Animal Crackers (about 30 small cookies)

The variety of Animal Cookies & Animal Crackers available boggles the mind: pink frosted, white frosted, with rainbow sprinkles and plain.

I love the cookies (pink frosted with sprinkles please!) so much so that I bought an animal cookie necklace recently. But even so, some days require the simplicity of an animal cracker: super crisp, barely sweet, and begging for a glass of milk.

animal cookies at the watering hole

Animal Crackers

8 ounces flour, sifted
3 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces sugar
1/4 ounce powdered milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 ounce vanilla extract
1 1/2 ounces egg whites; from one or two eggs, depending on size

Extra flour for dusting
optional: decorative caramel feet

Cream together the butter through vanilla on medium speed with a hand or stand mixer. You’re not aiming for “light and fluffy,” just thoroughly combined; about two minutes. Stop to scrape the bowl down halfway through.

Turn the mixing speed down to low and add half the flour; mix until just incorporated. Next add half the egg whites. Repeat with the remaining flour and egg whites. Mix until homogenous, then turn off the mixer.

Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours before rolling. The dough can be kept in the fridge for a week.

Preheat the oven to 350° and have 2 parchment lined sheet pans standing by.

Normally, I advocate rolling cookie dough with powdered sugar, but powdered sugar adds too much sweetness to these crackers so I prefer flour.

Lightly flour the counter top and roll the cookies to a little over 1/4” thickness (3/8” if you like to be precise). Run a metal spatula between the dough and the rolling surface to ensure the dough doesn’t stick in an places. Use your favorite cutters to cut the dough transfer the cookies to the sheet pan. They won’t spread significantly in the oven, so they can be snuggled fairly close together.

If you like, dock the cookies twice, once at the “hip” and again at the “shoulder” of the animal. You can make the deepest mark with the tip of a clicky pen, clicked to the retracted position, or a large bamboo skewer. Some brands of animal crackers did not have these deep dock mark, they are purely ornamental so skip docking if you like. Make ‘em to suit your memory.

animal cracker zoo

Gather, knead and re-roll the dough scraps up to three times, it’s very forgiving.

Bake about 12 minutes, or until quite firm to the touch and just beginning to brown around the edges. Cool thoroughly.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a month. These cookies last forever and I think they really hit their stride after a week. Or maybe I’ve just become too addicted to stale, vending machine animal crackers…

If you’d like to make your cookies do a trick, whip up a batch of decorative caramel to stand them up. Click through for instructions on how to give your cookies feet. That step will give each cookie two extra-crispy bites with a bitter caramel edge.


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Any questions?

Jan 13, 2012 ·  2:23 PM

Adorable! I love that you gave them caramel feet

 · Kiri W. ·

Jan 13, 2012 ·  5:07 PM

This is just too cute the way the animal crackers are drinking from the glass of milk!

 · Heather @ Curly Girl Kitchen ·

Jan 13, 2012 ·  6:59 PM

@Kiri, they were too cute to just leave sitting on a plate.

@Heather, it’s kind of cruel in a way. They had no idea they were all about to get nommed.


Jan 13, 2012 ·  9:38 PM

Animal crackers! The best snack ever! It never occurred to me to make my own (and the only cookie-cutter shape I own is a brontosaurus…), but maybe I don’t have a choice but whip up a tasty little zoo myself!

 · Meister @ The Nervous Cook ·

Jan 13, 2012 · 10:55 PM

Exactly the recipe I need. We are planning a trip to the zoo…( i have promised my little girl we would, this year!) This would be the perfect bring-along snack. But first I need to go shop for nice cookie cutters. Thanks for sharing. Love the unique sweet feet of these animal crackers =)

 · Anna ·

Jan 13, 2012 · 11:16 PM

@Meister, brontosaurus crackers? Are you kidding me! I order you to make them right now and take lots of pictures and report back ASAP!! That sounds waaaaaay too awesome! xoxo

@Anna, the perfect zoo snack! I found all my cutters at Sur la Table for $1 each, can you believe it? Have fun at the zoo!


Jan 14, 2012 ·  2:23 AM

Cutest picture ever!

 · Donna ·

Jan 14, 2012 ·  5:29 AM

awh! Love it!

