How to Pipe/Frost a Cupcake

A cupcake is the perfect handheld treat. And they’re almost as exciting to look at as they are to eat if you do the piping/frosting correctly. To pipe/frost a cupcake, all you need to do is start with a dollop of frosting in the middle, then create circles using a piping bag and tip.

Hey! How’s it going? My name is Michelle, and I am a self-taught baker with over ten years of experience. I have had a blast baking cupcakes, whether they were professional cupcakes for a wedding or just a couple of cute handheld goodies baked with my kids. Regardless, the frosting can make or break a cupcake – trust me.

Do you need to know how to pipe/frost a cupcake? I’m here to help! Below is my comprehensive yet easy-to-follow guide for frosting a cupcake. By the end, you’ll have cupcakes that people will want to eat with their eyes before their mouths.

Let’s get frosty!

How to Frost a Cupcake in 3 Steps

Cupcakes need frosting. Otherwise, aren’t they just a muffin

That said, you need to decorate your cupcakes with a beautiful swirl of frosting. How do you do it, though? It’s simple and only requires three steps and three items.

What You’ll Need to Pipe/Frost a Cupcake

Before we dive into how to pipe a cupcake, we first need to gather our materials. Thankfully, you’ll only need three items:

  • Frosting – Any frosting can pair well with cupcakes, but buttercream remains the fan favorite. Buy or make homemade buttercream frosting!
  • Piping bags – While you can make your own piping bags using a Ziploc bag, I recommend purchasing some piping bags, especially if you plan to decorate goodies regularly.
  • Tips – The tips are going to create the texture or design of the frosting. That said, you definitely need to have some in your arsenal. 

Step 1: Select a Tip

The first thing you need to do is decide which tip you will use with your piping bag. The tip will determine the pattern of your frosting. For instance, it could be plain and round or more artistic with a star or flower shape.

Adhere your desired tip to the piping bag. 

Step 2: Fill the Piping Bag with Frosting

You can’t have frosted cupcakes without frosting!

That said, your next step is to fill the piping bag with your preferred frosting. Fill the bag halfway, push the frosting toward the bottom, and squeeze out any excess air. Wrap the top and secure it with a rubber band, if desired.

This can sound a little confusing. Martha Stewart perfectly shows how it’s done here:

Step 3: Place a Dollop of Frosting in the Middle

Now it’s time to start decorating the cupcakes!

You’ll need to create a solid base first so the rest of the frosting doesn’t collapse.

You can easily do this by dropping a small dollop of frosting right in the middle of your cupcake. Simply squeeze the bag of frosting gently. Allow a small amount of frosting to come out. Then, remove the pressure and move away from the cupcake.

Step 4: Finish Frosting the Cupcake

Start expelling frosting around the edge of the cupcake. 

After completing a full circle, move inward and create another circle on top.

Complete this process one last time. At this point, you’ll have three circles of frosting sitting on top of your cupcake.

Finish with another small dollop of frosting on top of the cupcake to complete the look.

Visual learners? Here’s a great video to follow along with: 

Step 5: Decorate (Optional)

Now that your frosting is all done (and looking fabulous), you can add additional decorations if desired. Some of my favorite toppings for cupcakes include:

  • Sprinkles
  • Small candies
  • Chocolate drizzle
  • Fruit
  • Crushed cookies
  • Nuts


Frosting cupcakes? Yup – definitely not as complicated as it looks. I can’t wait to hear all about the wonderful cupcakes you frost! But before you go, look at these frequently asked questions – asked by readers like you.

Should frosting be cold before piping?

Your frosting should be at room temperature before piping. Otherwise, you’ll have quite a difficult time trying to expel the frosting from the piping bag. 

Can you pipe cupcakes the night before?

You can undoubtedly pipe cupcakes the night before! In fact, it’s highly recommended to do so. That’s because the frosting will allow the cupcakes to lock in moisture, ensuring they taste as good as new when it comes time to dig in. (Not to mention you won’t be scrambling before the big event!)

Can you use store-bought frosting to pipe cupcakes?

It’s definitely possible to use store-bought frosting to pipe cupcakes, but it’s not ideal as it tends to have a thinner consistency. The better option is to make your own. All you need is unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar, pure vanilla extract, and milk. 

Are You Ready to Frost Some Cupcakes?

Frosting cupcakes is easy. With some frosting, a piping bag, and a tip, you can create gorgeous cupcakes that look like they came from the fanciest bakery in town. Remember that you can switch up the look by simply using a different tip. Don’t forget the dollop of frosting in the center!

Have you ever frosted a cupcake before? What’s your favorite way to do it? Do you have any questions? Contact us below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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