Orange Iced Gingerbread Bars ~

This past weekend I had my annual gingerbread house decorating brunch with my friend, Erica. We do it every year, but it has gradually been changing for the better, I think.

The first year we did it we used graham crackers and tried to attach the structure together with icing. Anyone who has attempted a gingerbread house knows that this method works, but only if the structure has a day to dry before decorating it. Since we only had an afternoon, we found out the hard way that royal icing takes a while to set.

Orange Iced Gingerbread Bars ~

The next year I had read online that you could use melted sugar to instantly bind the crackers together. This works awesomely, as long as you’re SUPER careful not to burn yourself on molten sugar. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. We did this for a couple years, but you still have to set aside time to assemble it. 

But this year I decided to just buy a couple of those gingerbread house kits.

gingerbread house kit ~

The kits come with pre-assembled houses, saving us hours of aggravation, and they also come with candy included and an idea for how to decorate. I knew the kit was great because I decorate a house from a kit every year when I go down to my mother-in-law’s for Christmas. 

photo 2

Anyway, it ended up being perfect. We had a tasty brunch that Erica prepared and then got to spend a couple hours decorating our houses. I think Erica did a much neater job with the icing, but it was fun nonetheless.

Gingerbread Houses 2013

Today’s recipe is related because it’s for gingerbread bars! Not only that, but I literally think they’re the best thing to come out of my kitchen this year…and that’s saying a lot since it’s now December.

Orange Iced Gingerbread Bars ~

These bars are spicy from the molasses, have tons of flavors from all the spices and have the ooey gooey texture of the perfect brownie. I chose to add some orange juice and zest too, because for some reason i feel like gingerbread goes really well with that citrus flavor.

Basically, you NEED to make these. They taste like the holiday season :)

Orange Iced Gingerbread Bars ~



Orange Iced Gingerbread Bars
Yields 9
A spicy, citrusy, dense and chewy gingerbread bar!
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  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  2. 1 large egg
  3. 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  4. 1/2 cup unsulphered light or medium molasses
  5. zest of 1 orange, divided in 2 (will be about 1 Tbsp total)
  6. juice of 1 orange (will be used in both bars and icing)
  7. 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  8. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  9. 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  10. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  11. 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  12. 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
  13. 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, egg, brown sugar, molasses, half of orange zest (about 1.5 tsp), 1 Tbsp of the fresh orange juice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until smooth.
  3. Add the flour and stir until just combined, don't over mix.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 32-34 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs clinging. Allow the bars to cool while you prepare the icing.
  5. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, powdered sugar and rest of orange zest. Add orange juice (you will only need about 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp) a little at a time until it reaches a smooth, pourable consistency. Pour evenly over cooled bars. Cut and serve.
  1. Best served at room temperature.
Adapted from The Live in Kitchen


  1. I want a gingerbread decorating day! Also, I want some of these…because, yum.

  2. Nothing says holiday baking like gingerbread, my favorite! A gingerbread decorating day sounds like so much fun!

    • My favorite too, Meghan! And in fact Nate proclaimed this one of the best things I’ve ever made :) The gingerbread decorating was such a fun way to relax.

  3. Some of the pictures aren’t loading :( Probably a good thing because from the ones I do see I want to jump through my screen and eat every single one of these! Orange + gingerbread…GENIUS!

  4. Amy ,i’m SO mad at you. I can’t believe i have to make AND eat all these bars today. BY MYSELF. how dare you force me to do something i totally want to do anyway. :)

    cute houses!! i need a gingerbread day. BIG TIME.

    • Sorry i’m not sorry, Shannon. Make these…you won’t regret it! I hope you had your gingerbread day because I really want to see what you make for Movita’s contest :)

  5. Oooh, I do NEED to make these!! I can imagine the taste and aroma from your pics!! Your gingerbread houses look fabulous! What a fun afternoon to share with a friend. And why stress yourself out with making It all from scratch – its more about enjoying each others company!

    • Yes, make them, Linda! They really are delicious and the taste is just so perfect for the holidays. One day I’ll make a gingerbread house from scratch….maybe next year in honor of moving into our new house :)

  6. Mmmm these sound fantastic! And your gingerbread houses are too cute!

  7. Yessss, orange + gingerbread! Preach, sister! These look so amazing. I think I’ve gone from being gingerbread apathetic to being gingerbread obsessive this year. And I love your houses–so cute and so neat! Mine usually look like broken-down shanties…well done!

    • Haha. How could you be gingerbread apathetic! It’s such a wonderful spicy thing…i’m glad you’ve changed your tune. Haha, well if I hadn’t used a kit mine would have looked like shacks too ;)

  8. I’ve been going simpler and simpler with the gingerbread houses, too. It’s just not fun anymore when you spend hours and hours just getting the house built. I’ve tried the melted sugar method, too, but it does scare me dealing with the hot melted sugar. Your houses turned out adorable.

    I love the sound of this bars. The orange zest in the glaze sounds so good.

    • One day i will build an awesome gingerbread house from scratch (perhaps next year in my new kitchen?!) but it really is more stressful than fun. Thanks, Nicole :)

  9. Your houses look adorable! My aunt hosts a gingerbread house decorating party every year. It was actually this past Saturday. She makes about 20 houses and she does them with the hot sugar. And then every family or couple gets one to decorate. I love baking, but I don’t think I could handle that. They are fun to decorate though. The gingerbread bars sound wonderful!

