Cupcakes are a real delight – they’re small, sweet treats that can instantly brighten up your day. Whether they’re topped with creamy frosting or left plain and simple, figuring out how to store them properly is essential, with or without frosting.
We’ve all faced the challenge of preserving that freshly baked goodness. So, let’s talk about how to store cupcakes, both with and without frosting.
With a few easy tips, you can enjoy them at their best – whether you’re sharing them at a gathering, saving some for later, or just treating yourself.
Let’s jump in and explore the best ways to keep your cupcakes fresh and tasty!
*Click on any of the images for the recipe link!
Things you’ll need to keep fresh cupcakes
- Airtight container. It could also be a freezer bag, cupcake carrier, or any plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Plastic wrap
How to store cupcakes at room temperature (frosted and unfrosted)
Storing cupcakes without frosting at room temperature is easy! Here’s a simple guide to keeping them fresh:
- After baking, let the cupcakes cool down completely on a wire rack. Hot cupcakes can make moisture in the container, and this moisture can make the cupcakes soggy, affect their texture and make the cupcake liners peel off.
- Find a box with a lid that fits well. It can be a Tupperware or any container with an airtight seal. You can also use a resealable plastic bag.
- Put the cooled cupcakes inside the box carefully, in a single layer. Shut the container tightly to lock out the air. This keeps the cupcakes soft and prevents them from drying out.
- Keep the box in a cool and dry place, away from heat sources like the oven.
- Unfrosted cupcakes can stay good for 2 to 3 days at room temperature.
Once you frosted your cooled cupcakes, it’s time to store them.
- The best way is to use an airtight container high enough so you don’t squish your frosting. You can also use a cupcake carrier with a tight-closing lid.
- Gently, place your cupcakes in a single layer, making sure that the frosting on one cupcake doesn’t come into contact with the frosting on another. Cover your container with the lid.
- Choose a place in your kitchen that’s not too hot. Avoid sunny spots or near the stove.
- Cupcakes topped with frostings that don’t need to go in the fridge (like buttercream), are at their best for a day or two at room temperature.
Which frostings can be stored at room temperature?
Typically, you can store the classic Buttercream frosting at room temperature for a short period, usually a day or two.
This type of frosting has generally ingredients that don’t go bad super fast. But, remember that how warm it is around you and what’s inside the frosting can make things change faster.
If it’s too warm, it’s generally safer to refrigerate cupcakes with any type of frosting. This helps maintain their freshness and prevents potential issues with food safety.
Which cupcake fillings can be stored at room temperature?
Cupcake fillings that are safe to leave at room temperature are usually the ones with less water and ingredients that don’t go bad easily. Here are some types:
- Jam or Jelly: Fruity fillings with lots of sugar, like jams or jellies, can usually stay out for a bit without spoiling.
- Chocolate Spread: Chocolate spreads like Nutella, which have ingredients that don’t go bad quickly, are often fine at room temperature.
- Nut Butters: Fillings made from nut butters, like peanut or almond butter, can often stay out for a short while.
- Dulce de Leche: Sweet fillings like dulce de leche, which contain a lot of sugar, can often stay at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Remember, though, that what’s in the filling and how hot it is around you matter. If you’re unsure, it’s safer to refrigerate the cupcakes or opt for fillings that don’t easily spoil when not chilled.
How to refrigerate cupcakes (frosted and unfrosted)
- Allow the unfrosted cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack. This helps them settle and prevents moisture buildup.
- Just like unfrosted cupcakes at room temperature. Place the cupcakes on a single line in your airtight container, cupcake carrier or zip-lock bag. For me, containers are a top choice because they make it simpler to stack cupcakes in the fridge without squishing them. Cover the cupcakes and place them in a section of your fridge where they won’t be disturbed.
- Refrigerated unfrosted cupcakes usually stay good for around 3-4 days.
Remember, when you’re ready to eat them, let the cupcakes sit at room temperature for a bit to regain their normal texture before digging in.
1. Follow steps 1 and 2 from the frosted cupcakes stored at room temperature instructions, using a deep enough container to fit your frosted cupcakes, then refrigerate.
2. You can usually store cupcakes in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days without a big drop in quality.
3. Before serving, allow the cupcakes to come to room temperature. This usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Cold cupcakes can have a slightly different taste and texture than when they’re at room temperature. Remember that refrigeration can cause certain types of frostings, like buttercream, to become slightly firm. They should soften up as they come to room temperature.
Which frostings have to be refrigerated?
Some types of frosting need to be kept in the fridge because they have ingredients like milk, cream, or eggs that can spoil if left at room temperature for too long. Here are some examples:
- Cream Cheese Frosting: If your frosting has cream cheese, it should go in the fridge. The cream cheese can get too soft or not taste good if it’s left out.
- Whipped Cream Frosting:If you’ve whipped up frosting using whipped cream, even if you’ve added gelatin for extra firmness, make sure to keep it in the fridge. Whipped cream can become flat, lose its good taste, and even spoil if not chilled.
- Frosting with Eggs: If your frosting has a mousse-like texture and contains eggs or other ingredients that can spoil, you should definitely refrigerate it.
- Custard-like Frosting: It’s best to keep custard-like frosting, which has ingredients like eggs, in the fridge.
- Fruit-Topped Frosting: If you have fresh fruit directly on top of your frosting, keeping the entire thing in the fridge is a good idea. The fruit can spoil quickly if left out too long.
If you’re not sure whether your frosting should be in the fridge, it’s safer to put it there to keep it fresh. When you’re ready to serve it, let it sit at room temperature for a bit to make the frosting softer before eating.
Here are a few cupcake recipes that have to be refrigerated, but can also be frozen:
Which cupcake fillings have to be refrigerated?
