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It's never been easier to get into cake decorating with high-quality tools so easily available, and endless tutorials for nearly every style of decorating imaginable. From simply decorated buttercream cakes to ornate fondant cakes with sculptural edible decorations, you can create almost anything you can dream of. To get started, you're going to need some tools. We've collected everything from decorating essentials to more advanced tools to help your skillset grow, as well as a few pieces of equipment that are just nice to have.
The Wilton 263-Piece Ultimate Cake Decorating Tools Set has everything you need to make your desserts look magical. If you need something more affordable, you can't go wrong with the Kootek All-In-One Cake Decorating Kit.
With so many decorating tools available, it might be hard to know what you actually need to accomplish any given project. To make choosing the right tools easier, we headed into the kitchen and made several cakes with all of these tools to see how well they stood up to use and what projects they'd be best for. Our tester baked and decorated all of the cakes in her home kitchen for the most authentic results. We paid special attention to the ease of use, versatility, and level of expertise required for each product.
For all of your cake decorating needs, here are the best cake decorating tools for beginners and experienced bakers alike.
Best Overall Kit: Wilton 263-Piece Ultimate Cake Decorating Tools Set
Everything has a place in the caddy
Includes buttercream and fondant tools
Instant tool collection
Doesn't include cake turntable or leveler
What do buyers say? 93% of 700+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
This set gives you tools for both buttercream and fondant cake decorating. A total of 263 pieces are organized in a caddy, which holds everything in translucent bins so you can easily find what you need. Given how many of these you'd have to buy individually (including some you may have trouble finding elsewhere), this is the luxe version of all the cake decorating sets available.
Testing it all was quite the undertaking, but we were up to the challenge. We divided the tools into three different categories: essential tools for cake building and frosting, buttercream decoration tools, and fondant/gum paste decoration tools. There are four metal spatulas—two offset and two straight—which are great for filling and frosting your cake with a smooth or textured finish, as well as a cake comb for a zig-zag or scalloped frosting finish. The cake scraper is plastic, but long enough to scrape tall cakes and feels sturdy enough for years of use.
When it comes to the buttercream tools, you're getting a nice selection of tips, as well as piping bags and some basic piping instructions But during testing, it was actually the additional buttercream tools that really impressed us. The kit includes incredibly workable floral piping sticker guides to use on your flower nails for making 5 different types of flowers. The elastic bag ties were also helpful when securing piping bags, and the dishwasher tip tray is so convenient, that we're not sure how we lived without it to this point. We also like that there's room to grow your piping tip collection as you grow your skills.
The fondant decorating tools are a great selection of beginner tools to help you dip your toes into the fondant world. The plastic rolling pin and smoother are essentials, and the flower cutters are a great place to start learning how to build roses, daisies, and chrysanthemums. The curved leaf trays and flower forming cups are a great step up from egg cartons that many home decorators use. Unfortunately, the thick and thin foam shaping mats arrive bent after being folded into one of the small compartments and are only small enough for modeling one flower at a time. They're okay for starting out but will need an upgrade relatively quickly. We really liked the silicone impression mat, which was easy to use for stunning fondant decorations.
Includes: 263 pieces: plastic storage caddy, 2 angled spatulas, 2 straight spatulas, 18 decorating tips, 6 silicone tip covers, dishwasher tip tray and brush, practice board with stand & patterns, 62 piping bags, 12 bag ties, 4 couplers, flower nail sets, 50 pre-cut icing flower papers, flower lifter, 6 foil squares, icing comb, 2 bake-even strips, dusting pouch, fondant smoother, 3 decorating brushes, 3 circle cutters, decorative and geometric cutters, modeling tools, thick & thin fondant shaping foam, 28 foam decorating wedges, flexible flower impression mat, 2 wave flower formers, 6 flower forming cups, baroque fondant mold, parchment paper
"This set is overflowing with reliable Wilton tools that would otherwise take forever to purchase individually. I really appreciate both the buttercream and fondant tools all in one place. While the set doesn't come with an instruction booklet, Wilton provides free tutorial videos online for almost all of the pieces included in this kit." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Budget Kit: Kootek All-In-One Cake Decorating Kit
Includes a comprehensive set of tools
Cake turntable spins easily
No storage case for smaller tools
We get it, you're ready to get this cake decorating thing off the ground, but buying a lot of decorating tools can put a real strain on your budget. Sometimes it's better to focus on getting the high-quality ingredients you've got your eye on and invest in the tools that will help you get the job done in the short term. According to our tester, this kit has everything you need to frost a cake except the actual cake and frosting.
This set does include 69 pieces, but 50 of those pieces are disposable piping bags. Otherwise, it's got one turntable, 12 standard size piping tips, a double-sided cake comb, a plastic bowl scraper, a plastic bench scraper, one metal offset spatula, one metal straight spatula, and one coupler. The included plastic cake turntable is a little lighter-duty than the Ateco aluminum cake turntable, but during testing, it performed smoothly and was able to spin completely around in both directions.
