Cake Decorating Blog

Cake Decorating Basics: How to Store a Cake

Learning how to store a cake properly is an important part of the baking and cake decorating process. Read on to learn how to store a cake at the different stages of life: just baked, decorated but uncut, and how to store cake leftovers. It will help you make the most of the cake for the maximum amount of time possible.

German Chocolate Cake

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Remember, cake is a perishable food.

That means that from the moment it’s made, its lifespan is finite. The elements working against its freshness are primarily heat and humidity. Secondary threats to a cake’s life include strong or artificial light, which can fade or alter colors. Keeping the cake safe from these elements is key in maintaining its freshness.

How to store a cake before decorating

Baked Cake

If you have an elaborate cake decorating project, you may want to divide the labor by baking the cakes in advance, and then decorating them at a later date. But how to keep those luscious layers from getting stale?

First, let it cool — completely.

If a cake is still warm, it could create steam when it is wrapped, which could actually hasten the deterioration of the cake. So be sure to wait until the cake has reached room temperature, then wrap tightly all over with plastic. Do not wrap it on top of a plate or platter — be sure the plastic is sealing in all sides of the cake. For cupcakes or loaf cakes, if they’ll fit and the seal closes, you can use a freezer-type bag with a seal.

Sealed in plastic like this, you can store cakes in a dry place at cool room temperature for a few days. If the weather is very hot or humid, you can also keep them in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, but it’s even more important to wrap the cakes in this case so they don’t absorb the odors of other items in your refrigerator. (Cake flavored with eau de leftover Chinese? Not so great.)

If you won’t be using the cake layers for a while, you can keep them in the freezer for up to a month. If freezing, allow ample time for the cakes to thaw before using.

Once you’ve iced your cake, the rules for storing will change. If your cake is iced but uncut, follow these instructions.

Classic Chocolate Cake

Buttercream and fondant

Believe it or not, buttercream and fondant actually help seal in moisture in a cake, acting as a seal between the cake and the outer world. As long as you’ve completely covered the cake, you can cover a cake in a keeper or under a large overturned bowl for as long as 3 to 4 days. Typically, these coverings are not so much to create an airtight seal, but to prevent household debris such as dust or pet hair from affixing themselves to your masterpiece.

Like with the undecorated cake layers, if your home is hot or humid, you can store the cake in the refrigerator. Beware refrigerating tinted fondant cakes, however, as condensation can form and make the colors bleed. Avoid quick changes in temperature, and if possible transfer any refrigerated cake to an air conditioned space first, so its “temperature shock” can be reduced, thus reducing condensation, which can make colors bleed.

Buttercream and fondant topped cakes can be frozen, but allow ample time for them to come to room temperature. First, transfer them to the refrigerator so their thaw can be done gradually, then to an air conditioned space. This can help in avoiding damaging condensation which forms when the cake changes heat environments.

Cream cheese or whipped cream icing

If the icing has cream cheese or is made with whipped cream, even stabilized whipped cream, do not leave it at room temperature. Instead, cover and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cream cheese icing may be frozen, but the texture of whipped cream icing is often altered and not for the better if it’s frozen, so it is not suggested.

Boiled icing

Cakes topped with a boiled frosting or French or Italian buttercream may be kept at room temperature or refrigerated, just like fondant or buttercream cakes, but should not be frozen as their texture can turn gummy when thawed.


Cakes topped with ganache can be stored the same way as cakes with buttercream or fondant.

A few notes:

  • If it is an elaborate or tall cake, consider icing it and storing in separate layers, then assembling on the day you’d like to serve.
  • If there are tinted pieces to the cake that you worry may bleed if the cake is exposed to moisture, consider icing the cake but leaving it undecorated, and then adding any delicate decorations on the day the cake will be used.
  • Consider the fillings. Even if some cakes are are OK at room temperature, if it is filled with something like pudding or custard that requires refrigeration, then the cake needs to be chilled.

How to store cake leftovers or sliced cakes

Sliced Cake

Luckily, cake is a food that tends to be consumed quickly, with minimal leftovers. Because once cut, you’re racing the clock to consume the cake before it goes stale.

One trick to maintain freshness is to apply icing to the cut side of the cake, to help re-seal the cake against the elements. Plus, the recipient of that side-iced slice probably won’t complain about the extra topping.

Another easy trick is to place a sheet of plastic directly on the sliced part, making sure to adhere it to all of the exposed cake. Then, wrap the cake as specified in the unsliced versions listed above.

Storing wedding cake

Wedding Cake

It’s traditional to store a portion of the wedding cake to be consumed a year later. How does that work?

Place the cake in the refrigerator so that the icing can “set,” about 30 minutes. Once it’s firm enough to be covered, cover all over with plastic wrap so that it is completely sealed. Fortify this packing by coating with a layer of aluminum foil, and then put the whole thing in either a freezer bag or an airtight container. Bid it fare thee well until next year.

