Frosted Animal Shortbread Cookies

Courtsie and I felt like school kids one day and got this crazy idea to make giant-sized frosted shortbread animal cracker cookies! They just sounded so delicious and so much fun with pink and white icing and rainbow sprinkles! 🐪🦒🐘 There is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned sugar cookies, but simple shortbread is the ultimate in sweet treats. Think Walker’s Shortbread … so subtly sweet, crispy and buttery! Then we were getting such a kick out ourselves and how cute the cookies were that we decided to serve them in our own little jungle, kind of like they were roaming about! This seemed like such a fun thing to do for a kids’ birthday party … or really any party where you have animal lovers! It was super easy to find the safari cookie cutters, but the tricky part was figuring out how we were going to make the darn animals stand up for the photo! A trip to Home Depot for field turf proved futile, but on the way home, a fortuitous stop at Home Goods, where we found some potted fake grasses was just the ticket! We have a little video of how we made this all come together so you can do this with your kids or grandkids!

To be fair, these cookies are really based more on the frosted Mother’s Circus Animal cookies, but since we all remember the excitement of opening a box of the original animal Barnum’s Animal Crackers, we decided to do a little deeper dive into the history of Animal Crackers. We were really surprised to learn that since 1902, fifty-three different animals have been represented in each box of crackers! We had no idea there had been so many over the years! The latest addition to the collection was the koala bear, introduced in 2002! It kind of seems like a good time to add another new animal, since it’s already been 20 years since the koala bear!

Our collection of safari animals includes a giraffe, a hippo, a camel, a polar bear and an elephant and we loved the way they turned out! If you have kids, grown up or not, or grandchildren, this is such a fun project to do together!

Be sure to add sprinkles right after you frost them, and gently press them into the frosting so they stick! Then, before you place them into the scene, to let them sit, uncovered, until the frosting is hardened enough to handle. Then you can start the fun of arranging them in your own creative jungle! We hope you have as much fun with this project as we did!

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Frosted Shortbread Animal Cookies

These frosted, rainbow sprinkled, safari animal cracker cookies made with butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla create delicious, crispy morsels you won’t want to live without! It’s such a fun project to do with the kids or grandkids.
Prep Time1 hour 15 minutes
Active Time25 minutes
Decorating Time30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Animal cracker cookies, Animal crackers, cinnamon shortbread cookies, Frosted Circus Cookies
Yield: 15 4-inch cookies


  • 4-inch animal cookie cutters
  • 1 jar classic rainbow sprinkles
  • 1 bottle pink food gel coloring


  • 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Pink & White Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-3 drops pink gel food coloring We use “Deep Pink” gel food coloring from Sunny Side Up Bakery, but you can use any pink food coloring you like!


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with powdered sugar until creamy. Add salt, and vanilla and mix well. Finally, blend in flour. Form dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, or until fairly firm.
  • Roll dough out onto a floured cloth or board, to a thickness of approximately 1/4-inch. Cut out with animal-shaped cookie cutters and place onto the prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
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  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden-brown. Don’t underbake … you want these cookies crispy. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  • Then, using a spoon or a knife, frost half the cookies with pink icing and the other half with white icing. Immediately, sprinkle with the rainbow sprinkles and gently push them into the frosting.
  • Allow the frosting to harden before storing them or arranging them in your own little jungle scene.

Pink & White Icing

  • Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Slowly add milk until you arrive at a good icing consistency. Stir in vanilla. Separate icing into two separate bowls for coloring.
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  • Tint one of the bowls with pink food coloring until you get to the pink you like. We use a “Deep Pink” gel food coloring from Sunny Side Up Bakery, which works great for this!


Look for some potted fake grasses at your local Home Goods store or your favorite home store. They are perfect for placing your cookies in for a really fun way to serve them:) 🐪🐘🦒🦛🐻🌿

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