How to Make Football Cookies

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!

football sugar cookies

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).

football sugar cookies on a white plate

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. 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Tools

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? 😉

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, which I use on my Christmas sugar cookies. The glaze 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.

football shaped sugar cookies on a baking sheet

piping brown icing onto football sugar cookies

piping white details onto football sugar cookies

football sugar cookies

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football sugar cookies

How to Make Football Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 28 (3.5 inch) cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

How to make adorably decorated football cookies for game day! These cookies are easy, festive, and fun.


Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Rolling PinFootball Cookie Cutter | Silpat Baking Mat | Cookie Sheet | Cooling Rack | Meringue Powder | Brown Americolor Gel | Frosting BagsRound #2 Frosting TipRound #4 Frosting Tip | Coarse Sugar Sprinkles
  4. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

17 Comments

  1. I still have my naked snowmen in the freezer … the royal icing part freaks me out 

  2. These are adorable and I will definitely make for the Super Bowl, these never came up on my e-mail or FB not sure what happened!!! I would post them again!

    1. Hey Diana!! I back-dated the post since it’s not really a “new” recipe. It’s my regular sugar cookies decorated in a different way 🙂

      1. My favorite sugar cookies, always worth another post, no matter what the design!!!

  3. 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!

  4. I always check your website and I don’t remember having seen this recipe! Strange. They’re super cute, though!!

  5. So cute and creative! Love decorated cookies 🙂

  6. That’s funny b/c I was like how did I miss this recipe..Even though I have been reading your blog for years–I finally tried your sugar cookie recipe as I was partial to another sugar recipe BUT will say I loved yours and is NOW my favorite sugar cookie recipe. Thank you!!!

    1. I’m so happy you tried them! Thanks for following my blog! I appreciate it!!

  7. 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!

    1. 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!

  8. Would it work ok to just add cocoa powder to the royal icing for a brown color? If I was willing to fiddle with the other ingredients to get the flavor/texture right?

    (BTW you’re our go-to baked goods recipe place now; thank you for several years of “I’ll never use a box again” level delicious birthday cakes – and cupcakes that are actually good! – for my kiddos and friends!)

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jennifer, we don’t have a recipe for chocolate royal icing so can’t say for sure how it would go. This recipe from Sweet Sugar Belle looks good and her explanations seem thorough if you would like to give it a try: https://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2012/02/chocolate-royal-icing/

      1. Great! Thank you! Looks like it might be harder than we thought. Maybe I’ll just do straight chocolate.

  9. 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?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You should be able to mix red, yellow and blue together to make brown. Have fun!

  10. Adorable design of cookies… nice idea

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