How to Pick the Right Piping Nozzle Without Getting Ruffled

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If you're anything like us, you've amassed quite a collection (some might call it a hoard) of piping tips and nozzles. We even have tips we've never used even once, just on the off-off-off chance we might need them.

Sometimes when you have a lot of tips in your tool box, it's hard to visualize how your piped buttercream or royal icing will look. To the rescue: this super handy visual guide. Take a peek before you pipe.

Open Star Piping Nozzles

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

When swirled in a continuous motion they make lightly textured ruffles ; held at an angle, they create small, shell-type dollops that are cute when used as the border to the base of a cake; piping straight down in short bursts, they make "gems" that are great for meringue kisses, mini-cupcakes or tiny bursts of buttercream.

Closed Star Piping Nozzles

These nozzles and tips are perfect for piping ruffled buttercream on cupcakes and adding borders to cakes and cookies. Closed star tips create a more defined texture than open star tips because their ridges are tighter.

The Ateco 846 (above left) is wonderful for piping shell borders or adding small swirls of buttercream.

The Wilton 1F (in the middle) created lots of ruffled and textured drop flowers. This tip is also good for borders and even piping smaller cupcakes.

The Wilton 2D (above right) is a more tightly closed star tip that can pipe out ruffled drop flowers. Warning: It can be a little temperamental when piping borders.

Plain Round Piping Nozzles

We use large plain round piping tips to pipe the simple and rounded swirls on our cupcakes. In small sizes, they're great for adding dots of details onto cakes, adding centers to sugar blossoms or even piping out names. Small seamless tips (such as the PME Supatube range) are terrific for piping Swiss dots onto cakes with royal icing.

Any of the PME Supatube rounds make great piping tips (especially with royal icing work). We used the 2.5 nozzle to pipe the scroll work and dots on the left in the above photo.

The Ateco 808 piped the generous dots on the right. This nozzle is perfect for piping cupcakes or adding buttercream borders to cakes.

Petal or Ruffle Piping Nozzles

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, for the most delicate and defined look.

To pipe gorgeous 3D ruffles onto the sides of cakes, try the Wilton 124 (above left). We used the Wilton 104 (above right) to pipe subtle buttercream frills. 

Leaf Piping Nozzles

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

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.

Specialty Piping Nozzles

There are some quirky and fun specialty piping tips out there. One of our favorites is the Ateco 133 (above left), a tip that pipes out a grass-like effect (it's great for making hair and fringing detail, too). The one on the right, the Wilton 48, creates a basketweave.

While you may not use these piping tips often, they're still nice to have in your tool box. Keep decorating your cakes and at some point in the future you'll be glad you have them.

All photos by Juniper Cakery

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How to Pick the Right Piping Nozzle Without Getting Ruffled