Animal Cracker Cookies Recipe

Kids love these animal-shaped cookies. They bake up fragrant, golden and crisp and are made from whole wheat pastry flour, a dollop of coconut oil, shredded coconut, ground walnuts, a touch of salt, and as little sugar as I thought I could get away with.

Animal Cracker Cookies

I picked up a box of cute, animal shaped cookie cutters at Williams-Sonoma the other day. The box contained one lion, one tiger, one giraffe, an elephant, and a seal with a ball on its nose. And although it took two tries, my second attempt at a dough worked out nicely - a couple of my favorite two-year-old friends told me so. Made from whole wheat pastry flour, a dollop of coconut oil, shredded coconut, ground walnuts, a touch of salt, and as little sugar as I thought I could get away with, the cookies baked up fragrant, golden and crisp.

Animal Cracker Cookies

I should mention that some of the circus animals are better behaved than others. The lion and tiger, with their open shapes, were a breeze to stamp out. The elephant was pretty great too - aside from the occasional missing trunk mishap. On the other side of the spectrum, I had a number of beheaded giraffes.

Animal Cracker Cookies

For those of you who are curious, my first attempt dabbled with olive oil as the fat, and honey as the sweetener - I wanted to explore a non-granulated sweetener in this type of cookie/cracker. They came out dry as Mojave Desert - dry, dry, suck the last drop of moisture from your mouth dry, and not very tasty on top of that. I took a moment to say good-bye to those little lions and tigers, and they spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around the compost bag.

Animal Cracker Cookies

I know some of you are going to ask - I don't see why you couldn't substitute unsalted butter for the coconut oil if you like, it should work out fine, but I haven't tested that variation. I should also mention how important it is to chop the shredded coconut in these cookies into tiny, tiny, flecks - this way it won't look like your animals have "grass" stuck to their feet, and will make stamping out the cookies easier.

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Animal Cracker Cookie Recipe

The kind of coconut oil you purchase is key. You want it to actually smell like coconut. You want pure, unrefined coconut oil - it will likely have the words virgin or extra-virgin and (hopefully) organic on the jar. If you see the word "refined" on the jar, find a different brand. I've just finished off a jar of Nutiva, and really enjoyed cooking with it - but there are other great brands out there as well. You can make your own walnut (or almond meal) by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand - don't go too far or you'll end up with almond butter. For added depth feel free to use lightly toasted shredded coconut.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup walnut of almond meal (see head notes)
1/2 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut, very finely minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, softened
1/3 cup fine-grain natural cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten

a few tablespoons big-grain turbinado sugar

Whisk the flour, walnut meal and shredded coconut together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl, beat the coconut oil with the sugar and salt until it's smooth and looks a bit like a brown sugar frosting. Beat in the egg until everything is uniform in appearance. Add the flour mixture and stir just until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto the counter-top, knead it once or twice and gather it into a ball. Cut the dough in half, flatten each piece, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Place the racks in the middle and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured work surface roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick. If the dough cracks, let it sit and warm up for a couple more minutes. Stamp out shapes with floured cookie cutters and place the cookies an inch apart on the baking sheets, sprinkle with a bit of the turbinado sugar. Bake until the cookie are just beginning to color at the edges 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on racks if you have them.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

These cookies are adorable!

Sara

When I need finley minced unsweetened coconut i use Dessicated coconut. Works great in candies as well. This can be found in speciality bakery shops and catalogs like Maid of Scandinavia I think they are still in business).

MEA

Update 1: I just made the spinach rice gratin for lunch -- another winner! I didn't have pine nuts so I used walnuts. Update 2: I ordered Cook 1.0 and SNC on Amazon this morning. Will keep you posted on my attempts. I am just so thrilled to find a healthy, easy source of interesting recipes since I am a such newbie in the kitchen!!

