How to Choose the Right Piping Nozzle for Your Cake

If you’re a cake decorator, chances are you’ve amassed an impressive collection (or what some might call hoard) of piping tips and nozzles. It’s important to learn how to choose the right piping nozzle for your cake. But even if you have quite a bit of royal icing and buttercream piping experience under your belt, it can still be tricky to visualize what your design will look like by the tip alone.

But don’t stress — here’s a handy visual guide to each type of piping tip.

Open Star Piping Nozzles

What shapes do open star piping tips make

Open star tips like the Wilton 1M (above left) and the Wilton 4B (above right) are super popular for frosting cupcakes.

Open and closed star tips are very popular when it comes to frosting pretty cupcakes. They can create lightly textured ruffles when swirled continuously and, when used at an angle, these tips create small shell-type dollops of buttercream or royal icing — perfect for adding cute borders at the base of iced cakes. Otherwise, piped directly overhead and in short bursts, they make “gems,” which are great for piping out meringue kisses, mini-cupcakes or tiny bursts of buttercream on top of a homemade cake.

Closed Star Piping Nozzles

What patterns do close piping tips make

The Ateco 846 (left), Wilton 1F (center) and Wilton 2D (right) are all common piping nozzles for closed star designs.

These types of nozzles and tips are perfect for piping ruffled buttercream on top of cupcakes as well as adding borders to cakes or cookies, depending on their size. Closed star tips create a more defined texture than open star tips because the tip’s ridges are tighter.

Plain Round Piping Nozzles

Easy piping tip cheat sheet

The scrollwork and dots on the left were piped with the PME Supatube 2.5 nozzles. The Ateco 808 was used to pipe the generous dots to the right.

Use plain round piping tips to pipe simple and rounded swirls on your cakes and cupcakes. In small sizes, these nozzles are great for adding dots of details onto cakes, adding centers to sugar blossoms, or even for piping out names. Small seamless tips (such as the PME Supatube range) are perfect for piping swiss dots onto cakes with royal icing.

Petal or Ruffle Piping Nozzles

Create pretty ruffles with petal piping tips

For 3D ruffles, use the Wilton 124 (left). The Wilton 104 (right) can be used to pipe subtle frills with buttercream.

The name says it all! These tips are ideal for adding gorgeous buttercream ruffles to cakes or for piping out impressive flowers on top of cupcakes and cookies. Always make sure that the fatter end of the piping tip is closest to the cake, with the thinner end facing upwards. This will ensure super delicate and defined ruffles and petals!

Leaf Piping Nozzles

Piping nozzle cheat sheet

The photo above shows two main types of leaf piping tips. The one on the left, the Wilton 352, has a large V notch, which creates a smooth leaf that is full at the base and tapered towards the end. The tip on the right with the smaller opening, the Wilton 67, has a cut along the top and sides with a tiny notch in its middle. This helps make a more ruffled leaf.

Piping tips that help you create pretty leaves are handy for adding quick detail to floral cakes and cookies. They’re also perfect for adding foliage to drop flowers or to rosette-piped cupcakes. The trick is to practice holding your leaf tip at different angles to find out what works for you.

Specialty Piping Nozzles

How to use speciality piping nozzles

For the grass effect on the left, we used the Ateco 133 tip. The basketweave pattern on the right is made with the Wilton 48 piping nozzle.

There are some quirky and fun specialty piping tips out there. One of our favorites is a tip that pipes out a grass-like effect. They’re fun and while you’ll find that you may not use them often, they’re still pretty handy to have in your toolbox. Another fun option is a tip that creates a basketweave texture.

Make a comment
  • (will not be published)

17 Responses to “How to Choose the Right Piping Nozzle for Your Cake”

  1. Ally

    What do the letters represent, for example I have a piping tip called 9ft. I want to know what ft stands for

  2. Glory Adimanna

    I love this an want to become a professional in baking and other skill. In naira what is the cost.

  3. Ada

    Hi. I’m making an Italian pastry (zeppoles) and unsure as to what tip to use. I’ve been told a large star but don’t know if it’s an open or closed one… Can you pls help me out with the exact nozzle I need.

    • Dee Cee

      You want an OPEN Star Tip, largest you can find, to pipe Sfingi, St Joseph’s Day zeppole, churros, madeleines. I use Ateco #828 for all those baking needs. It costs less than $5 per tip & can be purchased on Amzn. Good luck!

  4. Sakeenah

    Good day
    I want to make my first cupcake is their any tips for decorating your first batch of cupcakes

  5. Jescah Chisiyiwa

    Hallo. Kindly help me with icing nozzles and their sizes. I bought a 26 piece set of small but i am not sure if they are the smallest ones

      • Rita Kay Elmore

        It is definitely possible! There are lots of self-help instruction books and videos out there whether you are a beginner or have some experience. However that being said, you might check with your local Vo-tech school…lots of them offer cake decorating classes for all stages of decorator. Good luck!!! Be patient and persevere. Buttercream icing is the most forgiving……it is easy to add less liquid to have a stiffer icing for borders, flowers, etc. and you usually want a softer (less stiff) icing for icing the cake…it will smooth out better for you.