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Learn how to make swirled frosting using two different frostings, a piping bag, and piping tip. 

2 images of chocolate and vanilla swirled frosting in a piping bag and a cupcake topped with chocolate and vanilla swirled frosting

Sometimes you can’t decide between two things.

Flip flops or high heels? Shoulder bag or clutch? Mashed potatoes or baked potatoes? Ketchup or no ketchup? (Um, always ketchup.)

Let me take the thinking out of some things for you today. You can have TWO frostings in one. And it’s so easy to do. You’ll impress everyone with your frosting skills!

marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting

{Pictured: Ultimate Marble Cupcakes}

What You’ll Need

  • Two very thick frostings
  • Piping/pastry bag
  • A Wilton 2D Closed Star or 1M Open Star piping tip (I use the 1M, more on that below. The 2D makes a more ruffly swirl pattern.)
  • Cooled cupcakes

First, make your frostings. The sky is the limit here. Mix and match however you please! For today, let’s do my favorite vanilla frosting and my favorite chocolate frosting. Both of these frosting recipes are my go-to choices. They’ve been featured in my cupcake and cake recipes, as well as in my cookbook. Both frostings are reader favorites, too.

Both ultra creamy, ultra rich, and simple to make.

2 images of vanilla frosting in a pink bowl with a spatula and chocolate frosting in a clear bowl with a spatula

In the picture below, you can see that I swirled my peanut butter frosting and chocolate frosting together on top of my favorite banana cupcakes. So dang good! Here’s that recipe.

banana chocolate chip cupcakes topped with chocolate peanut butter swirl frosting on a white plate

An imperative note about making my frosting recipes: start with the right consistency of butter! Butter must be softened, but not melty in the slightest. You should be able to press your finger into the stick of butter and make an indent easily, without your finger sliding anywhere. Firm, but not cold. Lightly softened is what you should go for.

stick of softened butter

After you’ve made the frosting recipes, it’s time to swirl.

Grab a piping bag and tip. I bought my piping bag from Michael’s, a craft store. They sell them everywhere, even online. I use a reusable piping bag, but you can also find disposable bags. It’s really easy to clean, so the reusable one is just fine for me.

The piping tip I use for swirled frosting is the Wilton 1M swirl (I also purchased this at Michaels). I love this piping tip because it makes frosting look like soft-serve ice cream. I also use the Wilton #12 round tip in a lot of my recipes. You can see what the round tip looks like when piped in this cupcake recipe.

Here is what the Wilton 1M swirl tip looks like. It has a large opening, which will create those iconic large swirls on top of your cupcakes.

piping tip

Now it’s time to fill your piping bag.

How to Fill a Piping Bag with Frosting

  1. Place your preferred piping tip inside the bag (with the end snipped off so that the tip fits through the hole).
  2. Place the bag inside a tall cup or glass and fold the excess bag over the edges of the cup. Secure with a rubber band.
  3. Spoon the frosting inside the bag, leaving a little space so that the frosting doesn’t fill the entire bag.
  4. Remove the bag from the cup and push the frosting down to the tip, squeezing out any air bubbles as needed.
  5. Twist the top of the bag and proceed with piping.

Since we’re using TWO frostings today, you will fill one side with 1 frosting and the other side with another frosting. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfectly neat. Mine wasn’t!

piping bag in a tall cup filled with vanilla frosting on one side and chocolate frosting on the other side

Now, pipe your frosting.

How to Pipe Cupcakes with a Swirl Design

Swirled frosting in a swirled pattern. 😉

  1. To create the iconic swirl pattern with the 1M swirl piping tip, simply start with the tip on the outside edge of the cupcake (12 o’clock position) with the piping bag held straight up.
  2. Start squeezing and begin swirling around the outside edge.
  3. Continue squeezing with constant pressure as you work around the edge of the cupcake. I usually go clockwise.
  4. Continue squeezing in a spiral motion, creating another layer of icing, working in toward the center.
  5. Finish the spiral in the center and pull the bag straight up, releasing pressure.

Note: sometimes one of the frosting flavors may not be at the bottom of the bag at the tip when you begin. For example, my vanilla frosting was a little on top of the chocolate frosting when I piped this cupcake. Notice it’s all chocolate frosting?

cupcake topped with piped frosting coming out of a piping bag

So you may need to frost a cupcake or two before both frostings begin to come out of the piping bag. No big deal, the “practice” cupcakes are still edible.

There you go! You’ve just made swirled frosting in a swirled pattern. It takes some practice, so don’t be discouraged if the first few cupcakes you begin with aren’t flawless. I usually have about 2-3 weird looking ones before getting them just right.

Yes, I mess up too!

marble cupcakes topped with chocolate vanilla swirl frosting

Enjoy your frostings!

The cupcakes featured in this how-to are my Ultimate Marble Cupcakes unless otherwise noted.