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{Cupcake Monday} How To Frost Cupcakes with a Beautiful Swirl!

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Happy Cupcake Monday!  Glory of Glorious Treats here with some simple tips and techniques to help you make beautiful cupcakes.  Kim and I are both often asked about the pastry tips we most commonly use to frost cupcakes.  If you have ever been curious about the pretty, ruffly swirls… I’m hear to show you how simple it really is!  Piping frosting on cupcakes is actually quicker than spreading it on, and the results are much fancier!

Ready to make some beautiful cupcakes?

You’ll need…

A large pastry bag

A Wilton 2D or 1M tip (the 2D is a closed star, the 1M is an open star, the end results are similar, with the 2D being slightly more ruffly)

A batch of delicious, thick icing  (like my American Buttercream)

Baked and cooled cupcakes


1.  Hold the piping bag straight up, start frosting from the outside edge (about 12 o’clock position), and begin swirling around the outside edge.

2.-3.  Continue squeezing with constant pressure as you work around the edge of the cupcake (I go counter-clockwise, but I don’t think you have to).

4.-5.  Continue in a spiral motion, creating another layer of icing, working in toward the center.

6.  Finish the spiral in the center, release pressure on the bag, and pull straight up.

Voila!  A beautifully frosted  cupcake.  At this point, you could add sprinkles or a TomKat Studio topper, and you have a beautiful dessert perfect for most any occasion.

A few notes… the most common problem people seem to have with piping frosting on cupcakes is the frosting not being thick enough to hold it’s shape.  Make sure your ingredients (butter, milk, etc) are nice and cool as you make your icing, and make sure not to add too much liquid.  If you find the icing a bit soft, you can put it in the refrigerator to firm up a bit, or if necessary add a bit more powdered sugar.

Here are links to some delicious basic recipes, as well as some helpful tips on baking and decorating cupcakes…

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

How to bake Cupcakes

How to frost cupcakes (includes a vide0 tutorial), and includes the rose technique pictured above.

As with any craft or skill, making beautiful cupcakes requires a bit of practice and experimentation… but it shouldn’t be too hard to find people willing to eat your “practice”.

  1. Yum Yum Tables

    August 15th, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Great tutorial! =)

  2. stephanie R Ander

    August 15th, 2011 at 9:08 am


  3. Aimee

    August 15th, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Just what I need it , for this weekend.. Thank you so much!

  4. Amanda

    August 15th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Love this, thank you for sharing. I’m rare in the fact that I don’t like a mound of icing on top of my cupcakes. But my customers do, so thank you for sharing this simple method of building up the icing. I love the flat icing ones though, they look like roses!

  5. Glory

    August 15th, 2011 at 9:28 am

    The ones that look like roses are frosted using the same tips listed in the post, but start the swirl in the center of the cupcake, and do one flat spiral to the outside of the cupcake, I have a vidoe tutorial that includes the rose cupcakes (as mentioned in the post above), http://glorioustreats.blogspot.com/2011/08/cupcake-basics-how-to-frost-cupcakes.html
    It’s so nice to be able to use the same tip, so then you can easily make some of both styles in a single batch of cupackes.

  6. Beth Grange

    May 24th, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Glory,
    Just wondering if you could help me with an icing question 🙂 I’ve been using a Wilton 2D tip to ice my cupcakes following this method for a while, but recently it has started to do something weird to the icing. It seems to be splitting into separate streams and doing what I can only describe as ‘ribboning’, instead of sticking together as one stream. Any idea what might be happening?

  7. Diane White

    August 15th, 2011 at 9:20 am

    If you start in the center of the cupcake and “swirl” out to the edge, you end up with the cupcakes that look like they have a large rose on the top (see her pics…you can tell which were done according to her tutorial and which look more like a rose). They are both beautiful techniques.

  8. Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.

    August 15th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I love these.

