There are many different ways to store a cake plus some simple steps you can take to make sure your cake stays fresh and tasting good.
It might be confusing which method is best, but whether you want to save an entire cake or just a leftover slice, there are ways to keep it moist and delicious.
- First things first:
- How and when you’ll serve the cake matters:
- Unfrosted cake:
- Frosted cakes & cakes without perishable fillings & frostings:
- Cakes with perishable frosting or fillings:
- Fondant covered cakes:
- What has worked for you in the past:
- The temperature you want to serve the cake:
- It doesn’t need to be all or nothing:
- FAQs & Tips:
- Other posts you might like:
Storing a cake the wrong way can be disastrous. It can dry out, pick up other food flavors or be open to bugs, but with the right storage methods, you can enjoy your cake for days.
From keeping your cake at room temperature to refrigerating it, or freezing it, these tips will help keep your cake fresh for as long as possible.
First things first:
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how to store cakes. It really depends on what kind of cake you’re storing, when and how you plan to serve it plus many other factors.
I’ve divided this post into categories, so it’s easier to read and figure out how to store your particular type of cake.
Let’s get going.
How and when you’ll serve the cake matters:
First, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you serving the cake soon? Like the same day or the day after?
- Do you need to keep it fresh for longer? Maybe for several days before it’s served?
- Do you have a hot or warm environment?
- Do you need to firm it up in the fridge so you can travel with it?
All these questions will have a bearing on how to save or store cake. We’ll go through variations of these throughout this post.
This could mean layers of cake or even an unfrosted bundt cake.
Maybe you just baked the cake and it’s cooled, but you’re not ready to use the cake layers yet. You’ve got some choices here.
If the cake won’t be served for at least three days:
First, it will depend on how long it’ll be before you’ll put the cake together and serve it. If it’ll be longer than three days or so, then I’d suggest freezing it. I have an entire post all about how to freeze cake and cupcakes so that they don’t get freezer burn.
You can check that post out here: Tips for Freezing Cakes & Cupcakes
If the cake will be served within three days:
If you’ll be serving the cake in just a couple of days, then you just want to make sure to wrap the bundt cake, or cake layers in plastic wrap.
(I really like press-n-seal wrap, but you can just use regular plastic wrap. If you have a cake keeper you can keep it in that, or you could store it in a cake box.
You can also store the cake layers or bundt cake at room temperature if it doesn’t have anything perishable in it.
If a cake has fruit in it, it’s best to say on the safe side and store it in the refrigerator, but make sure it’s wrapped well with plastic wrap and then possibly a cake box, so it doesn’t dry out.
If you do chill the cake, make sure when you’re ready to serve it, to let it sit at room temp for around 20 minutes or so to come closer to room temperature.
Most cakes aren’t meant to be eaten cold…they taste their best when closer to room temperature. (Unless of course you’ll be adding something perishable to it or it’s one of those no-bake cakes.)
Frosted cakes & cakes without perishable fillings & frostings:
When I was selling cakes, almost every single person who picked up their cake, or that I delivered to, would ask me if they should store it in the fridge. I honestly don’t know why we think everything should be refrigerated, but I think maybe it has to do with grocery stores and TV shows.
I think we’re used to seeing cakes in the cooler at grocery stores and seeing people on TV have these huge coolers they pop their finished cakes into and maybe just assume it needs to be refrigerated. That’s just a guess and I could totally be wrong on that.
A lot of the big bakeries chill their cakes. I’m guessing it’s to keep the cake out of the way and to keep it fresh for a longer time, or those cakes may have perishable fillings and frosting. I’m sure it also gets pretty warm in a bakery as well, so in that case, they’d need to be kept cool.
The thing is, most cakes taste better at room temperature. I know that there are some exceptions, but I’m talking generally here. Unless it has perishable ingredients in it, it doesn’t really need to be chilled.
A cake that’s covered in American buttercream doesn’t need to be chilled. Unless you’ve got a really warm room or a bug problem, it’s okay to be left at room temperature for several days. Just cover it in a box or a cake keeper.
Now, obviously, you don’t want your cake sitting out for a week. That’s not good…and hopefully, your cake is so good that it’ll all be eaten up in a couple of days anyway.
If for some reason, it’s not all eaten in a couple of days, you can put it in the fridge to prolong the freshness. The fridge will keep it fresh for a bit longer than just leaving it on the counter. Make sure to either put the cake in a box or a cake keeper to keep it from drying out too much or absorbing the other scents (like onions or boiled eggs) in the fridge.
Personally, I leave my cakes out (covered or in a box of course) for a few days (as long as it doesn’t contain perishable fillings) and then pop them in the fridge if there’s still some left and I want it to last the rest of the week.
Now, this all goes out the window if your cake is covered in Swiss meringue buttercream or cream cheese buttercream, or if it’s got fruit curd, fruit filling, or some type of whipped cream on it. We’ll talk about that next.
Cakes with perishable frosting or fillings:
What are perishable ingredients? If you’re not sure, you’ll need to look up examples, but essentially, perishable ingredients will go bad if they’re not chilled.
If you’re using Swiss Meringue buttercream, cream cheese buttercream, fruit filling, or things like that, then your cake needs to be stored in the fridge.
