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Homemade animal crackers – a fun and easy baking project for kids of all ages!
I grew up baking with my mother and grandmother, starting at a very young age. My whole life those food memories have held a special place in my heart. I’m grateful Mom took the time to share her baking knowledge with me, and all those amazing recipes, too!
Now’s the time to create some food memories with your little ones!
This recipe for a not-to-sweet cut-out cookie is a great one to start with. Our easy recipe was created to mimic the animal crackers from my childhood. Do you remember Barnum’s Animal Crackers in a box that looked like a train car with caged circus animals? After 115 years Nabisco did a great thing and redesigned the box freeing the animals from the cages, after some encouragement from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.)
While our treats are a little more cookie than cracker, they’re delicious and loved by all. With a small size and big vanilla flavor, these homemade animal crackers are great for snacking. And what kid doesn’t love to play with their food?
These simple animal crackers are a great recipe to try with your budding bakers!
Our animal cracker recipe is simple to make:
- Mix the butter and sugar together;
- Add an egg and vanilla;
- Blend in the dry ingredients;
- Refrigerate the dough before rolling out into your favorite shapes.
The cookie dough is easy to work with so it’s great for little hands. The dough holds its shape when baked, making it perfect for detailed cut-outs. If you are using larger cookie cutters, adjust the baking time accordingly.
These inexpensive and adorable animal cookie cutters/stamps make perfect sized treats, too.
I bought these cookie cutters from Amazon and have seen them sold on the King Arthur Flour website for the same price. The spring-loaded stamp presses beautiful designs into cookie dough, pie crust and even fondant. Animal crackers make cute decorations for birthday cakes, and are great for grab-and-go treat bags for the kiddos.
For crisp animal crackers, roll the dough a little thinner, bake longer, or both.
There are many ways to use this dough, but my favorite is to use stamps to make detailed cookies like these. Since the dough holds its shape when baked, it’s perfect for just about any design. Roll the dough at least 1/4-inch thick for the most pronounced design.
Can the animal cracker cookie dough be made ahead of time?
Absolutely! Make this cookie dough up to 24 hours in advance. When taking it out of the fridge you’ll need to let it rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to soften before rolling. If you roll it out and the dough breaks and splits, give it a few more minutes to soften and try again.
Can these animal crackers be frozen?
These cookies freeze very well. Cool completely then seal in an airtight container. The cookies will keep well for up to three months in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
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Homemade Animal Crackers
- Cookie Cutters
- rolling pin
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (343g)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (6oz or 170g)
- 1 cup powdered sugar (115g)
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix just until blended. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula; mix again until incorporated.
- Add half the flour mixture and blend on low until combined. Blend in the remaining flour and beat until incorporated. Divide the dough in half and form each into a disk, about 1-inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to one hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 5 - 10 minutes or until pliable. On a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper, roll a portion of the dough out to 1/4-inch thick. Cut into animal shapes and place about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Once the pan is filled, bake while cutting out the remaining dough.
- Gather scraps and either re-roll or refrigerate until chilled. Repeat with remaining disk of dough until all cookies have been cut out.
- Bake for 8 to 12 minutes (depending on thickness) or until the bottoms are browned. Remove to a cooling rack. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
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