  9. Shirley L

    August 15th, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Thanks! I was just at the store yesterday trying to figure out which tip to get to do this, now I know! 🙂

  10. Pat

    August 15th, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Thanks so much! It’s a bit confusing trying to figure out which tip does what ~ this is wonderful.

  11. Jennifer

    August 15th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Just a note about clockwise vs counter-clockwise…when I started making my cupcakes, I was frosting
    counter-clockwise and my frosting kept leaning to one side. I just told myself that I needed to practice more. It was really bothering me and it was not getting better. So one day I was envisioning frosting cupcakes while driving home from work (i’m not the only one, right?) and in my head it seemed more comfortable to go clockwise. I tried it, and right away there was a HUGE difference in how my piping looked.

    This may be because I’m left handed, but I just wanted to throw that out there for anyone else that is having trouble with their piping.

    Great tutorial!

  12. Kim - The TomKat Studio

    August 15th, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I’m so glad Glory did this post! I’ve been meaning to share a tutorial on this technique forever. I’m a clockwise girl! 🙂

  13. janice

    August 15th, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I loved looking at the cakes. I am just about to learn how to do that. I am going to make chocolate cakes and had thought pink frosting. Now I know I want pink frosting. I might try yellow too. Anyway thank you for inspiring me. I just bought all the tools for cake decorating. I will try your recipe.

  14. Lindsey

    August 16th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    This is super helpful, definitely going to pin it! Thank you 🙂

  15. DodoBird

    August 16th, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    ya.my. spacebar. isn’t.working

  16. Karrie

    August 17th, 2011 at 7:10 am

    thats great!! dont know if I could do that but maybe i’ll try!!

  17. petra

    August 17th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    wow, this is so fantastic ! Perfect for a wedding desk !

  18. Heather

    August 18th, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Great Tutorial!
    So great I had to bake some cupcakes just so I could practice icing them immediately!!

    Thank you!!

  19. Custom and buckles for men

    August 19th, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I just bookmarked this the other day so I could attempt to do it myself. They look so pretty. Great tips, look forward to trying this out.

  20. Margie

    August 22nd, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Lovely! Great tutorial for the perfect cupcake! I like to add 2-3 tbsps. of Meringue Powder to my frosting to firm it up. Shape will even withstand moderately warm temps outdoors for the duration of your party!

  21. Vicki V

    August 27th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Found you via Gypsy at Heart. I just love that you showed this in detail. I have the pastry bag and tips but my cupcakes didn’t look like yours. I think it’s that my frosting is too soft and that I wasn’t holding my bag vertically. Thanks so much!

  22. LaRae

    January 25th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Glory, I am a mother of a bride to be and she is wanting a cupcake bar as part of her reception. Is it possible to mak a few weeks in advance because of the time factor. Is it possibale to bake cool frost & freeze? An advise would be very much appreciated.

  23. shaima

    September 18th, 2012 at 8:16 am

    yes it is possible but the frosting wont turn out that good

  24. How to Frost Cupcakes | Best Friends For Frosting

    January 27th, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    […] tips on How to Frost Cupcakes are simple and straightforward, telling us exactly what we need to create that beautiful swirl. […]

  25. jo-lyn's cup cakes n' candies

    January 28th, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    So beautiful! I need to get these bigger tips for my bags!! Can you help me out with something please? I have been having a problem when trying to put my stuff on Pinterest. I cannot get my posts from my blog to link with my pictures. When I try to copy my link to the whole post, it says it can’t find any images?!?!?! I know there must be a way to do it. I see you have done it with your pictures and other bloggers have done it , too. I just can’t seem to understand what to do. Is it how I’m uploading the pictures to the blog to begin with or how I’m doing adding them to Pinterest? Please help!! =) Thank You!

