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A pastry bag is the little black dress of the kitchen. Whether the meal is three courses of extravagant food or a simple weeknight dinner, when a pastry bag is part of the process, the experience becomes a special occasion.
A pastry bag is a very simple tool. It can be used with no training (apart from practicing for a few minutes with your ingredients) and, when paired with the right tips and a little expertise, to create masterful cake decorations—the study of which can be quite complex.
Rest assured, you don't need to be a cake boss to use this simple tool. A basic pastry bag, whether single- or multi-use, made from materials such as nylon and silicone, can be used to create cream puffs and meringue mushrooms, macarons, potato or sweet potato rosettes for a savory pie, decorative cake or cupcake toppings, a swirl of deviled egg, or twice-baked potato filling, and even whipped cream flowers. The possibilities are seemingly endless.
Make your next appetizer, dinner, or dessert your most impressive yet with the best pastry bags.
Best Overall: De Buyer Orange Professional Polyurethane Pastry Bag
This beautiful, well-made pastry bag is 13.8 inches long. Made of polyurethane that’s pleasant to the touch, strong, and supple, it’s flexible enough to work with small or large amounts. It’s great for meringue shells, whipped cream fillings and toppings, frosting a large cake, or topping a party-sized batch of cupcakes. Best yet, it's ready to use with two stainless steel tips included. The only negative we can find is that these bags are bright orange. We love it, but it might not work for everyone. On the other hand, they are dishwasher safe.
Best Budget: Keenpioneer 16-Inch Disposable Cake Decorating Bags
These clear plastic bags have good thickness and flexibility, and they come in an easy-to-use dispenser box. They are available in two sizes—10 inches and 16 inches for larger projects—and since they’re disposable, cleanup is easy. If you’re doing decorating work with many different colors or products, time saved in not having to clean or change bags in between is substantial. The downside is their ecological footprint and lack of artisan feel.
Best Reusable: de Buyer Reusable Pastry Bags, Set of 3
Sleek, chic, and professional, these are made of nicely weighted nylon with great feel and flexibility. Both sizes available are useful: 13.4 inches for small to medium jobs and 18 inches for larger jobs. Each package includes a three-count of pastry bags. These are pretty sustainable, too, because they can be washed. For convenience, you can put them directly into the dishwasher.
Best Disposable: Wilton Disposable 16-Inch Decorating Bag, 12-Count
Clear plastic polyethylene is nice work with, and these bags are sturdy enough to wash by hand and reuse a few times. The 16-inch size is large enough to easily handle a large batch of ingredients, but because they're disposable, they can be cut down in size for smaller batches. If you like to have pastry bags in the kitchen for general use when the mood strikes, these are wonderful and take up very little storage space. The package includes 12 16-inch decorating bags.
Best for Beginners: Wilton Assorted Size Disposable Decorating Bags With Ties
This set gives beginners two sizes of decorating bags: 16 inches for large tasks and 12 inches for small to medium tasks. The tie tops help keep the bags closed while you work, so there’s one less thing to worry about. This pack includes 24 12-inch and 24 16-inch disposable pastry bags, plus 12 reusable cinch ties.
Best for Cookies: Weetiee 12-Inch Tipless Piping Bags, 100-Count
This design is specifically made for cookie decorating, though it's also adaptable to other uses. The 12-inch size is great for detailed work, and the weight of the bag is light enough so that heavy pressure isn’t required. The opening is round and can be cut to any size desired, and the outside surface has a slight texture for an enhanced grip to prevent slippage. This package includes 100 12-inch disposable piping bags, one scriber needle, and two tip clips.
Most Versatile: Weetiee Silicone Pastry Bags, 6-Pack
This set of six pastry bags includes two counts each of three different size bags (12 inches, 16 inches, and 18 inches) and six couplers. The bags are silicone for strength and ease of filling and cleaning. The three different sizes help when doing more than one task at a time, and with the flexibility the couplers add for switching out one tip for another, this set really is a time-saver.
Best Tipless: Sweet Creations OodleTip Decorating Bag
OodleTip decorating bags are wonderful because even though they’re tipless, they’re strengthened at the tip with a heavier-weight plastic for better control over positioning and flow. They're disposable, but can also be hand washed and used again. This decorating bag is fantastic for anyone who doesn’t do a lot of serious decorating, but might want the option to make something fancy quickly every now and then. This package includes one 12.5-inch decorating bag.