Unlike plastic, metal piping tips are stamped and bent into shape. This isn't a deal-breaker, but you'll notice a seam on the side. Our tester noted that the selection of tips is useful for plenty of decorating projects, but it would have been nice to include one or two larger tips. And only one coupler means only one bag worth of frosting. If you're using multiple colors of frosting, you'll probably want to pick up another.
While testing out everything in this kit, we were pleased to find that the metal spatulas were comparable to those offered in the Wilton sets. Everything was easy to clean with warm soapy water, and the spatulas and scrapers were dishwasher safe. In the end, we couldn't be happier with the overall value of everything included.
Includes: 1 plastic cake turntable, 50 disposable pastry bags, 12 decorating tips, 3 icing smoothers, 2 spatulas, 1 coupler
"Considering how many pieces are in the Kootek All-In-One Cake Decorating Kit, the price...is more than reasonable. There’s really no need to buy extra decorating tips (unless you want to make a specific design), and there are more than enough pastry bags for even the most multi-colored creations." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Kit for Beginners: Wilton 39-Piece How to Decorate Cakes and Desserts Kit
High quality instruction booklet included
Enough piping bags for several projects
Includes a large tip for frosting cakes
Doesn't include a storage case for piping tips
This kit is for first-time cake decorators or for anyone who wants to improve their basic techniques. The kit includes a full-color instruction book that shows you all kinds of different decorating techniques to make things super simple as well as a link to a video tutorial library that offers even more instruction.
During testing, we noticed just how useful the instruction book was. Not only does it cover some introductory piping techniques, but it walks you through the process of leveling and building your cake. It offers flavor and coloring suggestions for frostings and fillings, and prepares you to decorate a cake before the first bit of frosting has even been applied.
With a 9-inch angled spatula, three standard couplers, one decorating brush, twelve 16-inch disposable decorating bags, twelve 12-inch disposable decorating bags, 10 decorating tips (Round 2A, 3, 5, 12; Star 1M, 16, 21, 32; Drop Flower 2D; and Specialty Cake Icer Tip 789), along with a recipe for buttercream icing, there’s a lot to look forward to in this kit! Our tester found the techniques in the instruction book to be clear and easy to execute. We thought the addition of the Specialty Cake Icer Tip was a nice tool to have for decorators at any level, and isn't included in any of the other kits we looked at.
Includes: 9-inch offset spatula, 24 plastic piping bags in two sizes, 10 metal piping tips, 3 plastic couplers, 1 decorating brush, a how-to booklet
"Anyone just starting out with cake decorating should start here. This kit includes tools for essential cake decorating techniques, but the 48-page instructional book is the real value. It's packed with information and recipes to help you assemble cakes and decorate them cleanly and expertly." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Piping Tip Set: Ateco 55-Piece Cake Decorating Set
Tips for simple piping and floral work
Multiple sizes of popular tip styles
Box for storing and organizing tips
No room for additional tips
You may or may not have a handful of piping tips on hand already, but if you've decided to dedicate some time to learning cake decorating, you may want to invest in a set to help grow your skills without multiple trips to the cake decorating store. This set is ready to take you to the next level, especially if you're interested in buttercream decorations. It's complete with a wide range of tips that will help you create buttercream florals, general piping designs, and tips for writing with frosting. Many of these tips can also be used for other pastry projects, like decorating cupcakes, royal icing on sugar cookies, and even injecting desserts with cream fillings. The tips are sturdy seamless tubes made of stainless steel and stamped with an Ateco-specific style number, so you can remember which size tip you need for any given project.
While we were testing these tips out, we used every tip in the set to see the designs they make. About 20 of the tips are different sizes and styles of round and star tips, which cover a large portion of piping projects. There are also a good variety of flat, floral, and leaf tips in different sizes and styles. All of the small tips are easily interchangeable and fit comfortably on the included coupler. There are also 4 larger tips which are great additions to the collection, but don't fit on the coupler and need their own piping bag.
Our tester was impressed that all of the tips stayed in place after shaking up the case, which made it much easier to find the tip we were looking for than digging through a typical storage box—or worse, a drawer with random piping tips rolling around in it. One caveat is cleaning the tips took a little bit of effort. All of the tips were soaked in hot water to loosen the buttercream, then rinsed in hot water before a quick soak in hot soapy water. After a little agitation by hand, the tips were rinsed and allowed to dry. Unfortunately, the kit doesn't come with a tip cleaning brush, so you'll have to wipe out any residual buildup with a paper towel if you don't have one handy.
Includes: 48 standard piping tips, 4 large piping tips, 1 coupler, 2 flower nails, 1 storage box
"This set of piping tips covers a wide range of piping styles from simple flourishes and scripts to tips made for building buttercream flowers and larger decorative elements. Investing in a set this size is going to save you a lot of time and money running back and forth to the store to pick up more tips for a new project." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Budget Piping Tip Set: Kootek 42-Piece Cake Decorating Kit
Customizable storage box
Includes two reusable silicone pastry bags
Good quality tips
No large piping tips
Tips aren't numbered
We love the selection of tips included in the Ateco 55-piece decorating kit, but completely understand if you're looking for something more economical for your decorating projects. The Kootek 42-Piece Decorating Kit is our runner-up choice. Like the Ateco set, the Kootek set comes with a box to house all of the included tips, although our tester noted that some assembly is required, and the tips do get a little jostled when the box gets moved. The Kootek kit includes 36 piping tips, all standard size, two flower nails, and two couplers. Unlike the Ateco set, this set also includes two 12-inch silicone piping bags, which we think is a great upgrade.