What if your cake does go stale?

Even if part of your cake does go stale, you may still be able to get some use out of the scraps. Here are just a few quick ideas:

  • Cake French toast: Make French toast with slices of stale cake It’s an indulgent but fun brunch item.

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Great post! Very helpful for a novice baker like myself, thank you Craftsy 🙂


When you thaw an iced cake do you leave it wrapped or do you unwrap it first?

Jeanne Zamutt

Crumble up stale or leftover cake or scraps and layer with ice cream. Makes a great ice cream cake! Line pan with foil first so that ice cream cake pops out.


I love you craftsy. Great information. Saving it all. Many thanks


Thanks for the sweet tips and comments!

@cathy: if the wrapping in any way touches the icing or cake, YES. If it doesn’t, you can leave it covered or uncovered.

Sharon Beaune-Van Lare

if I am only letting the cake sit undecorated for a day, can I not just put it in a holder until the following day. I’m afraid with how fresh the cake it, the plastic wrap will stick to the cake and destroy the cake when I try to remove the plastic wrap.

Sharon Beaune-Van Lare

if I am only letting the cake sit undecorated for a day, can I not just put it in a holder until the following day. I’m afraid with how fresh the cake it, the plastic wrap will stick to the cake and destroy the cake when I try to remove the plastic wrap.


why can i not do any thing im not FAST




Just wondering what bakers use in wedding cakes? I’ve always wondered….as they sit out on display for a long time! What is safe to use in wedding cakes?


In stores, some bakeries: more than likely the cakes you see on display are not real. They use styrofoam blocks and cover with icing, as the icing sits in the air it hardens. If you mean at a wedding: most likely those cakes, I would hope are on the fresher side, only sitting 12-24 hrs tops, anything more on display kinda grosses me out for freshness purposes.


What is the best temperature to store whipped cream frosted cakes as when I store in my home refrigerater the cake gets hard.


would Swiss buttercream count as a boiled icing?


I will be storing my cake for 24hrs prior to decorating, can I use foil instead off plastic wrap?


Hello, Craftsy. I recently bought some cake icing, should I refrigerate it or keep it in my pantry, or some other cool, dry place?


I made a cake yesterday and decorated it today with homemade whip cream. long will it last…and should I refrigerate the cake or freeze it?


I’m probably being a bit paranoid, but I really don’t want to poison my friend’s guests!

I’m baking & fondant icing cakes on a Wednesday, the wedding is on Saturday. Will the buttercream layer underneath the fondant be safe if not refrigerated? Even if it contains cream?

Thanks for the help!


I am making an Italian creme cake with cream cheese frosting..I add 2 sticks of butter to the cream cheese to make the frosting… If I make, decorate, and frost cake in 1 day, how long with the cream cheese frosting last until it starts to separate?? Cake will be eaten in 2 days. Do u have any suggestions on how to keep the cake and frosting until it is sliced??


I am baking a birthday cake for my mother in law and I want to bake 1/2 sheet cake ahead of time like 3 days before the party can I put it in refrigerator for 3 days and it be still moist

Kairi Gainsborough

Thanks for the great tips for storing a cake correctly! The next time I bake one, I’ll have to remember not to wrap it in plastic until it reaches room temperature. I also liked your tip for preserving the pieces that are left over. It is so smart to re-ice the exposed side to seal in the freshness. I’m definitely going to give that a try.

Johanna Maguire.

How long would ready to roll icing last after been put on a cake for decoration.
Because my daughter is making her little sisters communion cake and we are hoping to use ready to roll icing on the cake.Thanks.

Ivie Okoro

Really helpful

Elina Thomas

I am making a cake THIS WEEK that will be covered in a frosting that uses cream cheese and then a rolled buttercream over it. What would be the best way to store that? Can I leave it at room temp after the rolled buttercream has been put on it?

Thank you!


I made a 3 tier cake last night with filling and coveered in fondant party cancelled for another week .. will I be able to store in refrigerator?


I have a seven layered yellow cake covered and filled with whipped ganache. It’s currently wrapped in my fridge. I intend on pouring melted ganache on top, but the event is not until 3 days from now. Is it too soon to pour the ganache on top store at room temperature? I’m anxious to get it done because I have other obligations for this event. Thanks!


This is very helpful information!! Thanks!!


hi…:) If I intentionally toast a thin layer of cake (Crunch like cookies), how long will it last? thank would be a big help.


I live in a hot and humid country. So leaving cake in the room temperature for days is out of question! I once put my apple muffin on my table for 2 days and it became stink with some fungus on top hahaha. So refrigerating is a must. I’ve never tried freezing it, but i will try it this week as i’m going to bake 4 cakes for my son’s birthday that falls on this Sunday!


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