Cake decorating bags are important if you wish to successfully decorate your cakes. It doesn’t matter if you are making a border, royal icing flowers, writing “Happy Birthday”, or doing detail work on a cake transfer. All of these need the assist of a good cake decorating bag.
So Many Choices
There are so many choices for cake decorating bags, also known as piping bags and pastry bags, that it is hard to know what would be the best for your situation.
Featherweight decorating bags are made of polyester and are coated so icing will not leak through. These bags work great for all your decorating needs. They come in sizes, through Wilton brand at least, 8″- 18″, and are dishwasher safe.
Pros: Featherweight bags are a durable choice if you wish to get a little more for your money. You can reuse for a long time as they hold up great and you don’t have to worry about running out of bags in the middle of the night as you are trying desperately to get a cake done before morning. (Never happened to me before 😉 … okay, it has)
Cons: You have to wash the bag every time you have to change a color of icing. This may not be an issue if you have twenty bags on hand but if you can’t afford the investment right off, you may only have a few bags. They are know to stain with darker colors but eventually start to fade.
My Opinion: So, I have a confession, I have never used a Featherweight bag. (Gasp!) I know! With that being said, I can’t very well give you my opinion on whether or not these are good or not. According to reviews on Amazon though, it has high marks and great comments about durability and that they are easy to use and wash.
*Since I have NOT used these bags, I can’t give you an honest rating. So I will make it my mission to go out and buy one of these bags and try it out so I can give you an honest opinion. Being able to give you insight into a product before you go out to buy it is one reason I started this website, so I will update this post after I have tried one out.
Vinyl decorating bags are another option. Since they are made of plastic, these bags are durable and will last you for a good period of time. They are dishwasher safe and easy to use. They come in a pack of two 9″ bags.
Pros: Vinyl bags are reusable, durable and you can use them with or without couplers to hold the tips.
Cons: Can be hard to clean, especially when using an icing made with shortening. You have to wash and dry them with each color change. They are strangely stiff in your hand which makes them harder to twist the bag and keep the icing from seeping out the bottom. Only appear to come in one size.
My Opinion: Alright, I have to admit, I hated having to wash these things. I just hate doing dishes all together, so these bags just added to the pile and in MY opinion were a pain in the butt. If I had to change a color then I had to wash the bag out and dry it before I could put another color in. To make it more annoying was that the shortening from the icing just would NOT come off. I had to wash these a couple times by hand to get it all off. Also, the icing kept coming out the back which meant it was a BIG mess all over my hands and made it a bigger pain to refill when I ran out of icing.
Now, just so you know, I had purchased these in my early days of decorating and I went with vinyl because I didn’t know any better and they were cheap. One thing I learned real quickly was that a 9″ bag is WAY too small for what I was using it for. 9″ bags are good for small amounts of icing where there is no more than 1/2 a cup in there and at the time I had no idea that there was such a thing as icing bag ties which would probably cut back on icing coming out the back of the bag.
Would I recommend these? That’s a big fat NO! Don’t waste your time or money. Either go with quality or go disposable.
Silicone decorating bags are made of FDA approved, food safe silicone. These bags are smooth on the inside and matted on the outside to give you a nice grip while piping. They are very durable, flexible, and are also dishwasher safe. This product claims to be stain-resistant and tear proof. They also come in a variety of sizes ranging from 13″ to 24″.
Pros: Reusable and very durable. They are dishwasher safe and easy to use. Not overly pricey so they are pretty budget friendly.
Cons: Have to wash and dry to change colors if you only have a few bags available. A bit of an investment to start out with if you want to purchase more than a couple bags and different sizes at one time.
My Opinion: Once again, I’ve got egg in my face. I have not tried these out yet. But, in my defense, I had NO IDEA they even existed until I researched for this post and let me tell you, I CANNOT WAIT to buy one and try it out. Yes, I know, I still have to wash these, BUT if I buy a large enough bag, I could use it as my all-over cake icing bag, not a detail icing bag. So, just like the Featherweight, I will purchase one of these bags and see how they work and give you my opinion of these later on in an update.