Our tester whipped up three different batches of frosting, including royal icing, buttercream, and cream cheese frosting, and tested the tips and piping bags on cupcakes, cookies, and cakes. In the process, she noted that while the tip selection is pretty good, it would be nice if it included a few larger piping tips and perhaps a smaller round tip for fine line work. The tips themselves aren't made from a continuous tube but instead stamped and rolled into shape, as evidenced by the seam on the tips. With that said, our tester found the tips to be plenty sturdy and had no doubts about their longevity. All of the pieces were easily washed by hand, although they are listed as dishwasher safe.
Includes: 36 standard piping tips, 2 flower nails, 2 standard couplers, 2 reusable silicone piping bags, 1 storage case
"At the low price point, we didn’t expect these to be the most robust pastry tips on the planet. They do have a seam along the side, but they certainly aren’t delicate. They’re more than sturdy enough for piping frosting, and with normal use, they should last for a long time." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Cake Turntable: Ateco 615 12-Inch Revolving Aluminum Cake Decorating Stand
Makes decorating cakes much easier
Nonslip silicone base
Not as heavy as cast iron model
Hand wash only
Eventually, your friends and family will start calling you for birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, and maybe even weddings. The larger and more elaborate your cakes get, the more substantial your cake-making equipment will get. At this point, you’ll want to consider upgrading to a sturdier cake turntable capable of smoothly handling stacked cakes, sheet cakes, and heavy-duty baking projects.
Ateco is a trusted name in bakeries and professional pastry kitchens everywhere. The 12-inch aluminum turntable provides the same smooth ball-bearing rotation that the higher-end cast iron model offers, at a fraction of the weight and price. During testing, we noticed that the stand and the plate are connected, which is helpful when you're moving it around so you don't accidentally pull the plate off the base, or worse—have the stand base drop on your feet if you're holding it by the plate.
This cake stand includes a nonslip silicone base cover and easily wipes clean after frosting. We also like that the top of the cake plate is grooved like a vinyl record to help keep whatever you're working on from slipping. There are also three round guides, measuring 8, 9, and 10 inches on top of the plate so you can keep an eye on the size of your cake as you're building and decorating it.
Includes: 12-inch aluminum cake turntable
"This cake turntable is so easy to use, and will immediately improve any cake decorating project. Forget the cheap plastic models and spring for this one which spins smoothly and will last for years." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Cake Leveler: Wilton Adjustable Cake Leveler
Large enough for most cakes
Measurements make for consistent slices
Easy for beginners
Wire can be difficult to adjust
Designing a beautiful cake starts long before the frosting goes on. Building a cake with even layers not only looks better but helps keep your cake more stable. Those domes on top of your cake rounds should be cut off for the best results, but sometimes people are understandably nervous about leveling with a knife. The stress of making the wrong cut often leads people to skip this step entirely, which is a big mistake.
Wilton has created an ingenious solution for this. This adjustable cake leveler is a simple tool, consisting of a taut wire stretched over a large frame, not much different than a big cheese wire. Simply set the wire to the notch that fits the height you want to trim your cake down to, and pull the wire through the cake keeping the feet of the leveler flat on the surface of your table.
Our tester found that if the outside of your cake is a little too tough for the wire to easily pull through, just make a little score with a knife in the crust to get the wire started. During testing, we also noticed that the wire can be a little difficult to move between notches. Instead of pulling the wire (which could bend the wire knobs), focus on pushing the frame in to make more space for the wire to move freely. You'll get the hang of it after a few tries. If you're dividing a cake layer into several layers, make sure to level the top off first, then divide the cake layer for best results.
Includes: 12-inch wire and metal cake leveler
"This cake leveler took the stress out of cutting cakes into even layers and leveling off the tops of the cakes. I wish I had bought this years ago." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Offset Spatulas: Ateco Ultra 3-Piece Offset Spatula Set
Absolutely essential to cake decorating
Different sizes suit different needs
Plastic handles can get slippery
You might be able to get away with making one or two cakes with a butter knife, but after that, you're going to need to invest in some offset spatulas. Offset spatulas are used during every step of the cake-making process, from smoothing cake batter and fillings, to leveling frosting and creating a smooth finish, to moving your cake from the board to a stand. Offset spatulas are basically extensions of your own hands.
This is the ideal set of offset spatulas, used by professionals and home bakers alike. The small 4.25-inch spatula goes where other spatulas can't, and gives you cleaner results than using the back of a spoon or a butter knife. The medium 7.75-inch spatula evens out frosting and crumb coats cakes with ease. During testing, the medium spatula was our tester's go-to spatula for nearly every project. The large 9.75-inch spatula lifts cakes and helps put a smooth finish on the outside of the cake if you don't have a flat cake scraper on-hand.
