Are Gingerbread Houses Vegan and Cruelty Free? The Crumbling Truth

Trying to work out whether gingerbread houses are safe for vegans to consume can be a bit tough.

Confectionery snacks often include a wide variety of ingredients, and some of them may be of animal origin.

To make sure that you are only eating food that aligns with your vegan diet and lifestyle, I’ve looked into the ingredients and production process of gingerbread houses.

Here’s what I found.

Are Gingerbread Houses Vegan?

No. Gingerbread houses are not vegan.

A gingerbread house is a confectionery treat that is made using gingerbread as walls to frame a 3D house, which is then decorated with white icing (to resemble snow) and candy pieces to resemble a Victorian house. They are a popular Christmas treat in many countries and it is a tradition of some people to make them with family and friends. Unfortunately for vegans, most gingerbreads, either readymade from known brands or homemade from recipes online, are not vegan.

Gingerbread houses are made with a variety of animal-derived ingredients, including eggs, butter, and sometimes honey. They also contain questionable ingredients such as refined sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and molasses.

Refined sugar is often processed using bone char, a type of charcoal that is made from the bones of cows, to make the sugar whiter. Unless it is labeled as “organic,” “unrefined,” or “raw,” it is probably filtered through bone char and is not vegan.

What’s more, even if a gingerbread house recipe doesn’t call for any of these ingredients, the cookies are often decorated with non-vegan items, such as candy canes or chocolate chips.

So, unless you make your own gingerbread house using vegan ingredients, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Are Gingerbread Houses Cruelty Free?

Yes! Gingerbread houses themselves are cruelty free.

Gingerbread Houses are not tested on animals at any point during the manufacturing process. Nor do they contain artificial colors or flavors that are regularly tested on animals.

The white icing and candy bits may include artificial colors that have been tested on animals. It all depends on the brand. If “cruelty free” is of importance to you, it’s always a good idea to research brand names. If you’re making your own gingerbread house, be sure to buy candy and icing that doesn’t use artificial colors. Vegan food coloring is pretty easy to come by.

Animal testing is an inhumane and outmoded practice that is sadly still commonplace in the food industry. This practice subjects innocent animals to cruel and painful tests that cause them a great deal of suffering.

There are alternative methods that are less expensive, more humane, and just as effective. So there are no excuses for brands to still test on animals.

What Are Gingerbread Houses Made Of?

Here are the most common ingredients of gingerbread houses:

  • Ginger
  • Candy
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Molasses
  • Brown sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Icing or frosting

Let’s break down each ingredient of gingerbread houses:

Ginger

Ginger is a flowering root plant that is used as a spice. The underground stem (rhizome) of the plant is used to make gingerbread. It has a pungent and spicy flavor. Ginger is vegan.

Candy

Candy is a type of confectionery that is made from sugar and is typically flavored with fruit, chocolate, or nuts. It can also be decorated with icing or frosting. Most candies are not vegan because they contain refined sugar and animal-derived ingredients, such as gelatin or milk.

Sugar

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that is obtained from sugarcane or sugar beet plants. It is often used to sweeten food and drinks. Sugar is naturally vegan but is often processed using bone char, which makes it non-vegan. Unless it is labeled as “unrefined,” “raw,” or “organic,” it is likely processed through bone char.

Butter

Butter is a type of fat that is made from the cream of milk. It is used to add flavor and texture to food. Butter is not vegan because it is made from milk.

Flour

Flour is a type of powder that is made by grinding wheat, rye, barley, or other grains. It is a common ingredient in baking. Flour is vegan.

Egg

Eggs come from chickens. They are used in baking as a binding agent. Eggs are not vegan.

Powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)

Powdered sugar is a type of sugar that is made by grinding granulated sugar into a fine powder. It is then added with cornstarch to prevent caking. This icing sugar is used to sweeten food and as decoration. Powdered sugar is not vegan because it is often processed using bone char.

Ground cinnamon

Ground cinnamon is a type of spice that is made by grinding the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. It has a sweet and woody flavor. Ground cinnamon is vegan.

Salt

Salt is a type of mineral that is composed of sodium and chloride. It is used to add flavor to food or to preserve food. Salt is vegan.

Molasses

Molasses is a type of syrup that is made from sugarcane or sugar beet plants. It has a dark color and a strong flavor. The molasses used in gingerbread houses is most likely not vegan because sugarcane is probably processed using bone char.

Brown sugar

Brown sugar is a type of sugar that is made by adding molasses to white sugar. It has a dark color and a moist texture. Brown sugar is not vegan because the white sugar used is often processed using bone char.

Baking soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a salt-based ingredient that helps dough rise and helps baked goods keep their shape. Baking soda is vegan.

Icing or frosting

Any kind of icing or frosting can be used on a gingerbread house. They usually include milk, butter, icing sugar, and sometimes eggs. Unless specifically vegan, icing is not usually vegan.

Why Aren’t Gingerbread Houses Vegan?

Gingerbread houses are not vegan because they contain butter and eggs, which are both animal products. The sugar used is also likely processed with bone char, which makes it non-vegan. With several non-vegan ingredients, it is quite clear that gingerbread houses are not vegan.

Is M&M’s Holiday House Gingerbread Cookie Kit Vegan?

No. M&M’s Holiday House Gingerbread Cookie Kit contains refined sugar and milk.

This gingerbread house kit is not safe for vegan consumption.

Is Wilton Mini Village Gingerbread House Decorating Kit Vegan?

No. The Wilton Mini Village Gingerbread House Decorating Kit contains refined sugar, mono- and diglycerides, dextrose, and confectioner’s glaze.

This gingerbread house kit is not safe for vegan consumption.

Is Hershey’s Build Your Own Chocolate Holiday Gingerbread House Kit Vegan?

No. Hershey’s Build Your Own Chocolate Holiday Gingerbread House Kit

contains refined sugar, monoglycerides, and milk.

This Gingerbread house kit is not safe for vegan consumption.

Is Airheads Gingerbread House Kit Vegan?

No. Airheads Gingerbread House Kit contains refined sugar, gelatin, glycerin, beeswax, and shellac.

This gingerbread house kit is not safe for vegan consumption.

Is Wilton Super Mario Gingerbread Castle Decorating Kit Vegan?

No. Wilton Super Mario Gingerbread Castle Decorating Kit contains refined sugar, glycerin, and mono- and diglycerides.

This gingerbread house kit is not safe for vegan consumption.

Vegan Gingerbread House Alternatives

It’s difficult, but not impossible, to find a vegan gingerbread house kit, which is a blessing if you’re not gifted in the baking department. 

It might just be easier and more fun to make your own. Fortunately, there are plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free, and delicious vegan gingerbread house recipes that you can follow! Here are some vegan gingerbread house recipes:

With simple ingredients such as vegan royal icing, vegan butter, parchment paper, and vegan molasses, you can easily make vegan gingerbread cookies and a house that is just as delicious and festive as the traditional version!

Final Words

So, are gingerbread houses vegan? The answer is, unfortunately, no. In general, most gingerbread house recipes and kits are not vegan because they use several animal-derived ingredients such as honey, milk, and eggs. However, there are plenty of vegan-friendly options out there with easy-to-follow recipes. With a little bit of creativity, you can make your own vegan gingerbread house that is just as festive and delicious.