Buttercream Peony Tutorial

When this sweet little cake ended up getting so much attention, I realized it was high time I create a little tutorial for one of my MOST favourite flowers. The peony… Oooo the peony.. so elegant, so fluffy, romantic and sweet smelling, it bountifully fills the gap from the young blushing bride to a grandma tending them in her garden. They such a versatile flower to suit almost any occasion. BUT.

BUT. they have such a short lifespan in the garden and in markets. I’ve had brides specifically plan their whole wedding date around when peonies were available. no joke. So this is the most amazing solution (not for your bouquet, it might get… sticky…) but for your cake!! Buttercream peonies.. oh sooo pretty and much tastier!



I hope you enjoy this very simple and basic little tutorial. If there is a tutorial out there, it’s probably better than mine, but I couldn’t find any. I made this one up just by admiring the other buttercream peonies that I’ve seen. Without further a-do here we go!


Side-note (before we even begin) The tutorial will pipe a buttercream peony onto a cupcake – however for the cake above, I just piped them right onto the cake. You can do a parchment paper/rose nail/transfer method, however I’m sometimes a little lazy for all that and just go right for it!

Second side note. This is a flower that looks worse before it looks better! KEEP GOING!!! you can do it =)



A cupcake

Wilton Tip #402 (Looks like a “C” equally open on each end)   (edit note – I previously wrote 420 by accident!!! so sorry – it’s definitely a 402 tip!! I found a bunch on the Wilton website here)

Buttercream (tinted if desired) of choice (I’ve made them with American buttercream (all butter variety), Shortening based american buttercream & Swiss meringue) They all work! (Click here for my easy Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe!)

A few sprinkles (gold, silver, poppy seeds, or white edible pearls – anything will do!)

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Step 1

With your bag filled half way (don’t over fill – it’s hard to pipe when it’s overfilled and gets messy)

Working from the outer edge of the cupcake, keep your bag at 90degrees. Your first layer around might be messy, and the petals might flop. Don’t worry we can fix later.

Your petals are created by keeping your bag at 90, and making little dips (like the letter L). So start just away from the edge, press the bag and then pull up, releasing pressure as you pull up. You’re basically dragging the icing you pushed out, up to make a petal. They might flop a bit as I said, but the first layer can be fixed later this is our base!

Keep going around the outside of the cupcake until you have one layer. All the petals should overlap by about 1/3 to a 1/2.

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Step 2

After the first layer is completed – start again and make another layer around, and then another. Keep practicing squeezing and scooping while you pull. Once you get the feel for the petal it’ll come very naturally.  Keep working around and around until you have almost the whole cupcake filled.

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Step 3

When you get to the center, you might only need three little petals. It’s ok if the tip touches the other petals as you can create a bit of shape here by pulling up again with your tip leaving that crater inside the middle of the cupcake. When the buttercream is still soft and fresh sprinkle your desired colour of sprinkle inside and set aside!

If you have any outer petals that are really drooping or hanging over the edge, you can go back around the outside of the cupcake and add a few more petals!

But don’t stress about it, it’s a flower! Some petals will be a bit wonky and that makes it look more natural!

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I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial on the buttercream peony!!

Please feel free to pass it around =)

Happy Baking!



edit: If you need a GREAT buttercream recipe please check out my new recipe posted in my blog. Get it here – with pictures!

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  1. Debbie S. says

    I really need to try my hand at this, I have always been fascinated with the art of cake decorating.

  2. kinga says

    This is so beautiful. I love it. the colour you chose was perfect. I am looking for tip 420 but can’t find it. Has it been discontinued? Do you know?

  3. Aphrodite says

    Hi and thanks for the tutorial! You make it looks so easy :) . I noticed that the tip number is written 420 instead of 402! So kinga you can find it online as #402.

  4. Jenny says

    How did you create the peonies on the side of the cake? Didn’t gravity work against you and try to drag them down? Beautiful cake!

    • says

      I will say this about the gravity thing, make sure your buttercream is on the cooler side, (not the part that’s been in your bag longest with the warmth of your hand) as it’ll slip easier..
      I started on the outside – just like in the images and worked my way around, if I found that some of my petals were dragging too much I went back after and added a couple more so that the shape of the peony held them up.
      I had to step back and walk away – they’re not perfect -but they work!!
      Tilt your cake a little to add the center sprinkles so that you’re not throwing them at the cake and hoping for the best 😉

  5. Lauren says

    I just tried this and didn’t have much luck my petals either flopped when I used thinner icing or wouldn’t release from the tip when I used thicker icing?! Any advice?! Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Lauren!
      Some petals will flop! That’s ok – were you able to get past the first row?? Try giving yourself a little more of a base and a short petal – if that makes sense, at least until your first layer is done. Then see how the second row goes. Might be that the buttercream is melting in your hands too? I use swiss meringue, but you have to work quickly or it starts to sag and melt! Keep trying!

