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 royal 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. I use a variety of different colors to make these fun Valentine’s Day cookies and Halloween chocolate cookies!
2. Easy Glaze Icing. Another option is my easy cookie 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
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- 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 Football Cookies
- Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
- Yield: 24 3-4 inch cookies
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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 (spooned & leveled), plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks or 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but makes the flavor outstanding)*
- Royal Icing
- optional: coarse sugar sprinkles
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld 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. Dough will be a bit soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator. If it’s sticking to the bottom, run your hand under it to help remove it—see me do this in the video below. Using a football cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough. (Note: It doesn’t seem like a lot of dough, but you get a lot of cookies from the dough scraps you re-roll.)
- Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, 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.
- Decorate: Prepare Royal Icing. Spoon 1/2 cup of the prepared icing into a separate bowl. This icing will remain white. (You won’t use the white icing for a couple hours after the base icing sets, so place a damp paper towel directly on the surface of it. This prevents it from hardening.) Tint the rest of the icing brown. I used 3 drops to get this shade of brown. Spoon or pour the brown icing into a piping bag (disposable or reusable) fitted with Wilton piping tip #5 or piping tip #4. Decorate cookies with brown icing by piping a border around the edges and then filling it. Let the icing-covered cookies mostly set uncovered for about 2-3 hours before adding the white laces.
- Spoon or pour the white icing into a piping bag (disposable or reusable) fitted with piping tip #2 or piping tip #3. Pipe the white laces/lines on top. If desired, sprinkle white icing with coarse sprinkles. Icing completely sets in 2-3 hours.
- 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.
- Decorated or plain cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator 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.
- Flavors: 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. Instead of the almond extract, try using 1 teaspoon of maple extract, coconut extract, lemon extract, or peppermint extract. Or add 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon. If using lemon extract, you can also add 1 Tablespoon lemon zest.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Rolling Pin | Football Cookie Cutter | Silpat Baking Mat | Cookie Sheet | Cooling Rack | Meringue Powder for Royal Icing | Brown Americolor Gel | Piping Bags (Reusable or Disposable) | Round #2 Piping Tip | Round #4 Piping 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.
Keywords: How to Make Football Cookies
Reader Comments & Reviews
I’m so grateful for your recipes. Do you have a chocolate icing that could work for these cookies?
Hi Laura! We haven’t tried it ourselves, but you can try swapping some of the powdered sugar for cocoa powder to make a chocolate royal icing. It may take a bit of trial and error, or take a look online for a chocolate version to find some inspiration / guidance.
Hi! i was wondering if there is a way to make this recipe a chocolate sugar cookie? if so how would i go about this
Hi Morgan, you can follow this chocolate sugar cookie recipe instead and use your football cookie cutter!
Adorable design of cookies… nice idea
Thinking about making these for Super bowl, but do not have brown food coloring? Any suggestions? BTW, thank you for all of your recipes, I’m an above average cook, but you have turned me into a baker. (I have your giant peanut butter cup pie leftover in my fridge right now! SOOOO good!) Just trying to do something cute for dessert tomorrow. Maybe mix colors together?
You should be able to mix red, yellow and blue together to make brown. Have fun!
These cookies are so cute, but I couldn’t get the icing to harden! we had to add more water than called for which I’m guessing is the problem, bu the icing seemed much to thick if we didn’t. Can you advise? Thanks!
Hi Hollis, How long did you let them dry? Depending on how much water you ended up using it can take up to 24 hours to fully harden, especially if it’s a humid day!
So cute and creative! Love decorated cookies 🙂
These are so cute Sally! I need practice piping and decorating and have a sixteen year old whose a huge football fan, so these are perfect!