The only thing better than eating circus animal cookies is baking fun, colorful drop cookies with circus animal cookies in them! You’ll love these easy soft cookies made with pudding mix, white chocolate chips, rainbow sprinkles, and crushed frosted animal cookies in the batter.
The perfect mash-up: Soft, chewy white chocolate chip cookies and crisp, buttery, sweet frosted circus animal cookies.
The circus animal cookies soften a bit in the cookie dough so that the overall texture is moist and tender, with just a hint of extra crunch, and the flavor is sweet and rich, from lots of vanilla, white chocolate chips, and frosting.
Instant vanilla pudding added to the cookie dough makes these cookies extra soft and chewy, and they’re fun and colorful, so a great fit for any occasion!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Easy and Fun Drop Cookie Recipe – Mix up the cookie dough and use your trusty cookie scoop to portion and bake! No need to decorate these cookies, all of the colorful goodies are inside.
- Kids Love These! Make cookies with the whole family using this cookie recipe. They’re great for birthday parties, bake sales, or “just because”.
- Easy to Switch Up – The base recipe for these cookies is a soft, chewy, vanilla-flavored cookie. Swap out the mix-ins for other styles of baking chips, different kinds of cookies, and your favorite colored sprinkles if you like!
- Pudding Cookies – The secret ingredient to my favorite circus animal cookies is a package of Jello Instant Pudding Mix! This trick adds extra flavor and also gives the cookies the best soft-baked texture.
Key Ingredients in Circus Animal Cookies
Complete list of ingredients with quantities and instructions is located in the recipe card below
- Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt: The dry ingredient line up for this easy cookie dough recipe.
- Unsalted Butter: Be sure to let the butter sit out and come to room temperature. Softened butter will give you a smooth, well-mixed dough.
- Sugars: Both white sugar and brown sugar are needed here. They each have a part to play! Brown sugar creates chewiness, while white sugar allows the edges of the cookie to get slightly crisp.
- Eggs: Be sure to use large eggs for baking so that your liquid amounts are correct. Let the eggs sit out at room temperature with the butter so that they aren’t cold when you mix them in.
- Vanilla Instant Pudding: Pay no attention to the instructions on the box, you only need the powder for this recipe. Be sure to buy the kind of pudding labeled as “instant”, as the cook-and-serve type won’t work the same way here.
- Circus Animal Cookies: Crush or chop frosted animal cookies into pieces that are no larger than chocolate chips. I like to start by chopping the cookies with a large chef’s knife, then transfer some of them to a ziplock bag, and crush them up a bit smaller. The variation in size gives the cookies a fun texture.
- White Chocolate Chips and Rainbow Sprinkles: For even more sweetness and texture! Choose long “jimmies” sprinkles for this recipe rather than the small, round, nonpareils. Rainbow nonpareils will bleed colors into the cookie dough and won’t be as pretty.
How To Make Soft Circus Animal Cookies
- Get Ready to Bake: First, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat silicone mat. Then, combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, and set the dry ingredient mixture aside.
- Cream Butter and Sugars: Using a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer, or your stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Then add the eggs and vanilla extract and continue mixing until well combined.
- Add Dry Ingredients: First, add the pudding mix powder to the wet mixture, and blend until combined. Then add the flour mixture, and continue mixing until the flour is fully incorporated.
- Add the Mix Ins: Use a rubber spatula to fold in the circus animal cookie crumbs, white chocolate chips, and sprinkles.
- Portion: Use a medium cookie scoop to scoop the dough compactly and create evenly-sized cookies.
- Roll: Roll each portion of dough between your palms to create smooth balls, and place them on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between each.
- Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Avoid overbaking so that the cookies stay extra soft in the center! Let cool on the pan for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dough Consistency: Because of the pudding mix, the dough for these cookies should be velvety smooth and soft. There shouldn’t be any need to chill the dough before baking, but if your kitchen is particularly warm, you may want to pop it in the fridge for 10-20 minutes just to be safe.
- Don’t Over Bake These! When you pull the cookies out of the oven, they will be slightly undone in the center, and that’s perfect. They will continue to cook as they cool.
- Get the Right Pudding Mix: Be sure that you buy a vanilla pudding mix that says “Instant” on the box when you’re making cookies. Other types will not work the same way to create a smooth, soft, creamy cookie dough.
How to Store Cookies
You can store Circus Animal pudding cookies in an airtight container or resealable bag for up to 5 days. They will stay best if stored at room temperature rather than in the fridge.
If the cookies start to get stale, put a piece of white bread in the container with them. The bread will dry out, but the cookies will stay perfectly soft and chewy.
Freeze these cookies in a freezer bag or container for up to 3 months.
To freeze unbaked pudding cookies: Follow the recipe and stop at the point where you make the cookie balls. Fill a sheet tray with dough balls, and then place the tray in the freezer for about an hour. After an hour, transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to a freezer bag or container. You can freeze cookie dough like this for up to three months.
When you’re ready to bake the frozen cookie dough, bake it directly from the freezer. Add 1-2 minutes to the baking time.
More Fun Cookie Recipes to Bake
- Nutella Stuffed Cookies
- Red Velvet Thumbprints
- Whoopie Pies
- Soft Snickerdoodles
- Cake Mix Crinkle Cookies
- Cookie Monster Cookies
Yes, you can. Just note that the package size for sugar free instant pudding is not the same, since sugar substitutes weigh less than regular sugar. You should still use just one regular sized box in this cookie recipe.
Yes! Any type of instant pudding can be added to cookie dough. Try pistachio, french vanilla, or cheesecake flavored pudding.
The addition of vanilla pudding mix to cookies keeps them soft and tender. These cookies are chewy with slightly crispy edges.
These circus animal cookies are going to be such a hit for whoever you make them for! Be sure to Pin the recipe, and come back regularly for more new fun cookie recipes.