    • says

      Hi Becky!
      You can use the same method but just decide where you want it on the cake and pipe it on. Sometimes using a round cookie cutter, lightly impressed on the buttercream or fondant, to give a guide for the circle is helpful! If you follow me on instagram you can see a very short clip of me piping onto a cake (it’s a while back so you’ll have to scroll) http://www.instagram.com/thecocoacakery
      I find that peonies are best piped right onto cakes and cupcakes rather than made on a flower nail and transferred. Mostly because they come out so large. I hope this helps!

  6. says

    This is fantastic. I’m looking to expand my decorating repertoire now. Have you recorded this technique at all? I’m struggling a bit with the L shape you describe, and I’d love to see even a short clip!

    • says

      i have a short clip on instagram!!! it’s a few months back – but take a peek there 😉
      I’m not very techy – so videoing myself and getting it up on my blog would be tricky – but I’ll try!!!!

  7. Andrea Snow says

    Hi there wondering if you would be able to post a video of this process . . . I’m struggling!! Also what consistency should the icing be??

  8. Yolie Vigt-Lowell says

    I love LOVE your peonies and your video tutorial was very helpful (did I say HELPFUL:)? Now all I need is a good buttercream or Swiss meringue recipe I can depend on to pipe these beauties…Do you mind sharing yours?

  9. Yolie Vigt-Lowell says

    (Sorry for reposting but I’m not sure the first went through)
    I love LOVE your peonies and your video tutorial was very helpful (did I say HELPFUL:)? Now all I need is a good buttercream or Swiss meringue recipe I can depend on to pipe these beauties…Do you mind sharing yours?

  10. Snooper says

    I didn’t like this tutorial. The pictures are extremely tiny and all that watermarking is in the way….sorry! I’ll have to look somewhere else!

    • says

      Just took a peek at it – I didn’t realize that the watermark doens’t shrink according to the size. thanks for letting me know! I’ve adjusted it and made the images large so you can clearly see everything. I hope this helps! All the best.

  11. Nicki says

    Thank you for sharing this tutorial!!! Have my decorator tip on order and will be trying this as soon as possible! Sure wish I would have seen this prior to making sugar peonies for my daughters wedding cake!

  12. Yolie Vogt-Lowell says

    I’m doing these peonie cupcakes for my grand daughter’s “Fsiries & Flowers” birthday party.
    About how many cups of icing will I need to pipe these beauties onto 24 cupcakes:)? Thanks

    • says

      oh shoot. you’re asking me that question that i’m HORRIBLE at answering… because i never measure these things… Ok, so I normally 3/4fill a 12″ disposable bag and am able to do about 3 peonies (sometimes 4?) on cupcakes, with one bag of buttercream before refilling. i know that’s a terrible answer – but I’d say it’s double the amount of icing it normally takes for a regular swirl cupcake? sorry for the very unhelpful answer!!!

      • Yolie says

        That actually helps (I think:) So does that mean that from a buttercream icing recipe that calls for 1lb powder sugar, you’d probably get 9-12 peonies?

  13. Caroline says

    Can you tell me what tip you used for the white leaves? Thanks! Making a 50th birthday cake tomorrow and using your peony cake as inspiration:)

  14. Ann says

    Hello! I just tried it yesterday with SMBC and my cream doesn’t hold up the shape! It just keeps falling over! Do you know why my cream isn’t stiff enough to hold the shape?

    • says

      Have you tried my swiss meringue buttercream recipe? It’s listed on the blog – that one shouldn’t give you any trouble!!! Sometime the outter ridge of petals doesn’t hold up at all, keep going and it’ll work, then go back and just add some petals around the outside at the end. let me know!! (sorry for the delay)

  15. Lindsay says

    A friend asked me to make a cake for her daughters first birthday and wanted me to use your posey cake as inspiration. Thanks for the tutorial. It was definitely helpful. I also used your Swiss meringue buttercream recipe and loved how it turned out and how quickly it came together.

  16. says

    but did you have eventual success??? don’t dismay! keep trying.. there are many times I see what looks to be a simple flower on youtube and it takes me ages to figure out. hope it works out for you!!


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