We found that these spatulas are great for more than just cake decorating. Our tester used the small and medium spatulas to smooth pie fillings, shape pavlovas, lift tarts out of metal tart shells, and even flip salmon fillets in a skillet. Once you get comfortable with the offset spatula, you may find it's one of your favorite kitchen tools. The stainless steel spatulas have hard plastic handles, which can get slippery when greasy, and are dishwasher safe.
Includes: 4.25-inch offset spatula, 7.75-inch offset spatula, 9.75-inch offset spatula
"This set of offset spatulas is absolutely integral when making and decorating cakes. The medium-sized spatula is my go-to tool for frosting most cakes, while the small spatula is ideal for smoothing fillings and rough spots. The largest spatula is essential when moving a cake from a turntable to a cake stand. You may have a favorite size, but you need all three." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Cake Scrapers: Patelai 3-Piece Stainless Steel Cake Scraper Set
Long enough for very tall cakes
Can use warm for cleaner designs
Instructions for use not included
Cake scrapers are having a moment, and have come a long way from the simple zig-zag designs on the side of grocery store cakes. Creating a completely smooth finish on the outside of your cake can be difficult to achieve by hand with a spatula, making cake scrapers all the handier. In recent years, cakes have also grown taller and more complex—and cake scrapers have stepped up to the challenge. This set will help you smooth out any cake, and can easily help you create a design.
The first scraper in this set is flat on both sides. During testing, we used this scraper to achieve that perfectly smooth finish on the outside of a buttercream cake. Our tester noted that you should hold the scraper at a slight angle to the cake like you're shaving it, but make sure to keep the bottom of the scraper flat against the turntable to ensure you're scraping the cake perfectly upright instead of at an angle. If your frosting isn't perfectly smooth after the first pass or has some unsightly air bubbles in it, chill the cake for five minutes in the refrigerator, then give it another topical pass with a warmed but dry cake scraper. We run the scraper under hot water and then quickly dry it off to achieve the ultimate smoothness.
The remaining two cake scrapers are double-sided. One has a scalloped edge with the fluted edges bulging from the cake, and the other side has the fluted edges caving into the cake. The other cake scraper has a squared-off pattern that can technically be used as-is but is primarily designed to make striped cakes. To create a striped cake, our tester frosted a cake entirely with the first color of frosting, then used the smaller side of the squared-off scraper to make wells for the second color. After a quick 15-minute chill in the refrigerator, she then filled in the wells with the second color of frosting, Then used the flat scraper to even out the entire pattern.
Includes: 10 x 4-inch flat scraper, 10 x 4-inch squared/stripe scraper, 8.9 x 3.4-inch scalloped scraper
"These cake scrapers will immediately level up the look of your cakes, and help you achieve perfectly smooth frosting or an appealing texture without fuss." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Fondant Tools: ScivoKaval Fondant Cake Decorating Hand Tools 12-Piece
Wide variety of tools and textures
Available in different colors
Includes rolling pin, smoother, and cutting wheels
Doesn't include instructions or product descriptions
Fondant and gum paste cake decorations are entirely different than their buttercream counterparts and require a very different set of tools. While buttercream decorating tools rely primarily on forming designs with piping tips, fondant work takes on a more sculptural approach with a dough made primarily of sugar. Fondant modeling tools bear a striking resemblance to some clay tools, and in many ways function the same.
This set of fondant modeling tools is geared toward beginners who are looking to start building fondant or gum paste figurines, flowers, and decorations. The set includes a fondant rolling pin with two sizes of rubber band guides and a smoother, both important for covering a cake in fondant. Additionally, there are eight double-sided tools that do everything from flare petal edges, add texture, slice, and make decorative puncture marks. Finally, the kit includes a decorating scissor used for lifting and transporting flowers and figurines, plus an embossing and cutting wheel. The embossing and cutting wheel is actually three tools, even though it's listed as one.
During testing, we noticed that the different tool tips could be removed from the handles and reorganized any way you like. This might not have been intentional, but nonetheless, it's a feature for those who want to customize their tools based on the tips they use most often. The three wheels of the embossing and cutting tool are interchangeable, and two of the wheels can be tucked into the small handle of the tool. It's not perfectly designed, but it's clever and works easily. The plastic tools aren't as sturdy as their metal counterparts, so when you get a hang of them and decide which tools you use most, you'll eventually want to upgrade.
Includes: 8 double-sided modeling tools, 1 embossing and cutting tool [with 3 wheels], 1 rolling pin, 1 smoother, 1 decorating scissor
"This beginner set of tools is great for anyone that wants to explore decorating and modeling fondant, gum paste, and marzipan. All of the tools are simple to use and give you quick decorating results." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Piping Bags: HITUN 16-inch Silicone Pastry Bags 6-Pack
Textured bag for nonslip grip
Includes hanging loops and couplers
Larger size for fewer bag refills
Doesn't include bag ties
Up until recently, if you wanted to use a reusable piping bag, you'd need to buy a canvas piping bag. Many pastry chefs and cake decorators kept these on hand to cut down on the expense of constantly purchasing disposable pastry bags, that often didn't come in the larger sizes that many professionals use. While the canvas bags were great in theory, they had a lot of flaws. The bags would easily pick up odors and colors, and would eventually begin to mold or produce a cheesy smell after repeated use. If sent through the dishwasher to sanitize them, the fabric would wear away, leaving you with a bag prone to blowouts.