 · Kathy ·

Jan 15, 2012 ·  2:12 AM

love their little honey feet

 · Michelle  ·

Jan 15, 2012 · 12:54 PM

@Donna, isn’t Sarah Jane the greatest?

@Kathy, thank you!



Jan 15, 2012 · 11:37 PM

Those caramel feet are genius.

 · pickyin@LifeIsGreat ·

Jan 16, 2012 · 10:54 AM

@pickyin, haha, thanks! Not much extra trouble, but a lot of extra awwwww.


Jan 16, 2012 · 11:57 AM

Adorable! I love their caramel shoes.

 · Kaitlin ·

Jan 16, 2012 · 12:05 PM

Yay! This is a great excuse to buy more cookie cutters! I have a bunch my mom gave me of musical instruments that is about the right size for this, so maybe I’ll put together a whole animal orchestra.

 · Shanti · 

Jan 16, 2012 ·  6:49 PM

too cute!

 · threeblondesandatomas ·

Jan 16, 2012 · 11:26 PM

@Kaitlin, are you too young to remember NBA Jam? “Is it the shoes?!”

@Shanti, oh, please take pictures if you do! That sounds too stinkin’ cute!

@threeblonde​sandatomas, thanks!


Jan 28, 2012 ·  8:48 AM

I love this! I challenge you, dear nostalgic food genius, to come up with a recipe for the pink and white glaze/frosting so we can make them just like the sprinkled ones too! Oh my gosh I would freak out! I adore your blog so much more than any blog before it, we share this obsession for making childhood treats from scratch! Your blog makes my day every time! You put a ton of hard work into this, and it shows! I have your vanilla marshmallows chilling in my fridge, by the way! So exciting to finally make mallows from scratch! Two hours to go before cut time

 · Jemoiselle ·

Jan 28, 2012 · 12:03 PM

@Jemoiselle, hurray!! Congratulations on your inaugural marshmallows! You’ll never go back. The pink and white frosted animal cookies are a major favorite of mine too, still tinkering to get the recipe just right. Hopefully it won’t take too much longer. Thanks so much for the kind words too!


May 18, 2012 · 11:02 AM

they are super cute and I am really keen to make this with my kids. think they will love it! I am out of powdered milk and would like to ask if it’s still okay to exclude that or can I replace with milk instead?

Thanks! By the way, made swiss buttercream and it was delicious. My macaroons still need a lot of work, the tiniest feet appeared but most have cracked tops. Thanks again for sharing the wonderful recipes and your help!

 · Lee Cheng · 

May 20, 2012 · 12:44 AM

@Lee Cheng, it shouldn’t be a problem to leave it out, it’s there for flavor rather than structure. It gives the crackers a bit of that characteristic flavor, but they’ll be good without it too.


Jan 31, 2013 ·  4:18 PM

Have you figured out the glazed yet? Do these taste like the ones that come in the circus car box?

 · Jen · 

Feb 01, 2013 ·  9:50 AM

Hi Jen! Ugh, I haven’t figured them out yet, it’s driving me crazy!! These aren’t like the kind in the box, but like the really really dry ones you buy in a vending machine. They’re very cracker-y.


Nov 03, 2013 · 12:55 AM

I know this is an old post, but I was baking these today and want to share a few observations. The recipe seems to be missing a section of the directions. Your directions never say when to add sugar, milk, nutmeg, kosher salt, or the
baking soda.Does “butter through vanilla” mean to cream together all of the ingredients between butter and vanilla on the ingredients list? I did throw it all together, and these are very tasty and crunchy cookie bites, much better than several others I have tried. I made mine in a non-animal shape and couldn’t use the adorable caramel feet but I am pinned to use this great idea in the future. Thanks!

 · Wendy ·

Nov 05, 2013 · 10:09 AM

Hi Wendy! Yeah, you’ve got it. It’s just shorthand for including all the ingredients between butter and vanilla. You’ll see that in some of my older recipes, but in the newer ones I try to list all the ingredients rather than saying A through Z to avoid confusion.

I’m glad that the recipe turned out well for you despite all that! I really like these, because they’re not too sweet. Thanks for stopping by!


Aug 31, 2016 ·  2:50 PM

How close is the crumb of the cracker to the real thing? I’ve been searching for an animal cracker that has the true consistency of an animal crack (never a cookie).

 · Katie · 

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