How to Use a Cake Decorator Bag

Nothing sets the mood for a party better than a beautiful cake. With the techniques and tricks in this section, you can create a spectacular cake no matter what your artistic skill or decorating experience.

Decorating bags are essential for piping on many cake decorations. For each of the techniques shown here, you'll need a decorating bag fitted with the appropriate tip. Use the frosting or icing that is specified in the recipe to fill the bag for decorating.

The Coupler

A coupler, inserted into the decorating bag before filling, can save time and mess. It is used to attach tips to the decorating bag and allows you to change tips without removing the frosting from the bag.
  1. Unscrew the ring. Insert the cone-shaped piece into the narrow end of an empty decorating bag until the narrow end extends slightly beyond the end of the bag (snip off the end of the decorating bag if necessary).

  2. Place the coupler ring over the decorating tip. Screw the ring on to hold the tip in place.

    Screw the coupler ring on to hold the tip in place.
    Screw the coupler ring on
    to hold the tip in place.

  3. To change tips, unscrew the ring, remove the tip, replace with the new tip and screw the ring back in place.
Filling the Bag

Once you have the desired tip in place, you need to fill your bag with icing.
  1. Insert the decorating tip or attach the tip with a coupler.

  2. Fold the top of the bag down. Use a spatula to place the frosting in the bag. In general, fill the bag half to two-thirds full, then unfold the top of the bag. Do not fill the bag too full. (If you only need a small amount of frosting, use at least 1/4 cup to get enough frosting for piping.)

    Use a spatula to place the frosting in the bag.
    Use a spatula to place
    the frosting in the bag.

  3. To prevent the frosting from squeezing out the top of the bag, twist or roll down the top of the bag tightly against the frosting.
Piping Frosting

When piping, hold the bag so the tip is at the angle indicated for the technique. Then, gently squeeze to force the frosting out, using even pressure while guiding the tip. Do not loosen your grip on the twisted end or the frosting will begin to push up and out of the top of the bag.

Do not loosen your grip on the end of the bag
Do not loosen your grip on the end
of the bag or the frosting will begin to
push up and out of the top
.

TIP: Push mainly with the palm of your hand, rather than squeezing with your fingers. To get the feel of how hard to squeeze for each technique, practice piping on a sheet of waxed paper. You'll quickly find that the size of dots, stars, drop flowers, shells, etc., depends on how hard you squeeze, as well as on the size of the opening in the tip. The more you practice, the easier the techniques will be while decorating cakes.

The Techniques

The following techniques give directions for right-handed users. If you are left-handed, you should follow the directions using opposite hands. For example, if the instructions say to hold the bag to the right, you should hold the bag to the left. A left-handed person should decorate from left to right instead of right to left, except for writing messages.

Line (use writing or small open star tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at a 45-degree angle to the right.

  2. While gently squeezing bag, guide tip opening just above cake in a straight, curved, zigzag, or squiggly line.

    Guide the tip just about the cake in the desired pattern.
    Guide the tip just about the
    cake in the desired pattern.

  3. To end line, stop squeezing, then lift tip.
Writing (use writing tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at a 45-degree angle to the right for horizontal lines and toward you for vertical lines.

  2. While gently squeezing bag, guide tip opening just above cake to form print or script letters.

    Writing letter is really just a slight variation on the line.
    Writing letters is really just a
    slight variation on the line.

  3. Stop squeezing, then lift tip at the end of each letter for print letters and at the end of each word for script writing.
Dot (use round tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at a 90-degree angle. Position opening just above the cake and gently squeeze.

  2. Lift slightly while still squeezing. When dot is desired shape, stop.

TIP: If you feel that you have too much of a point in center of dots or stars, gently press down to flatten with a toothpick.

Dot Border (use round tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at an angle (about a 75-degree angle for bottom border and a 90-degree angle for top border).

  2. Pipe dot as directed above.

    Position your bag at an angle and gently squeeze.
    Position your bag at an
    angle and gently squeeze.

  3. Position tip so it is almost touching first dot and pipe another dot. Repeat to complete border.
Bead (use writing tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at a 45-degree angle to the right.

  2. Position opening just above cake and gently squeeze until a tiny mound is formed.

  3. Continue squeezing while pulling tip slightly down to the right to form teardrop shape. Stop squeezing, then lift tip.

    Squeeze while pulling the tip slightly down and to the right to form a teardrop shape.
    Squeeze while pulling the tip slightly
    down and to the right to form a
    teardrop shape.
Puff Border (use round tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at an angle (about a 75-degree angle for bottom border and a 90-degree angle for top border). Position opening just above cake and gently squeeze.

  2. Lift about 1/4 inch while still squeezing.

  3. When puff is desired size, stop squeezing and then lift tip.

  4. Position tip so that it is almost touch first puff and pipe another puff. Repeat to complete border.

    Position tip so that it is almost touch first puff and pipe another puff
    Position tip so that it is almost touching
    first puff and then pipe another puff.

Star (use open or closed star tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at a 90-degree angle. Position opening just above cake and gently squeeze.

  2. Lift slightly while still squeezing. When star is desired size, stop squeezing, then lift tip.

    When star is desired size, stop squeezing, then lift tip.
    When star is desired size,
    stop squeezing, then lift tip.

Star Border (use open or closed star tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at an angle (about a 75-degree angle for bottom border and a 90-degree angle for top border).

  2. Pipe star as directed above.

  3. Position tip so that it is almost touching first star and pipe another star. Repeat to complete border.

    Position tip so that it is almost touching first star and pipe another star.
    Position tip so that it is almost touching
    first star and pipe another star.

Puffy Star Border (use open or closed star tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at an angle (about a 75-degree angle for bottom border and a 90-degree angle for top border). Position opening just above cake and gently squeeze.

  2. Lift about 1/4 inch while still squeezing. When star is desired size, stop squeezing, then lift tip.

  3. Position tip so that it is almost touching first star and pipe another star. Repeat to complete border.

    Position tip so that it is almost touching first star and pipe another star.
    Position tip so that it is almost touching
    first star and pipe another star.

Swag (use rose tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at a 45-degree angle to the right. Position wide end of hole in tip so it is just touching cake and narrow end is angling away from cake.

  2. Gently squeeze while moving tip down slightly and to the right, draping to form swag.

    Gently squeeze while moving tip down slightly and to the right.
    Gently squeeze while moving tip
    down slightly and to the right.

  3. When swag is desired length, stop squeezing, then lift tip.
TIP: It's helpful to mark guidelines with a toothpick to assure even spacing of swags and ruffled swags when piping.

Ruffle (use rose tip):
  1. Hold bag so tip is at a 45-degree angle to the right. Position wide end of hole in tip so it is just touching cake and narrow end is angling away from cake.

    Position wide end of the hole in the tip so it is ju
    Position wide end of the hole in the tip
    so it is just touching cake and the narrow
    end is angling away.

  2. Gently squeeze while moving tip in slight up-and-down motion to ruffle icing.
TIP: To use a ruffle as a side decoration, move tip downward to form swag while piping ruffle. When ruffle is desired length, stop squeezing, then lift tip.

To make a ruffle a side decoration, use the swag technique.
To make a ruffle a side decoration,
use the swag technique.

Now we will move on to making flowers with icing in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

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  • How to Bake a Cake: Find basic instructions and definitions that will help you bake a cake in this article. You'll learn about selecting the proper baking pan, cooling and frosting a finished cake, and more.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.