Mini Animal Cracker Cookies

Turn a simple 8 ingredient sugar cookie recipe into homemade mini animal cracker cookies. Using my favorite sugar cookies as the base, these kid-friendly cookies are flavored with delicious cinnamon and topped with icing and rainbow sprinkles. Young bakers always love to help with these adorable cookies!

animal cracker cookies with icing and sprinkles

Today’s mini animal cracker cookies are the most adorable cookies to ever come out of my kitchen. It’s actually impossible to NOT smile when you eat one. The combination of rainbow sprinkles, icing, cinnamon, and sugar cookies will bring you right back to childhood. Speaking of! Their small size means more cookies to cut out and dunk in icing, so grab the kids for this one. Little bakers LOVE helping with these animal cracker cookies!

These Mini Animal Cracker Cookies Are:

  • Made with 8 basic ingredients
  • Flavored with warm cinnamon
  • Reminiscent of your favorite childhood cookies
  • Dunked in icing and topped with sprinkles
  • A fun baking project the whole family can help with
  • Perfect for birthdays and celebrations
  • Always a crowd pleaser

stack of animal cracker cookies with icing

animal cracker cookies with pink and white icing

My Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe Gets an Upgrade

The recipe we use to make these animal cracker cookies is based off of my favorite sugar cookies recipe. It’s what we use to make Easter egg sugar cookies and snowman sugar cookies, too. This recipe is simple, straightforward, and a reader favorite on this site. You’ll love the crispy edges– which I correlate to actual animal crackers, and you only need 8 basic ingredients to begin! For some wholesome flavor, I added cinnamon to the cookie dough which gives these cookies a little something extra.

I love using this classic sugar cookie recipe, but if you want options, try my soft cream cheese cookies instead. Those are a little softer and won’t have as crispy edges, but are equally fantastic. I also have chocolate sugar cookies that would work with these mini cookie cutters, too.

animal cracker cookie dough rolled out with animal cookie cutters

Overview: How to Make Mini Animal Cracker Cookies

Pay careful attention to the order of steps. My dough chilling method is unique and I talk about it in depth in my sugar cookies recipe. To prevent the cookies from over-spreading, the cookie dough must chill in the refrigerator. Roll out the dough right after you prepare it, then chill the rolled-out dough. (At this point the dough is too soft to cut into shapes.) Don’t chill the cookie dough and then try to roll it out because it will be too cold and difficult to work with. I divide the dough in half before rolling it out and highly recommend you do the same. Smaller sections of dough are simply more manageable.

  1. Make cookie dough. With so little ingredients (only 8!), it’s important that you follow the recipe closely. Creamed butter and sugar provide the base of the cookie dough. Egg is the cookie’s structure and cinnamon and vanilla extract add flavor. Flour is an obvious addition, baking powder adds lift, and salt balances the sweet.
  2. Divide in two pieces. Smaller sections of dough are easier to roll out.
  3. Roll out cookie dough. Roll it out to 1/4 inch thick or just under 1/4 inch thick. If you have difficulty evenly rolling out dough, try this adjustable rolling pin. Speaking from experience– it’s incredibly handy!
  4. Chill rolled out cookie dough. Without chilling, these cookie cutter sugar cookies won’t hold their shape. Chill the rolled out cookie dough for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days.
  5. Cut into shapes. I used mini animal cookie cutters, but hearts, stars, alphabet letters, or even numbers would be fun too.
  6. Bake & cool. Depending on size, the cookies take about 9-10 minutes.
  7. Decorate. See my suggested icings below.

Have a little flour nearby when you’re rolling out the cookie dough. Keep your work surface, hands, and rolling pin lightly floured. This is a relatively soft dough.

animal cracker cookies on baking sheet

Animal Cracker Cookies Icing

I have TWO sugar cookie icing recipes and you can choose whichever works best for you. I use the royal icing in today’s pictures and tinted half pink with a drop of gel food coloring. The finished cookies remind me of a childhood favorite: circus animal cookies! Have fun with the colors; these cookies would be adorable for baby showers and kid birthday parties.

