Learn How to Make Vibrant Frosting for Cakes, Cupcakes, and More with Advice from Our Food Editors

Plus, we're sharing our top tips for easy yet impressive piping techniques.

When it comes to creating the perfect cake or cupcake, the frosting really is the finishing touch. And if you want to create subtle yet striking frosting colors, you're in luck: All you need to re-create the bold hues above is gel food coloring—try AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste ($2.25 each for 0.75 oz., americolorcorp.com)—and our assistant food editor Riley Wofford's secret (until now) formulas.

Just whisk the number of drops outlined below into two cups of Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Keep in mind that one drop of food coloring is equal to about 1/8 teaspoon. Top your confections with these painterly hues, and they'll sell like you-know-whats at the season's first bake sale.

colorful swiss meringue buttercream piping bags
Frank Frances

How to Make Boldly Colored Frosting

  • Dusty Pink: 6 Mauve + 3 Electric Purple
  • Marigold: 8 Orange + 2 Gold + 1 Chocolate Brown
  • Granite: 6 Slate + 4 Royal Blue + 2 Electric Purple
  • Peony: 10 Electric Purple + 8 Red Red + 2 Dusty Rose
  • Pistachio: 6 Avocado + 1 Forest Green + 1 Chocolate Brown
piping tip illustration

Top It

Now that you've got the colors down, it's time to master the technique. You can do a lot with a pastry bag, a plain 1/2-inch-round piping tip, frosting, and a dream, starting with these easy but impressive techniques.

pink frosting dollop piping cupcake
Frank Frances

The Dollop

Pipe a big mound of frosting onto the center, then press and twirl with the back of a spoon.

blue frosting piping on cupcake
Frank Frances

The Swirl

Working from near the edge toward the center and up, pipe a single coil in one steady squeeze.

green frosting spiky crown piping cupcake
Frank Frances

The Spiky Crown

Use a press-and-pull motion to make pointy peaks, starting from the center and working your way out.

Prop styling by Suzie Myers; Food styling by Riley Wofford; Illustration by Danielle Golinski

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