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 and the more fun I have. Gotta show up to practice, right?
Here’s one of my latest: little footballs.
They’re adorable. Perfect treat for college football, NFL games, and the Super Bowl. They’re pretty simple, require two basic piping tips, and some brown food coloring. Here’s how I made them:
Make the basic sugar cookies. Hopefully you’ve tried this recipe by now! Remember the most important step is to chill the cookie dough *after* you roll it out. Not before.
- Football cookie cutter – big fan of Ann Clark cookie cutters.
- Brown food coloring – this is part of the Americolor gel food coloring kit I love, but you can purchase it separately. I use 3 drops for this 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.)
The brown icing goes on first, then we’ll decorate with the white icing. Outline and flood the brown icing onto the cookie. I use my favorite royal icing. Its consistency is perfect for both outlining and flooding. Place the iced cookies onto a baking sheet and chill until the brown icing sets. This takes about 15 minutes. Then pipe the white laces/lines onto the footballs.
To really make the white stand out, I sprinkled with coarse sugar. Totally optional.
I’m horrible at writing on cakes/cookies, but you could write your team’s name on each football. Go team go! Have fun decorating!Print
How to make adorably decorated football cookies for game day! These cookies are easy, festive, and fun.
- 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) 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 | 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.