Easy Football Cupcakes

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Need an easy dessert recipe for Game Day? My Easy Football Cupcakes start with a doctored cake mix and finish off with a delicious buttercream frosting in the shape of footballs.

Three cupcakes with a football design on them.

Game Day is one of those days where you get to eat snacks and desserts all day long.  Friends and family gather to cheer on their favorite teams while enjoy food and drinks.

I always feel like making the food is the easy part.  There’s always a giant pot of soup, plenty of tasty dips, and usually some type of wings or sliders in the mix.  One things for sure, we are never lacking for good food.

The one area that is lacking is desserts.  This may be surprising since I’m the queen of desserts but I’ve had a hard time coming up with football themed desserts.   There just isn’t a whole lot I can do.

I finally decided to make football cupcakes for a Game Day themed luncheon we had at school.  Unfortunately when the time came to make them everyone in my house was sick and I just wasn’t feeling like making them.


  • cake mix (choose either a chocolate cake mix or a yellow cake mix)
  • butter (I like to use salted butter)
  • sour cream (Go for the full fat sour cream in this recipe.  If you want something lighter substitute vanilla or plain Greek yogurt)
  • eggs (make sure they are large!)
  • milk (Any type of milk will work in here, even plant based)
  • vanilla extract (make sure this is a high quality extract like this Nielsen-Massey vanilla)
  • powdered sugar
  • cocoa powder (optional-I like Rodelle Baking Cocoa)
  • green sanding sugar (don’t use sprinkles, use sanding sugar)
  • Green and Brown food coloring (My favorite is Americolor Gel Paste)

I decided to use a box of cake mix that I had in the cupboard.  I always keep a box of chocolate and a box of yellow cake mix just in case.

A baking rack with a dozen vanilla cupcakes and a dozen chocolate cupcakes.

The great thing about cake mixes is that they can be doctored.  You don’t have to follow the directions exactly.  I substitute butter for oil, I use milk and sour cream in place of the water, and I always add in extra vanilla.

This time I did all of those things then divided the batter in half.  To one half I added in a bit of cocoa powder and some additional milk. I left the other half alone.

Can I freeze these cupcakes?

When left unfrosted you can freeze these.  Once they have cooled completely wrap each one in plastic wrap.  Then place them in a freezer bag.   Freeze for up to 3 months.  When ready to decorate and eat leave them in the refrigerator over night or on the counter top for 4-5 hours.   Decorate as desired.

Can I use canned frosting?

Please don’t.  Technically you can use canned frosting but it’s so simple to make your own frosting and it will taste a million times better.  I always use homemade frosting when using a cake mix because it fools everyone into thinking the cake is homemade too.

I don’t have sanding sugar, can I use something else?

If you don’t have sanding sugar and you don’t want to buy it just dye a quarter of your frosting green.  Instead of putting a thin layer of white frosting on then dipping it into the sanding sugar just put the green frosting on for the background.  It will work out fine, it just won’t be sparkly!

How do I store these cupcakes?

Store them in an air tight container for up to 4 days at room temperature.  You can put them in the refrigerator but I find that it changes the texture of the cake and it’s definitely more tender if you leave them at room temperature.

 A platter with football cupcakes on it.

Once the cupcakes baked I removed them from the oven and let them cool.  While they were cooling I made my frosting.  I simply used a basic American buttercream frosting recipe.

To frost the cupcakes I put a thin layer on top of each one and then dipped them in the green sanding sugar to coat completely.  I figured this looked a lot like the turf on a football field and would be a good backdrop.

Then I dyed three-quarters of the remaining frosting brown and left the rest white.  I used a number 21 tip and made an up and down pattern the started small, got large in the middle, and got small again at the other side to make the football on my cupcakes.

More Cupcake Recipes:

Then I used a number 2 tip (you could use a 1 or a 3 as well) and drew the laces on the footballs.  I thought they looked pretty cute and I loved the sparkling green underneath the footballs. 

If you don’t have different tips you can just put the frosting in a piping bag and pipe on the football and the laces and it’ll look just as cute.  Just make sure you use gel food coloring to really get a true color on the football. 

Pin Image:   Three cupcakes with footballs on them, text title, ingredients for the cupcakes.

These cupcakes taste delicious.  I got so many compliments on them and everyone thought they were homemade.  The butter and sour cream really help to give the cake a homemade flavor and the texture is more in line with a homemade cupcake.  I find cake mix cupcakes to be too light and airy where these cupcakes just have a nice crumb.

If you’ve tried my Easy Football Cupcakes or any other recipe on Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. I love hearing from you! You can FOLLOW ME on:

Three cupcakes with a football design on them.

Easy Football Cupcakes

Easy Football Cupcakes start with a doctored cake mix and finish off
with a delicious buttercream frosting in the shape of footballs.
5 from 18 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 2 minutes
Servings: 2 dozen cupcakes
Author: Hezzi-D


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 box 15.25 oz. cake mix (yellow, white, or chocolate)
  • 1/2 c. 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder if desired

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 c. 3 sticks butter
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • brown food coloring
  • green sanding sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
  • In a large bowl combine the cake mix, melted butter, sour cream, eggs, and milk. Mix well until combined.
  • If you are making 2 types of cupcakes divide the batter into 2 bowls. Add the vanilla to one bowl and add the cocoa powder plus an additional tablespoon of milk to the other bowl. Mix well.
  • Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely.
  • To make the frosting place the softened butter in a large bowl. Beat on medium high speed until butter is creamed.
  • Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Continue adding the powdered sugar a half cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  • Dump the sprinkles into a shallow bowl. Place a thin layer of white frosting on top of all the cupcakes then roll them in the sprinkles covering completely.
  • Place 3/4 of the remaining frosting in a bowl and dye it brown. Leave the remaining 1/4 of the frosting white.
  • Put the brown frosting in a piping bag with a number 21 tip. Starting at one end pipe a tight up and down pattern getting larger at the center of the cupcake and then smaller at the other side to make the football. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.
  • Put the white frosting in a piping bag with a number 2 tip. Pipe a horizontal line on each football then 4 short lines going down to make the laces.
  • Enjoy!


A Hezzi-D Original recipe

A single football cupcakes.

5 from 18 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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