A simple, smooth swirl of frosting to top a cupcake looks impressive without looking so over-the-top your friends and family will feel guilty eating your creation. You’ll see this same frosting style topping the confections of many designer bakeries and cupcake shops, but it is easy enough for you to create at home. This works especially well if you have a large batch of cupcakes to frost in a short amount of time. The frosting must be of medium consistency so it is firm enough to hold shape, but thin enough to pipe easily.

Things You'll Need

Whip the frosting for several minutes to a light, smooth texture, using an electric mixer or whisk.

Cut the tip from a decorating bag and insert a large, round decorating tip. The thickness of the swirls increases with the size of the hole in the decorating tip. Use a plastic food storage bag if you don’t have frosting bags. You can achieve a similar swirl without purchasing a decorating tip; simply cut straight across the tip of the bag to make a round opening.

Fill the decorating bag with frosting, using a spatula to scoop the frosting from the bowl and into the bag. Fold the top of the bag over your hand so you can easily add the frosting closer to the bottom of the bag without making a mess at the top of the bag. Squeeze the frosting down to the bottom of the bag so there are no air pockets in the frosting. Practice squeezing the frosting out of the bag onto a plate or piece of parchment paper; practicing piping helps you adjust to using the frosting bag and to remove air from the tip.

Squeeze a small mound of frosting onto the center of the cupcake while applying medium pressure to the bag.

Drag the frosting to the outer edge of the cupcake without lifting the tip or releasing pressure on the bag.

Pipe the frosting in a circle around the outer edge of the cupcake. When you get to the end of the circle, drag the frosting to the inside of the circle so the ends don’t meet and you can start the swirl pattern. Raise the bag slightly as you move to the inside so the next swirl is raised above the outer swirl.

Pipe the frosting into a circle inside the first circle. Pull the frosting to the inside, raising it slightly, and make additional swirls until you achieve the desired height and number of swirls around the cupcake.

Bring the frosting to the center of the cupcake when you’ve created the desired number of swirls. Stop squeezing the bag and pull up slightly to separate the frosting on the cupcake from the frosting in the bag while creating a curled tip to finish the swirl. Push down slightly while you release pressure if you want a flat rather than curled tip. You can go around the cupcake only twice to create a low, wide swirl of frosting or make four or five circles to increase the height and number of swirls.


  • The entire process of swirling the frosting is done with one continuous stream of frosting from the decorating tip. Never stop squeezing the frosting or lift the tip away from the cupcake. Squeeze with continuous, even pressure from start to finish to make all parts of the swirl even.