Plastic decorating bags are great for when you have a ton of colors to use on a cake, say for a birthday cake. They hold tips and couplers well and can be used without them too. Most brands of these bags are pretty durable and can even be reused once or twice. Since they are disposable, the seams are not usually strong enough to use more than a couple times before the icing will erupt out the side.
Pros: Durable and easy to use when you need a lot of colors for you cake. Boxes of disposable bags can be purchased pretty inexpensively and you get as little as a dozen to as much as 100 in a pack. Clean up is easy. Just take out the tips and toss. No washing necessary.
Cons: Because you are tossing these, you are causing more trash which hurts the environment. You can reuse a couple times but the seams are not strong enough past that.
My Opinion: I’m sorry to say that I actually love disposable bags because they are…well, disposable. I know that might not make me very popular with several of you out there but these are just more of a convenient for me. I have never had a very big budget, or any budget really, to spend on anything better than 2 vinyl bags so these where what I would gravitate to. Being able to just toss these out is what was so appealing to me and if the seam broke, oh well, just grab another bag. When you make cakes that sometimes require you to use 10+ colors for the design, you need a lot of bags and this is definitely a way to go.
Parchment decorating bags are also a great bag to use when you have to use a lot of color. Each box of parchment bags come with at least 100 triangle-shaped papers that you have to shape into the bag. Yes, it comes with directions for that. After you get the hang of it, it is very easy to put a bag together and add the tips and couplers. These can then be tossed in the trash when you are finished with them.
Pros: Best value for your buck when it comes to disposable bags and they are also better for the environment over the plastic bags because these will eventually break down. Easy clean up too which is valuable to a lot of people.
Cons: One major con is that you have to make the bag. It can get a bit annoying at times, especially if you are in a rush. The icing breaks through the paper more easily than the plastic but it doesn’t do it too often to where it is a major turn-off. You really can’t refill these. I mean, you CAN but it is a really big mess at times. If you can’t refill these as you are working then that means you have to stop and make a new bag, which means TIME.
My Opinion: My mom graciously purchased these for me a few years back and I have to say that I was VERY apprehensive at first. For one, because I had to make the bag, and for two, it was PAPER. I thought for sure I would bust through these easily. But I didn’t and I have to say that I really did like these. They were convenient enough and were easy to put together once I did it a few times. I would definitely buy them again but I just haven’t thought about them when I am out buying more bags.
What is my favorite?
So, in my post about my top 10 cake decorating supplies, I mentioned that I had a favorite icing bag. All decorators probably do. But now that I know of two other bags that I have yet to try, this “favorite” is probably not entirely deserved yet. Either way, I will tell you of my RIGHT NOW favorite.
Drum roll please …”dddddddddddddddddd” (That’s my drum roll 🙂 My husband says I’m horrible at sound effects.)
The answer is….NONE OF THESE!
“What?! That is so unfair!” you say.
Well, it’s true. I actually do not use any of these decorating bags normally. Because I do a lot of detail work, disposable works the best for me so I would lean toward the plastic disposable bags if I had to choose one. But, I found another less expensive way, if only a little, to get the same effect.
Ziploc Freezer Bags
There it is, my favorite bag. I can buy a box of 40 Ziploc Freezer bags for a couple bucks and have plenty for my cake to make the design. The bag zips so it keeps it from getting all over me and they are pretty durable. I have only had a couple instances where the bag has broken or the tip came out when there was no coupler holding it in place. It can be a little messy to refill but pretty much every bag is messy to refill.
Now, I do want to point out again that I have not tried out the Featherweight or the Silicone bags and they very well may be my new favorites. But I will probably stick to disposable when I have to many colors to deal with. Like I said before, I will update this post when I try out those new decorating bags.
I hope this post has helped you in getting to know what kind of decorating bags are out there and has helped you to figure out what would be best for your situation. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions and I will be sure to do my best to answer them. Also, I would love to hear what bag is your favorite or if there are other ones out there that I should check out. I’m sure there is 🙂