Prime your icing
The first step to beautiful icing is making sure it hasn’t been sitting out too long, which can leave you with an inconsistent texture. For an instant refresh, give the frosting a good whip in your stand mixer before applying it to your cupcakes. This will help get rid of any air bubbles and leave you with shiny, smooth results.
Spread like a pro
While using the back of a spoon is always an option, using an offset palette knife to swirl the icing onto each cupcake will help you achieve a polished look more easily. The knife helps you better control where the icing goes and creates straight, clean edges with perfect swirls exactly where you want them.
Invest in a piping bag
A reusable piping bag will give you the most professional feel and is a small investment that delivers great results. Practice with a large round or star tip first on parchment paper before you tackle your cupcakes (or any other dessert). You can even scrape up your practice runs and reload them into your piping bag.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
If your cupcake icing isn’t as perfect as you would like, don’t sweat it—use toppings to hide any imperfections. Grated chocolate, chocolate shards, ganache, sprinkles or a cherry on top are all excellent options.