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Gluten Free Cookies: Make Your Own Animal Crackers or Buy Them?

Gluten Free Cookies: Make Your Own Animal Crackers or Buy Them?
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Gluten free cookies, especially animal cracker cookies (why do they call them crackers? they’re clearly cookies), were a Make It Or Buy It (click the link to find out about this blog series) no-brainer for me for a long time. Of course you make them! But I kept seeing this one particular box of packaged gluten free animal cracker cookies everywhere (Kininininininininiick). So I tried them, and, as the series goes, I am reporting back. If the question is … should you make your own gluten free animal cracker cookies or buy them—what’s the answer?*

Gluten Free Animal Cracker Cookies: Make It Or Buy It?

*To cut to the chase and find out if you should make it or buy it, scroll all the way to the bottom of the post. There’s a grid with my ratings. Bottom line: I lean toward make it, but it’s not as much of a no-brainer as I had assumed. Except still … I won’t be buying them again. Most likely. Except you never know. In a real pinch. But my recipe for gluten free animal cracker cookies is so easy. No special ingredients required. I bet I’ll just make ’em.

Gluten Free Animal Cracker Cookies: Make It or Buy It?

It’s always a wee bit strange to judge the quality and taste of the make-it recipe in this blog series, since, well, I developed the recipe myself. So ‘course I think it’s high-quality and tastes great (and anyway these cookies are totally high quality and taste great). And they’re, frankly, adorable (I used the same Spring-time cookie cutters that I used in these gluten free lemon sugar cookies for Easter). But the price is actual, and is 100% objective. I provided the price below per ounce, since my cookies are significantly bigger than the Kininininininiinick buy-it ones.

Gluten Free Animal Cracker Cookies: Make It or Buy It?

The buy-it gluten free animal cracker cookies? First of all, they really seem to be everywhere, so they get a nice, high score for ease. I have found boxes of these cookies everywhere from Whole Foods and my local super overpriced health food store to most grocery stores, large and small. And when I first tried them, I thought they were pretty good. But there is a definite aftertaste that I can’t seem to ignore, and a graniness that I simply can’t excuse (as there is simply no excuse for not using a superfine rice flour). Oh, and the very first ingredient is sugar. I’m not asking these cookies to be healthy, but shouldn’t at least one type of flour be first? And oddly there’s a whole lot of pea derivatives in there (pea starch, pea protein and pea fiber). I know that pea protein is a pretty common ingredient in gluten free processed foods, but I have tried to bake with it and it has some funky chemistry going on. The price isn’t crazy high or anything, but clearly it’s significantly higher per ounce than the make-it version.

Gluten Free Animal Cracker Cookies: Make It or Buy It?

Ready to see how they STACK UP (get it? get it?)? Here’s the grid:

Gluten Free Animal Cracker Cookies: Make It Or Buy It?

This blog series was started to save you time and money. I try packaged gluten free products and compare them to their homemade counterparts so you don’t waste your hard-earned money on expensive gluten free products that don’t measure up.

What other gluten free packaged products would you like me to feature in this series? So far, I’ve done gluten free corn tortillas, gluten free gingersnaps and gluten free goldfish crackers. Any requests?


P.S. Please don’t forget your copy of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy. Without your support, I just can’t keep the blog going!

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  • Donia Robinson

    Nicole, I have to admit something. I hate making cut-out anything. It seems like such a mess AND a waste of time. And I feel like a bad person for FEELING that way! That frowny goldfish in your Make it or Buy it banner on the right is mad at ME, knowing I will never make him or his happier twin. Instead, I would go the square route, and only have to roll and cut once. And maybe square animal crackers? Are there any animals that are squares? I must investigate. Does this make me a bad mother?
    P.S. I would totally pay 49 cents an ounce for yours.

    • gfshoestring

      There are definitely square animals, Donia. They’re the nerds no one else wants to hang out with. Since they’re so square.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Donia Robinson

        Oh, man, then I’m totally making them. Because I know just how those poor little square animals feel. Someone needs to be a voice for them. And then eat them…

      • JoAnn C.