  1. Favorite Royal Icing: This royal icing is my preferred sugar cookie icing because it’s easy to use, dries within 1-2 hours, and doesn’t taste like hardened cement. (It’s on the softer side!) Meringue powder takes the place of raw egg whites, which is found in traditional royal icing recipes. It eliminates the need for fresh eggs, but still provides the same consistency. You can find meringue powder in some baking aisles, most craft stores with a baking section, and online. The 8 ounce tub always lasts me awhile. The trickiest part is landing on the perfect royal icing consistency, but I provide a video in the royal icing recipe to help you.
  2. Easy Glaze Icing: This easy cookie icing is great for decorating beginners. This icing is easier to make than royal icing because you don’t need an electric mixer and the consistency won’t really make or break the outcome. However, it doesn’t provide the same sharp detail that royal icing decorations do. It also takes a good 24 hours to dry.

No matter which icing you choose, I recommend dunking the cookie tops straight into the bowl of icing– no piping tips needed!

2 images of dipping animal cracker cookies into pink icing

animal cracker cookies with icing on a cooling rack

plate of animal cracker cookies with pink and white icing

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animal cracker cookies with icing and sprinkles

Mini Animal Cracker Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: about 85 mini cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Turn a simple 8 ingredient sugar cookie recipe into homemade mini animal cracker cookies! These kid-friendly cookies are flavored with delicious cinnamon and topped with icing and rainbow sprinkles.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks; 180g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • royal icing or easy cookie icing
  • rainbow sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. If the dough seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat (I prefer the nonstick silicone mat) to about 1/4-inch thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.
  6. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and cut into shapes with animal cookie cutters (I love these, these, and these). Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd dough piece.
  7. Arrange cookies on baking sheets 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. I like to decorate cookies directly on baking sheets so I can stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help set the icing. So place the cooled cookies back on baking sheets.
  8. Prepare royal icing or easy cookie icing. Dip the cooled cookies into the icing.
  9. Enjoy cookies right away or wait until the icing sets to serve them. Once the icing has set, these cookies are great for gifting or for sending. Plain or decorated cookies stay soft for about 5 days when covered tightly at room temperature. For longer storage, cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Plain or iced animal cracker cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months before rolling it out. Prepare the dough through step 3, divide in half, flatten both halves into a disk as we do with pie crust, wrap each in plastic wrap, then freeze. To thaw, thaw the disks in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature for about 1 hour. Roll out the dough as directed in step 4, then chill as directed in step 5– no need to chill for 1-2 hours, 45 minutes should be plenty.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Meringue Powder, Americolor Gel Food Coloring Kit, Mini Animal Cookie Cutters, 9-piece Mini Animal Cookie Cutter Set, Mini Noah’s Ark Animal Cookie Cutters, Silpat Baking Mat, Baking Sheets, and Cooling Rack
  3. Food Coloring: Feel free to tint the royal icing or glaze icing pink or any color you desire! I recommend gel food coloring. I used a tiny drop of fuchsia from this gel food coloring kit.
  4. Softer Cookies: These sugar cookies are soft in the centers with crisp edges. If you’re interested in super soft and creamy-tasting sugar cookies, use the dough from my soft cream cheese cookies recipe instead. Add the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and leave out the almond extract. That recipe yields over 100 mini animal cracker cookies.
  5. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: animal cracker cookies, mini animal cracker cookies

40 Comments

  1. Thanks for another awesome recipe! I LOVE the addition of the cinnamon, I saw this on Instagram this morning and we have already devoured more than I will admit! When my little guy saw the pictures he proudly declared “Momma! Mine cookies!”, and even though he is not a cinnamon fan he loved these 🙂

  2. These are so adorable!! Every once in awhile, my husband will buy the store bought version of these. As much as I bake, I have never thought about trying to make them from scratch. I am so glad you did and that you shared them with all of us!! I can’t wait to try them and surprise him.
    Btw, that elephant is too cute for words!

  3. I made these cookies for my daughters 2nd birthday party yesterday which had a farm animals theme and they were a HUGE hit!!! They were completely gone by the end and people couldn’t get enough. Most importantly my daughter loved them, even more than her cake. Thank you for this fabulous recipe!

  4. 10 star review on these cookie! First time using your royal icing and it was so perfect. The cookies turned out sooooo delicious and cute. My batch made so many that I handed out bags of them to running friends this morning for their kids and everyone was thrilled. Fabulous and fun recipe – thanks so much for creating and sharing!!!

  5. Could I make these without the cinnamon and then leave everything else the same? I tried with the cinnamon and wasn’t a fan.
    I am planning to use this recipe for my daughter’s 1st birthday as well! She turns 1 this a Friday!
    Thanks for all the party prep ideas!

