Circus animal crackers are a sweet taste of childhood! If you enjoyed Barnum’s circus animal crackers in the cute little box with a white-string handle, you’ll love this recipe. Get ready to fill up your cookie jar with a sprinkling of nostalgia. Recapture the magic of childhood!
CIRCUS ANIMAL CRACKERS INGREDIENTS<
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make circus animal crackers!
- Butter, softened
- Granulated sugar
- Large egg
- Pure vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Yellow cornmeal
- Baking powder
- Ground mace
- Ground nutmeg
ABOUT HOMEMADE ANIMAL CRACKERS
Childhood circus animal cookies are perfect for parties, summer-time gatherings, or any time you’re feeling a bit nostalgic! This homemade Barnum’s animal cracker recipe is slightly sweeter and more flavorful than than the original, but we’ll be using a few select ingredients to recreate some of that well-known Barnum animal cracker taste.
SECRETS FOR AN AUTHENTIC BARNUM’S TASTE
- NUTMEG AND MACE: Using both these spices creates a wonderful flavor balance. It brings these cookies closer to an authentic Barnum’s taste! Nutmeg is sweeter and more delicate, while mace is slightly more intense and pungent. Mace is the primary flavor you taste in donuts!
- CORNMEAL: When biting into Barnum’s animal crackers there’s a slight taste of corn. So we’re using cornmeal to bring out that flavor. Cornmeal also provides a very gentle yellow coloring that adds a bit of magic to their whimsical look.
BARNUM’S ANIMAL CRACKERS COPYCAT RECIPE
Here’s how to make homemade Barnum’s animal crackers:
- Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Cream these ingredients until light and fluffy.
- Add egg and vanilla to the bowl. Mix again.
CIRCUS ANIMAL CRACKER COOKIES
Continue following these step-by-step instructions:
- In a separate bowl, sift flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Remove and discard any hardened granules of cornmeal left in the sifter.
- Use a fine mesh strainer to sift the nutmeg and mace. To reduce these spices to finer particles, use the back of a spoon or your clean fingertips to press them through the metal mesh.
- Add the sifted ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated, and the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
HOW TO MAKE CIRCUS ANIMAL CRACKERS
With these essential tips, you’ll create perfectly-formed animal crackers. They’ll keep their shape while baking!
- Divide the cookie dough into 4 equal pieces.
- On a pastry board or cutting board, roll out each piece to form a 1/4-inch rectangle.
- Wrap each piece separately in waxed paper or plastic wrap, or use small Ziplock bags.
- Place the cookie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. DO NOT SKIP THIS IMPORTANT STEP!
How to Make Animal Crackers That Keep Their Shape
- After the dough has been in the freezer for 30 minutes, pull out the first piece of dough. Leave the other pieces in the freezer until you’re ready to work with them.
- Dip the cookie cutter into flour. Shake off the excess.
- Place the cutter on the dough and press down firmly. Lift the cookie cutter straight up with the dough still attached.
- Hovering over a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, press down on the knob of the cookie cutter (the plunger). Quickly release the animal cracker onto the cookie sheet.
- Continue cutting out as many animal shapes as you can.
- Gather remaining scraps of dough. Press them into a ball. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inches. Wrap it and return it to the freezer.
- Take out the other three pieces of dough from the freezer.
- Put two pieces into the refrigerator so they aren’t as hard as a rock.
- Work with the third piece cutting out shapes. Continue this process until all of the animal crackers have been formed. If you ever get to a point where the cookies are not easily releasing from the cookie cutters, simply return the dough to the freezer until it’s nice and cold again.
How to Bake Circus Animal Crackers
- Adjust the oven rack to the center position. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Stick the cookie sheet with all of the preformed animal crackers into the freezer for 15-20 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!
- Remove the cookie sheet from the freezer and immediately place it the oven.
- Bake the animal crackers for 11-14 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cookies starting at the 10-minute mark. The cookies are done when the edges become just slightly golden.
Kitchen Tools for Circus Animal Crackers
I absolutely love my adorable animal cookie cutters! They cleanly release cookie dough. And with this recipe their beautiful patterns stay put on the top of the animal crackers. If you’re prepping for a children’s party, you may also want the wooden circus play set.Print
Circus Animal Crackers
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 40-45 Cookies 1x
Circus animal crackers are a taste of childhood! This delicious recipe is easy to make with these special cookie cutters. These nostalgic cookies keep their shape while baking!
- 1 + 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tablespoons), softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
RECIPE PREP: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl. Mix again.
- In a separate bowl, sift flour, cornmeal, baking powder, mace and nutmeg. Add sifted ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer. Blend until all ingredients are well incorporated, and the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
- Divide cookie dough into 4 equal pieces. On a pastry board roll out each piece to form a 1/4-inch rectangle. Wrap pieces separately in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!
