Easy Piping Techniques for Cupcakes

Hi friends!  Today I'm doing something a little different. I'm going to show you a few of my favorite piping techniques for cupcakes. I even made a fun video tutorial, and if you're an email subscriber then you'll need to click here to view it. If you're visiting the blog, then you can just scroll down to the embedded video.

These techniques are perfect for beginners because they are so forgiving.  How forgiving? Well, in the video my frosting begins to soften considerably under the studio lighting, but even then things turn out beautifully! If you're a seasoned decorator you'll probably already know these techniques, so be aware this video is geared more toward novice decorators.

Beginners will need a few supplies to get started. First, good thick buttercream frosting. You'll find my two favorite frosting recipes at the end of this post. You'll also need the decorator piping tips featured in the video so I've linked them below. Piping bags are a must! Reusable or disposable - your choice, because either will work.

In the video you may notice that I don't use couplers, and instead I just drop the piping tips into the bags, score the end of the bag and get straight to piping. I honestly feel the couplers are not necessary when using larger tips, but I do use them for smaller tips and when I need to quickly switch out a plain tip for a star tip.

My favorite decorator piping tips!

Ateco Pastry Tube Star Size 8 - This is the first tip demonstrated in the video. It may be my very favorite piping tip of all because you can make the perfect soft serve ice cream swirl on top of a cupcake. If you've never ventured into piping, then this is a good one to consider buying first. I also demonstrate a single swirl with this tip, and you may remember it from these lucky vanilla cupcakes.

Wilton Petal Decorating Tip 125 - This is the second tip demonstrated in the video. It's a petal tip, which certainly makes pretty individual petals, but I love using it for piping a simple rose in one continuous icing spiral. This technique takes a little dexterity, so it's a good idea to set aside one or two practice cupcakes.

Wilton Decorating Petal Icing Tip #104 - or, ruffle tip. This is the third tip demonstrated in the video, and you can see that it's just a little smaller than the previous petal tip. In my opinion, it's the best size petal tip for ruffling cupcakes. When I first tried this technique I felt like I was making a real mess of things - starting and stopping rows, accidentally smearing a few ruffles with the piping tip - but when I finished, the cupcake looked picture-perfect. So remember, if you get halfway through ruffling and things are feeling a bit chaotic, keep at it and judge the end result. This petal tip can also make daisies, like the ones on these cupcakes I made for the Etsy blog last year.

Ateco Pastry Tube Plain 808 - Icing mounds are the easiest of the easy-to-make. Honestly, you don't really even have to use a piping tip to achieve the effect. You could just use a zip-top bag with the corner snipped. That said, I really like this size piping tip to make a nice fat, even heap of frosting on top of cupcakes. It's the tip I use for these champagne cupcakes, too.

Ateco Closed Star Pastry Tube 847 and 843 - I love to use these two piping tips together, as you can see demonstrated on the last cupcake in the video. The smaller one is used to make little stars around the edge of the cupcake and the larger tip makes a nice big swirl in the middle. It looks best when contrasting colors are used, like these bonbon cupcakes I made for Valentine's day.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to piping tips and techniques, but these are my favorite and I use them most often. And they are some of the easiest to master, too! If you decide to try them for yourself, share your results on my facebook wall! I'd love to see your work!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
[click for printable version]
Source: adapted from the SprinkleBakes book

Small batch (will generously frost 12-15 cupcakes)                                                     
6 egg whites
1 cup/200g sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound unsalted butter, cubed, softened (room temperature works too, but takes longer to come together)
3 teaspoons clear vanilla extract

Large batch (will generously frost 24-30 cupcakes)
12 egg whites
2 1/2 cups/500g sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 lbs.  unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp clear vanilla extract
  1. Set a saucepan filled one-third full of water over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl ( I suggest a stainless bowl). Set over the simmering water and whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved (120-140 degrees on a candy thermometer, to be sure).
  3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  4. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase to medium-high until stiff peaks are formed.
  5. Continue beating at medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and has cooled (the mixing bowl should feel cool to the touch).
  6. Turn the mixer off and switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle. Turn the mixer on medium-low and add the butter, a few cubes at a time, beating until well incorporated before the next addition.
  7. Add the vanilla extract.  Divide batter and tint with food coloring, if desired.  
  8. Beat until the frosting is thick and completely smooth.
  9. Store in an airtight container until ready for use. 

