I often say that baking is both an art and a science, and this is particularly true when it comes to the world of cake decorating.
Whether you’re making a simple batch of cupcakes for your child’s birthday party or a monumental wedding cake fit to serve two hundred guests, you need a combination of knowledge, experience, and artistic ability. You also need the right tools.
Airbrushing can be an incredibly effective cake decorating technique which can produce beautiful results. It can be much quicker than painting with a brush or individually dying batches of fondant or icing.
In addition to its time-saving benefits, airbrushing can also be essential in achieving certain designs such as those on ombré cakes, where the different colors meld together seamlessly. Likewise, airbrushing is the best way to apply stencil designs.
As is common with many baking appliances and gadgets, the quality between the available products differs rather widely when it comes to airbrushing kits for cake decorating. Some kits are, unfortunately, very difficult to use and tend to create more problems than they solve.
Even the most experienced cake decorator will have a difficult time getting the desired effect with a poorly designed airbrushing kit.
In an attempt to save others from the frustration of trying to work with troublesome kits, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites. I’ll start with a couple of great kits that are a bit more budget-friendly, and I’ll end with my overall recommendation for the absolute best airbrushing kit for cake decorating.
Before we get started, take a look at the video below for an example of what you can do with air brushing:
#3 U.S. Cake Supply Complete Cake Decorating Airbrush Kit
As I mentioned earlier, my first two recommended kits are a bit more budget-friendly. They are still a bit of an investment, though, because I’ve found that the really inexpensive kits just don’t perform well.
This kit comes at a reasonable price while still working really well and containing all of the essentials you’ll need. It has an airbrush compressor that comes equipped with three airflow control settings, an airbrush with a 6-foot hose, and 12 small bottles of food coloring.
Beginners will also be glad to know that this kit includes a simple, illustrated user guide that not only explains how to use the airbrush, but also includes some helpful tips and tricks for airbrush cake decorating. The company also offers a lifetime satisfaction guarantee, promising a full refund if, for any reason, you are ever dissatisfied with the kit.
This is a single-action gravity feed airbrush. The terminology on these can be a bit confusing at first, but basically single-action means that you just pull the one trigger to release the paint (which makes things particularly easy for beginners), and gravity-feed allows for slower release, making detail work a bit simpler and more precise.
Overall, this is an excellent kit for beginners and casual cake decorators. With a little experimentation, it is quite easy to learn, comes with everything you need—including the food coloring—and performs very nicely, especially considering its price point.
True airbrushing enthusiasts, and those with varied and specific airbrushing needs, should probably consider investing in my number-one recommended kit, which I’ll discuss further down; but this one will be perfectly sufficient for many bakers.
#2 Cake Boss Decorating Tools Airbrushing Kit
The best thing about this airbrushing kit is that it is incredibly user-friendly. Even if you are a complete beginner, with this kit you’ll be up and running in no time. Many bakers are intimidated by the prospect of venturing into airbrushing, and I can understand their sense of trepidation.
When browsing for kits, you are likely to encounter many which come with a huge array of parts, attachments, and settings. The detailed lists of technical specifications for each kit can also be a lot to sift through.
While all of this can be useful to an extent, it was simply too much for me when I first started out. That’s why I like to recommend this simple, easy-to-use kit for beginners.
In order to get started airbrushing with this kit, you just need to add the food coloring of your choice, turn on the compressor, and press the trigger to begin painting. The compressor has three adjustable levels—low, medium, and high—which just require turning the dial on the top.
The design is simple and intuitive, and the airbrush works remarkably well. Like the U.S. Cake Supply kit discussed above, this is also one of the more affordable kits.
One limitation of this kit, however, is that it doesn’t have a gravity feed airbrush. This doesn’t make much difference when painting backgrounds or using stencils, but for fine detail work, you may find this kit lacking.
Without gravity feed, you aren’t able to work quite as slowly and deliberately, so if your cake decorating needs include fine lines or intricate details, you’re probably better off using one of my other recommended kits.
#1 Master Pro Airbrush Cake Decorating Set (Top Pick)
If you want an airbrushing kit that truly does it all, this is the set for you. This is the most expensive of my recommendations, so it is definitely an investment, but it works remarkably well and has everything you’ll need for the widest array of airbrushing techniques and designs.
This kit comes with three different airbrushes. Two are double-action (also known as dual-action), which means that you use the trigger to control both the flow of the air and the paint. This can be useful for more advanced designs, although it takes a bit of time and practice to master.
The third airbrush is a single-action, much like the airbrushes included in the other two kits discussed above. For beginners, I definitely recommend just using the single-action brush while you are learning, but if you’re more advanced—or plan to really master the intricacies of airbrushing—the inclusion of these two other airbrushes will absolutely come in handy.
Many experienced cake decorators love the added control that double-action brushes allow.
This set comes with a useful cleaning kit and airbrush holder. Another benefit is that it does well with metallic paints, which sometimes have a tendency to clog in other airbrush kits. The kit also comes with 12 bottles of food coloring, all with certified kosher, FDA-approved ingredients.
The Master Pro airbrush kit is an excellent value overall. It can handle everything from large-scale background painting to the finest detailing. The only real downside is that it isn’t quite as user-friendly as my other two recommendations. This isn’t really a design flaw, but rather an unavoidable necessity.
Complex airbrushing techniques and designs require that the artist has a lot of control over everything from airflow to the speed of paint being released. These things take time to learn and master, but for those willing to put in the effort, I would say that this truly is the best airbrush kit for cake decorating.
It works incredibly well and allows the user a great deal of control, while also being easy to clean, maneuver, and store.
Cake decorating can be one of the most fun, creative, and exciting aspects of baking, and learning airbrushing can definitely take your cakes up a notch or two! There can be a bit of a learning curve at first, but practice pays off quickly.
Try not to be intimidated by the wide array of airbrushing kits available. There are several great options available, and I hope you’ll find my recommendations useful.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.