- After 30 minutes, pull out the first piece of dough. Leave the other pieces in the freezer. Your dough is at the correct thickness, so you can start cutting out shapes. Dip the cookie cutter into flour. Shake off excess. Press the cutter down firmly into the dough. Lift the cutter straight up with the dough still attached. Hovering over a cookie sheet, press down on the knob of the cutter. Quickly release the cookie directly onto the baking tray. Continue cutting out shapes.
- Gather up the remaining scraps of dough and press them into a ball. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inches. Wrap it and return it to the freezer.
- Take out the other three pieces from the freezer. Put two of the pieces into the refrigerator, then work with the third piece cutting out shapes. Continue until all of the animal crackers have been formed.
- Stick the baking tray with the preformed animal crackers into the freezer for 15 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! Adjust your oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake cookies for 11-14 minutes. The cookies are done when the sides and tops are just barely starting to become lightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking tray for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Snack, Dessert, Party
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: animal crackers, animal cracker recipe, homemade animal crackers
CIRCUS ANIMAL COOKIES RECIPE > PIN IT TO PINTEREST
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MORE CHILDHOOD RECIPES
If you loved this childhood animal crackers recipe, you’ll love these other childhood favorites!
STAINED GLASS LOLLIPOPS WITH COLORFUL SWIRLS
CANDY STORE PINK POPCORN
FUNFETTI PANCAKES FROM SCRATCH
CHILDHOOD CIRCUS ANIMAL CRACKERS > YOUR THOUGHTS
Do you have childhood memories of vintage boxes of Barnum’s Animal Crackers? What do you think about this yummy recipe for homemade animal crackers? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
39 thoughts on “Circus Animal Crackers”
These are good as regular cookies but they’re more like cut out sugar cookies. They do not taste anything like animal crackers.
I made these today with my toddler daughter. They turned out great! Our dough wouldn’t come together at first, so I added 2 tablespoons of water. We also left out the spices because my daughter declared them too stinky. They came out a nice, mild cookie. The cornmeal adds a nice flavor. Thanks for the recipe!
These animal crackers are all so cute. I still love my own version of animal cracker cookies.
OMG! I absolutely LOVE animal crackers. I’ve never made them…..but I love eating them.
Wow, I still eat Circus Animal Crackers but never thought of making my own. My siblings would have loved making these along with the other goodies we use to make when babysitting.
We LOVED these! They are sooo good. And I love knowing exactly what’s in my food and not having all those preservatives in the store bought kind! Can’t wait to make these again.
These are absolutely ADORABLE! I love the flavor the texture!
Animal crackers bring back so many good memories! I love the idea of making my own to surprise the kids.
This is too cute! My nephews were obsessed with Animal Crackers growing up. This would’ve been a great theme for one of their birthdays.
Wow! This looks amazing and m toddler is crazy about crackers. This would be an awesome idea to surprise her. B the way I love the pictures and the presentation u made.
My 4 year old niece always wants to help when I am baking. This will surely be fun to make! So cute and creative!
This absolutely got the childhood memories flooding in for me, and the fact that they are home made and also cute…is a bonus. Thanks for sharing!!! :)
That makes me so happy to hear!
These look so good I would also have fun making them.
You will love these!
I loved animal crackers when I was a kid. Nice to have a recipe for them.
Me too. These are so simple to make.
What child doesn’t love animal crackers? They have been around for years. I had no idea you could buy the stencil to make your own. I wish I had known when my son was younger. These would have been fun to make. Love them!
These are great at any age :) I am sure he would love some now too!
Oh my! I’ve never seen something more adorable and cute than this! Your pictures are amazing!!!
Thank you Alice! That made my week.
My kids would absolutely love this!
I am sure they would! I cannot wait to hear how they like them.
This is such a cute snacks! kids will surely love these! I love making cookies for them so I’ll definitely try this out
They will love these Mary!
Omg! these are so cute… I don’t have kids yet but I still want to try this recipe. i’m sure they are tasty too.
Just consider it practice for any future kids :)
This is such a wonderful recipe, thanks for sharing. I am sure kids love it! And they are so much healthier than some of the other things kids want. :)
They certainly are. I love that this can be made all organic too so you don’t have to worry about added preservatives.
I love those CIRCUS ANIMAL CRACKERS.Will try this recipe!!
Thank you Carly! I hope you love them as much as I do.
These animal crackers are so stinkin cute?! Absolutely going to have to make these classic crackers!
Thank you Kaitlyn! I hope you love them as much as I do.
Wow! I’m so excited about making these!!
Oh my goodness, this is SO fun. I really want to make these for myself.
Gah! My kids would go crazy for these. They are so cute. Trying this recipe soon!
My mom used to buy these for me and my sister when we were traveling. Love how you made some homemade ones!
Some circus kids run away to a more normal life. Others join their parents under the Big Top. And some, like Christian Bale, seek out an even bigger spotlight and become A-list performers.
I love that these are homemade. I am sure they must taste incredible.