clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
5 piping bags fitted with various piping tips and filled with vanilla buttercream

How to Use Frosting Piping Tips

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2.5 cups
  • Category: Frosting
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: American


Discover how to use a few popular piping tips using this vanilla buttercream recipe. It’s creamy and smooth, and tastes unbelievable on vanilla cupcakes! You can pipe it on cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other confections.


Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 45 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar (see note)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Decorating Tools


  1. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I always add 1/8 teaspoon.
  2. Adjust if needed: You can control the consistency at this point—add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more heavy cream if frosting is too thick (add only 1 Tablespoon at a time, beat together, then taste and add more if desired).
  3. Select your desired piping tip from the list above, and have your cake, cupcakes, or other confections cooled and ready. Here are all of my cake recipes and cupcake recipes.
  4. Fill your piping bag: It can be pretty difficult to fill a piping bag with creamy frosting without making a mess. My trick is to use a big cup. Fit the piping bag with your desired piping tip, then place it in a large cup, folding the top of the piping bag around the rim of the cup.
  5. Wilton 1M: Wilton 1M is a classic piping tip and the buttercream rose is a staple decoration. Start in the center and, using medium pressure, pipe a flat swirl. You can see this lovely rose decoration on this 6 inch birthday cake. You can also create two-toned frosting roses. You can also produce a decoration that resembles soft serve ice cream. Start in the center and, using medium pressure, move the tip slowly around, building a tall swirl on top of itself.
  6. Wilton 8B: Wilton 8B is very easy to use, but creates a beautiful decoration. Start in the center and, using medium pressure, swirl upward. You can see I used it on these white chocolate strawberry cupcakes and these chai latte cupcakes.
  7. Ateco 849: Ateco 849 is a wide piping tip. You can make a rose or a soft-serve swirl, just like the Wilton 1M above. (Since this tip is wider, the rose and swirl would be wider/larger. You can see a wider tall swirl using Ateco 849 on these confetti cupcakes and these peanut butter cupcakes.) Or you can create a super easy ruffled look as shown on these pistachio cupcakes. Just press the tip in the center and, using medium pressure, lift up while pushing frosting out.
  8. Wilton 12: Wilton 12 is a small round tip. Since it doesn’t have any detailed edges, I love using this tip for silky/thin/creamy frostings such as salted caramel frosting and cream cheese frosting. You can see an example of it on these Easter cupcakes and these lemon cupcakes with blackberry cream cheese frosting. Just press the tip in the center and, using medium pressure, lift up while pushing frosting out.
  9. Ateco 808: Ateco 808 is also a round tip, but it’s much larger than Wilton 12. Its decoration looks like a big fluffy cloud! You can see an example of it on these carrot cake cupcakes and these cookie dough cupcakes. Start in the center and, using medium pressure, swirl upward.


  1. Storage & Freezing: Use prepared frosting immediately or cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer) | Piping Bag (Disposable or Reusable) | Wilton 1M (large open star) | Wilton 8B (another large open star) | Ateco 849 (XL, wide closed star) | Wilton 12 (small, narrow round) | Ateco 808 (large, wide round)
  3. Quantity: This recipe is enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes or a thin layer on a 9×13 inch quarter sheet cake. Follow the ratios written in this white cake for a two layer cake, or for a three layer cake use the ratios in this confetti cake.
  4. Confectioners’ Sugar: If your confectioners’ sugar is particularly lumpy, I recommend sifting it 1-2x before measuring and using.
  5. Heavy Cream: I love using heavy cream for the creamiest consistency. You can use half-and-half or whole milk instead if needed. The lower the fat, the less creamy your buttercream will be. Whichever you use, make sure it’s at room temperature. Otherwise your frosting could separate or appear grainy.

Keywords: vanilla frosting, piping tips