Remember the plain colorless butter animal cookies we would use to play with as kids and then munch on them after we were tired of playing? Well here is a delicious beautiful upgrade to your plain childhood animal crackers!
These animal shapes are the perfect sweet treats for your childs lunchbox or for cute animal themed party. The colorful icing on these iced sugar cookies will really make it a popular child favorite.
I first mentioned animal cookies in my previous post on the pattern and tutorial of the Lunch Box Bag. What I did was, I baked these adorable colorful animal shaped cookies, packed them into the lunch box bag, and made them for my son so he could give them away to his classmates as one of components of his Birthday goodie bags.
Despite the sugar cookie icing looking very colorful, rest assured as I did not put any artificial flavors in this serving of food. It has been months since the last cookie icing I did on the gingerbread man cookies last Christmas. I love icing on cookies, it makes wonderful decorations for every occasion. Kids love these animal cookies too, some of their mums told me that they were so reluctant to eat the cookies as they wanted to keep them forever but some of them couldn’t wait to eat them all. They are so cute!!!
These animal cookies are actually iced sugar cookies. The icing for this sugar cookie recipe uses royal icing and its also something healthy for your child’s daily diet as it contains reduced sugar (despite them being sugar cookies with icing!) I included step by step instructions with photos on how to create royal icing from scratch. Of course, a great way to save time would be to buy the ready-to-mix royal icing from the store. I also included how I iced and decorated the hedgehog, squirrel, and snail animal cookies. If you are able to find even more animal cookie cutters online with a cheap delivery fee then definitely go for them!
scroll ⬇️ to get the detailed and printable recipe
Don’t be afraid to try out cookie icing if you are a newbie. It is not as difficult as it looks but you surely need some practice to make it look better. I did more than 120 cookies and it took me a day to decorate all of them, tiring, yes, but I had so much fun doing it. I hope that you will have as much fun as I did!
What is royal icing?
There are many different types of icing. Different from other types of drizzles and glazes, royal icing hardens when cooled and it has a smooth lovely texture that makes it look really pretty so its usually used in confectionary such as decorated cookies.
Ingredients in the Animal Cookies Recipe
Here are some wet and dry ingredients that you will use in this sugar cookie recipe. Keep them out of reach of children! And keep the final product for them to have fun with. All ingredients should be used in room temperature unless stated otherwise.
There are two parts to this recipe
1. Sugar cookie
- unsalted butter
- using unsalted butter hands you more control over the amount of salt in your recipe and it maximizes freshness and flavor as well
- granulated sugar
- also known as refined, table or white sugar its processed sugar that won’t clump together and form lumps in your cookie batter
- egg, lightly beaten
- eggs bind your ingredients together and give you softer chewier animal cookies
- all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- this forms the foundation of your cookie batter
- vanilla extract
- this is optional but highly recommended for a dash of vanilla essence
2. Royal Icing
- meringue powder or dried egg white powder or whites of medium eggs
- This helps royal icing achieve its glossy consistency and if you use meringue powder to replace egg white you are removing the risk of spilling egg yolk into your batter
- confectioner/powdered sugar
- this is where all your sweetness comes from
- lemon juice
- this whitens your royal icing. It can be replaced with lime juice
- Icing colors of your choice (I used Wilton Icing Colors 1/2 Ounce 12/Pkg Assorted Colors W5580)
- Don’t overwork the electric mixer with a paddle attachment as it is mixing your batter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or the cookies will spread during baking.
- Sieve in the flour and mix on low speed until dough forms
- After cutting out your animal cookies, lay these in a baking tray lined with greaseproof baking paper and let them chill for about another 30 minutes as this will help them retain their shape and imprint.
If you have tried this Animal Cookies recipe and loved it, I have more recipes in my recipe section for you to master. For more cookie recipes, you can try my Gingerbread Man cookies, Hello Kitty cookies, Gingersnap cookies, and Burger cookies.
- 200 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 180 g granulated sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 400 g all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 25 g meringue powder or dried egg white powder or whites of 4 medium eggs
- 1 kg confectioner/powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Icing colors of your choice (I used Wilton Icing Colors 1/2 Ounce 12/Pkg Assorted Colors W5580)
- In the electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until well mixed and just becoming creamy in texture. Don’t overwork, or the cookies will spread during baking.
