How to Fill a Pastry Bag

  • 01 of 09

    Have Your Equipment Ready

    A pastry tip and coupler on a work surface ready to be assembled
    Pastry tip and coupler. The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    There are many occasions 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.

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  • 02 of 09

    Insert the Coupler

    The tip of the plastic pastry bag is being snipped off with scissors
    Measuring the cut. The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Once all of your supplies are at the ready, begin to assemble the bag. In order to gauge how much of the plastic bag tip to snip off, insert the bottom half of the coupler into the empty pastry bag and snip off the top. You want to make sure that you are snipping off enough so that the coupler can peak out over the bag, but not enough that the whole coupler falls out. It's OK if the plastic covers the grooved edges of the coupler since the ring with the tip will be screwed on over it. 

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  • 03 of 09

    Push the Coupler Through

    The bottom half of the coupler is inserted into the plastic pastry bag
    Fitting the coupler. The Spruce / 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.

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  • 04 of 09

    Attach the Pastry Tip

    A metal tip is placed over the pastry bag and coupler and the plastic coupler ring is screwed on
    Attaching the tip. The Spruce / Leah Maroney

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

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  • 05 of 09

    Ensure No Gaps

    The pastry is fully assembled with the top half of the coupler is screwed on tightly
    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.

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  • 06 of 09

    Twist the Bag

    The plastic pastry bag nearest the coupler is twisted so frosting won't leak out when the bag is being filled
    Prepping to fill. The Spruce / Leah Maroney

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

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  • 07 of 09

    Use a Jar When Filling

    The assembled pastry bag is placed in a glass in preparation for filling
    Securing the bag to fill. The Spruce / 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. 

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  • 08 of 09

    Fill the Pastry Bag

    Frosting is inserted into the pastry bag with a spatula
    Filling the bag. The Spruce / 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. 

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  • 09 of 09

    Tighten the Pastry Bag After Filling

    The filled pastry bag, with its bottom end twisted, lies on a work surface ready to use
    Ready to decorate. The Spruce / 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.