Animal crackers are a somewhat universal favorite childhood treat — and they’re even better with icing on top. I decided to take a trip down memory lane and create this frosted animal cookies recipe in my own kitchen!
These cute cookies combine simple vanilla cookies (shaped like circus animals, of course) with a sweet confectioner’s glaze topping. Then, they’re topped with festive rainbow nonpareils.
If you don’t have animal cookie cutters, you can easily find them at a craft store or online. I like using the smaller ones so they’re closer to the size of the original cookies.
The next time you want to make a nostalgic sweet snack, try these adorable animal cookies!
Common Questions about Frosted Animal Cookies
What is the flavor of frosted animal cookies?
Frosted animal cookies have a delicious vanilla flavor with a slight nuttiness topped with sweet icing.
When did animal crackers come out?
Animal crackers were originally imported. However, once they became popular in the U.S., bakers began making them (around 1871).
Making Frosted Animal Cookies Ahead of Time
The dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to roll out and bake.
Frosted animal cookies can be kept on the countertop in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Refrigerator: Keep cookies in a ziploc bag or airtight container, in a single layer, for up to 10 days in the fridge.
Freezing: Freeze cookies for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. If stacking, separate with parchment paper to avoid them sticking together.
Tips For The Best Frosted Animal Crackers
These sweet treats are easy enough to make but there are a few tips for making them the best.
- Use clear vanilla extract to ensure the icing is a vibrant, bright white.
- Sift together the dry ingredients (salt and flour) before adding to the wet ingredients for a more even distribution.
- Use just a little bit of flour on the work surface. Avoid over-flouring so that you do not incorporate too much sugar into the cookie dough.
- While you can use lowfat and nonfat milk for the icing, full fat milk will make it creamier.
Be sure to allow all ingredients to come to room temperature for the best results.
- Unsalted butter (softened)
- Granulated sugar
- Large egg
- Almond extract
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
Icing and decorations
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Light corn syrup
- Clear vanilla extract
- Pink gel food coloring
- Rainbow nonpareils
Kitchen Supplies You’ll Need
Just grab some standard supplies from your cabinet to make these sweet cookies.
- Large bowl
- Stand mixer (or hand electric mixer)
- Rolling pin
- Animal cookie cutters
- Baking sheet
- Silicone Baking Mat
- Wire rack
- Medium bowls
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Circus Animal Cookie Ice Cream
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How to Make Frosted Animal Cookies
- Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer) and beat until smooth.
- Continue mixing while adding the egg, almond extract, and vanilla until entirely incorporated.
- Lower the mixer speed, then slowly add the salt and flour until just combined — the dough should be slightly crumbly but easy to work in your hands.
- Half the dough and wrap each in plastic wrap before flattening.
- Allow the dough to chill briefly in the refrigerator.
- Once the dough has chilled, place it on a prepared work surface and roll to the recommended thickness.
- Using animal cookie cutters, cut the cookies out of the rolled dough and place on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake until the bottoms are a light golden brown and the edges are set.
- Allow the cookies to come to room temperature while still on the baking sheet.
- Then, using a spatula, move them to a cooling rack.
- Add the confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla extract to a medium bowl and whisk together.
- Slowly add milk and mix until the icing is the consistency you prefer.
- Pour half of the icing into a separate bowl.
- To one of the bowls, add pink food coloring and mix until it is the preferred shade of pink.
- Spread a generous coating of the icings onto individual cookies. Alternate between pink and white frosting.
- Sprinkle nonpareils over top of the cookies while the icing is still soft.
What to Serve With Frosted Animal Cookies
These cute cookies are great on their own but you can serve them with other things, too!
- Whipped cream – Serve with a small bowl of whipped cream for dunking.
- Milk – A glass of cold milk (or chocolate milk) is perfect for dunking.
- Coffee – Sweet cookies are always good paired with a steaming cup of coffee.
- Ice cream – Garnish ice cream with these adorable cookies or make mini ice-cream sandwiches.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
There are lots of reasons to make these cookies!
- Versatile – These are great for birthday parties but also for packing in lunchboxes.
- Easy – The cookies themselves are simple and the icing couldn’t be easier.
- Cute – Everyone will love these adorable cookies!
Variations and Add-ins
While we love these cookies just as they are, there are ways to change them up, too.
- Color – Use different food colorings to change the icing colors.
- Flour – Experiment with using alternative flours to wheat flour for a lower-carb cookie.
- Extract – Replace the almond extract with your favorite flavor.
- Chips – Fold mini white chocolate chips into the cookies.
- Sprinkles – Instead of nonpareils, use rainbow sprinkles.
Other Creative Copycat Recipes
Copycat DoubleTree Hotel Cookies
Lofthouse Sugar Cookies – Copycat Recipe
Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Malted Crunch Ice Cream
If you love this Copycat Frosted Animal Cookies recipe, you’re going to love these other cute ideas too. Please click each link below to find the easy, printable recipe!
Other Creative Cookies
If you love this recipe for Homemade Frosted Animal Cookies as much as I do, please write a five-star review, and be sure to help me share on Facebook and Pinterest!
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Frosted Animal Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened (1 stick)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
Icing and decorations
- 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon clear vanilla extract **see notes
- 3-4 tablespoons milk more depending on consistency
Pink gel food coloring
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
- Add the egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract, beat until smooth.
- Add the salt to the flour and gradually add that dry mixture to the wet mixture just until combined. Don’t overmix. Dough will be a bit crumbly but will come together nicely in your hands.
- Divide the dough in half and tightly wrap it in plastic wrap, then flatten into a disc.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.
- Lightly dust the working surface with flour and then roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick.
- Cut with the animal cookie cutters and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are set and the bottoms are lightly browned.
- Let cool completely on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack.
- Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla extract.
- Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the icing reaches the desired consistency.
- Divide the icing into 2 separate bowls.
- Color 1 bowl of icing with pink food coloring until it reaches the desired color. Keep in mind that the color will intensify over time.
- Spread the icing onto the cooled cookies and immediately add the nonpareils for decoration before the icing sets.
- Store the cookies in a single layer in an airtight container.
Nutritional information for the recipe is provided as a courtesy and is approximate. Please double-check with your own dietary calculator for the best accuracy. We at Taste of the Frontier cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts as it has been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.
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