Want to do fancy icing designs but don’t have the right piping equipment? You’re in luck! With just a few easy steps you can do detailed icing work with what you already have in your kitchen.

By Jessica Furniss and Allrecipes Editors
Updated December 16, 2020
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Sugar cookies decorated to look like snowflakes with white icing and two shades of pale blue icing
Credit: Tara

You don't need fancy equipment to pipe delicate designs for Christmas cookie decorating or to write birthday greetings on cakes. All you need is a homemade parchment paper piping bag shaped into a cone (or "cornet" if you want to talk like a pastry pro).

Three great reasons to make a parchment paper piping bag:

  1. It's cheap! Imagine how many piping bags you can make with one inexpensive roll of parchment paper.
  2. It's convenient! You can just toss it out when you're done. No washing up reusable bags and no guilt over throwing away plastic bags.
  3. Bragging rights. I mean, how cool is it that you can make a "cornet" like you went to culinary school?

DIY Piping Bag

You're probably going to have to make and toss a few cones before you get the hang of this. But once you get it, you get it. So relax and have fun learning. Ready to roll? Here's how to make a DIY piping bag, step by step.

  1. Start by tearing off a rectangular sheet of parchment as seen below. (Or fold a full sheet-pan sized piece and cut it in half.)
sheet of parchment paper on a cutting board
Credit: Jessica Furniss

2. Fold the rectangle diagonally. You’ll notice the triangles don’t line up perfectly, which is perfect. That means you’re doing it right. Use your fingernail or the back of a knife blade to make a strong crease along the fold.

folding parchment rectangle into two triangles
Credit: Jessica Furniss

3. Use scissors or a knife blade to cut the paper along the crease. This will give you two right triangles, enough for two parchment cones. Set one aside.

cutting a parchment paper rectangle into two triangles
Credit: Jessica Furniss

4. Your triangles will each have sides of three different lengths. Lay down a triangle with the right angle on the left as seen below. The short side of the triangle is on the left, the long side is on the top, and the medium side is on the bottom. (We’ll have specific instructions for the short side, the medium side, and the long side.)

parchment paper triangle
Credit: Jessica Furniss

5. Bring down the top left point to meet the bottom left corner, tucking it under to make a cylinder shape as seen below.

folding a parchment paper triangle to make a piping cone
Credit: Jessica Furniss

6. Grab the tip of the long tail end on the right, and wrap it around the body to make a cone as seen below. 

folding a parchment paper triangle to make a piping cone
Credit: Jessica Furniss

7. Once you’ve wrapped the long tail end around once, you’ll pull it away from the tip of the cone, as seen below. It may feel more natural to continue to wrap it around the cone, but this will not give you the shape you need. 

folding a parchment paper triangle to make a piping cone

8. Continue pulling the long tail end until the tip opening of your cone has the right size hole for the type of piping you’re planning to do. The more you pull, the smaller your opening will be and the more detailed your piping.

shaping a parchment paper triangle into a piping bag
Credit: Jessica Furniss

9. Once your tip opening is the size you want, you’ll take the long end of the paper and fold it into the large opening of the cone as seen below.

shaping a parchment paper triangle into a piping bag
Credit: Jessica Furniss

10. Use your fingernail to crease the rim of the cone.

parchment paper piping bag
Credit: Jessica Furniss

11. Do one more narrow fold to secure the long end of the cone and give you a sturdy pastry bag as seen below.

double folding the edge of a parchment paper piping bag
Credit: Jessica Furniss

How to Use Your DIY Piping Bag

  • Gently spoon frosting or icing into your cone, being sure not to fill it more than halfway or it will squeeze out of the top of the bag and make a huge mess.
  • Once you've filled the cone halfway, hold the seam side away from you and fold down the top part of the bag towards you. Fold in the left and right corners, and then fold the top over again before you begin. This keeps the bag tight, so it won't unravel, and gives you better control as you pipe.
  • Keep folding the top down as you work (think of a tube of toothpaste). And like a tube of toothpaste, you should squeeze from the top, not from the middle.
  • You can make your pastry bag tip opening as large or small as you need. So to decorate a whole cake, you may choose to make several of these parchment pastry bags, each with a different size tip for different elements of the decorations. Use a sharp paring knife or scissors to snip off the point of the cone.
  • If you're using different colors of frosting or icing, have the bags all filled and ready to go before you start decorating.

Start decorating! It's a good idea to practice piping a few swirls or letters on a plate or an extra piece of parchment before starting in on a cake or other finished project.

piping icing on a cake with a diy piping bag
Credit: Jessica Furniss

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This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com