How to Fill a Pastry Bag

  • 01 of 09

    Have Your Equipment Ready

    Pastry tip and coupler. Leah Maroney

    There are many occasions for when you might want to use a piping bag, whether they be sweet or savory. Yes, you read that correctly: sweet or savory. The most common sweet treats that come to mind are usually cakes and cupcakes. However, a piping bag can come in handy for piping the decorations on a gingerbread house or for piping mashed potatoes back into the skins in your twice-baked potato recipe. Any way you slice it, the steps to preparing your pastry bag remain the same. 

    First, let's start off with the equipment that you will need for piping:

    • pastry bags
    • scissors
    • a plastic coupler and ring
    • pastry tips

    We recommend using 12-inch pastry bags, especially for a gingerbread house, where a larger bag would get in the way. Any kind of pastry tips will work, but for straight lines, a #10 plain round tip is good for bolder lines and a #2 plain round tip is best for finer lines.

    It's a good idea to use a pastry coupler if you intend to change pastry tips, like from a star-shaped tip to a writing tip, and so on, for your project. Otherwise, if you just slip the metal pastry tip into the bag without a coupler, you'd have to completely empty the bag to change tips. Or you would have to start another pastry bag and have three or four with different tips going at the same time. It's doable, but not time, nor cost effective with the number of supplies you'd go through.

    Continue to 2 of 9 below.
  • 02 of 09

    Insert the Coupler

    Measuring the cut. Leah Maroney

    Once all of your supplies at the ready, insert the coupler into the pastry bag. In order to gauge how much of the plastic bag tip to snip off, insert the coupler into the empty pastry bag and snip off the top. You want to make sure that you are snipping off enough that the round, bottom-portion of the coupler can peak out, but not enough that the whole coupler falls out.

    Kitchen Notes: It's okay to have plastic covering the grooved edges of the coupler since the ring with the tip will be screwed on over it. 

    Continue to 3 of 9 below.
  • 03 of 09

    Push the Coupler Through

    Fitting the coupler. Leah Maroney

    Once the top of the pastry bag has been cut off, push the coupler through so a few of the screw threads are visible and the fit is tight.

    Continue to 4 of 9 below.
  • 04 of 09

    Attach the Pastry Tip

    Attaching the tip. Leah Maroney

    Attach the pastry tip you have chosen to the coupler ring, then place the plastic coupler ring over the tip and tighten.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Ensure No Gaps

    Securing the fitting. Leah Maroney

    Make sure all the plastic pastry bag edges are under the coupler ring so there are no leaks. Nothing is as frustrating as baking a beautiful, frosted cake and then having a rogue pastry bag messing with the icing when you're piping decorations.

    Continue to 6 of 9 below.
  • 06 of 09

    Twist the Bag

    Prepping to fill. Leah Maroney

    Kink the pastry bag by twisting it behind the coupler and stuffing it into the tube so the filling won't pour out when filing it.

    Continue to 7 of 9 below.
  • 07 of 09

    Use a Jar When Filling

    Securing the bag to fill. Leah Maroney

    To keep both hands free, place the pastry bag over a wide-mouth quart jar or tall glass and cuff the excess bag over the edges. This will not only help you with filling the pastry bag, but it will also help keep things tidy. 

    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Fill the Pastry Bag

    Filling the bag. Leah Maroney

    Now that one hand is free, you can hold the jar or glass with one hand. Using a spatula, fill the pastry bag 1/2 to 2/3 full, otherwise, you risk the icing popping out the backside of the pastry bag when you are pipping. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Tighten the Pastry Bag After Filling

    Ready to decorate. Leah Maroney

    Squeeze the filled pastry bag to get out any air bubbles. Then twist the end and cradle the pastry bag against your palm, between the thumb and rest of the fingers, wrapping the fingers around it and squeezing with the fingers to control the flow of icing.