Cupcake Piping Troubleshooting: How to Pipe Perfect Cupcakes

Icing perfect cupcakes is a skill that takes a little time, patience and effort to get just right, but once you get the hang of it, you’re sure to become a cupcake master! If your cupcakes look a little less than ideal, check out our handy list of cupcake piping faux pas and the solutions on how to fix them.

These troubleshooting tips will help you learn how to pipe cupcakes.

Too much icing

Too much

Piping huge and tall swirls of buttercream may seem incredibly generous, but this kind of cupcakes look unbalanced and unappetizing. Icing that reaches sky high on your freshly baked treats will also prove a problem when transporting them or fitting them neatly in a cupcake box. Buttercream swirls too tall will also end up squishing all those lovely ruffles!


Simply pipe less swirls of buttercream. Ideally aim for around 2 – 3 rounds when piping. A round is a full circle or swirl of buttercream piped onto the cupcake.

Too small icing

Too small

Getting your cake to buttercream ratio right is essential. No one wants piles of buttercream falling off their sweet treats, but no one wants hardly any frosting either!


Pipe a little more buttercream onto your cakes. This may involve piping out another round or even making sure your frosting covers at least 90 percent of the top of your cupcake. A good amount ranges from around 1/3 to 1/2 buttercream to cupcake.

Skinny Icing

The skinny

Skinny-looking buttercream is a classic sign of the wrong sized piping tip! Look at the flow of buttercream swirling around the cupcake — it’s scrawny, wobbly and unimpressive.

A lot of cupcake piping kits or tips labelled as great for cupcake decorating are less than ideal, so shop around. 


Use a larger tip. A piping tip that is at least 1/2 an inch wide is great, but if you can find them slightly bigger then snap them up!

Wobbly or lopsided icing

Wobbly or lopsided

The perfect speed and pressure is essential for piping incredible cupcakes. Pipe too hard, too fast, too weak or too slow and you’ll end up with wobbly or lopsided frosting swirls on top of your cakes.


Keep practicing. Test out your piping kills on parchment paper to establish the right speed and pressure. Also, make sure that the placement of your buttercream is centered. 

Boxy or angular piping

Boxy or angular

The dreaded boxy or angular piping is usually the result of not being able to control or see your piping bag and cupcake. Once you’re finished, you’ll spot the recognizable corners that a buttcreamed cupcake shouldn’t have.


Try a lower piping surface. If you’re short or if your kitchen counter seems a little high, move production over to a dining table or desk. Make sure that you’re piping from directly above the cupcake and not at an angle.

Broken Icing


Buttercream swirls that are interrupted or broken off look messy and the generally occur when a pesky air bubble has found its way into your piping bag and buttercream.


Rid yourself of large air bubbles that will break up the flow of your buttercream by shaking your piping bag downward once it is filled with buttercream. When your icing has edged to the end of the piping tip, it’s ready to use!

With these handy tips and advice we bet you can’t wait to try them out! Now turn your mixer on and whip up some tasty treats because you’re all set to pipe and decorate beautiful homemade cupcakes!

Deliver heavenly cupcakes no one can resist!

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