cinnamon animal crackers

Both cinnamon and honey combine to give these soft, tender cinnamon animal crackers a flavour reminiscent of mini donuts or cinnamon buns.
Both cinnamon and honey combine to give these soft, tender cinnamon animal crackers a flavour reminiscent of mini donuts or cinnamon buns.

cinnamon animal crackers

Some time before Christmas, I was on a hunt to find some linzer cookie cutters. I had something very specific in mind and I just wasn’t finding it locally. I finally tracked down what I wanted online, and while I was there, I also found a bunch of other cookie cutters that I had to have. Including these fantastic spring-loaded animal cutters. LOVE. I couldn’t wait to make something with them! However, I had so many other recipes that I was dying to make that the animal crackers got pushed to the back and these cutters have just sat on the shelf for months. But then, flipping through one of my cookbooks one day, I found a recipe for cinnamon animal crackers. And I knew it was time… 

cinnamon animal crackers

This is a really simple dough to make and it comes together in just a few minutes in a food processor. I’m going to tell you guys a secret – I hate using my food processor. It’s nothing to do with how it works or quality of dough compared to a mixer, and everything to do with fear of cutting myself on the blade. Because it’s happened. You may need to stop reading if you’re squeamish… I don’t have a dishwasher so I have to wash this up by hand, and that blade? Is incredibly sharp. One time when I was washing it, my hand slipped and I sliced right through my fingernail and into the finger. Ow. Also gross. So now I’m totally paranoid every time I need to use it. Ugh. This is the only time I really wish I had a dishwasher.

So when I saw this recipe was made in a food processor, I hesitated. I thought about doing it in a mixer instead. But that wouldn’t be a fair evaluation of the recipe, right? Right. So here goes… (spoiler alert – I survived unscathed)

cinnamon animal crackers

When the dough first comes out of the food processor, it’s pretty crumbly, but it kneads together beautifully. It needs to refrigerate for at least half an hour before rolling – probably to hydrate the dough – and at that point I found the dough to be really wet. I don’t usually use flour when I roll out cookie dough (just parchment or wax paper), but this dough was so sticky I ended up flouring both my work surface and the top of the dough as well. And the cookie cutters – don’t forget to flour your cookie cutters.

The cookies puff up in the oven as they bake, but don’t spread. And then they flatten back out again, so their shape isn’t really distorted.

cinnamon animal crackers

The taste is fantastic. Cinnamon and honey combine to create a flavour that reminds me more of graham crackers than animal crackers, but that’s just fine. That means I’m still on the hunt for the perfect animal cracker recipe (and get to use my cutters again!). I think the cardamom cookies I made last year are a pretty good contender, but does anyone have any recommendations?

One of my coworkers says these cookies taste like the mini donuts from the fair, while another says they remind her of cinnamon buns. Both good associations. When they first came out of the oven, they were nice and crisp (my preference), but they’d softened up by the next day and became soft and chewy – I’m sure that’s the honey at work there. Still good, but I like the crispiness better.

cinnamon animal crackers

cinnamon animal crackers

<h2>cinnamon animal crackers</h2>

Adapted from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle. The number of cookies this recipe will yield will depend on how thick you roll the dough and the size of the cutter you use. I got just shy of 100 small cookies.


1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen

3 tablespoons whole milk

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

for finishing

turbinado, demerara, or brown sanding sugar (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the milk, honey, and vanilla extract and whisk together until smooth. Set aside.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse meal.

Add the liquid mixture and continue to pulse until the mixture begins to come together in a cohesive dough.

Remove from the food processor, flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, a silpat sheet, or a sheet of wax or parchment paper (whatever your preference), roll the dough out to 1/8" thickness. There's a video here that shows my preferred method, except I use a piece of plastic on top of the dough rather than parchment or wax paper. Normally I don't use flour when I'm rolling out dough, but I found this one to be quite sticky, so I floured both my work surface and the surface of the dough as I worked.

Cut the dough into desired shapes and transfer the cut pieces to your cookie sheet. If you find the dough is sticking to your cookie cutter, try dipping the cutter in flour after each cut. Once you have a sheet full, sprinkle the cookies with the turbinado sugar.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until slightly puffed up and lightly golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the cookies from the pan and allowing them to cool completely.

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Comments: 12

  1. Anna June 29, 2014 at 5:25 pm Reply

    Mace (plus cinnamon) is the spice you want to capture that animal cracker flavor. Honey is indeed your culprit for softening. My recipe (which I published on Serious Eats) also uses oats and graham or whole wheat flour, which give them a wholesome, homemade flavor.

  2. dina June 30, 2014 at 10:12 am Reply

    they are so cute and they look yummy too!

  3. tanja@the green mixer November 12, 2014 at 11:49 pm Reply

    I made these the other day and they turned out as you describe, although a bit sweet for my taste, but my “testers” liked them a lot. I didn’t find the dough very crumbly or had much problem rolling it, I always roll out the cookie dough in between parchment paper as soon as it comes together and refrigerate it like this (I am too lazy to roll it into a ball, refrigerate it and then roll it out so I just skip that step) i just found out it a bit sticky and couldn’t get the cut cookies out easily but a bit of flour and a couple of minutes back in the freezer fixed it. Thanks for the lovely recipe!

    • laurel @ wannacomewith November 13, 2014 at 9:39 am Reply

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you came back to comment after making them! And I’m glad your testers enjoyed them. :-) I love hearing how recipes work out for other people too. And I’m with you on not being a fan of too-sweet things (odd that I have a baking blog, right?).

  4. tanja@the green mixer November 14, 2014 at 5:44 am Reply

    Not odd at all (cause I’m the same, right?).
    You’re going to hear more from me as I have bookmarked a few (if not all) recipes and will try them as soon as i can, I guess we have the same taste in sweets. I’ll also blog about them and link you back, but unfortunately it’s going to be all greek to you (literally though, heh).
    Take care!

    • laurel @ wannacomewith November 20, 2014 at 9:07 am Reply

      omg, I just saw this comment! I love that you’re going to be reblogging. I’ll keep an eye out for you! I’ve already checked out your site – lucky for me you have an English option (because yes, it was all Greek to me) 😉 I love the type of stuff you do! And of course I love your green mixer. I’m kinda jealous of that actually. I bought mine before all the colours were available in Canada. I still love it, but I’m always checking out the new colours…

  5. tanja@the green mixer November 20, 2014 at 11:28 pm Reply

    I will let you know when I post the recipe so you can check it out. Unfortunately, as you may have noticed I haven’t updated my English pages in ages, due to laziness & lack of time (which only got worse since I had a baby) but hopefully I will get round to posting in English again.

    • laurel @ wannacomewith November 21, 2014 at 9:13 am Reply

      Don’t blame laziness! Trust me, I know how much work it is. And I don’t even have the baby as an excuse 😉 In the meantime, there’s always google translate!

  6. tanja@the green mixer November 25, 2014 at 12:06 am Reply

    Hi again, here is my (all greek to you) version of the animal crackers, just in case you wanna have a look

  7. Jenna February 22, 2015 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Hi, Laurel! I just bought some cute animal cracker cutters and made my first batch this weekend with a recipe I found on the King Arthur Flour site. They taste EXACTLY like animal crackers and have a similar mouthfeel due to the oat flour; they are a bit softer and thicker. However, when I say they taste like the original Nabisco animal crackers, it’s because they have a bit of an artificial taste. I used the special flavoring called for in the recipe and I think that’s what did it; I’m going to use vanilla or a vanilla/almond blend next time.

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