Stem cell-based in vitro models of embryonic development have been established over the last decade. Such model systems recapitulate aspects of gametogenesis, early embryonic development, or organogenesis. They enable experimental approaches that have not been possible previously and have the potential to greatly reduce the number of animals required for research. However, each model system has its own limitations, with certain aspects, such as morphogenesis and spatiotemporal control of cell fate decisions, diverging from the in vivo counterpart. Targeted bioengineering approaches to provide defined instructive external signals or to modulate internal cellular signals could overcome some of these limitations. Here, we present the latest technical developments and discuss how bioengineering can further advance the optimization and external control of stem cell-based embryo-like structures (ELSs). In vitro models combined with sophisticated bioengineering tools will enable an even more in-depth analysis of embryonic development in the future.