How to Decorate the Side of a Cake With Buttercream

Are you looking to elevate your cake decorating skills? Learn how to decorate the side of a cake with buttercream and create stunning designs that will take your baking to the next level. Decorating the sides of a cake with buttercream can add a beautiful and elegant touch, making your creation stand out from the rest. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced baker, mastering this technique will give your cakes a professional finish that’s sure to impress.

Choosing the right buttercream is essential for achieving the perfect look when decorating the side of a cake. With different types of buttercream available, it’s important to understand which one is best suited for creating beautiful designs and textures on the cake’s sides. From Swiss meringue to American buttercream, each type offers unique qualities that contribute to the overall appearance and taste of the finished product.

Once you’ve selected the right buttercream for your cake, it’s crucial to properly prepare the cake for decorating. This involves leveling the layers and applying a crumb coat to ensure a smooth surface for adding the decorative buttercream design. By following these essential steps, you’ll set yourself up for success as you embark on creating stunning side decorations that will leave everyone in awe.

Choosing the Right Buttercream

When it comes to decorating the side of a cake with buttercream, choosing the right type of buttercream is crucial. There are several different types of buttercream, each with its own unique texture and flavor. The most common types include American buttercream, Italian meringue buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, and French buttercream. Each type has its own pros and cons when it comes to decorating cakes.

American Buttercream

American buttercream is perhaps the easiest type of buttercream to work with, making it ideal for beginners. It is made by creaming together butter and powdered sugar, often with added flavorings such as vanilla or cocoa powder. However, American buttercream can be quite sweet and may not hold up well in warm temperatures.

Italian Meringue Buttercream

Italian meringue buttercream is known for its light and fluffy texture. It is made by whipping egg whites and pouring in a hot sugar syrup to create a stable meringue before adding softened butter. This type of buttercream has a more complex preparation process but results in a smooth and less sweet frosting that holds up well at room temperature.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Similar to Italian meringue buttercream, Swiss meringue also involves heating egg whites and sugar together before whipping into a stable meringue. However, Swiss meringue involves heating the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler before whipping, resulting in a slightly denser texture compared to Italian meringue.

French Buttercream

French buttercream is made by gradually adding hot sugar syrup to beaten egg yolks until cooled before incorporating softened butter. This type of buttercream has a rich flavor and silky texture but can be more challenging to make due to the delicate nature of the egg yolk-based custard.

Choosing the right type of buttercream for decorating the side of a cake ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific needs of your cake project. Consider factors such as taste, texture, temperature stability, and ease of application when selecting the best option for your cake decoration needs.

By using the right kind of how to decorate the side of a cake with m>, you can achieve stunning results that will elevate your cake design from ordinary to extraordinary.

Preparing the Cake

When it comes to decorating the side of a cake with buttercream, proper preparation is key to achieving a flawless and professional finish. Before you can start adding the beautiful swirls and textures to the cake’s sides, it’s crucial to ensure that the cake is properly leveled and coated with a crumb coat.

Leveling the Cake

Before you can begin decorating the sides of your cake with buttercream, it’s important to make sure that the top surface of your cake is level. This can be achieved by carefully slicing off any uneven or domed areas using a long serrated knife or a cake leveler. A flat and even top will provide a stable foundation for applying the buttercream.

Crumb Coating

Once your cake is leveled, the next step in preparing for buttercream decoration is applying a crumb coat. This thin layer of buttercream helps to trap any loose crumbs and create a smooth surface for the final layer of buttercream.

To apply the crumb coat, spread a thin layer of slightly softened buttercream over the entire surface of the cake using an offset spatula. Make sure to work quickly and avoid pressing too hard on the cake to prevent lifting any crumbs.

By following these steps for preparing your cake, you will create an ideal canvas for decorating the sides with buttercream. Taking your time during this part of the process will ensure that your final result has a clean and polished appearance.

Crumb Coat Application

When it comes to decorating a cake with buttercream, one of the crucial steps is applying a crumb coat. This thin layer of icing helps seal in the crumbs and provides a smooth foundation for the final decorations. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply a crumb coat properly:

1. Prepare your cake: Start by leveling your cake layers to ensure they are even. Then, place the first layer on your cake board or serving platter.

