Airbrushes are available in several different styles which each have their own unique features and controls, and it takes careful consideration to find the perfect choice for decorating cakes and other edible treats. After diligently comparing the functionality of 12 popular sets, it's no question that the Master Airbrush Pro System is the best airbrush for cake decorating. For under $100, this kit not only includes every component necessary to get started airbrushing, but its dual-action airbrush is the highest-quality out there, giving you the ability to spray a wide range of lines and patterns with perfect color and consistency. Article Summary
Cake decorating isn’t just a popular form of sugar artistry, it’s the most fun part of preparing a cake! With the right tools, professionals, hobbyists and beginners alike can transform cakes into one-of-a-kind visual delights. One of the best tools to use during this process is an airbrush. Whether you choose fondant, buttercream or royal icing for your cake, using an airbrush lets you achieve greater detail and variety in your decorations, bringing your cake’s appearance from average home-made dessert to professionally-designed edible masterpiece.
While spray cans of edible paint are readily available, most beginners and professionals prefer to use airbrush machines for their cake decorations. With a good airbrush, you can mix your own colors and better control how the coloring is applied to the cake. You can paint the whole cake in one color or do a fabulous ombre coloring, all in a quarter of the time it would take you to achieve the same look with spray cans or piping tubes. You can also take your most intricate icing decorations up a notch by airbrushing additional details, accents and finishing touches.
Shopping for the best airbrush for cake decorating can be difficult because, while many of them look the same, they do not all have the same control and consistency due to differences in small parts within the airbrush. It’s clear that the more control and consistency an airbrush has, the better it is for creating cake decorations that turn out exactly as you want them. When the spray of coloring is inconsistent, you are left with an uneven spread of color.
We wanted to find the perfect cake airbrushing kits, so we spent over 32 total hours researching machines. We took an in-depth look at each airbrush’s parts, features, and controls, and even consulted professional airbrushing guides to ensure we knew exactly what to look for. To further our review process, we also compiled reviews from other customers to validate our findings. When all was said and done, our list narrowed down to the three products below.
Pro Airbrushing System
The best airbrush for cake decorating
The Master Airbrush Pro System is a kit both professionals and beginners love, and it’s easy to see why. For under $100, it provides powerful and reliable airbrush functions, giving you the ability to do both basic cake decorations and more intricate cake designs with ease.
The most attractive feature of the G22 multi-purpose airbrush in Master Airbrush’s kit its dual-action trigger spray gun. This lets you adjust the flow of air and color while decorating your cake. When the trigger is pushed down, the spray gun releases pressurized air. When the trigger is pulled back, it releases coloring. This is incredibly useful because it allows you to use a combination of air and color flow to create the exact shade and opacity you’re looking for in your design. In addition, the spray range is adjustable from 1.5 inches all the way down to hairline, giving you a vast amount of options when it comes to line thickness as well. Most airbrush machines let you spray wide patterns but don’t give you the option to create thinner lines (especially in the sub-$100 range), so this was a huge benefit to this airbrush. Being able to make thin spray patterns means you can add neat text to your cake decorations as well as finer details and patterns.
Another good thing about the Master Airbrush kit is that it comes with its own compressor. A compressor is a key component of any airbrushing kit; when you decorate a cake with an airbrush, you release color onto the cake using pressurized air. Well, if your airbrush doesn’t have a compressor to pressurize air, you’ll have to do one of two things: buy a compressor or buy pressurized air to attach to your airbrush. In both cases, you’ll incur additional costs and may have to worry about whether your standalone compressor is compatible with your machine.
The compressor that comes with this kit is designed to last. It shuts itself off automatically once air pressure reaches a preset level, and it will also shut off automatically when its temperature rises significantly. These two fail safes ensure that your compressor is neither overworked nor exposed to heat damage. The fact that Master Airbrush has included its own durable compressor is a big plus and is certainly one reason we think its the best airbrush kit for decorating cakes.
While the versatility of the Master Airbrush system endears it to pros and noobs alike, to some, it can be a bit intimidating to use. To help with this, they’ve included an instructional guide on how to airbrush properly, but truth be told, it leaves a lot to be desired. If airbrushing is entirely new to you, we just wanted to give you a heads up that you’ll probably need to seek out additional learning resources to get the most out of your airbrushing. We’re also keen to point out that this feature-packed kit does not come with its own cleaning tools. Some users have reported breaking the needle of its spray gun while using improvised cleaning tools, so to avoid a similar mishap, we strongly recommend that you buy the cleaning set recommended by the maker.
Overall, the Master Airbrush Pro System offers a professional setup at a fraction of the price. Its spray gun offers a variety of functions and controls that no other kit under $100 is capable of, and it is by far our top pick as the best airbrush for cake decorating. There are still some lower-cost alternative kits out there, but when you consider the quality and amount of benefits this kit offers over those competitors, we feel the extra cost is well worth it.
