Piping Tips 101 + Video

How to decorate cakes and cupcakes with some of the prettiest (and easiest!) piping tips! Recipe and video tutorial on sallysbakingaddiction.com

And here’s another baking basics post! This one will be lots of deeee-licious fun.

(Also! See you on Facebook LIVE at 1pm ET for another baking tutorial show. Here is Wednesday’s live video if you missed it.)

I felt extremely inspired the past month. After looking at all of your beautiful April Baking Challenge photos and creations, I really wanted to explore frosting decoration further with you. But first, a quick and very honest backstory. I’ve never felt super talented at cake and cupcake decorating because it’s extremely intimidating. Do you feel the same way? Bored with my usual swirl and knife-swiped frosting looks, I began playing around with different piping tips. As I started using new tips, my confidence shot up. And, as it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised with how EASY it was/is to create beautifully decorated confections.

6 months ago, I would have laughed if someone asked me to create a plate of cupcakes like this:

How to decorate cakes and cupcakes with some of the prettiest (and easiest!) piping tips! Recipe and video tutorial on sallysbakingaddiction.com

But I just threw myself into it and had FUN! And you can too. These piping tips aren’t scary. It just takes a little practice, some visual guidance, and a really dependable frosting recipe. I have all of that here for you today, including a quick video for you to see how it’s all done. I get many questions about this weekly, so I’m glad we can finally tackle it– together!

Let’s begin with my favorite piping tips. I gravitate towards the following 5. Each creates a completely different look, so that’s why it’s a wonderful collection to start with. And these babies won’t break the bank– they’re super inexpensive.

  1. Wilton 1M
  2. Wilton 8B
  3. Ateco 849
  4. Wilton 12 small round
  5. Ateco 808 large round

How to decorate cakes and cupcakes with some of the prettiest (and easiest!) piping tips! Recipe and video tutorial on sallysbakingaddiction.com

One note: I like to create TWO looks with the wilton 1M. That’s the tip we all used for our two-toned frosting roses last month, but it’s also the tip I use to create soft-serve looking swirls. Just like you see here. 🙂

Watch as I use each piping tip so you know how to do it:

Not so hard, right? Some are a simple swirl and others are starting in the center and gently pulling straight up. Let’s look at a photo of each finished look– in the order they appeared in the video above.

1. Wilton 1M – rose. Start in the center and just pipe a flat swirl.

How to use the Wilton 1M piping tip on sallysbakingaddiction.com

2. Wilton 1M – tall swirl (looks like soft serve ice cream!). Start in the center and move slowly around, building a tall swirl on top of itself.

How to use the Wilton 1M piping tip on sallysbakingaddiction.com

3. Wilton 8B – this one is my new favorite. Start in the center and swirl upward.

How to use the Wilton 8B piping tip on sallysbakingaddiction.com

4. Ateco 849 (also used here, here, and here!). Just press the tip in the center and lift up while pushing frosting out.

How to use the Ateco 849 piping tip on sallysbakingaddiction.com

5. Wilton 12 small round tip – my usual (see here, here, here, here, and here). This is the best tip, in my experience, for salted caramel frosting and cream cheese frosting. Just press the tip in the center and lift up while pushing frosting out.

How to use the Wilton 12 round piping tip on sallysbakingaddiction.com

6. Ateco 808 large round – looks like a fluffy cloud! Start in the center and swirl upward.

How to use the Ateco 808 piping tip on sallysbakingaddiction.com

You’ll also need piping bags. You can use disposable piping bags or reusable– whichever you prefer. I have both and don’t really have a preference. The reusable ones are really easy to clean. Remember to watch this video (from the April Baking Challenge recipe) for how I fill the bags. The tall cup trick really helps!

And, of course, here is my favorite vanilla buttercream you can use.