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2. Apply a thin layer of buttercream: Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of buttercream over the entire surface of the cake layer. This initial layer doesn’t need to be perfect or smooth – its main purpose is to capture any loose crumbs.

3. Chill the cake: Once the first layer of buttercream is applied, place the cake in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes to allow the buttercream to firm up.

4. Apply a second layer of buttercream: After chilling, apply another thin layer of buttercream over the first layer, this time focusing on making it as smooth as possible. Use your offset spatula to spread the buttercream evenly around the sides and top of the cake.

5. Smooth out any imperfections: Once your second layer is applied, use a bench scraper or icing smoother to create a completely smooth finish on the sides of your cake.

Applying a crumb coat may seem like an extra step, but it plays an important role in achieving a flawless and professional-looking finished product. By following these steps, you can ensure that your cake is well-prepared for adding beautiful side decorations with buttercream.

Getting Started With the Decorations

When it comes to decorating the side of a cake with buttercream, there are countless ways to get creative and make your dessert stand out. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a beginner, mastering the art of buttercream decorations can take your cakes to the next level. In this section, we will discuss some tips and techniques for creating beautiful swirls, textures, or patterns on the side of the cake using buttercream.

One popular technique for decorating the side of a cake with buttercream is creating smooth and elegant swirls. To achieve this look, start by applying a thin layer of buttercream on the entire side of the cake using an offset spatula. Then, use a piping bag fitted with a large star tip to pipe evenly spaced vertical lines from top to bottom. Finally, use a small offset spatula or bench scraper to gently smooth out the lines into fluid swirls.

Adding texture to the side of a cake with buttercream can also create an eye-catching effect. One way to achieve this is by using different piping tips to create various textures such as ruffles, rosettes, or basketweave patterns. Experimenting with different piping tips and practicing on parchment paper can help you master these techniques before applying them to your cake.

Lastly, incorporating patterns into your buttercream decorations can add a unique and artistic touch to your cake. From simple polka dots to intricate lace designs, there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating patterns on the side of a cake with buttercream. Using stencils or freehand piping can help you achieve stunning patterns that will impress your guests.

SwirlsCreate smooth and elegant swirls by applying thin layer of buttercream and then using a piping bag fitted with large star tip.
TexturesAdd texture by using different piping tips such as ruffles, rosettes, or basketweave patterns.
PatternsIncorporate different patterns into your buttercream decorations such as polka dots or lace designs using stencils or freehand piping.

Experimenting with these techniques will not only enhance the visual appeal of your cakes but also allow you to unleash your creativity in new and exciting ways. Remember that practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering these buttercream decoration methods. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas and have fun creating stunning designs on the sides of your cakes.

Adding Extra Embellishments

When it comes to decorating the side of a cake with buttercream, the possibilities are endless. Once you have achieved the desired texture or pattern on the cake’s side, you can take your decoration to the next level by adding extra embellishments. These additional decorations or techniques can enhance the overall design and make your cake truly standout. Here are some creative ideas for adding extra embellishments to your buttercream side decoration:

  • Add edible flowers: Edible flowers not only add a pop of color to your cake but also an elegant and sophisticated touch. You can use fresh edible flowers like roses, pansies, or lavender to create a stunning floral design on the side of your cake
  • Sprinkles: Sprinkles are a fun and easy way to add some whimsy and excitement to your buttercream side decoration. Whether you opt for colorful rainbow sprinkles, metallic jimmies, or delicate pearlized dragees, sprinkles can instantly elevate the look of your cake
  • Chocolate curls or shavings: For a more decadent and indulgent touch, consider adding chocolate curls or shavings to your buttercream design. The contrast between the smooth buttercream and the rich chocolate will create a visually appealing effect.

Incorporating these extra embellishments into your buttercream side decoration will not only enhance its appearance but also add a unique and personal touch to your creation.

When adding extra embellishments to your buttercream side decoration, it’s important to consider the overall aesthetic of the cake and ensure that the additional decorations complement the existing design. Whether you choose to go for an elegant floral arrangement, playful sprinkles, or rich chocolate accents, these embellishments should harmonize with the theme and style of the cake.

Ultimately, experimenting with different extra embellishments is an opportunity for creativity and personalization in cake decorating. By exploring various options and combinations, you can create a visually stunning masterpiece that is sure to impress both visually and taste-wise.


