Piping Icing

Christine Albury

Learn about the two main kinds of piping icing, including when to use them and how to make your own

Making a bowl of piping icing and using it to decorate your home baked goods turns the simplest cakes and cookies into show-stoppers. 

With just a little practice you can create cool designs or simple swirls that add visual appeal to your baked treats, along with extra flavor and a contrasting texture.

Homemade Candy Buttons Photo

There are two main kinds of piping icing that are commonly used in cakes and cookies, and those are royal icing and buttercream icing (or frosting).

Royal icing

Royal icing is perfect for all kinds of culinary applications! It is the type of icing used to create intricate and beautiful patterns and flowers on wedding cakes, and is ideal for making lovely designs on cookies.

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies Photo

Add a few drops of food coloring of your choice and it is easy to create themed cookies for events like Christmas and Halloween.

Because royal icing dries so hard, it also makes a fantastic glue for gingerbread houses! Or you could use it to make these colorful Candy Buttons!


Homemade Candy Buttons Recipe

    120 Servings


  • 2 tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 1/4 cup Cold Water
  • 3 1/2-4 cups Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable Shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fruit Extract of Your Choice, (optional)
  • Food Coloring


  1. In a standing mixer fitted with the whip, or with an electric hand mixer, beat together the meringue powder and water until stiff peaks form.
  2. Blend in 3 cups of the confectioner's sugar.
  3. Mix in the corn syrup, shortening, and vanilla extract. Add more confectioner's sugar, 1/2 to 1 cup more, to desired consistency.
  4. Divide the icing into bowls for the number of colors you are making.
  5. Add a dash of fruit extract(s) to each bowl of icing if you'd like to add flavoring.
  6. Tint each bowl of icing with the food coloring.
  7. Fill the decorating bags and close tightly with rubber bands. Snip the tips of the decorating bags.
  8. Cut strips of freezer paper size 2-inches by 8 1/2-inches. Place a strip over the template.
  9. Use the blue painter's tape to secure the strip.  Pipe dots of icing on the strip of paper, using the template as a guide. (Alternatively, hold the strip over the template and trace the dots with a food writer. Then pipe on the dots.)
  10. When finished, transfer the strip to a baking tray, using the blue tape to hold the paper onto the tray.
  11. Let the icing dry overnight before handling and packaging.


Also needed for this recipe:

  • Disposable decorating bags
  • freezer paper
  • scissors
  • blue painters tape
  • candy buttons template


Remember to use your royal icing immediately - it gets hard very quickly.

Greek Yogurt Frosting Image

Buttercream Frosting

Buttercream frosting makes a lovely piping icing.

Usually light and airy and with a soft, creamy texture, it can still be used to make pretty decorations when piped with a decorating bag and tips.

It is spreadable - so it can be good for sandwiching cake layers together - and it is the perfect texture for creating attractive swirls on cupcakes.

Strawberry Frosting Pic

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

  12 Servings


  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract


  1. Cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer at medium speed, until light and fluffy.
  2. Next, beat in the vanilla and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, turning the speed to low with each new addition then returning to the medium setting. Stop often to scrape down the sides.
  4. If the mixture is a little too dry for your needs, add milk until it reaches the desired texture.


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Christine Albury

About Christine

I'm a mom of 5 and love making healthy baby food with wholesome, natural ingredients. In 2005 I started the Homemade Baby Food Recipes website, sharing recipes for everything from simple fruit purees to gourmet curries for the baby food connoisseur! You'll also find plenty of tried and tested tips to help encourage even the most reluctant diner to enjoy a wide range of nutritious new foods. If you enjoy cooking, then you will LOVE learning to become head chef for a very special little customer!