How To Create Striped Buttercream Cakes

striped buttercream cake tutorial by sugar and sparrow

If there’s one thing you should know about my personal style, it’s the fact that I love all things striped. Wearing them, looking at them, and incorporating them into my cake designs whenever possible. They’re just a few of my favorite things. I first tried this horizontal striped buttercream technique about a year ago, and I was so skeptical at the thought of creating perfectly sized stripes by piping them with my own hands. I was certain that they would be wonky, but the stripes actually turned out near perfect and I was surprised at how easy it was to get the look with steady hands, a good cake turntable, and a few piping bags. And now you’ll get to see how easy it is! 

No matter how thick or thin you want your stripes or how many colors you want to use, I’ll show you my tried-and-true method for creating horizontal stripes with buttercream. Before you read all about the technique, here’s a quick video to show you how it’s done:

You Will Need:

  • A cake that’s been filled, crumb coated, and chilled for at least 20 minutes
  • Enough buttercream for a final coat
  • Food color gels of your choice
  • Bowls and spoons for mixing colors
  • Piping bags
  • Cake turntable
  • Bench scraper and offset spatula for smoothing

Step 1: Color Your Buttercream

This first part is my favorite because mixing colors is my jam! Decide how many colors you want to use for your stripes, then divide your buttercream evenly into that many bowls. Use your food color gels to tint the buttercream to your liking.

using food color gels with buttercream

On this cake, I’m using four pastel colors: yellow, orange, pink, and purple. I used the Wilton Color Right gels to get the hues I was thinking of. Remember that when you’re trying to get a specific shade to start with just a little gel (a toothpick comes in handy for this) and mix it up before adding more.

Step 2: Fill Your Piping Bags

Once your buttercream is all mixed up, prepare some piping bags by snipping the ends off to an opening of about 1/2 inch or less, depending on how thin you want your stripes. It really helps to layer your piping bags on top of one another and snip all of the ends at once. This way, you have precise measurements for the opening of each one, which will make your striping more even.

colorful buttercream piping bags

Fill each piping bag with the colors you’ve mixed up and get ready to party.

Step 3: Apply The Buttercream Stripes To The Cake

Place your chilled and crumb coated cake on a cake turntable. With your hand as steady as possible, turn the cake while you pipe a straight horizontal line with your buttercream at the very base of the cake. If you’d like thicker lines, continue with this color until you’ve reached the desired final height of your stripes, then repeat with the next color in the lineup.

how to create striped buttercream cake

Alternate your colors however you wish until you reach the top of the cake. When you’ve reached the top, fill it in with whatever color makes the most sense visually.

Step 4: Smooth The Cake

Starting at the top of the cake, use your offset spatula to create a smooth top. Then use your bench scraper to smooth the sides of the cake while you turn it on your turntable.

how to make horizontal stripes with buttercream

Make sure you scrape the excess buttercream off of your bench scraper before you smooth the sides each and every time. This helps with keeping the stripes perfectly straight and not tainted with other colors. If you need to fill in any gaps or holes in the sides of the cake, use the corresponding buttercream color to do so before re-smoothing to create an even finish.

Step 5: Keep On Decorating

When your striped buttercream is looking picture perfect, finish it off with some more decor! For this cake in particular, I added a chocolate ganache drip, some sprinkled white chocolate shards, and tied it all together with a some colorful open star piping. 

chocolate ganache drip cake by sugar and sparrow

Want to see more of the cake ideas I’m loving lately? Follow me on Pinterest and take a look!


  1. Hi, loved this tutorial and all the tips on your website! Thanks!! Quick question, can I frost the cake the day before and leave it in the fridge overnight? Also, how long should I keep the frosted cake in the fridge before applying the chocolate drip?

    • Hi Dalila! You can absolutely frost the cake the day before and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The cake only needs to be refrigerated for about 20 minutes prior to adding the ganache drips, so you can do that ahead as well if you’d like. Here are some helpful tips on making cakes ahead:

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