A good value for your dollar
While our top pick offered the best features and functionality, the Paasche H-SET Airbrush Kit is a great second choice due to its value for your dollar. While it may not offer professional customization, this airbrush is perfect for beginners who are looking for a user-friendly kit that’s easy to learn with.
Like the Master Airbrush Kit, the Paasche Airbrush is a multi-purpose airbrush that has many customers singing its praises. For starters, it’s designed by one of the most recognized airbrush makers in the US. People who are familiar with airbrush brands tend to rank Paasche machines with those made by Iwata, a company that produces first-rate professional airbrush sets. A reputable brand is always a good thing to look out for as it usually comes with industry experience, premium quality, and good service.
As mentioned above, the best thing about the Paasche airbrush is that it’s very easy to use. Its single-action trigger simultaneously releases air and cake coloring from the spray gun. This is why this set is a favorite for beginners. It functions just like a can of spray paint, simply push the trigger and go. And even better, the ease of use takes little away from its versatility. The H-Series airbrush can create lines thin enough for cake decorations because it comes with three detachable spray heads, each having a different width.
At just under $55.00, the Paasche H-SET also gets instant nods for affordability. A brand new set is available at a price point many beginners will appreciate. For this price, you get a pretty powerful airbrush set complete with the spray gun, detachable spray heads, side and bottom feed cups for your cake coloring, a 6-foot hose, and a detailed manual with airbrush lessons. All these parts come neatly packed in a portable casing that makes it easy to move, stow and store your Paasche H-SET at home.
Unfortunately, one thing the Paasche set does not come with is a compressor, which means that you’ll have to buy a compressor separately to actually make use of this airbrush. We considered this to be a pretty considerable drawback because not only will it cost extra but you’ll also have to make sure you get a compressor that works with your set. We recommend that you buy a compressor made by Paasche. Though their compressors are expensive, you can be sure they’ll provide you with one that works with your set. Customers have also reported using small TCP Global compressors with their Paasche H-SET Airbrush kits.
If you’re new to airbrushing and you’re looking for a great starter kit at a reasonable price, the Paasche H-SET Airbrush Kit is a great option. It lacks some of the more professional controls of our top pick, but these aren’t necessarily “must-have” functions for beginners. The only thing to keep in mind with this set is that you’ll need to buy a compressor as well. To save yourself the trouble, it might just be worth it to pay a few bucks extra to get the complete all-in-one set by Master Airbrush.
An infamous runner-up
If you’re into baking, you’ve likely heard of the show Cake Boss. And guess what? They make an airbrush set too. It’s part of a collection of Cake Boss baking and cake decorating tools that are often used on the eponymous TV show. While the Cake Boss Airbrush Kit earned a spot on our list of top airbrushes to use on cakes, it does come with a few small drawbacks that kept it out of first place.
Right off the bat, the fact that this airbrush is made specifically for cake decorating is a big plus. It’s clearly designed to meet the needs of home-based cake decorators. It comes with a compressor, a long rubber hose and a standard spray gun. It also includes a detailed instructions manual and even a cleaning tool, something that is surprisingly rare for an airbrush set to include. Overall, the Cake Boss kit has an attractive, compact design, which means it’ll sit pretty on your kitchen table or counter while you decorate your cake.
Another unequaled advantage of the Cake Boss Airbrush Kit is that it’s associated with a rich reference guide you can use for learning and practicing your hobby. The Cake Boss show airs regularly on TV, and there’s also a YouTube channel for the show where you can see their airbrush kit and other decorating tools in action. You can obviously use both of these sources as learning guides no matter which cake decorating airbrush you end up choosing, but since Cake Boss uses this tool in their guides, it could be helpful to use exactly the same tools they are.
The Cake Boss Airbrush Kit also offers some versatility for creating cake decorations. Its compressor can be adjusted to three levels that, together, let you spray wide areas and apply fairly fine details. This makes the brush super easy to use and great for people who occasionally do some cake decorating. With that said, it can be a little limiting for those who want to create more professional designs, so this is something to consider depending on what your long-term goals are with cake decorating.
Unfortunately, there are a couple noticeable drawbacks to the Cake Boss airbrush kit. The first is that its compressor vibrates strongly while in use. This causes it to move around on the table or counter top, which can send it hurdling off the edge of your counter if you’re not careful. To preserve the life of your compressor, you’ll need to do something to stabilize it or you may find yourself needing a replacement very quickly. In addition, some customers have also reported that the spray gun sometimes releases coloring when not in hand or in use. Customers reported having to unplug their machine to stop the accidental spray from ruining their cakes, table and counter tops. The Cake Boss kit has the same kind of spray gun as the Paasche H-SET (a single-action spray guns that release air and coloring at the same time); however, we did not encounter similar reports of sudden spray action from the Paasche brush.
