Somewhat Simple

How to Frost Cupcakes


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Today we’re sharing how to frost cupcakes easily and beautifully every time! These frosting tips will make your cupcakes look like you just brought them them home from the bakery.

It doesn’t matter if you’re celebrating a birthday, a graduation, a new baby or anything in between, these frosting tips will help you make the most beautiful cupcakes for that special occasion.

white cupcakes with pink frosting

Easy Cupcake Frosting Tips

Aren’t cupcakes the best? I mean seriously, you can make them for both formal and casual events, they come in a billion flavors and they are fun to decorate! What’s not to love about a cupcake?

Today I want to show you a few cupcake frosting tips and baking suggestions that I’ve learned over the years. These will make whipping up a batch of delicious, beautiful cupcakes even easier than before! Plus, you’ll be able to frost and decorate them to look like you just picked them up from your local bakery.

cupcake batter in a lined baking tin

1. Best Cupcake Recipe

First you need to start with your favorite cupcake recipe. There are so many good ones out there. Whether they’re from scratch or you took a shortcut and used a box of cake mix, it doesn’t matter. Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

freshly baked cupcakes in a pan

2. How Long to Bake Cupcakes

I think the biggest mistake you can make when baking cupcakes is over-baking them. A moist, yummy cupcake can quickly turn into a dry, crumbly average cupcake. Get familiar with your oven and find the perfect cupcake baking time. Does it typically cook things faster or slower than a package suggests?

  • Early Timer – Set your oven timer for a good 5 minutes less than it says in the recipe.
  • Check But Don’t Open – When it beeps, turn on the oven light and check them out. (Try to open the oven as little as possible so as not to let the heat out of the oven.
  • Reset – If it looks obvious they aren’t done, then set the timer for 2 or 3 more minutes.
  • Test – If it is questionable, insert a toothpick. When the toothpick comes out clean, take them out.
  • Perfect Timing – You want to catch them right at the moment that the toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove – Be sure to take them out of the pan to cool right after you take them out of the oven. Cupcakes will keep baking a little if they sit in the hot pan, so they’ll brown a bit more if you leave them in. Plus, the time it’ll take for them to cool will be much longer.

3. Cupcake Baking Supplies

  • Cupcake Tins – Cupcakes cook faster in darker pans, so the color of your cupcake pan can make a big difference on the cook time. Take your pans into consideration when you factor your bake time. (HERE is the tin I use. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done!)
  • Filling – Fill your cupcake liners with an ice cream scoop like this one. It will lead to more uniformity in the size of your cupcakes. Follow the recipe as to how high you should fill the liner with batter. Also pay attention to how many cupcakes they say the recipe makes. I try to make sure I have the same number they say.
  • Cupcake Liners – This one might just be a quirk of mine, but I only use cute, decorated cupcake liners with white cupcakes. Usually, fancy cupcake liners are wasted on dark colored cake as the paper gets ruined by the conflicting color of the batter. For chocolate cupcakes I use brown or white liners, which takes on the color brown during the baking process. Then, I’ll set my cupcakes in the decorative cupcake liners after they are baked. 

cupcakes next to a piping bag of frosting

4. Cupcake Frosting Recipe

I could make a list a mile long of frosting options. From homemade to store bought, I have yet to meet a frosting I didn’t like. However, there is one that stands out above the rest for me. If you’re looking for a really easy homemade cupcake frosting recipe, you have to give this Cream Cheese Frosting a try!

a cup lined with a frosting bag is an easy tip

5. Frosting Bag Tip

Use A Cup – Big cups make filling your frosting bags super easy! Buy the larger 16 or 18 inch frosting bags if you want them to fold over a big cup. Just set that bag (tip uncut) right in the cup and fold the top over a good 4-5 inches. Fill it by scraping the frosting on the side of the cup, then tapping it down in.

a cup lined with a piping bag filled with frosting

6. How to Frost Cupcakes

Tip, Tips – For frilly cupcakes you can use a variety of tips, but I want to show you how to get a simple, smooth swirl in no time! You can achieve that “soft-served ice cream” look by using a large round tip. This really is the best way to frost cupcakes. It comes out smooth and perfect every time!

No Tip – You could also skip that step and just cut the end off of the frosting bag. This really comes in handy when you are doing multiple colors and you only have one tip. You won’t have to wash it between each color.

different piping tips to frost cupcakes

Precision Cut – After you fill your frosting bag, cut the tip off with a pair of good, sharp scissors. If it isn’t a clean cut, you will see marks and lines in your piping. You still may see a very subtle line in your frosting swirl, but it’s miniscule. If that bothers you, you’re better off using the frosting tips.

how to frost cupcakes 3 different ways

Different Sizes – You can get the look of multiple round tips with any bag. In the picture above, I cut the bag about an inch from the tip and piped the one on the left. Then I cut off about 1/4 inch more and piped the second one, and so on. So choose the look that you want and cut off your desired size.

2 methods showing how to frost a cupcake

Compare – The picture above is proof that you can get many frosted looks without the use of a cupcake tip. The cupcake on the left is frosted without a tip, the one on the right uses a big tip. (They really don’t look much different, right!)

piping frosting onto a cupcake

Piping Tip – When piping frosting onto your cupcakes, hold the bag almost perpendicular to your work surface. Apply a mild amount of pressure as you start on the outside and swirl your way in.

showing a simple cupcake frosting tip

Some people prefer to have the frosting cover the whole cupcake, and some prefer to leave some cake showing.

7. Cupcake Sprinkles

If you want to add sprinkles to your cupcakes, do it right after you frost. I usually frost 5 or so cupcakes and then go back and the sprinkles. They will stick right where you put them. If you wait longer, the frosting will dry a tiny bit and they will just fall right off the cupcake.

cupcakes topped with piped frosting and sprinkles

8. Cupcake Decorating Ideas

Of course, there are so many cupcake decorating ideas for every holiday and celebration. Here are some of our favorites decorating ideas that we’ve come up with. If you have any other suggestions, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

cupcakes topped with piped frosting and sprinkles

 Happy Cupcake Baking!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashleigh is the creative baker from Bee in Our Bonnet. She was on the Somewhat Simple Creative Team, sharing darling cookie and dessert tips and ideas!

This post was updated with new images in June 2018.

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