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!
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- Divide in two pieces. Smaller sections of dough are easier to roll out.
- 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!
- 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.
- Cut into shapes. I used mini animal cookie cutters, but hearts, stars, alphabet letters, or even numbers would be fun too.
- Bake & cool. Depending on size, the cookies take about 9-10 minutes.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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!
More Kid-Friendly Recipes
- Mini M&M Cookies
- Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts
- Homemade Cheese Crackers
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Pizza
- And an entire page dedicated to kid-friendly baking recipes
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.
- 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 (1.5 sticks; 170g) 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
- Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Prepare royal icing or easy cookie icing. Dip the cooled cookies into the icing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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