- Beat in the egg until well combined.
- Sieve in the flour and mix on low speed until dough forms. Gather it into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill it for at least 1 hour. (Picture 1a, 1b)
- Place the dough on the floured surface and knead it briefly. Roll it out to an even thickness of 1/4″. (Picture 1c)
- Use hedgehog, squirrel, and snail cutters, or other animal shape cutters, to cut out the shapes.
Lay these in a baking tray lined with greaseproof baking paper. Chill again for about 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. (Picture 1d)
- Bake for 6-10 minutes or until golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Keep them in an air-tight container until they are ready to decorate with royal icing. (Picture 2)
- If using meringue powder, mix with 150ml water and sieve to get rid of any lumps. Ideally, let this rest overnight in the fridge.
- Place the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, add 3/4 of the meringue mix or the lightly beaten egg whites and the lemon juice, and start mixing on low speed.
- Once these are well combined, check the consistency. If the sides of the bowl still look dry and crumbly, add some more meringue mixture or egg white until the icing looks almost smooth but not wet.
- Keep mixing for about 4-5 minutes, until it has reached stiff-peak consistency. (Picture 3a)
- Spoon into an air-tight plastic container, cover with a clean damp cloth. Store at room temperature for up to 7 days; if using fresh egg, store in the refrigerator. The egg whites can separate from sugar after a couple of days, which will turn the icing into a dry, dense mixture. In such a case, remix at low speed until smooth and at stiff peak consistency again. Make sure that no dried icing bits sticking to the sides of your storage container get into the mixing bowl.
- Divide the amount of the royal icing you would like to use for each color. Add a dot of gel color a bit at a time, mixing with a silicone spatula until you get the color you want. Split the colored royal icing into 2 parts, thin down each part with water to soft peak and runny consistency respectively, add dots of water a bit at a time and mixing with a silicone spatula until you have the right consistency. (Picture 3a, 3b, 3c)
- Soft Peak consistency – for piping the lines, dots, and borders.
Runny consistency – for filling/flooding in the center within the borders.
CUT, BAKE AND PIPE
- Picture 1
Prepare the cookie dough as per instruction stated in the method above. Store in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Knead the dough briefly, roll to 1/4″ thickness and cut out the desired shape. Place on the lined baking tray and put back to the fridge to chill it for another 30 minutes before baking.
- Picture 2
Bake the cookies until golden brown at the edges. Cool them on a wire rack.
Store them in an air-tight container until they are ready for icing.
- Picture 3
Prepare the royal icing as instructed by the method above.
Thin down the colored royal icing into soft peak and runny consistency and place into fine tip piping bags.
In order to get the right consistency of the runny royal icing, hold up your spatula and let the icing drop form it, draw a ribbon and if the ribbon disappear into the rest of the icing in about 2-3 seconds then it is the right consistency, otherwise, thin down more if it takes longer to disappear, or add bit of soft peak royal icing to thicken it if it is too runny.
- Picture 4
Outline the cookies with soft peak royal icing.
- Picture 5
Flood within the space with runny royal icing. Use a toothpick to lead the icing to the tiny small space (eg, the spikes) if needed.
Set aside to let them dry. The drying time takes longer during humid days, you may bring them to an air-conditioned room to dry faster.
- Picture 6
Draw the face for the animals with black icing color and toothpick. Don’t put too much color as it is hard to dry.
Or, use Wilton Food Writer Edible Color Markers to draw if you have them.
- Picture 7
Blush the cheeks of the animal with a dab of red icing color by using a cotton bud or cotton swab.
- Picture 8
Add sprinkles to the cookies with a bit of royal icing to adhere it on.
- Picture 9
Add some decorative-outlines with a contrasting color on top of the icing will make the animal cookies more colorful.
- Picture 10
Since it is homemade cookies, pack them in a clear plastic bag individually with a label of the expiry date (normally 1-2 weeks from the baking) if they are giving out as a gift.
- Always bake equal sized cookies together to make sure they cook at the same time. If you mix different sizes, the smaller ones are already cooked when the larger ones are still raw in the middle.
- The right consistency for the runny royal icing is when the ribbon of icing disappear into the rest of the icing in about 2-3 seconds.