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, potato or sweet potato rosettes, a swirl of deviled egg, or twice-baked potato filling, and even whipped cream flowers. The possibilities are seemingly endless once you have the best pastry bag on hand.
Kasmoire Piping Bags and Tip Set, 24 Pieces
Durable, reusable bags
Plenty of accessories
Directions not included
This pastry bag set has just about everything you need to create and decorate memorable treats. It comes with six sturdy and reusable pastry bags–two 12-inch bags, two 14-inch bags, and two 16-inch bags. It also has six metal icing tips for different decorating styles, six icing bag couplers, and six ties to keep things secure and mess free. Since the TPU plastic bags are flexible and durable, they can handle anything from meringue to heavy frosting.
Price at time of publish: $12
Bag Material: TPU plastic | Bag Size: 12, 14, and 16 inches | Bag Count: 6 | Reusable: Yes
Keenpioneer 16-Inch Disposable Cake Decorating Bags
Dispenser packaging for easy use
Compatible with most frosting tips and couplers
Extra thick bags for durability
Doesn’t come with accessories
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.
Price at time of publish: $12
Bag Material: Plastic | Bag Size: 10 and 16 inches | Bag Count: 56 | Reusable: No
Best for Beginners
Kootek 100-Piece Piping Bags Set
Large set of 16-inch bags
Comes with 5 bag ties
Doesn't come with instructions
When you're first starting to learn piping and decorating work, there'll be a lot of mishaps most likely including the frosting shooting out the top of a pastry bag. (We've all been there.) That's why it's best to use bag ties! These help keep the top closed so you can focus all your attention on what you're doing. This set includes 5 easy-to-use bag ties, plus 100 disposable plastic bags. That way, if a bag is accidentally trimmed too high up, there'll be another bag within reach.
Price at time of publish: $12
Bag Material: Plastic | Bag Size: 16 inches | Bag Count: 100 | Reusable: No
Wilton 16-Inch Professional Decorating Bag
Large size is more versatile
Very strong seams
Doesn't come as a set
Many people get a little sick of buying new piping bags once they start decorating regularly. Luckily, Wilton has this 16-inch professional featherweight piping bag that you can reuse over and over again. Made from very durable polyester, the seams won't bulge or split during the job. Once you're done, the grease-resistant interior is easy enough to wipe down with hot water, or you put in on your dishwasher's top rack for a thorough cleaning. Our only issues with it is that you have to buy them one-at-a-time. If you're looking for something smaller, it comes in a variety of sizes from 8-inch to 14-inch.
Price at time of publish: $6
Bag Material: Polyester | Bag Size: 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 inches | Bag Count: 1 | Reusable: Yes
Best for Cookies
Weetiee 12-Inch Tipless Piping Bags
Textured surface for easy gripping
Comes with two clips and a scriber needle
Large set of bags
Fibers catch on the scriber needle while cleaning
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 one hundred 12-inch disposable piping bags, one scriber needle, and two tip clips.
Price at time of publish: $11
Bag Material: Plastic | Bag Size: 12 inches | Bag Count: 100 | Reusable: No
Weetiee 6-Pack Silicone Pastry Bags
3 sizes of bags, plus extra couplers
Opaqueness makes it difficult to see ingredients
Since piping bags can be used for so many kitchen tasks, multiple sizes are necessary for versatility. This set of six pastry bags includes two counts each of three different size bags (12, 14, and 16 inches) and six couplers. The reusable bags are silicone for strength and ease of filling and cleaning—they can handle being cleaned on your dishwasher's top rack. 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.
Price at time of publish: $13
Bag Material: Silicone | Bag Size: 12, 14, and 16 inches | Bag Count: 6 | Reusable: Yes
Pillsbury Ready-to-Use Frosting Bag
Ready to frost out of the box
Versatile star tip
If you're still very new to decorating or need to frost on-the-go, don't mess about with tips, couplers, or even your hand mixer. Instead, get a piping bag filled with frosting so you can add those finishing touches right out of the box. Pillsbury's line of frosting bags—which is available in vanilla, chocolate, and cream cheese flavors—is also a great to have on hand for decorate-your-own-cupcake parties or when you want to let your kids explore their artistic side. When we tested these out in our home kitchens, we did find the frosting benefited from being chilled prior to piping, but otherwise, it was the same frosting you've come to know and love!
Price at time of publish: $4
Bag Material: Plastic | Size: 16 ounces | Bag Count: 1 | Reusable: No
Williams Sonoma Compostable Pastry Bags
Good for home or commercial composting
Set of 100 bags
Pricey for single-use bags
Being able to compost your waste has really taken off in the kitchen, but there are only a few compostable pastry bags available. Of them, we like William Sonoma's version. They're made from cornstarch and PBAT, a biodegradable plastic that breaks down in soil after about six weeks. These 12-inch bags won't split or balloon, at least not until they're being to degrade, so you can be free to decorate away. And the neutral color means you can see the true color of the ingredients you're using.
Price at time of publish: $20
Bag Material: Cornstarch, PBAT | Bag Size: 12 inches | Bag Count: 100 | Reusable: No
For a pastry bag set with everything you'll need, we like the Kasmoire Piping Bags and Tip Set. We also enjoy that you don't need any extra tools, or even a scissor for trimming, with the Wilton All-In-One Disposable Decorating Bag With Tips.
What to Look for in a Pastry Bag
Pastry bags come in a few basic sizes. The small size (8-inch and 10-inch) is mostly for detail decorating work; the medium size (12-inch and 14-inch) is for piping work, decorating, and filling; the large size (16-inch and 18-inch) is for piping, filling, forming cakes or pastries, and adding toppings; and the extra-large size (20-inch and over) 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.
What is the best way to fill a pastry bag/piping bag?
The best way we've found involves having a wide-mouth jar or tall glass keep your bag vertical while filling the bag via a spatula. 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. Just be gentle with the squeezing or everything will be pushed out at once.
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 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 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.
Allison Wignall, who updated this roundup, is a writer who focuses on food and travel. During her globetrotting, she has tasted some of the sweetest confections, from macarons in Paris to fresh gourmet chocolates in Ecuador. Her work has been featured in publications, such as Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living.
Siobhan Wallace has been a commerce editor at Dotdash Meredith since 2021. She also updated this roundup.
An overview on synthesis, properties and applications of poly(Butylene-adipate-co-terephthalate)–PBAT. Advanced Industrial and Engineering Polymer Research. 2020;3(1):19-26.