  10. Your gingerbread houses turned out so beautifully! I’ve never tried making them myself before but would certainly love to. Looks like so much fun

    • Thanks, Trishie :) It was a fun time decorating them. I definitely recommend going for the kit over doing it from scratch…after all the decorating is the fun part!

  11. these look so good! what a great twist on the classic holiday treat! your houses are GORGEOUS by the way – we had a gingerbread decorating contest at work last year and… well, let’s just say mine didn’t look anywhere close to that good LOL

  12. Amy, as I look at your beautiful gingerbread houses I’m filled with nostalgia — a heart full of precious memories building these houses with my sisters (6 of us) when we were young — we would create new versions and additions every year — my favourite was using foil to create a glossy sheet effect for a skating rink beside the house :) so much fun! I don’t know if little ones are in your future but they will certainly cherish this tradition. And the name ‘orange iced gingerbread bars’ could not be more swoon-worthy — no photos necessary ;-).

  13. consuelohoneyandfigs

    The gingerbread houses look super beautiful, decorating them must have been so much fun! And these bars look amazing as well. I think that orange goes perfect with gingerbread too, so I really really want to try these ;–)

  14. Those houses look so cute! And knowing my luck, I probably should buy a kit this year instead of trying to make them from scratch. Too much to do with this little one on my hip! These squares look delicious too. Thank you for sharing them!

  15. These bars look like the best brownie texture ever! I’m also intrigued by the orange and gingerbread combo. I just made a second batch of chocolate gingerbread cookies today; I’m totally craving that right now when I don’t consider myself a “spice” cookie type person normally.
    Your gingerbread houses came out great! We do one with our son every year – just a store-bought one like yours. It always comes out looking so nice…can’t go wrong with it. : )

    • Monica, the texture is SO moist and perfectly chewy/crumbly. I highly recommend you try them :) I’ve been wanting to make choco gingerbread cookies! I have another ginger spice cookies recipe that I just made and I really should photograph it and put it on the blog because it’s one that I make every year! Thanks, Monica :)

  16. Your gingerbread houses are just adorable. So cute! I’m going to be making mine this weekend. I also know that you can’t put them together and decorate on the same day – I had an imploded house last year and I don’t want the same result this year! xx

    • Thank you, Charlie :) I hope you’ll be posting a pic of yours! Very ambitious of you to make yours from scratch. Can’t wait to see!!!

      • I’m posting it very soon, Amy. I’m just walking out the door to take my little guy to school, then have some running around to do, then I’ll be home to add in the images and go live. Can’t wait to show it to you as I’m very happy with it xx

  17. Oh Amy, this looks amazing! Gingerbread bars with orange icing? Sounds wonderful! Will be putting this on my bucket list. Both you and Erica did an excellent job decorating your houses. They’re adorable! :)

  18. I would probably have to go with the kit also. There are some stresses in life that you just don’t need! And your houses came out so pretty!!!

    I love ginger with citrus. These bars sound fabulous!

  19. These look so darn good! Yet one more recipe I need to try sometime soon…

  20. These bars look so amazing!! Love the combination of gingerebread and orange! And cute gingerbread houses, too! :)

  21. Speaking of graham crackers, have you tried these Trader Joes’ Speculoos cookies?! They are so good and makes a yummy “cinnamony” crust. I’m so embarrassed, I’ve never made a gingerbread house before! Can you teach me how?! haha!

    • No, I haven’t tried those cookies but I need to…and I need to try they’re cookie butter too! I’ve been too scared to buy it since I’m sure I’m going to eat the whole jar in one sitting. I’ve never made a real from-scratch gingerbread house, so I’m afraid I can’t help you there…but I highly recommend getting one of these gingerbread house kits. They’re awesome :)

  22. Ooh, I love orange in gingerbread! These bars are right up my ally. Yum!

    Also, confession time — I have never made, nor decorated, a gingerbread house. I think that needs to be remedied.

    • Ok Willow, that is just totally unacceptable. Go buy a gingerbread house kit and decorate it right this instant, and report back with the results ;) It’s a great little break to take amongst the busyness of daily life.

  23. Holy moly, these look delicious! I love everything gingerbread :)

  24. Very cool idea! I’m so curious + interested in the texture, that sounds wonderful! Almost as wonderful as I imagine living in a gingerbread house would be like. YOU WOULD NEVER GO HUNGRY.

    • I suppose the only way to find out about the texture of these is to make them…you’ll thank me later. Wow, living in a gingerbread house would be amazing. I’m afraid I’d never go outside though because it would smell SO good :) You can’t eat it though, Emma, because then you’d be left homeless…

  25. I love the combination of gingerbread and orange. These are genius! I’ve tried to make gingerbread houses from scratch too…not very successfully! We buy those kits now too…but I miss the smell of gingerbread baking. Looks like I’ve got that covered now! ;)


    Hi ! Where did you get those gingerbread kits ready ??? I need it. They look wonderful!!

    • They sell them all over the place around Christmastime. I think this one was from Michaels craft store. They usually have some at the supermarket too.

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