Half the fun of game day is the food, and you’re sure to score points with these adorable homemade football cookies. Soft, buttery, and flavored with a touch of vanilla, they’re topped with reader-favorite sweet royal icing. Serve them during the football game festivities and watch them disappear before you can call foul!
If Super Bowl Sunday is any indication, football snacking is at an all-time high. And sometimes you need a little something sweet after all those snacks. Enter football sugar cookies! I used my classic sugar cookies recipe for these cute football-shaped treats. The dough is similar to a traditional sugar cookie that you roll out and cut into shapes. So, whether you’re gearing up for college football, the NFL playoffs, or the Super Bowl, this fun cookie is sure to become a new fan favorite.
Tell Me About these Football Cookies
- Texture: If you roll the dough out thick enough, the baked cookies are soft and thick with perfectly crisp edges.
- Flavor: These sugar cookies are irresistibly buttery and sweet with hints of vanilla and almond.
- Ease: It’s easy to make with the right tools (see Decorating Tools below).
- Time: I recommend setting aside an afternoon for making and decorating these cookies. The dough requires at least 1-2 hours to chill before baking, and you’ll need to leave time for cooling, making the icing, and then decorating. All told, it’s almost 5 hours from start to finish. There are make-ahead options below, too, including freezing the cookies (see Note).
Order is Important
Order is important when you’re making these football cookies. Each layer of this cookie is divided into steps. Complete each step before moving on to the next one for the best-tasting (and best-looking!) cookie.
- Roll out the dough BEFORE you chill: This cookie dough is impossible to roll out once you’ve chilled it. That’s why you must roll the dough out before it goes in the refrigerator.
- Cool the cookies completely BEFORE icing: If you frost the cookies while they’re still warm, the icing could melt off or smudge and ruin the decorative design. A little patience pays off.
- Base color needs to set BEFORE decorating: If you’re adding decorating details like the white football laces seen in my photos, let the brown base icing set first. This allows for a cleaner design. I usually place the decorated cookies on a baking sheet (or I decorate them directly on the baking sheet), make some room in the refrigerator, and stick the pan inside. The icing will set in 15-20 minutes. During that time, you can prep the white icing for the decorative details. To really make the white stand out, I sprinkled with coarse sugar, which is completely optional.
- Stack + wrap + gift + store. Once the icing layers have set, you can stack, wrap, gift, and store these football shaped cookies for a week.
Decorating sugar cookies with icing is one of my favorite creative outlets. I’ve always struggled with making beautifully piped confections, but the more I do it, the better I get. Here are some low-stress tools that make decorating easier and more fun. Gotta show up to practice, right? 😉
- Football cookie cutter – I always use and trust Ann Clark cookie cutters.
- Brown food coloring – You can buy it separately or get the whole Americolor gel food coloring kit I love (brown is included). I used 3 drops for the football shade of brown.
- Wilton piping tip #5 or Wilton piping tip #4 – this is for the brown icing
- Wilton piping tip #2 or Wilton piping tip #3 – this is for the white laces/lines.
Even though I’m not switching tips/colors, I typically use couplers for my piping bags to help prevent icing from seeping through the tip of the bag.
(Beginner’s note: The purpose of a coupler is to allow you to easily switch icing tips. It keeps the tip on the outside of the bag instead of on the inside of the bag.)
Choose Your Favorite Icing: Royal or Easy Glaze
You have two icing options for these football cookies. Both are delicious, so choose whichever works best for you. My secret ingredient for royal icing is meringue powder. No raw eggs required!
1. Royal Icing. If you want your cookies to look like the ones in the photos, use my royal icing recipe. It’s my personal favorite for icing sugar cookies. I even have a royal icing video to help you achieve the perfect consistency. Here are a few other reasons you will love this recipe:
- Meringue powder. Traditional royal icing recipes use raw egg whites, but I prefer meringue powder. It results in the same consistency and dries on the cookies within 1-2 hours. You can find meringue powder in most baking aisles, craft stores, or online.
- Softer is better. Royal icing can harden into a cement-like texture, but my recipe is on the softer side and still sets perfectly on the cookie.
- Versatility. This icing is easy to work with, especially on cookie-cutter sugar cookies like this recipe. Add a few drops of gel food coloring if you want to mix up the colors.
2. Easy Glaze Icing. Another option is my easy glaze icing. This cookie icing is simpler than royal icing because you don’t need an electric mixer or the perfect icing consistency for success here. It’s thinner than royal icing, though, so it won’t have the sharp detail you get with royal icing decorations. It also takes a good 24 hours to dry.
More Cookie Recipes
- Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
- Brownie Cookies
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
How to make adorably decorated football cookies for game day! These cookies are easy, festive, and fun.
- 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks; 180g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- optional for flavor: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- royal icing (this is my favorite royal icing)
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract (if using) and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. If the dough seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat (I prefer the nonstick silicone mat) to about 1/4-inch thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and cut into shapes with cookie cutter(s). Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd dough piece.
- Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. I like to decorate cookies directly on baking sheets so I can stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help set the icing. So place the cooled cookies back on baking sheets.
- Decorate: Prepare royal icing. Spoon 1/2 cup of it into a separate bowl. This icing will remain white. Tint the rest of the icing brown. I used 3 drops to get this shade of brown. Using Wilton piping tip #5 or piping tip #4, outline and flood with brown. Allow icing to set (I place the cookies in the fridge so the icing sets quicker!). Using piping tip #2 or piping tip #3, pipe the white laces/lines on top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Allow white icing to set.
- Enjoy cookies right away or wait until the icing sets to serve them. Once the icing has set, these cookies are great for gifting or for sending. Plain or decorated cookies stay soft for about 5 days when covered tightly at room temperature. For longer storage, cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
- Freezing Instructions: Plain or decorated sugar cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months before rolling it out. Prepare the dough through step 3, divide in half, flatten both halves into a disk as we do with pie crust, wrap each in plastic wrap, then freeze. To thaw, thaw the disks in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature for about 1 hour. Roll out the dough as directed in step 4, then chill as directed in step 5– no need to chill for 1-2 hours, 45 minutes should be plenty.
- Almond Extract: I love flavoring this cookie dough with 1/2 teaspoon almond extract as listed in the ingredients above. For lighter flavor, use 1/4 teaspoon.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Rolling Pin | Football Cookie Cutter | Silpat Baking Mat | Cookie Sheet | Cooling Rack | Meringue Powder | Brown Americolor Gel | Frosting Bags (Reusable or Disposable) | Round #2 Frosting Tip | Round #4 Frosting Tip | Coarse Sugar Sprinkles
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.