Decorate Cakes Like a Pro with These Expert-Approved Piping Tips and Accessories
Decorating with a piping bag and tip is a technique worth learning, but with the endless options of sizes and materials, it's hard to know what to buy. We asked professional pastry chef Adrianna Rivera about the tools she relies on for creating edible works of art. Rivera, who honed her skills at the Culinary Institute of America, runs her own made-to-order business in Los Angeles that specializes in cakes and desserts that showcase both fresh (and frosted) florals. For those just starting out, Rivera suggests lots of practice—combined with some good old-fashioned binge-watching. "Watch videos!" she exclaims. "Pay attention to how the demonstrator is holding their bag because it's all about pressure and flow." Most importantly, she adds, "Don't be discouraged when your attempt doesn't look the same, the person giving the example has probably done it 500 times."
Lastly, before taking your new set of piping tips to that freshly baked cake, Rivera recommends starting with a low-stakes surface instead like a printable template instead. And if you don't plan on eating your work, use an affordable frosting as your practice medium, like royal icing or a basic buttercream made with shortening instead of butter. Rivera says, "Remember, you will only get better with practice, so don't be hard on yourself in the beginning."
- Best All-Purpose Set: Ateco Pastry Tip Set
- Best Upgrade Set: Ateco 55-Piece Decorating Set
- Best Giftable Set: Wilton 17-Piece Navy Blue and Gold Piping Tips
- Best Sidekick: Martha Stewart Collection Bowl Scraper
- Best Reusable Bag: Mrs. Anderson's Baking® Reusable Pastry Bag
- Best Accessory: Ateco Universal Pastry Coupler and Cap Set
Best All-Purpose Set
This set of six piping tips from Ateco are a great choice for decorating with a buttercream-like frosting. In Rivera's kitchen, they are considered the everyday workhorse for how versatile they are. "They can pretty much be used for everything except very small, detailed work," she says.
Shop Now: Ateco Pastry Tip Set, $16.95, williams-sonoma.com.
Best Giftable Set
Need an excellent gift for that friend who can't get enough of The Great British Baking Show? This gilded kit from Wilton is just the thing. The range of tip sizes and designs in this set is wide enough to suit many different purposes, from thin and intricate designs with royal icing to full and fluffy buttercream flowers.
Shop Now: Navy Blue and Gold Piping Tips and Cake Decorating Supplies Set, 17-Piece, $15.99, wilton.com.
Best Upgrade Set
With this set from Ateco, you will be prepared for any future baking project that comes your way. It's a small investment, but Rivera says piping tips are really a one-time purchase if they're handled with care. "I highly recommend keeping them in their case or investing in a cake decorating box to keep them all in one place," she says. "They are tools that easily get lost."
Shop Now: Ateco 55-Piece Decorating Set, $37.95, amazon.com.
Rivera considers a bowl scraper to be like an extension of her hand when she's in the kitchen. For piping work, you can use it for tasks like transferring frosting into the bag, scraping practice piping off of surfaces, and—most usefully—using it to push the bagged frosting up towards the tip as you pipe.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection Bowl Scraper, $5, macys.com.
Best Reusable Bag
A reusable piping bag is just as easy to fill, hold, and pipe as the single-use bags and much more economical in the long run (not to mention more eco-friendly). This cloth bag is lined with a plastic coating to make cleaning easier. While going for the biggest bag you can find might be tempting, Rivera advises against it. "If you have small hands, it will make it harder to control, and your hands will hurt from using so much pressure," she advises.
Shop Now: Mrs. Anderson's Baking® Reusable Pastry Bag, $4.99, bedbathandbeyond.com.
Best Accessory: Ateco Universal Pastry Coupler and Cap Set
A coupler is a clever two-part device that will allow you to change out the piping tips without needing to start with a fresh bag of icing. Because the dimensions of piping tips vary, a universal coupler like this one is a handy tool that will ensure a perfect fit no matter which tip you want to change to.
Shop Now: Ateco Universal Pastry Coupler and Cap Set, $6.50, amazon.com.