Best All-In-One: Wilton All-In-One Disposable Decorating Bag With Tips
These 24-count medium-size (10.25-inch) clear plastic decorating bags with attached open-star tips are ready to be used straight out of the box. What’s great about them is that you can work with a lot of colors and/or ingredients at the same time, using as many as you need to create inspired designs. They’re also fun for decorate-your-own-cupcake parties.
Best XL Pro Cotton: Hubert 28-Inch White Premium Cotton Pastry Bag
This type of pastry bag is traditional in restaurant kitchens and bakeries. At 28 inches, it’s extra large, can hold a lot of product, and is not meant for delicate work, but for production. If you’re preparing a lot of baked goods, this could be a big help—and it’s fun to work with. Cut the tip to the size you want or use tips. The outside is greaseproof cotton and the inside has a polyurethane coating. It's dishwasher safe. This package includes one 28-inch pastry bag.
If you’re looking for a pastry bag to keep for a while, the de Buyer Reusable Pastry Bags (view at Food52) are exceptionally well-made and meant to last. If you just want to play around with discovering what different ways a pastry bag can be used in your kitchen, the Wilton All-In-One Disposable Decorating Bag with Tips (view at Amazon) is no-fuss, so grab one and get inspired.
What to Look for in a Pastry Bag
Pastry bags come in a few basic sizes. The small size is mostly for detail decorating work; the medium size is for piping work, decorating, and filling; the large size is for piping, filling, forming cakes or pastries, and adding toppings; and the extra-large size is mostly used for shaping cakes or pastries. It’s important to choose the right size for what you want to do.
The material a pastry bag is made of determines its strength and flexibility—both are important considerations. A bag has to be strong enough to not break open under pressure, while additionally being flexible enough to be twisted fairly easily during the work process.
Materials used for commercial pastry bags are cotton, plastic, silicone, polyurethane, nylon, polyester, and rubber, either alone or in some sort of combination. The outside surface of the pastry bag should be comfortable to the touch and not slippery. The lining can be the same material as the outside or different, but it’s important that ingredients, particularly if they have butter, oil, or sugar as a component, do not stick to the inside or embed in it, but instead are able to be cleaned off the surface thoroughly if the bag is being reused.
You might hear a pastry bag being called different terms, such as a decorating bag or piping bag. For the most part, if it’s called a pastry bag, it has a good amount of flexibility in the tasks it performs well. A decorating bag is generally better at decorating work on cakes or cookies. A piping bag is a generic term that can be used for any category of pastry bag, so always check the details.
Ease of Cleaning
It may go without saying, but if the pastry bags are marked as disposable, you can throw them away after one use. That said, many disposable pastry bags can potentially be used anywhere from one to three times and even recycled.
Most reusable pastry bags are best cleaned in the dishwasher after being rinsed under hot water to remove as much product as possible. Be sure to check the manufacturer's directions to see which method is best for yours, but do wash them as soon as possible and always check to see if they require further cleaning. Always be sure to air dry your pastry bag thoroughly, as well: first turned inside out, then outside in.
The tip of the pastry bag is where the ingredient you’re using is squeezed out onto your intended work. Some tips are pre-cut to a standard size, while others can be cut with scissors or something like an X-Acto knife. You can also cut the tip at an angle or straight across for different effects. If you’re using a coupler and tips, the tip should fit well to avoid leaking.
You can find pastry bags priced from very inexpensive to moderately expensive, though in general, they’re not a huge investment. The only way they can become pricey is if you don’t care for them by cleaning them properly, considering that’s the one important ongoing maintenance task required with reusable traditional pastry bags.
What is the best way to fill a pastry bag/piping bag?
We have step-by-step instructions with photographs for that process in this helpful guide on how to fill a pastry bag.
Can you use a pastry bag/piping bag without a coupler?
Usually yes, depending on the bag. You can also use tips in most bags without a coupler if it’s pushed down securely into the open tip to fit.
How do you reuse a pastry bag/piping bag?
Remove any leftover ingredients in the bag, rinse the outside of the bag well with hot soapy water, turn it inside out, and clean the inside well with hot soapy water. Remove any couplers and tips, and set them aside to clean separately. If the bag is dishwasher safe, leave it inside out and put it through a long cycle. If washing by hand, soak it in hot soapy water and wash or scrub to remove any ingredients still on the surface. Be sure to the clean inside and outside, and then prop or hang to completely dry both inside and out.
Can I use any kind or size of pastry bag/piping bag for anything I want to decorate?
You may be able to do it, but it might not work out very well. For best results, check that you’ve purchased a bag that has been defined as being the right kind for the job you want to do.
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 respective 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 loves to use pastry bags for everyday meals because they’re so fun and easy) 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.