Now go pipe some frosting LIKE A BOSS! ♥ ♥

Deliciously soft, creamy, and easy PERFECT vanilla buttercream recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com


Here are the piping tips I used in today’s post and video:

Wilton 12 Tip | Wilton 1M Tip | Wilton 8B TipAteco 808 Tip | Ateco 849 Tip | Disposable Frosting Bags

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

How to decorate cakes and cupcakes with some of the prettiest (and easiest!) piping tips! Recipe and video tutorial on sallysbakingaddiction.com



  1. Sofia on May 19, 2017 at 12:07 am

    Love this post, Sally! I actually think it looks cool with all the different cupcakes! xD My favorite might be the Wilton 1M or the Ateco 808! I have trouble decorating cakes too, but I wanna give it a shot again!

    • Sally on May 19, 2017 at 8:16 am

      I REALLY like the ateco 808 too– so pretty!

  2. Miriam on May 19, 2017 at 1:52 am

    Sally, for some of the cupcakes, you say to start in the center and work up. Obviously, the frosting closest to the edge of the cupcakes is also the lowest. So is the middle a second layer? I’m very new to this too!

    • Sally on May 19, 2017 at 8:06 am

      yes, the middle would be the 2nd layer– did the video help? 🙂

      • Miriam on May 19, 2017 at 11:15 am

        Oops. Missed that on the first read. Yes, very clear video.

  3. Jenny from jennyisbaking.com on May 19, 2017 at 2:49 am

    I only have a B8 at home, but I love it! 

    May I say that I love your photography in this post? So pretty! I mean, you take beautiful pictures in general, but these are just wow!

    • Sally on May 19, 2017 at 8:07 am

      Jenny, thank you so much! I really appreciate the compliment on the photos.

  4. Sofia Mastrangelo-Binns on May 19, 2017 at 5:46 am

    I really struggle with icing, I have all the tools but dont know what to do with them so this has really helped thank you!

  5. Patricia @Sweet and Strong on May 19, 2017 at 7:20 am

    I love the Wilton 1M but should start trying to use other tips.  Frosting is so fun for me and your vanilla buttercream is the BEST recipe for piping and taste =)

  6. Jamie on May 19, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Last summer I began playing around with icing tips and cake/cupcake decorating and kind of got hooked! It’s alot of fun and people are usually amazed when they realize it’s not as hard as it looks! This was a fun post!

  7. Rachel on May 19, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Thanks for sharing this. One of the issues I’ve encountered when piping frosting (which I do very occasionally) is that I often feel it’s too thin to really maintain its shape. Which frosting recipe do you recommend for foolproof piping that holds its shape?  Thanks for all that you do.

  8. Roseanne on May 19, 2017 at 10:29 am

    This is a fun post and the overhead shot reminds me of ice cream cones. This just serves to make me hungry for cupcakes. Want.one.now. ~smile~

  9. Hayley on May 19, 2017 at 10:30 am

    3 & 6 are my favourite! I’ve always been so bad at frosting cupcakes with my piping bags; I usually try using it for 2 or 3 cupcakes, then give up and use a knife to spread the frosting on (which still tastes good, of course, but doesn’t look nearly as pretty!) Can’t wait to bake up a batch of cupcakes soon & try these tips out. The video demonstration, for me, is the most helpful part. I’m a visual learner 😉

  10. Kayla @ Sweet Me in St. Louie on May 19, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Sally, such a helpful, handy tutorial! Piping intimidation, no more!

  11. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower on May 19, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Thank you so much for this, Sally! I seriously need all the help I can get with my piping technique. This is soo helpful. Have a great weekend!

  12. Regina on May 19, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Hi Sally
    I’m making tomorrow for the first time your Piñata cake. Which tip should I use to make the cute edging on the top layer?  I’m new to piping. Thank you for all your “tips”. 

    • Mel on May 19, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      In her directions for assemble the cake it says
      “I used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe frosting around the top”

  13. Sharon K (The Farm Chick Bakes) on May 19, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Sally, thanks for this demo! I do have one question (sorry if this seem like an elementary question but I’m VERY much a beginner at piping! )..it’s actually on the technique you’re using. I typically use the ‘screw on’ white plastic ends when piping. I noticed you literally put the tip ‘inside of’ the bag. How does the tip not fall out of the bag when squeezing the bag to release the icing? I’d love to see a demo on how you ‘put it all together’…..bag/icing/tip.