Canvas piping bags still exist, but silicone piping bags are putting an end to many of the issues faced by canvas bags. This set of silicone bags includes six 16-inch piping bags that are large enough for almost anything you can throw at them, and six piping tip couplers as well. The silicone is less likely to pick up scents and colors and can be used with foods and buttercreams with a higher fat content without the additional grease soaking into the bag.
Our tester put the bags to the test, loaded with two different kinds of buttercream, one sugar-based, and one meringue-based. The bags were easy to handle, even when frosting was on the outside of the bag, thanks to a slightly textured nonslip surface. The bags were easy to clean by hand, regardless of the sticky or buttery frosting, and hung to dry by the loops on the bottom of the bags. The only thing we wish these bags came with was elastic bag closures, but for the price, we think this set is still a great value.
Includes: Six 16-inch silicone piping bags, 6 standard couplers
"Break up with disposable plastic piping bags and pick up this set of silicone piping bags. They’re large enough for professional use and non-slip if your frosting project starts to get messy." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best for Organizing: Wilton Cake Decorating Bag Holder
Useful tool you didn't know you needed
Folds down for easier storage
Easy to wash
Doesn't include piping bags or flower nails
This cake decorating bag holder from Wilton solves the problem of piles of decorating bags with different colors of icing lying all over the counter causing a mess and a distraction. It has fold-open legs with nonslip silicone feet, that's easy to store when not in use. The stand holds six piping bags and the center has a space with six built-in flower nail grips that hold nails upright for easy one-handed use.
During testing, we noticed that our piping bags (also Wilton brand) sat snugly in the stand, but extended all the way to the table. We'd recommend keeping a piece of parchment or paper towel underneath the stand to keep frosting from smudging onto your counter, but still think this stand is worth it to keep your piping bags and errant frosting from spreading across your entire workspace. We also noticed that the flower nail slots work best with the thicker plastic Wilton nails. While you can use the thinner metal flower nails, they tend to fall all the way through the grip, leaving the nail head flush with the surface of the stand. Lastly, this should be hand washed to maintain the nonstick surface.
Includes: 1 plastic piping bag holder (with 6 bag inserts and 6 flower nail inserts)
"If buttercream florals are your specialty, or you find yourself juggling several bags of frosting for your cake decorating projects, this stand is a convenient way to help organize your space and keep all of your bags of frosting together while you work." — Jenny Kellerhals, Product Tester
Best Plunger-Style Decorator: Wilton Dessert Decorator Plus
Compatible with standard piping tips
Includes tip for filling desserts
Several refills required for larger projects
No tip for lettering
Learning to use a pastry bag can be a little intimidating for someone just starting out on their decorating journey, and even more difficult for kids. The Wilton Dessert Decorator Plus helps bridge the gap from decorating novice to piping bag pro with this handy tool. The design looks an awful lot like a cookie press, although our tester notes that it's a lighter construction and isn't built to accommodate heavier cookie doughs, so you won't be able to use this tool for both projects. The plunger-style decorator comes equipped with four decorating tips, including a round, star, ribbon, and leaf tip, as well as one injector tip and two couplers that attach the different tips to the plunger body.
While testing, we noticed that trying to fill the decorator tube with frosting using a small spatula was cumbersome. Instead we opted to fill the canister by using the plunger similarly to a syringe and pulling the frosting into the tube with suction. This method only took a few tries to master and made filling the decorating tool so much easier. Our tester also mentioned that if you've got standard-sized tips on hand, you can also use them in place of the tips provided, which gives you a little more design flexibility.
We ended up washing the entire decorator by hand since not all of the pieces are dishwasher safe. When it comes to storing, you can put all of the small pieces inside the canister body to keep everything all in one place, but our tester notes that this method will mean storing the tool with the plunger extended, which might not be feasible in your space. Otherwise, you can drop all of the pieces back into the box it comes in, or even a resealable plastic bag. Eventually, if you want to start making more complex designs or tackle larger projects, you may want to upgrade to piping bags, but this is a great place to start if you're only making a few cakes a year.
Includes: 1 plunger-style decorator, 4 piping tips, 1 injector tip, 2 couplers
"The Wilton Dessert Decorator Plus Cake Decorating Tool is easier to use and tidier than pastry bags, making it a great option for beginners who want to decorate desserts." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
How We Tested
We sent all of these cake decorating tools and sets to our baking experts for testing in their home kitchens. Each tool was put to the test by decorating a cake or cupcakes with actual cake and frosting, utilizing every technique and tool available. The tools were compared to each other, as well as to the professional standard. Stand-alone tools were tested alongside others while building and decorating desserts. Every piece of the larger sets was tested with the objective of creating a finished decorated dessert. After each and every product was tested, our experts gave us their unbiased opinions about what they liked and didn't like about each product, evaluating each on their design, performance, ease of use, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
What to Look for When Buying Cake Decorating Tools
Most people start with piping tips, which are used with piping bags. Piping skills are at the core of professional decorating projects, and when mastered, will be useful far beyond cakes and cupcakes. From star-tipped cake borders to hand-piped roses, a set of pastry tips with different styles and sizes allows you to experiment with countless designs.