The Cake Boss Airbrush Kit comes with its fair share of pro’s and con’s. On the plus side, you’ve got everything you need to get started airbrushing: an easy-to-use brush, a compressor, and cleaning tools. On the negative side, it is sometimes known to leak color and vibrate obnoxiously. When you throw its price into the mix, it costs more than the Paasche H-SET, and is only slightly less expensive than the Master Airbrush Kit. The choice is yours, but we’d recommend either of our top two picks due to their quality and value.
Choosing the best airbrush for your personal needs
Certain airbrushes are better-suited towards certain situations, and going with the right kit can be the sole difference between a fun experience and a total headache. To help you find the best cake decorating airbrush for your personal needs, we’ve listed below a few things to consider before you buy.
Single-action vs dual-action
There are two main types of cake decorating airbrushes: single-action and dual-action (also called multi-purposes). Single-action airbrushes are those that spray air and color all with the touch of a single button, similar to how a can of spray paint works. This is ideal for beginners because its extremely simple to use and allows consistent, predictable sprays. Dual-action airbrushes, on the other hand, have one function for air flow, and another function for color flow. This is a little more tricky to use, but once you get the hang of it, it gives you greater control over your coloring by allowing you to create multiple shades and patterns. In general, a dual-action style is considered the best airbrush for cake decorating.
How often will you be cake decorating?
If you only plan to decorate every once in a while, then having the most feature-packed airbrush might not be a huge concern to you. A single-action brush would probably give you all that you’re looking for. On the flip side, if you plan to decorate often, you’d likely be a lot happier with a dual-action airbrush so that you can get the most of our designs. Cake decorating is an art that develops fast, and you’ll want the extra functionality to keep improving your designs.
Do you plan to earn some money with this?
Cake decorating not only develops fast in terms of skill level, but it can also quickly turn from simple hobby to a legitimate source of side income. Even if you don’t plan to take cake decorating as a profession, many people who decorate cakes in their spare time often find themselves taking paid orders from neighbors, gym partners, fellow soccer moms, etc. If the idea of earning some money for your decorations intrigues you, the best cake decorating airbrush would be a dual-action so you can create more professional-looking patterns that will bring your designs (and prices) up progressively.
How to use an airbrush for decorating cakes
Decorating cakes with an airbrush is so easy. There are many great video tutorials on YouTube that show you everything you could want to know from simple shading to advanced pattern-making. To get you started with the basics, check out the detailed video below from Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School.
We’ve also provided a simple step-by-step process to keep in mind:
1. First things first, decide how you want to decorate your cake. Prep your stencils with a dusting of corn starch flour or sketch out your scene on a piece of paper.
2. Next, set your cake in a spot where you have access to all angles around it. If you have a rotating board, this is the most ideal. Make sure you are setup in a cool area; warm temperatures can sometimes distort coloring due to melting, so the cool temperature is a must.
3. Prepare your airbrush. Clean out your spray gun, line up your food coloring, and have bottles of hot water ready to rinse your airbrush between colors.
4. Plug your machine into a power source and turn on your airbrush compressor. You should hear a sound indicating it has begun pressurizing air for the spray process. Pull the trigger of your single or dual-action spray gun to release some air and any particles trapped within.
5. Add your coloring to the gravity, side or bottom feed of your airbrush. Test the airbrush on parchment paper to make sure it’s releasing color properly. Take note of how you’ll need to hold your airbrush to achieve the design and depth of color you want. Holding the airbrush at straight angles at close range will give you thick or thin lines. Held at a distance, the airbrushed color looks lighter and is spreads over a wider area
6. Place your stencils where you want your designs to appear and use parchment paper to protect other surfaces of your cake.
7. Begin applying color with your airbrush in layers. As you airbrush, try to keep your cake moving at a speed that suits you best. We recommend using a rotating cake board because it keeps you from having to move around too much while airbrushing your cake.
Keep in mind that airbrushed colors appear sharpest when applied against a white background. If you did not use white icing on your cake, you might want to spray on a layer of white coloring before you begin spraying other colors. This will give your cake decoration the kind of definition and neatness you’re striving for.
Wrapping it up
Doing cake decorations is so much fun and using an airbrush makes it even more so. To do your most delectable airbrushed cake yet, you’ll need to choose the airbrush that’s right for you. Whether you go for the Master Airbrush kit, the Paasche H-SET or the Cake Boss Airbrush kit, be sure to check that the airbrush you choose has the right combination of features and control to enable you create the cake design of your dreams.