American Buttercream Frosting
Source: SprinkleBakes book
Yield: about 3 cups, enough to generously frost 12-15 cupcakes

1 cup/226g  unsalted butter, softened
2 ½-3 cups/320 to 384g confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Milk or heavy cream, optional
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners sugar.  Begin on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat again for another minute. If you find the buttercream is too stiff, you may add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is spreading consistency.


link Easy Piping Techniques for Cupcakes By Published: Easy Piping Techniques for Cupcakes Recipe


  1. lovely vedio very basic but extremely useful ..thanks for sharing :)

  2. I want to give you a round of applause!! Great video and so helpful. I know it will come in handy for me one day...at the very least, I should be able to manage the mound! : ) Thank you.

  3. This is pretty much the best thing ever! I'm HORRIBLE at frosting cupcakes. Thanks for taking the time to do the video! You have very pretty hands :) pinned.

  4. These are lovely! I will definitely need to try that ruffle one for my daughter's baby shower. Thank you for sharing these!!

  5. Loved the video Heather! It will be so useful. I normally don't do fancy piping because I like to keep the amount of frosting to a minimum, but these are just so pretty.
    I have a question though, you said the small batch Swiss frosting and the American frosting both frost 12-15 cupcakes. But shouldn't the Swiss make more volume of frosting since it has more butter, plus the whites?

  6. i am in love with this video!!! and i love your music choice :)

  7. That was awesome! Thanks for sharing...I learned something new.

  8. That looks easy .. now lets try to make them all :)

  9. Thank you this was so helpful! Not sure why I never thought about using a cup to hold the baggie, I avoided frosting since it would always end up all over my hands just trying to get it into the bag!

  10. Thank you soooooooo much Heather!

  11. Great tips and lovely cupcakes!



  12. Uhmm can I call you my hero of the day?! What a great video! I love it. Very helpful and beautiful styles. You make it seem so easy too! Makes me want to practice my frosting skills even more. Thank you so much for sharing ^^ Love the hello kitty cup btw ;)

  13. This is such a helpful tutorial. I can't wait to try these out -- especially the rose and ruffle techniques. Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Ho WOW!!
    thank you for the tutorial, very useful.

  15. Love the video!!! As a cookie decorator I almost never get to pull out the 'big tips'! I feel the need to bake some cupcakes today!

  16. Delicious video. Thank you so much for making it simple, beautifully....

  17. The video was SO helpful - thanks for sharing! I really love the rose and the even mound of icing but all of the cupcakes look amazing!

  18. Oh my gosh, I totally needed that! I am so going to use this tutorial over the weekend. Everything you make is so beautiful, I must try to imitate it. :)

  19. Gracias por compartir este video.
    Toda una artista que estás hecha, nos encanta tu blog, saludos desde España

  20. Heather,
    This is a wonderful tutorial. Thank you.
    You are an excellent teacher and an inspiration!

  21. I'm so boring when it comes to frosting cupcakes. I tend to only use a star shape or sometimes I'm extra lazy and scoop it on with a large cookie scoop! Gotta try something new and get more tip shapes.

  22. Thanks for sharing.. I still need so much practise..

  23. You make it look so easy! But I am a long time sewer and I know everything takes practice in order to become proficient. I tend to be lazy and make simple cakes and skip fancy decorating techniques. They get eaten so fast it makes me sad for the time I spent. Maybe I can try some simple ones and go from there.

  24. Thanks Heather, your tutorial was wonderful! I have wanted to get a handle on cupcake icing for years. Your tips are very helpful!

  25. Question: In the recipe for small batch you list 3 tsp vanilla. In the large batch it calls for 1 T vanilla. That is exactly the same amount. With the amounts of sugar and butter more than doubled in the large batch, shouldn't the vanilla also be (at least) doubled? Thanks!

  26. Hello 😊 I just wanna ask if what kind of icing did you put in your cupcake in the video? Is it the American Buttercream or the Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Thanks.

  27. great video, thanks for sharing.

  28. Thanks for this and for the icing recipes. I live in the UK (but am from New Zealand) so it would be useful if you also provided any measurements in pounds converted into grams. Confectioners' sugar is known as icing sugar in the UK (as is also the case in New Zealand and Australia).


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