Couplers are two-piece plastic attachments to piping bags that allow you to easily switch the tip on a bag of frosting without emptying the bag. For cake designs that involve several different tips for decorating, couplers are incredibly convenient.
A cake comb (sometimes called a scraper) is also an essential tool for a smoothly rounded cake. Some struggle to smooth the sides of a cake with a metal spatula, but a cake comb makes very quick work of it. Several cake combs have textured edges as well as a smooth edge for a variety of buttercream patterns.
Metal spatulas are narrow and long and come in several different sizes and two different basic styles. Larger metal spatulas are used for smoothing the frosting on the top of the cake, cleaning up edges, and lifting the cake off the board or stand. Smaller spatulas are used for detail work, smoothing out smaller portions of frosting, and picking up or placing decorative features on the cake. Metal spatulas come both flat and offset. Try out both and see which style is more comfortable to hold while you work.
Fondant & Gum Paste Tools
Making an even buttercream frosting is the first skill to master when beginning cake decorating as a foundation for building the rest of the cake design. Instead of buttercream decorations, you may choose to wrap your cake in fondant for sculptural, pristinely smooth, or hand-painted finishes. When using fondant you’ll roll it out and lay it over your buttercream-coated cake. It then gets smoothed out with a smoothing tool that helps get rid of air bubbles and fits the fondant over every curve and into every crease of the cake.
Hand tools that help shape, slice, and texturize both fondant and gum paste are used to make figurines and floral decorations for your cakes. Cutters are available to easily create multiple petal shapes in large quantities.
For those who plan to use fondant often, there are plastic mats and rolling pins to make sheeting fondant easier. Rolling mats have cake measurements to easily judge the appropriate amount of frosting, with less sticking than rolling directly on a counter with a wooden rolling pin (although cornstarch or confectioner’s sugar is still recommended to reduce tackiness).
Versatility & Reusability
Many of the tools included in your cake decorating tool kit will last you for years to come, including the piping tips, spatulas, and couplers. Things like piping bags, cupcake liners, and any edible decorations are generally one-time use tools. Most kits offer enough of these disposable supplies for a handful of projects, but eventually you’ll need replacements. Replacements can often be found at grocery stores, as well as craft stores and, of course, cake and baking supply stores and online.
There are options for those interested in a more sustainable toolkit for multi-use versions of these tools. Disposable piping bags are convenient and make multi-frosting colors in a single project easy to handle, but polyester and silicone piping bags can be washed and reused many times with less waste. These reusable bags come in a variety of sizes and can also be used with couplers. If you also use piping bags for savory applications, it’s best to have a separate set for cake decorating to avoid any crossover scents.
Disposable paper baking cups can also be replaced with silicone cupcake liners for multiple uses. The silicone liners are brightly colored and help make your cupcakes look picture-perfect, but may not all come back to you if taken to a party or accidentally tossed in the trash after use.
Many tools come in both plastic and metal choices, with the plastic tools typically being the less expensive option.
Both metal and plastic piping tips will last you years if washed and stored properly, but each have their different advantages. Metal tips provide a sharper and cleaner piping pattern and usually come in a larger range of sizes and styles. If stored improperly, the tips or round body may be bent, making them slightly more difficult to use. Plastic tips will not bend easily, but often do not provide a crisp professional-looking piping pattern. Their sizes and styles are limited.
Spatulas and fondant hand tools also come in both metal and plastic choices. Metal or wood hand tools will last much longer than their plastic counterparts, but can be slightly heavier to use compared to the nearly weightless feeling of plastic hand tools. Some plastic fondant and gum paste tools also come in a wider variety of shapes to help you mold and texturize your projects.
Additional Helpful Tools
While not absolutely necessary, there are a few more tools that will make your cake decorating projects easier and more enjoyable.
A cake leveler is useful for those just starting out building cakes or for bakers who want a precision slice every time. While professional bakers use long serrated knives to slice their cakes into even layers, it takes practice to remove a cake top in one even motion by eye alone. A cake leveler looks a little bit like an archer’s bow or a large cheese wire, with a metal C-shaped handle that holds a cutting wire in tension. You simply pull the wire through your cake for a smooth, clean cut, which helps you to build your cake without the hassle of uneven layers.
A cake turntable will save you the stress of working around the sides of your cake, as the platter rotates on top of the stand bringing every side of the cake to you. Used in conjunction with a cake comb, you can have perfectly frosted cakes in minutes. Your hands and arms will thank you for saving them the extra stretching.
While some people build their cakes directly on a turntable, most people build their cakes on a cake board (placed on the turntable). A cake board is a circular piece of cardboard or foam, sometimes coated or covered with a colorful foil, that makes it easy to pick up and transport your cake with a little more support. Boards are available in a wide variety of sizes and chosen based on the size of the cake you’re making, usually allowing an inch or more of extra space between the cake and the edge of the board. For an 8-inch cake, you’ll want a 10-inch cake board for 1 inch of free space around the cake to work with. You will also purchase cake boxes based on the size of the board you’re using.
