Christmas cookies are for sharing, right? Want to avoid those sad puppy dog eyes while you’re crunching your favorite holiday treat? Make some Christmas cookies that are safe for your dog to enjoy along with you.
Are Christmas cookies your favorite part about the holidays? For me, the smell of cookies baking in the oven brings back so many childhood memories. Well, kind of…
My mom was not a good baker. She never made cookies from scratch. If we were really lucky, it was the slice-and-bake refrigerator dough she’d hurriedly toss in the oven before she left for work. Otherwise, Christmas cookies came from a box.
And at the risk of dating myself, my Christmas cookie memories are all based around the legendary Salerno “Jingles” – a crisp, Anise-flavored cookie that to those of us growing up in the 60s and 70s, was the epitome of the holidays.
Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who grew up in that time period. They probably snacked on a plate of Jingles while watching Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer next to an aluminum Christmas tree with a color wheel light.
After these cookies were discontinued, I spent years trying to track down a manufacturer of anise cookies. Somehow I was under the assumption if no one else made these cookies, there must be some secret to the recipe.
After no luck tracking them down I decided, what the heck? I’ll make my own. The Internet made things a whole lot easier to find what you’re looking for.
Low and behold, my search for anise-flavored cookie turned up lots of interesting information. Not only was anise a common flavoring for European cookies, but anise is safe and ATTRACTIVE to dogs!
Yes, the flavor I loved so much was not only safe for Chloe to eat, but to many dogs, anise produces an almost catnip-like effect. They love the smell and the taste.
NOTE: Let’s clear up the difference between anise seed and star anise. They are two similarly tasting herbs but are totally different families. We’re using anise seeds (Pimpinella anisum) from the aster family in our cookie recipe to share with your dog. Anise seeds are safe for canines to consume in small quantities. Save the star anise (Illicium verum) for your chai tea.
Of course, I didn’t want to share MY people cookies with Chloe. Lots of sugar and butter our pups just don’t process well.
Okay, well, I did share a few nibbles with her. Because those cookies smelled SOOO GOOD to her. She was enchanted with them.
How could I not decide to make her very own canine anise cookies she can enjoy alongside me?
NOTE: Anise seed does have some health benefits for our dogs, such as improved digestion. But we’re not making a supplement for our pups, just using a small amount to flavor a healthy dog treat they can enjoy.
Here they are: I’m sharing my Anise Dog Cookies recipe AND my favorite human Italian Anisette Cookie recipe. You and your dog can savor the flavors together. And while we’re at it, we’ve got two more Christmas cookie recipes to share with your dog.
Peppermint and chocolate and holidays are so festive together! I’ve got a very decadent Peppermint Chocolate Bonbon Cookie for you. We all know chocolate is a no-no for our canine pals. But they CAN have carob. So make your dog our Minty Carob Liver Bonbons. They’ll look similar but offer a taste only your dog can appreciate.
Finally, I’m share my all-time favorite Sparkling Ginger Stars recipe – along with dog-friendly Ginger-Cinnamon Dog Treats your pup will love.
You can get all the recipes in a printable format when you sign up below. Then you can tie on your apron and get busy baking.
Quick discussion on grains in canine diets….
The research is still pending on what and how much grain is healthy for our dogs to consume. Different dogs have different reactions to varieties of grain and flours. Feel free to substitute any flour listed with another that works best for your dog. From whole wheat to gluten-free flours such as oat, rice, chickpea and sorghum, you have a lot of options.
But hey – we’re making dogs treats that are meant to be eaten occasionally. And in small quantities, these are perfectly safe cookies to share with your dog. Just like humans should probably skip eating several cookies every day for months on end, our dogs should be offered these cookies as just that – a special treat.
Keep in mind, not all ingredients are appropriate for all dogs. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian.
Anise Cookies for Dogs
You absolutely do not need to decorate these. Your dog will go nuts for them either way. But if you want your dog’s cookies to match yours, you certainly can! If you do decide to decorate with icing, you’ll need to store in the refrigerator.
- 1 medium sweet potato, baked
- 1/3 c. coconut peanut butter (or natural peanut butter) Make sure it has NO XYLITOL!
- 1 egg
- ¾ c. whole wheat flour (or any flour your dog tolerates well)
- 1 tsp. anise seed, ground or crushed
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Peel and mash sweet potato. With hand-held or stand mixer, beat sweet potato with peanut butter and egg. Gradually add flour and anise seed by hand, mixing to form a smooth dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead into a ball, adding more flour if necessary.
Flatten ball. Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut cookies into shapes. Place about 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until edges begin to turn golden. Baking time will vary depending on your oven and size of cookie.
Remove to cooling rack. When completely cool, glaze with yogurt icing and naturally dyed sprinkles, if desired. Your dog will love them plain, too.
Yogurt Icing for Dogs: (optional)
- 4 oz. plain Greek yogurt
- ½ tsp. olive or coconut oil
- ¼ tsp of honey
- 1 tbsp. thickening agent. You can use cornstarch, arrowroot powder, rice flour, tapioca, etc.
Mix all ingredients together to consistency of cake frosting. It will harden as it dries.
Store in airtight container for 3 days or freeze.
Italian Anisette Cookies for YOU
The Jingles I loved from my childhood were crisp and flat, sprinkled with red and green sugar. In my recipe research, I discovered all sorts of Anise cookies. And was totally delighted that many of these recipes were traditional Italian cookies served at Easter and Christmas. My very favorite one is not a crispy cookie at all – but a softer, biscuity cookie with a light glaze.
Make sure your anise seed is fresh for best flavor.
Fair warning: anise has a wonderfully warm licorice taste. It seems to be one of the flavors you either love or hate. Try and see what you think.
- 1 c. butter, softened
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1 tsp anise extract or anise seeds, ground
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 3 c. flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- milk – add amount for your desired consistency
- colored sprinkles
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Stir in lemon zest and anise. Beat in eggs. Add dry ingredients and mix. The dough will be a bit crumbly, but will stick together when shaped. Form dough into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Add glaze and sprinkles.
Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.
We hope you love all these cookies as much as we do. And wouldn’t they make a sweet gift for your dog-loving friends? Let me know in the comments below what your pupper thinks of these cookies. Happy Holidays!