    • Sally on May 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Sharon, you can still use the plastic couplers. They are great for when you want to change tips on the same bag of frosting! If you don’t need to change the tips out you can simply cut the end off of a disposable bag as pictured. As long as you don’t cut too much off the bags are strong enough to withstand the pressure and not break!

  14. Sarah Florer on May 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    This is so helpful! The problem I come across is that it seems like my frosting starts melting a bit and looses it’s shape. How do you maintain the icing temp so that it comes out looking perfect and not melted? Thanks! 🙂

  15. Tess on May 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you for this post and what perfect timing! I made your white wedding cupcakes the other weekend for Mother’s Day and was not very satisfied with my icing decorating skills. I made a note to look up icing decorating tips/videos, and then *voila*, you have a post about it 🙂

  16. Cara on May 19, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    This is awesome, thanks Sally! Can you also show us how you frost with just an icing knife like in your Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes? I can never get them to look as cute as yours with just an icing knife. Please share your magic technique! Thank you!

    • Sally on May 20, 2017 at 8:40 am

      That’s a great idea for a future video Thanks for the suggestion, Cara.

  17. Bethany on May 19, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    I love this post! Thank you for all the info!

    Question: Do you use the Wilton clips at the top of the bags? It doesn’t look like it from the video. The last time I made cupcakes (your amazing vanilla cupcakes with strawberry icing!!! So, so yummy) I had icing coming out the top. Maybe I filled the bag too much, but it made me consider buying the clips. Thoughts?

    • Sally on May 20, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Sometimes I use them– but if you use a large enough bag (I like at least 16 inch) I don’t find them necessary. UNLESS you are storing frosting in the piping bags overnight or something 🙂

  18. Hope C. on May 19, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Awesome video! I love the videos you post; they’re well-made and enjoyable to watch. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I have no idea what a video is worth – but either way, I quite enjoy yours. 🙂 It is coincidental that this post was posted today when I had planned to bake some of your sunshine lemon cupcakes from your cookbook… which are delicious, by the way. 😉

    • Sally on May 20, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Thank you so much for the compliment on the videos! What a learning curve they are! I owe it all to my husband and we really appreciate it!

  19. Katherine on May 21, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m still a novice when it comes to decorating, but I want to get better at it.

  20. Jackie on June 14, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! I haven’t tried using the Wilton 12 this way, but I will definitely try it next time I bake, I really like the way it looks. I love your blog, and I really appreciate you posting things like this.

  21. Marie on July 16, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Can I use the Wilton 1m for cream cheese frosting? I’d like to decorate your carrot cake with white roses for my sons baptism. Or would it be better to frost with cream cheese then make roses out of buttercream. I’m a novice baker / decorator.0
     Congrats on the baby!!!

    • Sally on July 16, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Cream cheese frosting doesn’t hold its shape as well as buttercream, but if it’s super chilled– it does! So you can chill it a little before piping if you’re using the 1M.

  22. Molly Nichols on July 26, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Hi, this video and shopping tips/links is so helpful to a beginner like myself – so much fun to watch! I bought some disposable piping bags, but they’re too small and I’m big on recycling. Could you please let me know what reusable piping bag you’d recommend and what size? Thank you!

  23. Stefaney on July 28, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I was looking at this earlier for a little help for my son’s 3rd birthday party. He says he wants cupcakes because they’re his “faaavorite.” He walked by and said “oooh… those cupcakes look verrry good!” And just sat down and stared at them, transfixed. It was pretty stinking cute! This is extremely helpful and I can’t wait to make a test batch this weekend!

  24. Pam on August 23, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Could you use real butter I stead of butter flavoured shorten?

  25. Anita Emde on May 25, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Sally, how much pressure do you use to squeeze the bag? I tried piping once, and this was the difficult part for me as the frosting came out uneven.

  26. D. Sawyer on August 11, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Thanks for the tips and video. I piped frosting on cupcakes today for the first time. My rookie mistake was in not piping enough frosting onto the cupcakes. I was so worried about getting my swirls right that I neglected to squeeze out a good amount of frosting. The cupcakes still looked pretty and tasty, but I had a lot of frosting left over. But now I’m inspired to practice some more!



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