You don’t need a piping bag or professional cake decorating skills to make perfect cupcakes! Here are five easy ideas for how to frost cupcakes without a piping bag.

Do you want your coconut cream cupcakes to look like they came out of a bakery? Do you want to get that picture perfect cupcake frosting swirl when you’re making pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting? We all do!

When you have a piping bag and a pastry tip, it’s a cinch to get that classic buttercream twist. It is a little more challenging to frost cupcakes without a piping bag. However, it is still possible!

five ways to frost cupcakes without a piping bag shown

I have a few different ways to frost cupcakes without a piping bag that I wanted to share with you. These cupcake frosting methods are easy, do not require a piping bag, and will still make gorgeous looking cupcakes.

Grab your favorite frosting—maybe our fluffy buttercream, chocolate frosting, or cream cheese frosting—and get ready for perfect cupcakes! (Yes, your cupcakes will look incredible even if you frost them without a piping bag, I promise!)

5 Ways to Frost Cupcakes Without a Piping Bag

Here are five different ways to frost cupcakes without a piping bag. Each cupcake frosting technique will work well and give you beautiful cupcakes. 

using a ziploc bag to pipe chocolate frosting onto a vanilla cupcake

Icing Cupcakes with Ziploc Bags

Piping bags are essentially thick plastic bags. If you do not have a real piping bag, a plastic Ziploc bag will work instead. In fact, I love using zippered bags for frosting cupcakes because I can fill them up, zip them closed, and not worry about frosting coming out of the bag. 

To use a Ziploc bag to ice cupcakes, snip the corner off of the plastic bag; only cut about ⅛ of an inch off the corner. Place your piping tip in the zippered plastic bag and push the tip through the corner you cut off. 

Once you have the piping tip in the bag, fill the bag with frosting and pipe the cupcakes as usual. A Ziploc bag works just like a piping bag and most of us already have them at home!

Quick Tip

I like to use masking tape to tape the piping tip to the bag, which helps it stay in place and prevents the bag from tearing as you pipe. Masking tape really helps make the bag sturdier!

using a knife to spread chocolate frosting onto vanilla cupcakes

Grab a Knife

A butter knife is really all you need to frost cupcakes. This is actually how it was done for decades! Homemakers and bakers simply scooped some frosting up with a knife and spread it over the surface of the cupcake. You can easily do this too!

To make the frosting look good, I like to make the frosting nice and thick on top of the cupcake. Wave the knife back and forth over the cupcake, making horizontal lines over the frosting. This will make the cupcakes have a rustic, beautiful look. 

using an ice cream scoop to frost chocolate frosting on a vanilla cupcake

Ice Cream Scoop

An ice cream scoop is the perfect tool to make a perfectly round scoop of frosting that can sit right on top of your cupcake. I like to use ice cream scoops that have an automatic release so you can simply click the handle and get the frosting right out. Ice cream scoops are also good for scooping the perfect amount of batter into the cupcake tin before they bake. It is a multi-purpose tool that you will use often!

Try heating the metal part of the ice cream scoop before scooping the frosting. This will soften the frosting a little bit and make it look extra smooth and glossy on top of your cupcakes. 

using a spoon to spread chocolate frosting on a vanilla cupcake

Use a Spoon

Grab a soup spoon and scoop a heaping portion of frosting. Scrape the frosting onto the top of the baked cupcake and then use the back of the spoon to smooth the frosting scoop. I like to use the spoon to make a spiral on top of the cupcake. Some very famous bakeries use this spoon-spiral trick! It is an easy way to frost cupcakes without a piping bag. 

dipped vanilla cupcake in chocolate frosting

Dip the Cupcakes

If you are wondering how to frost cupcakes without any tools at all, dipping them is the answer. This method works well with softer frostings like whipped cream or melted chocolate ganache. I love that it requires no tools—you just need baked cupcakes and frosting!

Hold on to the paper cupcake wrapper and flip the cupcake upside down. Dip the top of the cupcake into the soft frosting, scooping and swirling the cupcake as you dip so that the whole top is covered. Flip the cupcake right side up and then move on to the next one! 

vanilla cupcake dipped in chocolate frosting


What is the easiest way to frost cupcakes?

Scoop some frosting with a butter knife and spread it across the top of the cupcake. This is the easiest way to quickly frost cupcakes without lots of baking tools. Try waving the knife back and forth across the top of the cupcake to make horizontal lines. This will give the cupcakes a nice, patterned top in a very easy way.

Can you make your own piping bag?

Yes! you can make a piping bag by snipping the corner off a Ziploc bag, then adding a piping tip to the bag. Fill it up with frosting and, ta-da! You have made a piping bag.
You can also make a piping bag using parchment paper. Cut the parchment paper into a triangle then roll the parchment into a cone shape. Tape the edge of the parchment to hold the cone together then add a piping tip and fill with frosting.

Now You Know How to Frost Cupcakes Without a Piping Bag!

So, how do you put frosting on a cupcake without a piping bag? There are so many ways! Give them all a try and see which is your favorite method. I’m a big fan of frosting cupcakes with a Ziploc bag and star tip. Let me know which cupcake icing trick you like best!

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About Kasey Schwartz

For over 15 years, Kasey Schwartz, the mastermind behind All Things Mamma, has been the ultimate go-to for mouthwatering family recipes. Her work has been featured on, Buzz Feed, Better Homes and Gardens, and more, making her your go-to mom next door for all things delicious and family-friendly.

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