Any day is a good day for Homemade Circus Animal Cookies! Bring on the sprinkles! My kids thought they were basically the greatest thing ever and they were so excited to help decorate them (theirs aren’t pictured here though because they piled on so many sprinkles you could hardly even see the icing. They joy of being a kid).
The Best Animal Cookies!
I couldn’t believe how much better these were than the store-bought version, I mean I set out to make a good cookie but these even exceeded my expectations.
They are deliciously buttery – definitely something the store-bought version lacks, they have a real vanilla flavor to them (plus I love the hint of flavor from the almond extract I added), they are more tender – they have more of a melt-in-your-mouth bite to them, and best of all they don’t have that off flavor (I’ve never liked that about the store-bought version, not sure if it’s a preservative or what).
My husband and I loved these just as much as my kids did so I know these are going to be something we’ll make again and again.
They are such a fun treat for just about anything (tint any color you’d like) or anyone because who doesn’t love iced animal cookies? I love making homemade versions of classic childhood favorites people always go crazy for them (have you tried my recipe for Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies Yet? Love those!). Plus, fresher is just always better.
I used these cookie cutters here (the only one I didn’t use was the ark). They are the tiniest, cutest little cookie cutters.
I love all things tiny just fyi. I tested these with two types of icing, the first is a creamy glaze that hardens and the second is probably more similar to that of the original version – but I loved both so I listed both.
Just use what you have then try the second option the next time and see which you like best. Happy baking!
How to Make Homemade Animal Cookies
- Make the cookie dough.
- Divide into two portions, shape into disks and chill until more firm.
- Cut cookies into mini animal shapes using cookie cutters.
- Transfer to a parchment paper or silicone baking mat lined baking sheet and bake until set.
- Prepare icing. Tint half with pink coloring (or other color of choice) if desired.
- Let cookies cool then spread icing over cookies. Add sprinkles before icing sets.
Homemade Circus Animal Cookies
A childhood favorite, and this homemade version is so much better than store-bought. Buttery, mini animal shape, shortbread-like cookies are topped with a simple glaze and finished with colorful sprinkles for a cookie people of all ages will love!
- 2 1/2 cups (353g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (105g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- Plenty of rainbow nonpareil sprinkles
- 1 1/2 cups (170g) powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 Tbsp half and half** then more as needed
- Pink food coloring (I used Wilton Rose)
For the cookie dough: In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer cream together butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar until well combined. Mix in egg, vanilla extract and almond extract.
With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in flour mixture and mix until combined. Divide mixture into 2 equal portions, shape each portion into a smooth 6-inch disk.
Chill dough: Wrap with plastic wrap and chill 1 1/2 hours, or until firm (you can chill overnight then let rest on counter about 5 minutes if it's too firm to roll). Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 10 minutes of chilling.
To roll dough and cut cookies: Dust a clean work surface with flour then place one disk of dough on floured surface, dust top lightly with flour and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness (leave dough disk chilled that you aren't currently working with).
Cut into mini animal shapes (I used these here) then transfer (use an offset spatula to help lift them from surface if needed)to a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner or parchment paper, leaving about 3/4-inch between cookies.
Bake in oven: Bake in preheated oven about 7 - 11 minutes until set (meanwhile gather scraps of dough, mash and shape into smooth disk again and refrigerate).
Let cool: Remove from oven and cool several minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
For the icing: In a medium mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla and enough half and half or cream to reach a medium consistency (not runny, not thick).
Divide mixture evenly among two bowls, tint one of them with pink coloring and leave the other white. Spread over cookies and immediately sprinkle with sprinkles after frosting each one. Let rest until glaze has set.
- *For a second icing option you can also try them with 16 oz. vanilla candy melts. Melt according to package instructions and tint with pink gel food coloring. Immediately sprinkle with sprinkles before candy melts set.
- **Heavy cream will work great too, you may need a little more as it's thicker.