Addressing common issues that may arise during the process of decorating the side of a cake with buttercream is an important aspect of achieving a professional and polished look. One frequent issue that decorators encounter is the presence of air bubbles in the buttercream, which can disrupt the smooth and even appearance of the icing.

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To prevent this, it is essential to properly mix the buttercream and use a spatula to release any trapped air bubbles as you spread it onto the cake.

Uneven icing is another challenge that may occur when decorating the side of a cake with buttercream. This can happen due to improper application or inconsistent thickness of the buttercream layer. To address this issue, it is crucial to ensure that the crumb coat is applied evenly and smoothly before adding additional layers for decoration. Using a cake scraper or offset spatula can help achieve an even surface for decorating with buttercream.

Moreover, maintaining a consistent temperature while working with buttercream can also impact its performance during decoration. Extreme heat or cold can cause the buttercream to become too soft or too firm, leading to difficulties in applying it evenly on the cake’s sides. Keeping a close eye on the temperature of the room and adjusting where necessary can help prevent these issues from arising during the decorating process.

Finishing Touches

When it comes to decorating the side of a cake with buttercream, the finishing touches are crucial in achieving a professional and polished look. There are several ways to add that extra flair to the cake’s sides, including using a cake comb or adding a border. These final touches can elevate the overall appearance of the cake and make it stand out on any dessert table.

Using a cake comb is an excellent way to create clean and defined patterns on the buttercream’s surface. A cake comb is a tool with ridges that allows you to easily create textured designs on the cake’s sides. To use a cake comb, simply hold it against the chilled buttercream and carefully run it around the entire circumference of the cake. This will result in visually appealing patterns that add depth and visual interest to the cake.

In addition to using a cake comb, adding a border can further enhance the look of the cake’s sides. Borders can be created using various piping tips and techniques, allowing for endless creativity. Whether it’s simple dots, scalloped edges, or intricate piped designs, a well-executed border can tie together the entire buttercream decoration and give the cake a polished finish.

Another way to add an extra touch is by incorporating edible embellishments such as fresh flowers, fruit slices, or edible pearls into the design. These elements not only provide an added visual appeal but also contribute to an overall cohesive look that complements and enhances the buttercream decoration.

Finishing TouchesTools Used
Cake CombRidges texture tool
Piping TipsTo create different types of borders like dots or scalloped edges
Edible EmbellishmentsFresh flowers or fruit slices for added visual appeal


In conclusion, decorating the side of a cake with buttercream can truly elevate the overall look and appeal of a cake. By choosing the right type of buttercream, properly preparing the cake, applying a crumb coat, and getting creative with the decorations, anyone can achieve stunning results.

Whether it’s for a special occasion or just for fun, learning how to decorate the side of a cake with buttercream opens up a world of possibilities for expressing creativity and adding personal touches to baked treats.

It’s important to remember that practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering buttercream side decoration techniques. Don’t be discouraged by initial attempts – instead, embrace the learning process and use any troubleshooting tips provided to address any issues that may arise. Additionally, don’t hesitate to experiment with different designs, textures, and embellishments. Adding extra elements like edible flowers or sprinkles can take your buttercream side decorations to the next level.

Ultimately, this guide serves as a starting point for anyone looking to enhance their cake decorating skills. With patience, attention to detail, and an adventurous spirit, anyone can create beautifully adorned cakes that are not only visually stunning but also delicious. So go ahead and dive into the world of buttercream side decorations – there’s no limit to what you can create.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Put Buttercream on the Side of a Cake?

To put buttercream on the side of a cake, start by applying a crumb coat to seal in any loose crumbs. Then, use an offset spatula to spread buttercream onto the sides of the cake, working in small sections at a time.

How Do You Spread Frosting on the Side of a Cake?

When spreading frosting on the side of a cake, it’s important to start with a crumb coat to create a smooth base. Use an offset spatula to apply the frosting in an even layer, smoothing out any uneven areas as you go.

How Do You Smooth the Icing on the Side of a Cake?

To smooth the icing on the side of a cake, use a bench scraper or an icing smoother to gently press the icing against the cake while rotating it. This will help create a smooth and even finish, making sure no air bubbles or gaps are left behind.

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