Decorating 101 – How to Ice a Cupcake with a Classic Swirl

There’s something so whimsical, so pretty, about the classic cupcake swirl. I don’t know if it’s that it reminds me of a Dairy Queen sundae, or brings back nostalgic memories of childhood birthday parties, but there’s some kind of wow factor to that swirl. Before I fell head over heels with making and decorating desserts (cupcake nerd here), I could never have imagined just how easy the swirls were to do! It somehow always seemed that they were made by people with a talent I would never possess, or made by some sort of a machine. (Who’s remembering the dairy queen soft ice cream dispenser here? Mmm).

It was after a stint of gingerbread house making and cookie decorating, that I decided to dip my toe into cupcake waters. A trip to McCall’s in Toronto and I was set. I had no idea what these magical tips were going to produce, or if I’d be able to use them, but I was going to try.

And I’m glad I did. With the right tools in hand, I promise you’ll be able to make pretty cupcakes too.

Something quick to share – you don’t need to make a trip to your local bakery supply store, or even order piping tips on line, to get started with cupcake decorating. The Bulk Barn or Michael’s Craft Store will have everything you need. The only limits are in piping tip varieties; the largest tip available in the latter stores are a Wilton 1M. Each tip is categorized by brand and number, with some similarities between brands. I’ll share my favourites in a video.

Recommended Reading:  Featured Blog: Clockwork Lemon

Speaking of which, I’ve prepared a little video for you on cupcake decorating basics and a how-to on piping the classic swirl:

How to Ice Cupcakes – The Classic Swirl.

You can find cupcake and icing recipes and plenty more sweet stuff on my blog. Hope you enjoyed the video and that it helps when the cupcake making urge hits you this Easter season, or otherwise!

Happy decorating!



Marian has a thing for sweets. Especially the decorated cookie kind. Sweetopia is the home to all things related to Marian’s sugar art passion, including how-to’s and recipes.  Sweetopia has become a labour of love; creating the confections, showing how she makes them, and sharing with her readers.

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19 Responses to Decorating 101 – How to Ice a Cupcake with a Classic Swirl

  1. Maria March 28, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Leanne March 28, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Oh I’ve always wanted to know how to do that, thank you!

  3. Michelle March 28, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    You are so talented. I have tried many times, but I am so rubbish at piping. Am going to have to use your tips (hehe) now and try again. I’ll have to blame the mess in my kitchen on you though :)

    • Marian (Sweetopia) March 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      I’ll take the heat for that! 😉 I’m sure you’ll do a great job… it’s all about having the right piping tips!

  4. Kim Bee March 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    That was wonderful. I have couplers and had no clue how to use them. Thanks so much for this really useful video. Loved it!

  5. Melissa March 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Marian that was so great – I’m hopeless at icing but now I feel like I could actually do it! thank you!

    • Marian (Sweetopia) March 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

      Thanks @Melissa! You totally can – I was just saying the same thing to Michelle… Having the right baking tools is the real key. That and knowing where to start the swirl etc. Once you know, it’s really easy. I hope you try some time!

  6. julie bell March 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    always love looking at your webiste, so informative and always creative. amazing work as usual!

  7. Tina@flourtrader March 28, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Nice tutorial here. I know I have issues with my swirls being lopsided because i have a tendency to lean the tip to the left. I will need to work on that. Glad I came across this, very helpful indded!

  8. Maria Theresia March 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    I love your video! You make it look so easey. When I start piping, I make a mess and usually give up,or dont even try.
    I follow your blog every day. You are sooooo talented and a great teacher.

  9. Marian (Sweetopia) March 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Thanks for visiting and commenting, everyone!

  10. niner bakes March 29, 2012 at 4:18 am #

    Ohhh I absolutely LOVE that video!

    It’s not only pretty made with all the informations, graphics etc;
    You mentioned everything somebody has to know if it’s their first try decorating cupcakes or even if they did, you give so many various tips…absolutely gorgeous!


  11. Stefanie March 29, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    This was super helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Wylene March 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Yum! I totally want a cupcake now.

  13. Wylene March 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Oh, I also wanted to ask – what is that beautiful white frosting in your video? I love the consistency! It looks heavenly.

  14. Marian (Sweetopia) March 31, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    @Wylene, I just put a recipe up here:

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  15. cuppers October 31, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    Thanks for sharing video tutorial here. Love it :)

  16. Rossana Velasco March 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Those swirls make me want to grab the cupcakes! Thank you for this informative post.


  1. Birthday Party Cupcake Frosting | Sweetopia - March 30, 2012

    […] if you’d like a basic guide on how to frost a cupcake with the classic swirl, click here to find my {video} guest post on Food Bloggers of Canada. Ethan of Tastes Better with Friends, […]

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