If you have cupcakes with fillings that use perishable ingredients, it’s smart to keep them in the fridge. This helps the fillings stay good and safe to eat. Here are some fillings that need chilling:
- Cream Cheese Filling: If your cupcakes have a filling with cream cheese, put them in the fridge. Cream cheese can go bad if it’s not cold.
- Custard Filling: Cupcakes filled with ingredients like custard, which is made from eggs, need to be stored in the fridge. If custard isn’t kept cold, it can spoil.
- Fresh Fruit Filling: If your cupcakes are filled with real fruit keep them in the fridge. This helps the fruit stay fresh and tasty.
- Whipped Cream Filling: Same as with whipped cream frosting, whipped cream fillings need to be refrigerated.
- Mousse Filling: If your cupcakes have a mousse filling that has things eggs, it’s best to put them in the fridge.
How to freeze cupcakes (frosted and unfrosted)
- Let your cupcakes cool down completely before freezing them. This stops them from getting too soggy in the freezer.
- Cover each cupcake with saran wrap or plastic wrap to keep them from drying, absorbing odors from the fridge and freezer burn. You can also use aluminum foil.
- If you’re not going to eat them soon, write down the date you put them in the freezer. This way you know how long they’ve been in there.
- Put the wrapped cupcakes in a single layer in a storage container in the freezer. Once they’re hard, you can stack them up if you need to.
- When you’re ready to eat them, take them out of the freezer, unwrap them, and let them warm up at room temperature. Once they’re all thawed, you can pipe the frosting on top of the cupcake with a piping bag.
- As a general rule of thumb, I suggest freezing your cupcakes for up to 3-4 months to ensure they stay at their best quality.
Freezing cupcakes is not as complicated as it sounds, and it gives you a ton of flexibility in matters like time and practicality. Cupcakes will last for a more extended period of time frozen, which makes it super convenient.
- Before you begin, check that the frosting you’re using for your homemade cupcakes can handle freezing without changing its consistency (read more about this below). And if you’re freezing them with sprinkles on top, double-check that they won’t bleed as the cupcakes thaw out.
- Start the freezing process by placing your cupcakes in the freezer for enough time for the frosting to harden. This will take a couple of hours.
- When you have cold cupcakes and hard frosting, wrap each cupcake individually. You can use saran wrap or aluminum foil.
- Place the covered cupcakes in a single layer in an airtight container or cake carrier. Make sure it’s high enough to avoid squishing the frosting. You can also use a zip-lock bag, but I prefer the practicality of the container to be able to stack them up in the freezer
- When you’re ready to eat the cupcakes, get the frozen cupcakes out of the freezer and take off the wrapping. Put them in the fridge overnight to thaw for best results. After that, take them out and let them warm up at room temperature. You can also transfer them directly to room temperature, but it’s better if the process is gradual. Cupcakes are probably going to “sweat”, which is totally fine, the sweat will eventually dry out.
Which frostings can be frozen and which can’t?
Frostings that are good for freezing:
- Buttercream Frosting: Most buttercream frostings can be frozen without significant issues. This basic vanilla buttercream recipe freezes perfectly!
- Cream Cheese Frosting: You can freeze cream cheese frosting because of its high fat content. It will become softer as it thaws. The cream cheese frosting from these Sugar Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese frosting can be perfectly frozen.
- Ganache Frosting: You can freeze ganache, but it might get a little harder than usual. Allow it to come to room temperature after thawing before use.
- Whipped cream frostings: although it could change slightly in texture, whipped cream freezes generally well.
Frostings to avoid freezing:
- Custard-based frostings: Frostings with custard-like textures might not hold up to freezing. The eggs and dairy could cause them to break down.
- Meringue frostings: Meringue-based frostings, like Swiss or Italian meringue, can be tricky to freeze. They might lose their airy texture and become watery when thawed.
- Fresh fruit-topped frostings: Fruit, when thawed, might become mushy and watery after thawing.
You can always add fresh fruit to your cupcakes after thawed and when ready to serve.
You can freeze these Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry filling perfectly fine, but remember to add the fresh raspberries after they’ve thawed.
Which cupcake fillings can be frozen and which can’t?
Cupcake fillings that are good for freezing:
- Fruit Preserves or Jams: Fillings like strawberry, raspberry, or apricot preserves/jams are great for freezing. They hold up really well.
- Chocolate Ganache: You can successfully freeze ganache made with cream and chocolate. It might become a bit harder, so allow it to come to room temperature after thawing before using.
- Chocolate Hazelnut Spread: You can use chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella, as a cupcake filling and freeze it. It tends to freeze well and maintains its flavor.
- Caramel Sauce or Dulce de Leche: Caramel sauce can be a delicious filling option. It should freeze without major issues.
- Nut Butters: Nut butters like peanut butter can work as fillings and can generally be frozen.
Here are some cupcake recipes that you can freeze with frosting:
Cupcake fillings to avoid freezing:
- Fresh Fruit: Fresh fruit fillings like berries might not freeze well. The texture of the fruit can change and become mushy upon thawing.
- Custard: Custard-based fillings might not hold up to freezing and thawing. The texture can become watery or grainy
- Meringue: Fillings with meringue might not freeze well. Meringue can become soft and weepy after thawing.
In conclusion, knowing how to properly store your cupcakes is essential for maintaining their freshness and deliciousness. Whether frosted or unfrosted, the key is to keep them in an airtight container or wrapped well to prevent moisture loss or absorption of unwanted flavors from the surroundings.
If you’re freezing them for later, remember that some frostings do better in the freezer than others.
With these easy storage tips, your homemade treats will stay delicious whether you enjoy them now or save them for a special time.
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*Click on any of the images for the recipe link!