When it’s time to put all of your tools away, having a specific place to safely store them all is incredibly helpful. Kits that come with a storage case do the work for you, but if your kit doesn’t come with a specific case, consider buying a small toolbox from the art or hardware store that has different-sized storage sections in it.
Juggling multiple bags of frosting doesn’t seem like it would be a problem until you actually have to do it. A piping bag stand, like the Wilton Cake Decorating Bag Holder, will keep your work area tidy and your different frostings all in one place to streamline your project.
An essential cake decorating kit is available for $20 or less, making a wide range of classic cake designs available without a large investment. If you’re just starting out, a kit is easier to purchase instead of guessing which tools to pick out individually. A kit that comes with a piping and frosting guide can also be helpful.
Most common cake decorating tools are inexpensive individually but can add up quickly when buying dozens of items at a time. Larger kits like the Wilton Ultimate Cake Decorating Tools Set save you shopping time and money since all of those tools sold individually would likely cost more than the bundled price. If your interest in cake decorating is expansive, a larger kit is absolutely worth the price.
Types of Cake Decorating Tools
A beginner set of cake decorating tools is a great place to start for those getting their hands dirty for the first time, or for younger bakers who want to explore baking as a hobby. Typically lower-priced, these kits are made with plastic tools, a small selection of metal or plastic piping tips, and a few disposable piping bags. Some may include a few additional tools like spatulas or cake combs to help you achieve satisfying results.
Enthusiast & Home Baker Tools
A step up in quality, most baking and decorating tools fall into this category. Reasonably priced, professionals and home bakers alike stock up on multiple sets of piping tips and hand tools for both buttercream and fondant work. Stencils and leaf or petal cutter sets are still economically priced, but silicone molds and customized edible decorations can become more expensive. Silicone spatulas and whisks come in a variety of colors to match the color palette of your kitchen without sacrificing sturdiness.
Professional tools tend to be heavier-duty, occasionally larger, and more expensive. At this level, most hand tools are metal with wooden or heavy-duty, heat-safe plastic handles. Brands like Ateco and Wilton provide a wider range of larger and more custom tools for decorating. In this category are also sturdier cake pans, ranging in size from 3 to 16 inches or larger. Once you’ve become the go-to birthday cake maker for family and friends, or you’re gearing up to make wedding cakes, it’s a good time to invest in this level of equipment.
Wilton cake tools have been a staple of creative home bakers for decades, providing character cake pans, tips, tools, chocolate molds, ingredients, food colors, and even cake decorating classes at craft supply stores before television shows made extreme cake decorating popular. As an authority in the baking industry, the very large line of Wilton tools are widely available and tailored to be easily used by home bakers and professionals alike.
Colorful baking and cooking kits are made specifically for kids’ small hands, including recipes to get cooking immediately. Each kit comes with actual kitchen tools, built for real cooking and baking projects. These all-inclusive tool kits range from $27 to $45.
Nordic Ware is known for its molded cake pans in beautiful designs, made with high-quality and long-lasting materials. Inventors of the original Bundt pan, decorative cakes have been the brand's signature for over 70 years. With a wide line of products that now includes attractive and sturdy baking and cooking tools, as well as kitchenware and professional baking equipment, Nordic Ware products are incredibly reliable at accessible prices. Most of the Nordic Ware products are also designed and manufactured in the U.S.
Ateco is a brand of professional baking and pastry supplies, although most of their commonly used products are readily available at kitchen and baking supply stores, and conveniently priced for anyone. Home bakers will find Ateco decorating sets, as well as round and shaped cutter sets, and the sturdy hand tools selection to be a huge convenience in the kitchen. When you’re ready to expand your set of decorating tools, Ateco offers professional tools to supplement your collection at reasonable prices.
Exclusively sold online, VORCAY offers a massive selection of tools for an incredibly low price. The 188-piece Cake Decorating Set supplies you with everything you’d need for your first few projects except the cake itself.
Some larger pieces included in kits may be machine-washable, but most of the smaller pieces should be washed by hand to avoid damage or getting lost in the dishwasher. Warm soapy water gets the job done, but if tools are especially oily or buttery, rinse and soak tips and tools in very hot water for 10 minutes to loosen the oils.
Pastry tips will keep safe from damage in a small toolbox or case provided by the manufacturer. Make sure they are completely washed and dried before storing to avoid rusting. Reusable piping bags should be thoroughly washed inside out and left to air dry completely before storing to avoid molding.
Growing Your Tool Kit
When you’ve mastered using your essential tool kit and want to tackle new skills, you may need to start buying tools individually. Experimentation is part of the fun, so choose sturdier versions of the tools you have and tools you may not have for different decorating techniques.
To really develop your decorating skills, you may graduate to luster dusts and metallic accents, or even invest in an airbrush for creative fondant cakes. If you’ve seen it done on TV or the internet, there are plenty of tools out there to help you accomplish it as well.
Cake decorating supplies are more popular and accessible due to the rising trend of creative cakes. Colored fondants, custom silicone molds, and professional cake pans are all within your grasp. Just make sure you’ve got space to store them all once you start collecting them!
What tool is used to spread icing on a cake?
