Animal Crackers, Gluten-Free

Animal crackers in my soup
Monkeys and rabbits loop the loop
Gosh oh gee but I have fun
Swallowing animals one by one

I don’t know about you, but I spent my childhood eating animal crackers.  I loved the things.  I also loved the fact that they came in a cute box that looked like a circus railroad car and had a string handle for carrying.  If I’m remembering correctly, the ones we used to get actually had little wheels, so you could use the box as a toy.  With four kids in the family, I’m sure we had zillions of those things rolling around the house.

We also sang the Animal Crackers a song that Shirley Temple sang in her 1935 movie Curly Top.  I do remember wondering why she would put the animal crackers in her soup, given that they were actually sweet cookies.   I didn’t find out until later that the original animal crackers were actually not sweet–they were more like what we in the US call crackers.  Kind of like graham crackers, which also started out not sweet.  If you’re interested in animal cracker lore, there’s a whole site dedicated to it, Animal Crackers.

This post is for Jennifer M., one of my readers, who requested that I develop an Animal Cracker recipe that isn’t too sweet–like the crackers from her childhood.  I’m guessing we are around the same age, because I remember animal crackers not being super-sweet.  I thought this would be an easy recipe to develop, but for some reason, this recipe was a tough one.  I pored over the recipes on the Animal Crackers site, and I made batch after batch, and they never tasted quite like I remember.  Then, one day on Twitter I was asking folks what flavorings they thought would go in animal crackers.  I had tried vanilla extract, almond extract and those two together.  Something wasn’t right.  Then my pal Jenifer suggested a drop of orange extract–and voilà!  That was it!  A drop of orange extract brought everything together.  I found it in the baking section of my grocery store.  It’s optional, of course, but try it and see what you think.

Animal Crackers, Gluten-Free

Special Equipment Needed
-animal cookie cutters, small or large
-rolling pin
-waxed paper


1 C (140 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1/4 C (35 g) sorghum flour
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 C (1/2 stick; 55 g), unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 C (60 ml) mild honey
1/4 C (60 ml) heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp orange extract (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda.

Add the cold butter pieces. With fingers, squish the butter into the dry ingredients. Do so until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Add honey and mix with a fork.  Add cream, mix well with the fork.  Add vanilla extract (and orange extract if using).  You will have to use your hands to do a final mix–to bring the dough together.

Shape the dough into 2 disks, and place each between two pieces of wax paper.  Roll out each disk to 1/4″ thick.  Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up enough to cut out shapes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C/Gas Mark 6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  After your dough has firmed up, remove first batch from refrigerator.  Unwrap from wax paper and cut dough into shapes using your cookie cutters, and place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, with about 1/2″ between each. Repeat this process until all of the dough has been used.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 5-9 minutes, until the crackers are a bit brown. Transfer the crackers to a plate to cool completely. Remember, they will be the most crunchy when they are cool.


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  1. Tamara says

    Hi there,
    I want to try to make these for my kiddos. I just wanted to know if I can sub my gluten-free oat flour for the sorghum? Also can I sub coconut milk instead of the heavy cream?
    Thank you

    • says

      Tamara: I haven’t used oat flour in this recipe, but I think it would be fine. The one caveat–it’s best to substitute by volume measurements rather than by weight measurements. Also, it’s fine to use coconut milk. Happy baking!

  2. Kristen says

    I made these last night and have no idea what I did wrong :(. They taste fine, but they are not crispy at all. And they got very brown, but are still soft in the middle. I even left them out hoping they would dry up, but it didn’t work. They were 3/16″ thick (I have a rolling pin with spacer things), so not even 1/4″. They were small cookies too as I used my bento animal cutters that are small. Could using almond milk instead of cream cause a problem?

    • says

      Kristen: Hm. I don’t know what happened. I haven’t made these for a long time, so I don’t remember how the dough behaves. Also, I don’t think the substitution was the problem. Did you follow the recipe exactly (i.e., used the exact ingredients, etc.?). I will make these soon so I can see what’s going on.

      • Kristen says

        I followed the recipe precisely except used almond milk (less the orange extract because I didn’t already have it and wanted to see how they went before spending the money on it). Not sure what I did wrong. I will probably try them again and make them 1/8″ thick instead to see if that helps. The kids gobbled them up anyways! They tasted good. Just weren’t crisp at all.

  3. Kim Speed says

    can you sub guar gum for the xanthan? My son is allergic to corn, wheat, egg, soy, peanut and almond…Xanthan gum is corn derived… :-(

    • says

      Kim: yes, you can sub in guar gum. But be aware that xanthan gum is not corn derived. It is grown on a sugar medium, and that sugar medium is sometimes corn. But, the xanthan gum from Bob’s Red Mill is grown on a wheat sugar medium and the one from Authentic Foods is grown on a cabbage sugar medium. The growing medium is not present in xanthan gum once it’s harvested. See my Gluten-Replacers post for more info.

    • admin says

      Abigail: Xanthan gum is available at a variety of places, depending on where you live. You can also get it online from Amazon,, and Bob’s Redmill, among others.

    • admin says

      Lucinda: I did a Google search and here are some sites that seem to be able to do a calorie breakdown of recipes. I would recommend finding that looks good to you and then follow the directions for a recipe. Happy baking!


  1. […] Jeanne’s recipe is really easy. The dough rolls out so smoothly. I was worried because it was a very wet dough when I put it in the fridge to firm up. The original recipe calls for heavy cream. I didn’t have any being semi lactose intolerant, I don’t really keep creams or buttermilk around. So before heading out into the storm with a “I’m tired and crabby but refuse to nap” toddler, I  googled. I saw on The Joy of Baking that heavy cream could be subbed out with milk and butter.  Decided to try it using Lactaid & butter.  I’m glad I did cause it worked great. […]

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