How to Write on a Cake (Cleanly!)

Learning how to write on a cake is easy with these helpful tips—and a little practice.

Just like learning how to write the alphabet as a kid, writing on a cake is a skill that takes some practice. But once you master the moves and method, you’ll be able to create bakery-style designs on your own homemade creations. Here’s how to write on a cake so you can create stunning desserts for special occasions.

To get started on the right foot, brush up on how to frost a cake the easy and elegant way.

The Method We Recommend

For best results, we recommend using a piping bag and tip to write on your cake. You can use any round tip to write your letters, though smaller tips may make it difficult to smoothly squeeze the icing out while larger tips can lead to a messier script. Test a few to find out what works for you—you may land somewhre in the middle.

Fill your piping bag about halfway with icing. If it’s too full, it could be difficult to hold, or it may squeeze out the top. The proper way to hold the bag is by grabbing the top of the bag with your dominant hand and guiding the bag with your non-dominant hand. Hold the bag at a 45-degree angle, but don’t drag the tip in the icing. Check out a few more tips for using a piping bag.

If you don’t have easy access to a piping bag, you can use a zip-top bag instead. Cut a very small hole in the corner to start—you can always cut more if it’s too small.

The Best Icing to Use

Gels, buttercream, melted chocolate and royal icing are all great options for writing on cake. They each feel differently when you write with them, so be sure to practice if you’re trying a new one.

If your cake has buttercream frosting, refrigerating it will help it firm up—creating a better canvas and allowing you to easily scrape off letters if you make a mistake. Keep in mind, however, that you shouldn’t use royal icing on buttercream frosting because the fat in the buttercream will break down the royal icing.

Melted chocolate makes a great option for beginners because it’s readily available, and if you make a mistake while practicing, you can easily scrape it off and re-melt it to try again. Here’s how to properly melt chocolate.

You can even try piping melted chocolate on parchment paper, refrigerating it until hard and gently lifting the letters off the paper and onto your cake. This works especially well for cursive words that are all one piece.

Before You Get Started

When it comes to writing on a cake, practice really does make perfect. If you’re a beginner, try holding a thick marker in your fist like a kid would. Write your message while holding the marker like this, as these movements will give you a feel for how to write with a piping bag.

To prevent wasting the frosting, try practicing your lettering by filling a piping bag with mayonnaise or mustard. Cut out a piece of parchment paper that’s the size of your cake to use as a practice canvas.

For beginners, we recommend cursive writing because it’s easier to control the flow. When you come to the end of a word, gently press the tip into the piped icing and lift straight up for a clean edge.

How to Write on a Cake

Here’s the best method for writing on your cake. We recommend writing your message before adding any decorative elements. It’s much easier to add flourishes and flowers around the lettering rather than trying to squeeze your words onto an already crowded cake!

You’ll need:

  • Piping bag and tip
  • Icing
  • Parchment paper
  • Marker
  • Toothpick
  • Frosted cake

Step 1: Prep the piping bag

Fit your piping bag with a tip, and fill it about halfway with icing.

Editor’s tip: If you don’t have a piping bag, use a zip-top bag and cut a small hole in the corner.

Step 2: Prepare your parchment paper

Cut a piece of parchment paper the same size as your cake. Using a marker, write your message on the parchment. To ensure your message is centered, find the middle letter of each line of text (remembering to accommodate any spaces) and mark that as the center. For example, the middle of “happy birthday” is the space between “b” and “i,” which would be the center line. Fill in the remaining letters.

Editor’s tip: Try printing out your message in a font you like, then placing the paper underneath the parchment so you can easily trace!

Step 3: Transfer the message

Gently place the parchment on your cake. Using a toothpick, prick the message onto the frosting. Once you remove the parchment, you can connect the dots with your toothpick.

Step 4: Practice your piping

Before piping on your cake, try a practice round on the parchment. This will help you get a feel for the flow of the icing.

Step 5: Write on the cake

Once you feel comfortable, trace the guide you’ve created in the frosting. When you come to the end of a line, gently touch the tip to the cake and lift straight up for a clean break.

Editor’s tip: Don’t worry if you make a mistake! You can easily scrape off the letters and smooth the frosting with a spatula, or add squiggles and flourishes to cover up any errors.

Step 6: Add decorations

When you’ve finished writing, it’s time to fill in the decorations. Get inspired with our best tips for cake decorating.

Alternatives to Writing on a Cake

If you’re looking for an easier way to express your message, try candy letters. You can also spell out letters with small candies, like chocolate chips or M&M’s.

Another easy option is making a stencil out of wax paper. Write your message in block letters and carefully cut out the letters with a knife. Place the wax paper stencil over your cake, and fill in the letters with powdered sugar or sprinkles. Remove the stencil to reveal your message.

Looking for more cake decorating ideas? Check out easy ways to dress up your cake.

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Alexa Hackfort
Alexa is a writer who believes there’s always room for ice cream. Based in Milwaukee, she enjoys exploring the city, tackling new recipes and planning her next trip.