    1. Hi Jenny! You can leave out the cinnamon.

  6. Hi Sally, my family isn’t a big fan of cinnamon, is the flavour very strong? They love your original sugar cookies, I bake dozens at Christmas! Is there another flavour you would suggest trying? Or if I leave the cinnamon out, how do you think these would taste? Thanks so much! Looking forward to baking these for my little one’s 2nd birthday 🙂

    1. Hi Sonya, It is not a strong cinnamon flavor – just enough to make them taste a little special. But you can certainly leave it out!

  7. Hi sally !

    After you use the cookie cutters can you freeze them in the shapes and than thaw them?

    1. Absolutely! You can even bake the frozen shaped cookie dough– simply place on the baking sheet and bake for 1-2 extra minutes since they’re frozen.

  8. You’re right, these were so great at a baby shower over the weekend. I colored the frosting light yellow.Everyone loved them!

  9. I’m going to use your recipe but with larger cookie cutters for my grandsons birthday. I believe I will need more dough. Do you suggest doubling the recipe or make two batches ? Thanks

    1. Hi Linda! You can definitely double this recipe 🙂 How fun!

  10. Lisa Blakeley says:

    What can I do to make these “chocolate” cookies?

    1. Hi Lisa! Here is my chocolate sugar cookie dough that you can use here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/chocolate-sugar-cookies/

  11. Loved it!!!

  12. Carson Goodie says:

    Hi I was wondering if I don’t have any small cookie cutters, can I just cut the cookie dough into small triangles?

    1. Yes you can!

  13. Do they taste like the original animal crackers from the store? I’m not sure if I will like them with the cinnamon or without. I want whichever will taste more like the original. I can’t wait to try them out!

    1. Hi Sky, it depends on the store-bought animal crackers you are used to. If yours usually don’t have a cinnamon flavor, you can certainly leave it out.

  14. Heather Sly says:

    Could I substitute a flax egg in this recipe for someone that has an egg allergy?

    1. Hi Heather, I haven’t tried this recipe with a flax egg. Let me know if you do!

  15. I’m thinking of making these for a family member, but will have to ship the cookies to them. Do you think these will ship well?

    1. Hi Leigh, Plain or decorated cookies stay soft for about 5 days when covered tightly at room temperature so they should be fine to ship!

  16. Hi Sally! Could I replace the cinnamon with more vanilla extract since my brother likes vanilla?

    1. You can slightly increase the vanilla and skip the cinnamon if desired. You can also add a bit of vanilla extract to the royal icing to give it some flavor. I hope your brother enjoys them!

  17. My kids love these cookies! I’ve made them several times, and they are always gone with a few days!

  18. Addicting! The kids helped with the sprinkles – such a fun activity for us all.

  19. I love the idea of dipping the cookies in the frosting, but is it super messy if kids do it? Has anyone tried that? Thanks!

  20. LOVE IT! Can I make the glaze with maple syrup instead of corn syrup?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jolee, You can simply leave it out. The glaze won’t be quite a shiny but it will still set up beautifully!

  21. Hi Sally! (And others)
    I was wondering what would happen if I used your vanilla icing instead of Royal icing and glaze, and if so, could I use food coloring with that or would it react with the dairy, and would I have to keep it in the refrigerator.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emma, You can definitely use your choice of icings here and yes, you can use food coloring. With another icing you may with to refrigerate the cookies after a day at room temperature. Enjoy!

  22. Do YOU leave them in oven a little longer so they are crunchier like a real animal cracker? Or do You bake them at the normal time and have a softer cookie?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stacy! These are crisp on the edges and soft in the middle, but you can bake them a minute or two longer for a crispier cookie.

  23. My great neice cannot have eggs. Is there something I can use as a replacement?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Patty! We have not tested an egg-free version of this recipe. If you decide to give anything a try, we’d love to know how it goes. (And if you’re interested, here are all of our naturally egg-free recipes that we have on our site: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/recipes/?fwp_special_diet=egg-free)

  24. Krissy Young says:

    Hi Sally!

    Is there a way to make these with whole wheat flour? Would it be just a straight substitution?

  25. Can you make these and not ice them? In other words, are they good enough to eat as un-iced cookies or do they need the extra sweetness of the icing? We like the traditional animal cracker cookies in the circus box, and I’m not a particular fan of icing (I know, I’m strange).

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pat, these cookies would be delicious even without icing!

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