        I make square animal crackers/cookies, all the time. It is too time consuming to cut out shapes when you have folks at home who need attention. Let’s start a revolution and shout it from our kitchens: Square is the new animal cookie, er…I’ll work on it.


        • Donia Robinson

          I’m in!

    • Nancy Lundy

      I’m definitely making the square animals. That’s how I roll.

  • Kristy B.

    What about, say, some of the more involved cookies? Things like layered chocolate covered wafer cookies? I’m sure they’re a million times better homemade but def. time consuming. Or little crunchy snacky pretzels? Just throwing out some ideas. :)

    • gfshoestring

      Great ideas, Kristy! Funny you should mention little crunchy snacky pretzels. I have done gluten free soft pretzel bites and have thought many times about doing crunchy pretzels but kind of figured they’d be more trouble than they’re worth. Except the packaged kind are SO expensive! I think I’ll have to try it. Thanks again!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pingback: Gluten Free Cookies: Vanilla Animal Crackers Recipe()

  • Diane

    Nicole, I must admit your recipe is way better than store bought, I tried square animal crackers (told my hubby to keep quiet, square IS the new black), but my grandbabies wanted “animal” crackers! I found the cutest cutters @ that flour place in Vermont ;). We added a few dehydrated strawberrys (I ground them), so we have “blushing animals!” (as the 4yr old says). Love your books and recipes, keep up the good work.

    • gfshoestring

      Love the blushing animals, Diane! They’re embarrassed for all the squares. Thank you so much for the kind words, and your support. I really appreciate it. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Gail White

    I have tried all your recipes on unwilling recipients and they eat me out of house and home. They want more, more, more, and now I am getting a happy household. We were told really late in our life about are illness and to be able to make product that is really good is through you, no hands down, thank you.

    • gfshoestring

      Thank you so much for taking the time to say that, Gail. It means a lot to me that I have been able to help in some small way. Life is sweet!
      xoxo Nicole

  • RaVen

    How about gluten-free FIG NEWTONS? I’ve been waiting for many many years to have this come out in the market, still none. :( And those old fashioned square thin cookies with squashed raisins inside? (Don’t remember what they’re called). Your animal crackers looks pretty.:)

    • gfshoestring

      I have a recipe for gluten free fruit newtons here on the blog, RaVen. I don’t know of any commercially available prepared gluten free newtons, I’m afraid!

  • Lori

    Hi Nicole – I love your recipes – just finished making (and eating) your gluten free pizza – Also made your lemon cupcakes from your first cookbook. I used your cup 4 cup flour in it and they taste great but they sunk abit in the middle — any idea what I might do to make them not sink? thanks -Lori

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Lori, When baked goods rise and then sink in the middle, it is typically due to one of two things (the first being more likely than the second): 1. A too-hot oven. An oven that is improperly calibrated (as most ovens are – mine is off by 50°F!) and runs hot will cause the outside of the baked good to form before the inside is baked enough to support the rise. Then, as it cools, it sinks in the middle. The best remedy is an oven thermometer, one of my most essential pieces of kitchen equipment; 2. Too much moisture can also cause sinking in the middle. If possible, measure your ingredients by weight: 1 cup of all purpose gluten free flour in all of my recipes weighs 140 grams.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Dana

    Nicole, I tried the recipe this weekend with my 10 year old daughter. We started out with little shapes like in your picture, but switched to a 2″ teddy bear. Next time, we will go with SQUARES! BTW, husband said these are the best animal crackers he’s ever had! :) We love the cookbooks and the website!

  • http://www.facebook.com/christinawlsn Christina Wilson

    Hi Nicole, I am in need of some of these for the kiddos asap (if you know what I mean), as we’re all out of the KinniKritters and I’m at the tail end of my grocery budget. Fun stuff. Can you tell me how I would go about using actual buttermilk instead of the powdered in your recipe, or would I be able to sub with the almond flour like in some of your other recipes? Thanks again!

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