Homemade Frosted Circus Animal Cookies

homemade frosted animal cookies arranged on white plate and marble board

These Homemade Frosted Circus Animal Cookies will take you back to childhood in an instant! Crunchy, sweet and covered in rainbow sprinkles, this homemade version hits the spot for taste and nostalgia!

Circus animal cookies are one of my favorite things, ever.

Not just because I ate them constantly growing up, but because they remind me of all the great memories associated with them: watching Scooby Doo in my grandma’s den while eating them; enjoying them by the pool in the summertime, the coating getting stuck to our fingers; packing them in a school lunch to share with friends. The taste is okay as an adult, but the nostalgia is powerfully sweet which I love.

homemade frosted circus animal cookies on wire rackRight now, circus animal cookies are having a major moment and I am living for it. It’s about time people paid homage to these joyful little cookies! I remember for a hot second Mother’s, the brand who makes these iconic cookies, went out of business and I about had a tantrum. Sure, there are “carnival” or “frosted animal cracker” knockoffs, but none compare to the legendary original. I was definitely thanking my lucky stars when they came back!

homemade frosted animal cookies arranged on white plate

closeup of circus animal cookies in a pileMy Homemade Frosted Circus Animal Cookies are a little different than the store-bought kind in a few ways, but ones even this die-hard fan love. For one, the originals have almost like a fudgy coating on them whereas these are frosted more with an icing. Second, the originals also have sooo many preservatives which sometimes leave a weird filmy coating and aftertaste in my mouth which I don’t care for. These are homemade, so no preservatives and you know exactly what’s in them!

The actual cookie is my Perfect No-Chill Cut-Out Sugar Cookies cut into animal shapes and baked. I definitely wanted these to be more of a cookie like the original than a cracker like the imposters. These are baked so they have a touch of crunch but still yield to popping them in your mouth! And the frosting finishes them off with a hint of sweetness.

Homemade Frosted Circus Animal Cookies… welcome to my nostalgia trip!

circus animal cookies arranged on a plate and marble

Homemade Frosted Circus Animal Cookies

These Homemade Frosted Circus Animal Cookies are such a fun treat! This copycat recipe produces cookies with a little crunch and a lot of sweetness and nostalgia!

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time10 mins

Total Time20 mins

Course: Cookies, Dessert

Cuisine: American, Dessert

Servings: 60 cookies (approx)

Author: thedomesticrebel


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened
  • cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Pink food coloring
  • Rainbow non-pareils sprinkles


  • 1. Preheat oven to 400° degrees F. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners; set aside.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar together with the paddle attachment on medium speed for about 1 minute or until fluffy and creamy. Add in the egg, beating well, followed by the vanilla extract, mixing in well. Add in the baking powder, salt, and flour and beat on low speed until fully incorporated.

  • Sprinkle a clean, flat work surface with some confectioners’ sugar (I like using this instead of flour so it has more flavor!). Roll out half of the cookie dough into about 1/4″ thickness. Using very small 1″ size cookie cutters, cut out animal shapes and place on the baking sheets just about 1/2″ apart from one another.

  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even baking. Cool for about 10 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • For the icing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, corn syrup, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until it has reached a smooth consistency. Divide the icing in half between bowls; tint one half of the icing pink.

  • I like to dip the cookies top-side-down into the icing to coat, then allow excess icing to drip off back into the icing bowl. Place on the wire rack and immediately top with rainbow non-pareils sprinkles. Allow icing to harden, about 30 minutes, before packing up or serving.


I found my animal cookie cutters by Wilton brand. I believe they’re in a Noah’s Arc-themed cookie cutter kit.

closeup of a circus animal cookie held by author

circus animal cookies scattered on wire rack

Sweet, addictive, easy and nostalgia-inducing… what could be better than these beautiful frosted cookies?!

Craving more circus animals? Check out these recipes!

Circus Animal Cookie Blizzard in glass with pink towel and cookiesCircus Animal Cookie Blizzard

Circus Animal Sprinkle Cookies arranged on white plateCircus Animal Sprinkle Cookies

Circus Animal Cookie Cheesecake on a white plate with cookies and plates in backgroundNo-Bake Circus Animal Cookie Cheesecake


Homemade Frosted Circus Animal Cookies collage

Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

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