbread from the oven. You want the gingerbread to be a bit soft once it has cooled, not hard.
  • Cut the gingerbread rectangles into several 1" strips. Cut those strips into the sides, front and back of your tiny gingerbread houses. Glue together with royal icing.
  • Cut gingerbread rectangles for the roof pieces. They should be slightly deeper than the house itself so they overhang. If the roof seems too thick, shave off some of the thickness of the gingerbread. You can carefully cut the roof piece in half to make it half as thick.
  • Once the royal icing has set on the house, you can glue the roof on with royal icing as well.
  • Finish the houses with chimneys, steeples, or you can even create little mid century modern houses. Just let your imagination run wild.
  • Store the houses in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • When serving day arrives, spoon a good amount of vanilla ice cream into the bottom of a glass and let it melt a tiny bit. Add your gingerbread house on top of the ice cream, and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Serve with a spoon.

This really is the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life.  Ever.  Not just making while making gingerbread, I mean it’s the most fun I have ever experienced in my life.  Well, this and winning all of the Nobel prizes of course. 

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  1. Gael says:

    I made these last year and gave many dioramas away. Not only were they so fun to make, they also tasted delicious. So good that I am making them again this year! Thanks, Karen, for adding joy and good taste to the season.

  2. Cindy Wolf says:

    Ok, unlike most of the commenters, we (my BFF and I) actually tried this! IT WAS A BLAST!!! Not exactly easy though. We laughed like crazy as our houses turned into shacks, outhouses and cats! Neither of us had ever made a gingerbread house before. We looked up a hack to use melted sugar as glue which is faster but tricky (only minor burns). Icing was too drippy and we didn’t know better. The google eye candies look great on the pyramids. Ah yes, Wine was involved. We will do it again for sure! Thank you, Karen, for a fun afternoon.

  3. Vikki says:

    This looks so impressive but you’ve made it do-able. You are definitely getting my nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Who could remain un-peaceful when presented with one of these?

  4. Cheverly Long says:

    Super cute. This has inspired me to change up my gift giving to coworkers. And by change up, I mean add a small amount of gingerbread that in no way resembles a house. But thanks for the inspiration!

    I am also on track to win the Nobel Prize (Literature) as I have sent copious amounts of traffic to your site this week. You would not believe how badly I am being harassed for my organizational secrets by friends/family who are astounded they received my Christmas cards by December 2, and who further disintegrate into jerking huddles of envy when they learn I am DONE with all things Christmas-prep, thanks to this year’s Christmas Pledge. I smirk and am very smug for several minutes before I take pity and reveal my secret weapon (your blog).

    I further pledge now that I will be pledging every Christmas Pledge henceforth.

  5. Anna says:

    Hi Karen. Your little desserts are awesome but I am harking back to homemade mayo.

    My friend Karen and I made it and it is insanely good. We make homemade things for the kids for Christmas. I am going to be giving pickles and biscotti, and homemade chicken broth and your mayo among a ton of other things.

    I thought you might want to know that you can ferment the mayo by adding some whey to it.

    You put some yogurt in a cheesecloth and place it in a strainer. The liquid that drips out is whey. You add some of that to the mayo and mix it in. Then you leave it out on your counter for six hours to ferment. After that you pop it in the fridge. It will give the mayo a shelf life of about two months. I’ve included the link below.

    That’s it. I love your blog ‘cause you is funny. But looks aren’t everything, lol.

    Merry Christmas and have a great New Year.



  6. Look at you all festive with the RED nail polish, LOVE it! Don’t concern yourself with premade houses, there is nothing like homemade especially if you have friends to get together with and make them. I haven’t made a gingerbread house in years but I am inspired to give this a go. I am married to a chef and don’t cook or bake like I used to but perhaps I will impress him with this Nobel Prize worthy dessert.
    One question, would scoring the dough before baking make it easier to do the final cut and possibly fewer crumbs?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda! They’re pretty easy to cut when they’re just out of the oven. You get a more exact size when you cut the completed dough. (The size of the dough changes a bit when you cook it.)

  7. LISA STEELE says:

    Omg! Seriously the cutest thing EVER! Now, how do I snag an invite to your Christmas Eve party???

  8. Beyhan says:

    Iknow, your blogpost is not new…but it’s still adorable and I’m in love with this litte cute gingerbread houses <3

    Thank you for sharing Karen!

  9. Liza says:

    Just discovered your blog and sense of humour – both great!
    So…you gave me an idea for our Secret Santa:
    Large lidded jar from Ikea, make a medium size house + some trees, ‘glue’ these into the jar, sprinkle some white and sanding sugar as snow, and of course, a gift card.
    Wait, wait, wait…may need to make more than one!? Cooke Globe making party?

  10. Nicole Ferrara says:

    I would like to point out that the Gingerbread Cookie Company on Etsy has a number of cutters especially made for making tiny houses. I’ve bought one and used it with ceramic clay and they are wonderful. https://www.etsy.com/shop/GingerbreadCutterCo

    • Cheverly Long says:

      Thanks for the link, Nicole! I actually ordered one of her gingerbread pot hanger guys today, and am going to go back for the spooky eye cutters later (they’ll be great for Halloween and/or random gifts to my optometrist!).

  11. Tammy Thede Rea says:

    Karen…..you are the best! I am so so so so making these………

  12. Sharpn says:

    Hi Karen, I live not far from you, on the mountain. I was in 3 different grocery stores today. I bought the last carton of molasses. I guess everyone is busy making tiny gingerbread houses.

    • Karen says:

      Oh you’re kidding, lol?! Good thing I made extra dough and stuck it in the freezer I guess. Who knew there’d be a molasses shortage. ~ karen!

  13. Leslie Rose says:

    One year the Dallas Museaum of Art had small graham cracker houses decorated as they would have been if done by various artists…Dali, Piccasso, Lautrec, Monet, etc.
    So cute!

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