Vanilla Animal Crackers

Vanilla Animal Crackers


Gluten Free Cookies: Vanilla Animal CrackersGluten free cookies shaped like animals. Why are they called Animal Crackers? They’re clearly cookies. Anyone?

There are two types. The Barnum’s Animal Crackers type. Those are the good ones, if you ask me (even though you didn’t). Then there’s the type that comes in that huge bear. I’m pretty sure you should only buy that one in a place with exposed beams in the ceiling.

This gluten free cookie version is more like the Barnum’s kind, since that’s what I like better. I am categorically unable to detect any taste at all in the huge bear kind. And there’s also the matter of the bear. Which freaks me right out. I use Vanilla Bean Paste for the vanilla flavor in these simple cookies. You can totally just sub in pure vanilla extract, but the vanilla bean paste is hugely flavorful, since it’s not an extract. It’s the vanilla beans! It’s kinda spendy, but a little goes a long way. It gives the cookies (and really anything you use it in) super depth of flavor.

Gluten Free Cookies: Vanilla Animal Crackers

This dough is super smooth, and not at all sticky. It rolls out really nice. You’ll want to roll it pretty thick, though, or the cookies will brown too fast. Then you really should freeze the rolled out dough until firm. Next, cut out shapes (apparently, I have a penchant for duckies).

Gluten Free Cookies: Vanilla Animal Crackers

Freeze the cut outs on the baking sheet. Ignore the floating bunny head. I’m trying to ignore it. But I keep peeking at it through my fingers. Okay, I’m mildly fascinated by the floating bunny head. Especially since there’s a full bunny right next to him.

Gluten Free Cookies: Vanilla Animal Crackers

Ooooh they’re all baked now.

Gluten Free Cookies: Vanilla Animal Crackers

Then I stacked them up, since it makes for a pretty picture. Here’s how to make your own:

**UPDATE: Ever wonder whether you should make these gluten free cookies yourself or buy them  packaged? Find out if you should make them or buy them!**

Vanilla Animal Crackers
Recipe Type: Cookies
Author: Nicole @ Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.com
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 8 mins
Total time: 18 mins
Serves: 25
Gluten-free vanilla animal crackers
  • 1 1/2 cups (210g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (12g) cultured buttermilk blend (I use Saco brand)
  • Dash (1/8 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (55g) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute pure vanilla extract)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk blend, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add butter, egg and vanilla, and mix to combine until the dough begins to come together. It is a really smooth, silky dough. As it comes together, it might feel like all of the dry ingredients won’t come together in the dough. Knead it, and it will.
  3. Place the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper, and roll out until about 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough, still covered in parchment on both sides, in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. When the dough is firm, cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place cut outs less than an inch apart on prepared baking sheet (they won’t spread much during baking), and place the baking sheet in the freezer once again until very firm once again, about another 5 minutes.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned on top and golden brown around the edges, rotating once during baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until firm, about 5 minutes.
  5. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

This recipe can be doubled easily.
If you don’t chill the dough before cutting out shapes, it will be unnecessarily difficult to do so.
If you don’t chill the dough after cutting out shapes and before baking, the cookies will spread more than they should, lose their shape and be way too crispy.

*UPDATE: The Gluten-Free Chocolate Animal Crackers recipe is up!*

P.S. Don’t forget your copy of My Gluten Free Cookbooks!

Like this recipe?

Comments are closed.

  • February 28, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    Where does one find these cookie cutters?

    • February 29, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      Hi, Charisma,
      I bought some by Wilton. They were actually a set of Easter cutters (which explains all the rabbits and chicks). I’m sure you could find a bunch on amazon.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Sara
    February 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Hey Nicole, just wondering if I can use Vance’s darifree milk powder in place of the powdered buttermilk blend? My son is allergic to dairy too, and I can’t use the buttermilk, but I really want to make these cookies for him.

    • February 27, 2012 at 12:06 PM

      Hi, Sara,
      I haven’t tested the recipe with any substitutions, but Vance’s doesn’t have any protein in it. I’d try a protein powder, like egg protein or soy protein, instead. I think you’ll have to experiment!
      xoxo Nicole

  • February 27, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Yes chocolate! Thanks Nicole!! Hey, how long does the vanilla bean paste last (shelf life)? Does it last longer than extract or shorter? Thanks tons!

    • February 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Hi, Mandy,
      The shelf life of vanilla extract is conceivably infinite, since it is a liqueur. I honestly don’t know the shelf life of the bean paste, but I imagine it’s quite long as well. I have never had it go bad on me, and I tend to keep it around in large bottles and quantities (since I use it often). Chocolate it is, then, later in the week. :)
      xoxo Nicole

      • February 28, 2012 at 8:56 AM

        whoop whoop! Chocolate!! Thanks for the info!

      • February 28, 2012 at 11:27 AM

        You bet, Mandy. :)
        xoxo Nicole

  • Sherry
    February 27, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Hi Nicole,

    Thank you! thank you! thank you! One thousand times thank you!!! I am soooo excited to try this recipe(I may have to hunt down some tiny cookie cutters first, bummer;). Just last week, my oldest daughter was drooling over the Animal Crackers at the store, and lamenting their absence in our pantry! This is a recipe that we will all enjoy, and I can’t wait to send homemade gee eff, dee eff animal crackers in to school for Sophia’s snack time! And, yes, I DO want to know about the chocolate animal crackers, please and thank you!


    • February 27, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Hi, Sherry,
      Wow. I’m so glad that these are going to make your daughter happy! I thought maybe this recipe was so simple that it would be kind of a *yawn*. I tend to like simple things like these little cookies, but lots of people tend to go more for the gooey chocolate stuff. Oh – and the chocolate animal crackers will make an appearance this week, too. :)
      xoxo Nicole

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