There are a few different ways to spread icing on a cake, but the two most common ways are piping the frosting on with a pastry bag, or slathering it on with an offset spatula. When piped on, you have a few options. With a large round piping tip, or a piping bag with the tip cut off and no tip, you can apply the frosting to the cake starting from the base and circling the cake, moving up the cake with each band of frosting. Or you can apply the frosting to the outside of the cake, making a long zig-zag motion from the base to the top of the cake, all the way around the cake. You can also use a large flat icing tip, like the one found in the Wilton 39-piece cake decorating set, which applies frosting to your cake in large clean bands. Once the frosting’s on, you’ll smooth it out with an offset spatula or cake scraper.
If you use an offset spatula to spread icing on your cake you can start by piling frosting on top of the cake, spreading it towards the edges, and then spreading it down the sides of the cake. You can also pick up frosting with the offset spatula and apply it directly to the sides of your cake, much like you’d apply spackle to a wall.
How do you keep a cake from crumbling when frosting?
Crumbs are inevitable when frosting a cake, but you can dramatically cut down on crumbs by stacking your cake to keep crumbs in, and applying a frosting crumb coat before the final layer of frosting. Before you stack your cake layers, you will need to level them to make sure your cake doesn’t lean or bulge. But slicing off the cake tops or dividing the layers opens you up to crumbs. The first/bottom cake layer should be situated with the bottom of the cake down, and the leveled cake top facing up. The top layer of the cake should be flipped, with the bottom of the cake round facing up and the leveled cake top facing down. That way all of the sliced-open sides of the cake are facing each other, and enclosed in the center of the cake. If your cake has three or more layers, all of the layers should be leveled, but the layers in the center can be used right side-up or upside-down as you like.
The next important step to keeping crumbs off of your cake is the frosting crumb coat. Once your cake is stacked, you’ll apply a thin layer of frosting to the outside of your cake, making sure to fill any holes, uneven layers, and covering any areas where crumbs may spread. Scrape off the excess frosting, creating an even cake surface, and then chill for at least 15 minutes to stiffen the frosting before applying the final layer of frosting. The cake at this point is called a “naked cake”, and is a popular style of its own. Chilling is the most important step in this process and cannot be skipped for an effective crumb coat. While your cake is chilling, make sure to clean away any cake crumbs in your workspace and on your turntable, to reduce the chance of crumbs making their way onto your cake. Do not reuse the frosting you used for the crumb coat if it has picked up any crumbs.
What is a baker's spatula?
We know, there are a lot of tools out there called “spatulas”, and many have a completely different purpose than the next spatula. You wouldn’t use a fish spatula to frost a cake, but a silicone mixing spatula is useful while mixing up cakes and frostings. But a baker’s spatula is another spatula entirely. Essentially, it’s a long, flat, metal spatula or “blade”, about an inch wide and eight inches long. It is not sharp, and typically has a rounded tip. There are larger and smaller versions, and all of them are useful when baking. The metal spatula itself is available as a straight spatula, or an “offset” spatula, where the metal blade extends from the handle, and then steps down to create an offset blade that is lower than the handle. Many people find the offset spatulas easier to handle on the flat surfaces of a cake without dragging their knuckles through the frosting. The handles are typically made of food safe plastic or wood.
What is the easiest piping tip to use?
A star-shaped piping tip is usually the first tip for beginner decorators to master. The tip is great for frosting cupcakes, making rosettes, creating rope and decorative borders, and piping decorative starbursts. A round tip seems simple to use, but can make minor piping mistakes more apparent because of its simpler shape, whereas the star tip easily hides small mistakes with its more complex pattern.
What can I use instead of a piping bag?
It’s bound to happen to you at some point. You thought you had everything you needed to frost your cake, but when you pull all of your tools out you realize you’ve run out of piping bags. The cake store closed an hour ago and you need a backup plan. In this case, you’re going to reach for the largest and sturdiest plastic resealable freezer bag you’ve got. If piping without a tip, you’re going to choose which of the two bottom edges is going to be the “tip” of your bag, fill the bag with frosting, gather the rest of the bag up around the frosting, and tie it off just as you would a regular piping bag. Snip the tip off the corner of the freezer bag and start piping. You can also fit a piping tip into the corner of the freezer bag before filling it with frosting, just make sure to cut the bag only as much as it needs to to allow the tip through, and know that the tip will never sit in the freezer bag as snugly as it will a piping bag, so some frosting may come out of the sides of the tip. It doesn’t hurt to put a piece of tape around the opening to help seal up the freezer bag and the piping tip.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Karen Resta is a writer specializing in food culture and history, cooking, pastries, and restaurants. She's also a former pastry chef and has traveled to Budapest, Kyiv, and Paris during their Fashion Weeks as a photographer and writer, always finding the best authentic pastries along the way. She now spends a lot of her free time baking at home and recommends quality within your given budget. Having the right tools available and knowing how to use them well (it can take practice, like anything else) makes all the difference, and she curated this list with that in mind.
Jenny Kellerhals is a professional pastry chef with extensive experience using professional and household tools. Jenny is based in Queens, New York, and thinks there are few things as indulgent as a moist chocolate cake covered in a rich chocolate ganache.