Do You Need To Refrigerate Buttercream Frosting

Do You Need To Refrigerate Buttercream Frosting? 3 Reasons

Last Updated on May 29, 2022 by Zara R.

Do you need to refrigerate buttercream frosting? Storing cakes and their garnishes may seem daunting, but today we will simplify the process!

We will go in-depth into exactly why you need to store frosting inside the fridge, how to do it properly, and what will ultimately affect the shelf life. So, are you ready to learn all about storing frosting? Let’s dive in!

What Is Buttercream Frosting?

Buttercream frosting also referred to as butter icing, frosting, or buttercream, is a type of fluffy frosting made for decorating cakes and cupcakes. While it can be used in other ways, it often isn’t because of its overwhelming sweetness and decorative function.

This frosting is made using solid fat, powdered sugar, and extracts or essences. It can also contain milk or cream to help adjust the consistency a little. And of course, food coloring is often added to help convey a theme.

The type of fat used has a big effect on the ultimate shelf life of buttercream frosting. And, it will even answer the question “Do you need to  refrigerate buttercream frosting.”

Real butter (salted or unsalted) can be used to give the frosting a rich flavor. However, it is expensive and has a very short shelf-life once opened and used. It also won’t make white frosting because of its own yellow color.

Then, you can also use shortening, which is made from plant oils and fats. It has a much more stable shelf life because of the preservatives and stabilizers it contains. But, it does create a fatty texture which bothers some people. Not to mention the flavor isn’t as good as that of butter.

Does buttercream frosting spoil

Do You Need To Refrigerate Buttercream Frosting?

The short answer to this question is yes. However, as with everything related to food, it is often flexible depending on some factors. There are three main reasons you should store buttercream inside of the fridge.

1. It contains perishable fats

Regardless of whether you are using real butter or shortening, both should be kept inside the fridge. While butter is more perishable than shortening, either can go off relatively quickly when kept at room temperature.

Furthermore, if you have included a softening ingredient like cream or milk, they will spoil very quickly too.

Now, the one thing that may prevent them from going off as quickly is because of the high sugar content in the frosting. Sugar is a preserving agent and will make the fats more shelf-stable. But unfortunately, not for an extremely long time.

2. The fat could melt

If you have ever had to transport frosted cupcakes or a cake on a hot summer’s day in a car with no air conditioning, you know exactly what we are talking about!

This reason only really applies in the summer or if you live in a very hot area. The fats you use to make buttercream frosting is solid at room temperature but can turn into a liquid when heated.

So, if you store the cupcakes in a warm area, the fat will soften and the frosting will start losing its shape. Eventually, especially if you have made layered cakes, the baked item will start to disfigure and fall apart. Trust us, it has happened to us before!

So, by storing the decorated item or plain frosting inside of the fridge, you will prevent it from splitting and melting away completely.

3. Mold growth

Bacteria thrive between the temperatures of 40-140ºF (4.4-60ºC). This range is also known as the temperature danger zone. And, because they also have moisture (fat) and food (sugar), they will reproduce rapidly in no time!

So, when thinking about “Do you need to refrigerate buttercream frosting? the answer is a non-thinker! If you don’t want moldy frosting, prevent it entirely by storing it inside the fridge.

How do you store a cake with buttercream frosting

Shelf life Of Buttercream Frosting

Now, as you can see from the above-mentioned reasons, you can store buttercream at room temperature. But, we rather recommend storing it inside of the fridge.

At room temperature, anywhere between 68-77ºF (20-25ºC), in ideal conditions, the frosting will last about 2 days before potentially starting to show signs of mold growth. But again, anything less than ideal will cause the shelf life to decrease drastically!

In the fridge, however, buttercream frosting can last effortlessly for up to a week! Just make sure that the fridge temperature is stable. You can even expect it to last up to 2 weeks!

And, if you want to store it long-term, you can keep it in the freezer for several months! And, it even thaws extremely well!

How to store buttercream frosting

There is only one effective way to store the frosting in the fridge. Place it inside of an airtight container or bag and make sure the seal is tight. Store it inside a stable fridge away from any strong odors.

If you want to freeze it, you can follow the same steps. Easy enough, right?


How to tell if buttercream frosting has gone bad?

There are a couple of obvious signs to tell whether or not your buttercream frosting is still good. The first is visible signs of mold. The mold will appear in shades of white, black, blue, and green. Unfortunately, depending on the severity of the growth, it isn’t salvageable.

You can also lookout for any textural changes. If the frosting starts going grainy (once it is close to the estimated expiry date) it is likely that the bonds of the ingredients have started to deteriorate.

Another extremely tell-tale sign is a rancid odor or flavor. Because you use dairy products and fats, they go rancid after a while. This flavor or odor will be slightly sour and tart. You should immediately discard the frosting.

Final Words

As you can see, the answer to, “Do you need to refrigerate buttercream frosting?” is very simple. To help extend the shelf life considerably, rather store it inside of the fridge! If you still have any questions for us, feel free to ask us in the comments below! And, let us know if there is anything else you would like to learn about!


How do you store a cake with buttercream frosting?

The best way to store cake with buttercream frosting is inside the fridge. Especially if you won't be finishing the cake and frosting within a day or two. Wrap the entire cake in plastic wrap or place it inside a cake container. Then, place it in a fridge with stable temperatures.

Does buttercream frosting spoil?

Buttercream frosting can go bad because of the fat and dairy products it contains. Real butter, milk, and cream will make the frosting spoil much quicker than plant-based shortening.

How long does cake with buttercream last?

Buttercream will only last a day or two at room temperature - less if it is hot outside. Inside of the fridge, it can last up to a week or two. And, if frozen, it will last several months.

Does frosting need to be refrigerated after opening?

If you buy store-bough pre-made frosting, you will have to store it in the fridge once it has been opened. If the airtight seal has been broken, bacteria will immediately start to multiply. The fridge is the best way to prevent this from happening.

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