Find your team spirit and bake some football cupcakes for game day! These homemade chocolate cupcakes are topped with a chocolate buttercream in the shape of a football. This is the perfect dessert for the Super Bowl!

football cupcake topped with chocolate frosting and vanilla frosting stitched laces.


 

Let’s be honest, the best part of the Super Bowl is the food, right? Last year I made soft pretzels with beer cheese dip and this year I’m signed up for dessert. If you are also on baking duty, then you must make these football cupcakes. They are guaranteed to be a fan favorite!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Game day dessert. Be it the Super Bowl or rooting for your hometown team, these football cupcakes make the perfect addition to the game day menu.
  • Full of chocolate flavor. The cupcakes and buttercream both use a rich cocoa powder to create a delicious chocolate dessert.
  • Easy to make. The recipe comes together quickly and the decoration is simple!
  • Reliable recipe. I used my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe that has been tested and perfected to yield a moist and chocolate-y cake.

Ingredient Notes

tabletop with bowls of ingredients to make chocolate football cupcakes.
  • Cocoa powder: Use an unsweetened cocoa powder. Choose your favorite, preferably high quality, since it will provide the primary flavor.
  • Espresso powder: To enhance the chocolate flavor, add a teaspoon of espresso powder.
  • Sour cream: The secret to moist chocolate cupcakes is using full-fat sour cream. Bring to room temperature before adding to the recipe.
  • Butter: Room temperature butter is needed for the cupcakes as well as the frosting. It’s best to use unsalted butter and add the salt separately. Different brands of salted butter have varying amounts of salt added.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this is used to sweeten the frosting.

Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.

Recipe Variations

Change the cupcake flavor. Not a fan of chocolate cake? Try making brown sugar cupcakes or vanilla cupcakes instead. Then use the chocolate frosting for the football shape!

Add your team colors! Cupcake toppers and liners are the perfect way to incorporate your team’s colors and logos.

Make a small batch. Only watching the game with a small group? Cut the ingredients in half to yield only 10 cupcakes.

Semi-homemade. Short on time? Use a boxed cake mix to make the cupcakes and simply follow the tutorial for the football-shaped frosting on top!

How to Make Football Cupcakes

photo collage demonstrating how to make chocolate cupcakes from scratch.
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients–flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine the cocoa powder, espresso and hot water. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
photo collage demonstrating how to make chocolate frosting and decorate football cupcakes.
  1. Fill each cup two-thirds full. Bake at 350 F for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Make the frosting. Beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Mix in vanilla and milk. Set aside 1/2 cup vanilla frosting.
  3. Add the cocoa powder to remaining frosting. Mix until combined. Add milk as needed to reach desired consistency.
  4. Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip. Pipe chocolate frosting in a zigzag motion across the cupcakes to create a diamond shape. Pipe vanilla frosting on top to create the stitches.

Expert Tips

Use good-quality cocoa powder. Most of the chocolate flavor comes from the cocoa so it’s vital that you use your favorite kind. I prefer Ghirardelli, which is easy to find at your local grocery store.

Weigh your ingredients with a kitchen scale. This is the most accurate way to measure ingredients. If you don’t have a scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife (don’t pack it down). Do the same with the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar.

Use room temperature ingredients. Not only are room temperature ingredients easier to combine, but they also create a smoother and more consistent batter. As a result, the cupcakes have a better texture.

Do not over-bake. Check the cupcakes at 18 minutes. If a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, then they are done. Also, make sure they are cooled completely before frosting. Otherwise the frosting will melt!

football cupcakes on a round wire rack with a few green yard line straws.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Make ahead the cupcakes a day ahead of time. After they have cooled completely, store in an airtight container so they do not dry out. The frosting may also be made ahead of time and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Freeze for up to 3 months. Flash freeze the cupcakes for 1 hour or until the frosting is firm. Then wrap thm in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature.

Recipe FAQ

Why is my frosting runny?

The butter is too soft. It should be soft when gently pressed, but not greasy. If you are baking in a warm or humid climate, this can also affect the consistency. Put the frosting in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to thicken it up. Give it a few good stirs before using.

Why did my cupcakes sink?

Check if the baking soda is expired, which can prevent the batter from rising. It’s also possible the cupcakes were underbaked. Use an oven thermometer to make sure the oven is the correct temperature.

Why are my cupcakes dry?

Most likely there was too much flour or cocoa added to the batter. Use a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients or use the spoon-and-level method. It’s also possible the cupcakes were over-baked.

decorated football cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

football cupcake topped with chocolate frosting and vanilla frosting stitched laces.

Get the Recipe: Homemade Football Cupcakes

Find your team spirit and make frosted football cupcakes for game day! This easy dessert is perfect for Super Bowl parties or tailgating.
5 (12 ratings)

Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 ¼ cup (156 g) all purpose flour, weighed properly
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (96 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, (nonalkalized)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, (or coffee powder)
  • 1 cup (240 mL) boiling water
  • ½ cup (120 g) full-fat sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (240 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk, room temperature
  • ½ cup (48 g) unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions 

Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and espresso powder. Add the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Allow mixture to sit until room temperature, then whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In a the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time beating until combined after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture to the large mixing bowl and mix on low speed just until combined. Add half the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Repeat process, then end with remaining third flour mixture. Use a silicone spatula to scrape the bottoms and sides of the bowl. Mix once more for 10 seconds to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Transfer batter to prepared muffin tins and fill each cup two-thirds full (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this step). Bake cupcakes 18 to 22 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix until completely incorporated. With the mixer on medium speed, add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. Add milk until desired consistency is reached.
  • Set aside ½ cup vanilla frosting. Put in a frosting bag with a small round tip.
  • Add cocoa powder to remaining frosting and mix until combined. Add milk if necessary if mixture is too thick. Transfer to a frosting bag with an open star tip.
  • Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting, going in a zigzag motion across the top to make a diamond shape. Use the vanilla frosting to add stitched laces on top.

Notes

Cocoa powder: Use a good quality cocoa powder (I prefer Ghirardelli). Non-alkalized is preferred as it interacts with the baking soda to help the cupcakes rise.
Espresso powder is an optional ingredient that helps strengthen the chocolate flavor. If you are sensitive to the taste, you may omit it.
Sour cream may be substituted with full-fat Greek yogurt.
Store cupcakes covered in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 330kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 69mg, Sodium: 113mg, Potassium: 129mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 27g, Vitamin A: 628IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg

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