  26. shaima

    September 18th, 2012 at 8:14 am

    its better to get the smaller tips with the four holes

  27. How To Make Flower Cupcakes, Cupcake Decorating Ideas | Diva Entertains Blog

    February 22nd, 2012 at 12:02 am

    […] Check out this post from TomKat studio, with simple instructions on making a swirl ruffle rose cupcake: […]

  28. Muhvinimaania « Harilik Pliiats

    March 14th, 2012 at 4:50 pm

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  29. Vanilla Lemon Cupcakes :: Cupcake Monday | The TomKat Studio

    April 16th, 2012 at 8:07 am

    […] you’re not confident piping frosting on cupcakes, I have shared a post here on The Tomkat Studio and also a post (and video) on my blog, Glorious Treats on how to frost cupcakes. Also, be […]

  30. First Birthday Party Fun « baby bird sewing

    July 19th, 2012 at 11:14 am

    […] there but definitely sweet enough to satisfy the sweet tooths in this house. I used this recipe and this tutorial with my 1M frosting tip to get the rose effect. It was my first time ever piping frosting […]

  31. 5th Birthday Party :: Blue + Orange

    August 13th, 2012 at 3:35 am

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  32. shaima

    September 18th, 2012 at 8:12 am

    it looks bueatiful but not creative,not challenging,too simple, not that fun

  33. rizza

    October 9th, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Hi,how did you make the rose like design?

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  35. Clair

    November 14th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    The pink is Glorious! What colour did you use to create it? And what icing recipe. I’m guessing, not a butter based one? Thanks Clair x

  36. Mia

    November 17th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Great tutorial!

  37. maria isabel cordova

    November 30th, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    soy de Venezuela y no hablo ingles podrían ayudarme mandandome la receta de como hacen la cubieta de cupcakes, me encanta su página pero no comprendo y no soy muy diestra en esto de internet

  38. Neapolitan Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Frosting [recipe] « Cin Cin, Let's Eat!

    December 3rd, 2012 at 3:52 pm

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  41. kori

    December 24th, 2012 at 8:54 am

    thanks you cause i did not now how to do cupcakes designs

  42. Leigh

    March 5th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Can you do this with store bought icing?

  43. Rudi

    May 15th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Have ur recipe for the frosty Love it thank u

  44. Rudi

    May 15th, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Can I please Have ur recipe for the frosty Love it thank u

  45. anita

    June 21st, 2013 at 2:08 am

    can i use these pictures in my web with your website address of curse?

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  47. Lunatic Loves These Links – August 19 | Cravings of a Lunatic

    October 25th, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    […] the tomcat studio how to frost cupcakes with a beautiful swirl- go here! […]

  48. Miss Common Cents

    October 27th, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Thanks for your great tutorial, mine didn’t turn out quite as good as yours but I’m sure I’ll get better with practice!

  49. Making and decorating your own cupcakes | Miss Common Cents

    October 27th, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    […] my icing using this recipe and found this great tutorial online to learn how to do the piping – they make it look so easy! I started off a bit wobbly […]

  50. jenny-ifer

    November 19th, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Absolutely loved the tutorial and the photographs above. Just wondering if you have the same style photos with the rose design. (Yes I realize it’s just changing your starting/ending place but I’m a visual person)

    I’ll definitely be back to try some of these recipes and techniques!

  51. Friday Fun :Springtime Silliness | These Next 6 Months

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  52. Piping 101 | Boston Girl Bakes

    July 10th, 2014 at 10:37 am

    […] on the outside and work your way in building as you go. For a step by step photo, check out this link. Or this you tube video, gotta love the […]

  53. balencia

    November 26th, 2014 at 5:32 pm


    Is the rose technique done with Wilton 1M or 2D? I just noticed in the pictures two of the cupcakes have the rose design. Do you have a tutorial on how to do this technique?

    Thank you in advance and beautiful pictures!

  54. Kimberly

    September 7th, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial. It is very much appreciated. I will be using this swirl on girly baby shower cupcakes this weekend. 🙂

  55. Kasey Bourgeois

    September 3rd, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Heaven Ris avec les gamins,

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