How to Make Buttercream *Fancy*

Baking is a delicious version of science in action! Chemicals mix, expand, and change to form a cake, cookies, bread, and all other sorts of treats. Best of all, it is a great group activity, especially with kids.

If you’d like to expand your baking repertoire, read on to learn how to stripe a pastry bag to make beautiful, multicolor buttercream.

The three different types of buttercream — American, French, and Swiss — are all popular. For this blog, I’ll be using American buttercream (recipe at the bottom of the blog).

To stripe a bag, you will need:

  • a pastry bag
  • a piping tip
  • a food-only paintbrush
  • an offset spatula
  • scissors
  • food coloring

(If you don’t have the above, just use a plastic bag, scissors to cut a design on the corner of the bag, and a butter knife.)

In order to stripe a piping bag, you will need to make a colored buttercream. To do this, take some of the buttercream from your original amount and place it in a separate bowl. Then add food coloring (I prefer gel) and mix well with a spoon. Voila! You now have your original, pale buttercream and a new, colorful buttercream to work with.

Cut the tip of your piping bag with scissors. Place the piping tip in the pastry bag and then spread the top of the bag over your hand. Using an offset spatula, spread your colored buttercream in stripes from the piping tip toward the top of the bag.

Alternatively, dip the food-safe paintbrush in gel food coloring and follow the same process. Then fill the piping bag with another color buttercream. With consistent pressure, press some buttercream out until you see both colors – I do this onto a plate and then taste-test the buttercream (tasting is not an official step, but highly recommended 😉 ).


Basic buttercream recipe:

  • 1 cup butter, softened (I prefer salted)
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla flavoring

(You can modify this with different flavors and extracts – consult a recipe first as not all extracts need the same amounts!)

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening for 1 minute on medium/low speed. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.
  2. Once the frosting is smooth, add the vanilla flavoring and turn the mixer to medium. Continue to mix until light and fluffy.
  3. To add a color, scoop out some of the frosting and place in a bowl. Add the desired amount of food coloring and mix well with a spoon. Result: your original, pale buttercream and a new, colorful buttercream to work with.

Check these great resources on baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes. Want a live demonstration? Tune in to our Facebook page, opens a new window at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 4 for a Live broadcast from our kitchen to yours!

My First Cupcake Decorating Book

Cake Decorating

Make It Easy, Cupcake!

What design will you make next? Let us know below!