The Most Iconic Candies for Decorating Your Gingerbread House

published Nov 27, 2022
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gingerbread candy arranged on surface
Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

If you’re new to the gingerbread house game, it can feel a little chaotic — especially when it comes to narrowing down the candy selection. “What can I use for a doorway?” you might say, as you stare blankly at the mile-long candy aisle. Or maybe you start to build and realize you didn’t grab anything to use for holiday lights. There’s an overwhelming number of sweet options out there, and without any sort of reference point, it’s hard to know where to begin.

This list will help you skip the guesswork so you can walk into a store with a plan — or click and buy from the comfort of your couch. You definitely don’t need all 10, but just make sure you have the bases covered: Choose something for shingles, trim, and decor. Anything left over can be used to decorate cookies or put in a candy dish for guests throughout the season.

1 / 10

“Does anyone know what Necco Wafers are these days?” was the question I asked myself in my Great Gingerbread House Candy Search. I posted a picture of a roll on social recently and the responses (for those in-the-know) were comical ("Wow, I haven't seen those for years!"). On the label, it clearly states “Since 1847,” so it may be the oldest candy on this list. For me, it’s certainly the most nostalgic. But let’s get down to business: No matter how you feel about these hard, chalky wafers, they are the perfect candy for shingles.

2 / 10

Okay, so you plan on actually eating your gingerbread house once it’s complete and want something else for shingles? Option two: Haribo Z!NG Sour Streamers. Each package contains four colors of sugar-coated gummi strips, ideal for a single-color or rainbow roof. The best part about these gummies is that they’re customizable — you can cut them to the size you need. They’re also great for siding, and can be sliced into thin strips to create a droopy pine needle effect.

3 / 10
Dylan's Candy Bar

Is it really a gingerbread house if it doesn’t have gumdrops? Perhaps the most iconic candy for this seasonal project, gumdrops are easy to come by during the holidays and can be used for shrubs, lining walkways, and general house decor. There’s the classic version, and Dots are also always available, but this year I’m loving the rainbow nonpareil-coated ones from Dylan’s Candy Bar. They might be the happiest candy on the planet.

4 / 10

Also on the list of iconic gingerbread candy are peppermints. When it comes to starlight mints, I’m partial to the green spearmints — they make the best wreaths. If you’re going the candy cane route, I recommend the mini version. The obvious use for candy canes is for flanking doorways and lining walkways, but you can also crush them and use the shards as rocks, or go wild and build your own Candy Cane Forest à la Buddy the Elf.

5 / 10

If the goal is to make your gingerbread house more realistic, look no further than candy rocks (not to be confused with rock candy). I’m a huge fan of these multicolored chocolate pebbles. They're perfect for making stone siding, a chimney, or walkways. I used these to make a little rock quarry for my son’s second birthday construction-themed cake and he was convinced they were real. (Also, if you ever want to hide chocolate from your roommate/partner/kids, this is the way to do it.) These are real gems (yeah, I said it).

6 / 10
Party City

Maybe it’s my Midwestern upbringing, but gingerbread houses should live on a blanket of snow. Sure, icing will get you there, but if you want some serious “oohs and aahs,” use cotton candy. The fluffy spun sugar makes the best snow drifts. You can also use cotton candy to mimic chimney smoke.

7 / 10

Make an entrance statement! For a front-of-house wow factor, these twisty rainbow lollipops are a sure bet. You could also use them to line walkways or use one as a lamppost.

8 / 10
Party City

Sometimes a gingerbread house needs some smaller candies for texture, interest, and for filling in the gaps. Sixlets, a round candy-coated chocolate, are a great option. They’re available in a wide variety of single colors (I personally love the pearlescent ones for a more sophisticated look) or you can purchase a rainbow variety, which make the cutest holiday lights. Bonus: Sixlets come in a fairly large bag, so there’s plenty to snack on as you build.

9 / 10

Because it’s all in the details, it’s good to have multiple small candies on hand. Tiny cinnamon-flavored Red Hots can be pinned on wreaths to look like holly and are petite enough to make intricate designs. Plus, the warm spice will leave your house smelling like Christmastime.

10 / 10

The shoelace-like strings of Twizzlers’ Pull ‘n’ Peel candy are great for framing windows and doorways or trimming the entire frame of the house. They’re pliable, so they can bend around corners, and they can also be trimmed for a custom fit.

Did your favorite make the list? Tell us about it in the comments.