How to Fill a Piping Bag for Decorating Cookies

how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

My #1 tip for filling a piping bag is – don’t substitute a ziptop bag for one. The end. 

Ok, there's more to it than that, but please remember that tip. And if you DO use a ziptop bag, don't tell me. These tips are for whether you're using royal icing or buttercream frosting. 

*portions of this post were originally written for The Pioneer Woman Food & Friends


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Why not use a baggie as a piping bag?

Baggies and ziptop bags are unwieldy, they explode, and they’re not the right shape or size. Here's what will happen: you'll be piping a detail onto one cookie on a tray. The ziptop bag will violently explode, and icing will land on all of the other cookies on the tray. And your hands. And your floor. Promise me that you won’t use those. Ok? Ok. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Types of piping bags

  1. Reusable plastic bags. These seem like a great idea in theory, but they tend to hold onto fat, leaving the insides greasy. This is a disaster for royal icing. They're very, very difficult to clean well. 
  2. Tipless bags. Thin and textured on the outside, disposable tipless bags are meant to be used without tips (you cut the tip off with scissors.) They are currently all the rage in the cookie decorating community. I tend to only use them when I'm doing a quick detail on just a few cookies or flooding just a few and don't want to get out my squeeze bottles. I must use a lot of pressure when I decorate cookies because these tend to pop and spring leaks on me.
  3. Disposable piping bags. These are my favorite and what I'm featuring in this post. They're thicker than the tipless and never, ever pop. I like using icing tips rather than cutting a bag tip and hoping for the right size. 


How to fill a piping bag

how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Let’s get to the business of filling a piping bag. These steps are for when you’re using a coupler and icing tips, or just an icing tip, or no tip at all. 


icing coupler and icing tip

What is an icing coupler


If you’ve never used a coupler before, it’s a great little tool that allows you to switch icing tips without using a new piping bag. The coupler is in two pieces and is threaded like a nut and bolt. One piece goes into the piping bag, and the other screws on OVER the piping bag to secure it - and an icing tip - into place. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

First, slide the large part of the coupler into the piping bag. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Cut the bag just past the end of the coupler. Some piping bag instructions will tell you to cut the bag at the threads. I find this leads to leaking bags. Leaking is not good when it comes to icing. Actually, is it ever good? Diapers, pipes, national security secrets. Leaks = no bueno.


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Next, place the icing tip over the bag and onto the coupler. For outlining a cookie, I like to use a #2 tip. If you're just starting out with decorating cookies, maybe try a #3. This will result in a thicker line but is a good place to start. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Twist on the small part of the coupler to secure. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

how to fill a piping bag, vanilla bean cupcake

If you’re using a tip with no coupler (I use this method when I’m using a larger tip for frosting cupcakes), just push the tip into the bag and trim the piping bag so that about half of the tip sticks out. 


If you’re not using a tip at all, that’s pretty easy. Just snip the end of the bag. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Now that the bag is prepared, fold down the top to make a cuff. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Hold the bag with your non-dominant hand inside the cuff. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

With your dominant hand, spoon the icing or frosting into the bag. (It’s really tricky taking a picture of this step.) You can also use a tall glass to hold the cuffed bag if this feels uncomfortable. I find pint glasses are great for beer AND holding piping bags. 


This is important: Fill the bag no more than 2/3rds full. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Unfold the cuff, push the icing all the way down, and twist the bag where the icing ends. 


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

If you’ll be working with the icing for a while, consider using bag ties or twist ties. I like to put one at the top of the icing and one near the top of the bag. That one at the top keeps dried bits of icing from escaping. It’s especially helpful when working with royal icing


how to fill a piping bag for decorating cookies

Voila! Happy piping! 


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2 comments

  1. Icing 101 - thanks! You have provided a great tutorial for and all-thumbs person like me :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for always providing excellent tips for us enthusiast :)

    ReplyDelete

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