TMonster

beautiful!

jessy

My little niece would love these. Just wanted to share that I'm a novice cook but I've tried a few recipes from this site and they've turned out great! I have a few other cookbooks that gather dust on my shelf but this site has recipes that are easy, interesting, and healthy so I'm ordering both your books today. I just made the Slurptastic Herb Noodles last night (minus the coconut milk since I didn't have any) -- so so so good. My boyfriend ate 4 bowls full! This will be a repeat for our foggy SF evenings.

TMonster

these are absolutely adorable. in the absence of little children, i'm going to make them for all the 35-year-old in my life.

Ana

I LOVE that you featured animal crackers! They're probably one of my favorite treats in the world and I've wondered many times how to recreate a version at home without the artificial ingredients featured in the store-bought products. Thanks so much! Also love the results from the darling cutters--is W-S paying you for promoting these? They should be!

Erin @ Sprouted in the Kitchen

I just bought animal crackers today for my daughter - $2 for a giant bag! But these look SO good!!

Biz

I used these cookie cutters and the enclosed recipe to make favors for my kid's circus-themed birthday party last month, and also iced some of the animals to use as cake toppers. They were so cute and yummy. A bit tricky at first to cut out, but eventually got the hang of it. I'll definitely have to give your recipe a try.

solmi

Animal crackers are deadly, they're so delicious and fun to eat that I can't stop. They're so cheap at the store that I always pick up a bag like I'm going to buy them but usually put them back. I'll make these when I get home but since I don't have coconut oil I'll try it with something else. They look delicious and mostly nutritious!

Nick

I made Nicki's cookies and i added some ground plump raisins and some raspberry cho-chips, along with olive instead of coconut oil. They were so good and a big hit with my granddaughter, i told her since she liked them so much i would name them after her. Next time i will put less cho chips in a little too sweet for me, other wise, great.

Carol Tibbs

These are really cute and completely unexpected.

Culinary Cory

Great art in the cookies, whenever someone makes his/her favourite dish, or say a chocolate and carving some design into it, then it looks very fine, and people also get especially the children get a much enjoyment through eating it. Really the long vision of you is just more appreciating, H'di. (nice making) Sunil.

sunil

What an awesome recipe, thanks for sharing it. I love using coconut oil in place of butter in my baking, it adds such a nice texture to baked good and the flavor is awesome... not to mention the health benefits.

Michele

Thank you for the recipe - I've never tried making animal cracker cookies before. But where do I find the tiny cookie cutters?

sky

Yeah for a great recipe. My mother-in-law gave me these cookie cutters, but my son is allergic to dairy, so I wasn't able to use the recipe on the box and I have been unsuccessful in finding another recipe that was able to hold the shapes.

bree

I'd like to pretend that there were children that I will share these with when I eventually make them.... but rather I will eat them all with a big glass of milk. Yum. By the way, I also added to you to my blogroll.

Jenn

These cookies look amazing---and I love that they use WW flour! I have some almond meal that I'd been wanting to to use....so thanks! :)

Season To Taste

Hello! This is unrelated to this post but I was wondering how you organize your kitchen! With so many grains and salts and sugars I have trouble keeping them neat and easily accessible. I would love to see a post about your kitchen

Monique

I am jealous! These look fun and yummy!!! Thanks for sharing!!

Sheila

Hello Heidi, I discovered your site about a year ago and visit almost every day now. The writing, the pictures and, of course, the recipes are amazing. In addition you have a wonderful community of people who post on the site. I have learned so much from you in the past year! I now have both of your books and have made many of your recipes. I also have the W.S. cookie cutters and can't wait to try these. I purchased some coconut oil from Whole Foods to make Nikki's Healthy Cookies (365 Organic Virgin Coconut Oil). It is labeled as "expeller pressed". Does this mean that it is refined? Also, it states "medium heat" (up to 280 degrees). If the oil can only be heated up to 280 degrees does that mean I should not bake in a 350 degree oven? I thought that coconut oil could withstand high heat. Please let me know so I can start baking!!! Thank you, Lisa

LisaBee

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