3 Ways to Make Swirled Cupcake Frosting

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Learn my 3 ways to make swirled cupcake frosting with 2 or more colors. The second method doesn’t even require a piping bag OR decorative piping tip. Keep scrolling for my full step-by-step video, product recommendations, and more!

Learn my 3 ways to make two-toned (or even three!) swirled cupcake frosting. The second method doesn't even require a piping bag OR decorative piping tip. Click for my full step-by-step video, product recommendations, and more!

There are so many cake and cupcake decorating techniques that seem really complicated, but are actually totally achievable. This is one of those surprisingly easy techniques to master and makes for super adorable and fun cupcakes.

 3 Ways to Make Swirled Cupcake Frosting

Watch the step-by-step video below on how to achieve beautiful two-toned cupcake frosting. You could of course use three colors instead of just two for an even bolder effect! Below the video I’ve included photo breakdowns of each method so you can see how it looks up close.

Then I’ve broken down the ingredients, tools, and directions at the bottom of the post in a printable recipe format so you can take it into the kitchen with you. The exact tools I use are also linked below. Enjoy!

By the way, you don’t have to use food coloring here if you don’t want to. Get contrasting colors by using different buttercream flavors, such as chocolate or strawberry. Get my Best Buttercream Recipe here (that video has been viewed over a million times!!).

Method 1: Double Bag

 3 EASY Ways to Make Swirled Cupcake Frosting

The standard method for getting two toned swirled cupcake frosting, we simply place two smaller piping bags into a larger one. I used two 12-inch disposable piping bags inside an 18-inch disposable piping bag, but you could use whatever you have that’s most similar in size.

Method 2: Plastic Wrap

 3 EASY Ways to Make Swirled Cupcake Frosting

This is the perfect method for those of you who don’t have piping bags or decorative piping tips in your kitchen. All you need are things you probably already have: plastic wrap and a freezer bag! It seriously couldn’t be easier. I used Americolor gel food coloring in Deep Pink.

Method 3: Spatuala / Spoon Striping:

 3 EASY Ways to Make Swirled Cupcake Frosting

I love this method of carefully placing various colors into sections of your piping bag with a spatula or a spoon. The colors blur together slightly and create a really pretty ombre or watercolor effect. Plus you only need one piping bag!

Be sure to let me know what cupcake or cake decorating techniques you’d like to see next time!!

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3 Ways to Make Swirled Cupcake Frosting

Prep Time 15 minutes Total Time 15 mins


  • 1 batch of buttercream frosting
  • Gel food coloring (I like Wilton or Americolor)
  • Piping bags
  • Decorative piping tips (I used Wilton 1M)


  1. Double bag technique

    Fill two small disposable piping bags with different colored or flavored frosting. Use scissors to snip holes in the bottoms of both bags. Insert both bags into a large (16”) disposable piping bag fitted with a decorative tip, making sure the two bags are aligned by squeezing and twisting the large bag. Squeeze out a test pip to ensure the colors are coming out evenly.

    Plastic wrap technique

    Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Spoon one color or flavor of your buttercream frosting in a log down the center. Repeat with the second color or flavor, spooning it parallel alongside the first color.

    Fold the plastic wrap over to shape it into a two-toned log. Twist the excess plastic to seal the buttercream inside. Drop the plastic wrap log into a large pastry bag fitted with a decorative piping tip, using the excess plastic wrap to pull the log through the opening of the bag. Refrigerate for 10 minutes before frosting your cupcakes. Squeeze out a test pip to ensure the colors are coming out evenly.

    Spatula Striping

    In a large piping bag fitted with a decorative tip, use a spoon to scoop one color of frosting into one section of the bag, using your finger on the outside of the bag to help scrape it off. Repeat with your remaining color(s). Ensure you’re aligning the frosting so it starts at the same place in the bag. Squeeze the bag to slightly blur the colors together for a rainbow type effect. Twist the bag and frost your cupcakes. Squeeze out a test pip to ensure the colors are coming out evenly.


If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a picture and share it on Instagram with #handletheheat so we can all see!

About Tessa...

Tessa is a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. She loves to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. She's on a mission to make the world a more unapologetically DELICIOUS place. Tessa lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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13 Responses to “3 Ways to Make Swirled Cupcake Frosting”

  1. #
    Rita Zelig — June 29, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I’m very sick in bed so I decided to learn various decorating techniques of frosting & making roses. I am delighted to say, yours are the most perfect and descriptive of all videos I have watched this morning…and trust me! I had watched a great many! Kudos to you! I am living on Social Security Disability permanently. Your methods accommodate my smaller income. Thank you so very much for speaking so clearly and for giving so much good and helpful information. G-d bless you. If I could ever afford to subscribe and get one of your books I will indeed, do exactly that!

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Rita! I really appreciate that 🙂

  2. #
    Charlotte — June 30, 2016 at 11:20 am

    This was an excellent video on two toned. Cupcake declarations. Thank you.

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Thank you, Charlotte!

  3. #
    Belinda — June 30, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks for the tips – very useful. Plus they look delicious.

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Glad you think so, Belinda! 🙂

  4. #
    Peggy — June 30, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    I didn’t know about using two different bags. That is awesome!

    • #
      Tessa — July 1, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      Awesome, Peggy! You learn something new every day 😉

  5. #
    Ginny — July 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

    I really like your 2 color frosting ideas, I am wondering if I could use the same technique for 3 colors?

    • #
      Tessa — July 2, 2016 at 4:09 pm


  6. #
    Marcy — July 14, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Tess I love all of your videos. They are terrific! You make everything so easy. I look forward to all your videos and recipes! Do you have books available ?

  7. #
    Narges — August 27, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Thanks for videos , it makes it hole easier for us and looks wonderfull. My husband have birthday next weekend and I am going to use your recipies. Wish me luck.

  8. #
    Cynthia — June 7, 2018 at 11:22 am

    I love your tutorials. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us! I have made several of your creations and shared them at work and they have been so well received. And your tutorials make me look like a pro and give my creations the WOW! factor.

    5.0 rating

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