This technique is shockingly simple.
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A layer cake is the perfect dessert for any celebratory occasion. While your first layer cake may not quite look ready to display in a bakeshop window, over time, you'll learn more tips and techniques to construct an utterly beautiful layer cake. Start with the basics—once you've perfected the art of a smooth-sided layer cake, it's time to move on to simple, but highly effective frosting techniques—like an ombré cake.

Creating an ombré frosting pattern may look difficult, but this technique is shockingly simple. We're here to teach you how to frost an ombré layer cake with ease. This technique does not require any special equipment; you'll just need a piping bag and a bench scraper to pull off this pretty design.

Lemon Cake with Lemon-Thyme Frosting
Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

It all starts with three different frosting colors. We like to pick one shade of food dye, then mix three different hues of that shade—one lighter, one mid-toned, and one darker. You can also create an ombré pattern using different colors, though they may not blend as nicely. From there, simply pipe the icing in rings around the cake, then use a bench scraper to press the rings together. As you smooth around the sides of the cake, the colors will blend at their meeting points, creating a stunning ombré effect.

Looking for a little more inspiration? Our Lemon Cake with Lemon-Thyme Frosting makes for the ultimate ombré.

Here's our step-by-step guide to decorating a beautiful ombré cake.

How to Frost an Ombre Cake Crumb Coat
Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Step 1

Spread one cup undyed frosting in a smooth layer over the top of one cake layer. Repeat with remaining two cake layers and two cups of the undyed frosting. Using a bench scraper or large offset spatula, spread a thin layer of undyed frosting over sides of cake. Chill 30 minutes.

How to Frost an Ombre Cake Step 2
Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Step 2

Starting at the base of cake, pipe the darker frosting in a ring all the way around cake. Leaving space above the dark line, pipe a ring of the lighter frosting all the way around the cake. Repeat again with the undyed frosting. (Alternatively, leave less space between the rings to make more stripes—as seen at the top of this article.) 

How to Frost an Ombre Cake Step 3
Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Step 3

Using a bench scraper or large offset spatula, drag the flat edge around the sides of the cake to smooth and press the rings together, creating an ombré effect.