You can set it out about 15-20 minutes before serving, so that it’s not so cold (because cakes usually taste better when they’re not super cold), but you do want to make sure you’re being food-safe and store it in the fridge.
Make sure you’ve got the cake in a cake box or a cake keeper. You don’t want it absorbing any scents or flavors from other food that’s in your fridge and you want to keep it from drying out as well.
A quick note about chilling cakes that are decorated with dark-colored buttercream:
When you pull your cake out of the fridge, it will condensate. That’s just science. Don’t touch it when it condensates. If you used really dark-colored buttercream, it could cause some weirdness. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.
Just don’t touch it and let the condensation evaporate. It’s better to just leave it in the box and hope that most of the condensation occurs on the outside of the box and not on the cake.
Another note about perishable ingredients: In Texas, we have something called the Texas Cottage Food Law that allows people to sell food from their homes without having a certified commercial kitchen.
The law states that you cannot sell any baked item that is perishable. If you want some examples of what constitutes perishable ingredients, you can take a look at that law as it lays out a lot of that for you.
Even if you live in another state or country, perishable food is still perishable food. Here’s a link to that law if you’d like to check it out: Texas Cottage Food Law
Fondant covered cakes:
I almost never store my fondant-covered cakes in the fridge (unless of course, it has a perishable filling in it). I know many people chill their fondant cakes, but I found that it caused condensation on cakes when you bring them out and it caused fondant bubbles for me.
It’s totally your choice though and like I said, many people are very defensive about their methods and I am totally on board with you doing whatever works best for you. I’m not the cake-chilling police.
If you do keep a fondant-covered cake in the fridge, keep it in a box and just make sure not to touch the cake once it starts to condensate after you remove it from the fridge. The fondant will be sticky at that point. It’ll eventually evaporate, but try not to touch it while it’s got condensation on it.
There is a good article on Rose Bakes about freezing fondant-covered cakes. She’s done it and has some tips on how it works. You can check out that post here: Can You Freeze a Fondant Decorated Cake?
What has worked for you in the past:
Do you like handling cold cakes better than room-temperature cakes? I find that I don’t like working with chilled cakes and that it encourages icing blowouts. (You can read more about why I don’t normally chill my cakes before decorating them at this link: Should I Chill my Cake Before Decorating?.)
But we each have different methods that work for us. If you’ll be decorating the cake and you really like decorating chilled cakes, then it’s completely okay to chill it if that’s what you prefer.
There are no fridge police that will tell you that you ‘shouldn’t’ do something. I have my preference, but it’s just my preference….we all do things differently.
The most important thing is to be food safe and if a cake has perishable fillings or frosting, keep it chilled.
The temperature you want to serve the cake:
This is something to think about as well. Everyone assumes you have to keep all cakes chilled, but you just don’t. If it doesn’t have perishable filling or frosting, then it’s okay at room temperature for a time.
I generally keep my cakes out for a few days and then chill them to keep them fresh longer.
If the cake IS chilled, you do want to take it out of the fridge and let it sit until it warms up just a bit before serving it.
In general, most cakes are best eaten near room temperature. They’re softer (especially butter cakes) and the texture is better. Cold cakes are just cold and sometimes hard, so take them out and let them sit for about 20 minutes or so before serving.
Now if you’ve made a no-bake cake, a strawberry shortcake, or something like that, then those are meant to be eaten cold. Just use your judgment here.
It doesn’t need to be all or nothing:
Don’t put yourself in a box. Generally, I don’t like to decorate my cakes when they’re cold and I normally store them at room temp, but before I transport them somewhere, I’ll generally chill them to firm them up. It just makes traveling with a cake a lot easier. That’s totally okay to do.
My point is that it’s okay to combine storage methods to fit your needs. The only rule is to be food-safe and do what makes you comfortable.
FAQs & Tips:
If a cake has perishable filling or frosting, it will need to be stored, covered well, in the refrigerator. If it does not have perishable filling or frosting, then it’s generally fine to keep, covered at room temperature, for several days.
It depends on what type of cake, but generally, cake an last up to 6 days depending on the type and how it’s stored. Always store cakes with perishable filling or frosting in the fridge, well covered.
A cake stored in the refrigerator, covered well, can last up to 5-6 days depending on the type of cake, however, it’s best eaten within the first several days.
As long as the cake does not include fruit, perishable filling or perishable frosting, it can last for several days at room temperature if covered well.
If you don’t have a cake carrier or container, you can simply cover the cake well with plastic wrap. If the cake is covered and filled with perishable filling or frosting then it will need to be stored in the refrigerator.
Make sure the cake is covered in either plastic wrap or in a cake box and store it at room temperature overnight. If the cake was made with perishable frosting or filling, store the cake, covered, in the refrigerator.
If the cake does not include anything perishable like fruit, then the cake layers can be covered with plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for several days.
Generally, you can freeze cakes or the cake layers. Just make sure the cake or the cake layers are wrapped well with plastic wrap, then foil first. Then, place in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
It’s really best if you have a cake box as covering a decorated cake with plastic wrap can mess up the icing.
You can store the final cake in the fridge or at room temperature as long as it does not have perishable filling or frosting.
Whipped cream frosting usually needs to be kept chilled or it can wilt and/or go bad. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap, or place the cake in a cake container or carrier and store in the refrigerator up to several days.