How Long Does Buttercream Last?

In addition to getting asked for my American buttercream frosting recipe, I also get a ton of other questions about buttercream!

Most of these questions are centered around how long buttercream lasts, and making frosting ahead of time. Some of the recurring questions I’ve been asked include:

  • How should I store leftover buttercream?
  • Can I make buttercream frosting in advance?
  • How far ahead of time can I make frosting?
  • Does frosting go bad at room temperature?
  • How long can frosting sit out at room temperature?
  • How long does frosting last in the fridge?
  • Does frosting need to be refrigerated?
  • How do I soften refrigerated buttercream?
  • How do I get rid of the tiny air bubbles in my frosting?

So I’m here to answer these questions in one place, to make all our lives easier!! I’ll cover everything you need to know about making frosting in advance.

Making Buttercream Frosting Ahead Of Time

The number one question I get asked is “Can I make frosting ahead of time?”

Image of a batch of american buttercream frosting, made with a stand mixer

And the answer is YES! In fact, I almost always make my frosting ahead of time. I also love to save leftover buttercream, to try to repurpose in future baking projects.

I even have a drawer in my fridge dedicated to leftover buttercream! This might be a bit over the top, but I bake enough where it’s worth it to have lots of colors of frosting on hand.

When stored properly, buttercream frosting can last in the fridge for up to a month, and in the freezer for up to three months

Why would you want to make buttercream ahead of time? To make cake decorating is more enjoyable.

When you make your frosting and cake layers ahead of time, all the hard work is done beforehand! That way you aren’t totally exhausted when it comes time to decorate a cake.

Instead, you get to put all your energy into creating the most beautiful cake you can.

How To Store Buttercream Frosting

Whether you made a batch of frosting in advance or have leftover buttercream, it’s important that you store it correctly in the fridge or freezer.

The most important thing is making sure the buttercream is protected from the air!

green gradient buttercream frosting

Frosting can be placed in a piping bag sealed with a rubber band, or an air-tight container.

If the frosting is only being made a few days in advance, it can also be covered in a bowl with plastic wrap placed flush against the frosting.

It should be stored away from any fragrant foods like fish or meat. Luckily I don’t really cook, so our fridge is primarily filled with baking ingredients 🙂

How To Soften Refrigerated Buttercream

When you’re ready to use chilled buttercream, simply take it out of the fridge, and place on the counter to thaw.

If you’ve frozen your buttercream, transfer it to the fridge a couple days before you plan to use it. This will allow the frosting to thaw gradually, and minimize the temperature shock.

The amount of time it takes to thaw can vary based on the amount of frosting, and how it’s stored. If stored in a large container or bowl, the buttercream can take several hours to soften.

Photo of rainbow buttercream

When I plan to bake first thing in the morning, I usually take my buttercream out of the fridge and leave it on the counter the night before I need it.

How To Get Rid Of Tiny Air Bubbles In Your Frosting

Once the buttercream has reached room temperature, it will likely have tons of tiny air bubbles in it!! Don’t worry, you can get your frosting back to a silky smooth consistency.

Simply mix it on a low speed with a paddle attachment, or by hand with a rubber spatula. Mix or stir the frosting for a couple minutes, until the air bubbles have been pushed out of the frosting.

sharing how long buttercream last in the fridge and freezer, and how to store it properly

I do this with every batch of buttercream, to make it easier to get super smooth sides on my cake. I swear by using a flexible spatula, and working the frosting around a bowl by hand.

Leaving Buttercream Out At Room Temperature

In general, buttercream can sit out at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Most people freak out when they hear that. “Won’t it spoil??” “But this recipe has cream in it!! Won’t the frosting go bad if it isn’t refrigerated?”

And the simple answer is no. The high amount of fat and minimal amount of cream keep it from spoiling. There’s more to the science behind it, but I’ll save that for another time.

I leave my frosting out overnight all the time, and I’ve never gotten sick from it. At first I was scared to do this, but now it’s a pretty common practice for me.

Why Is My Frosting Hard / Why Does Buttercream Crust Overtime?

Another important thing to note when making buttercream is that it will crust if left exposed to air for an long period of time.

I know what you’re thinking, “Crusting sounds gross!!” “Why would  frosting crust?”

batch of american buttercream made with a paddle attachment

My frosting recipe crusts overtime if left exposed to air, due to its high sugar content. But it’s really not a bad thing. In fact, most of the time it’s actually a great thing for decorating and piping.

This is why it’s so important to protect the buttercream from air when storing it. The last thing you want when you’re about to smooth frosting on a cake is frosting plagued with bits of crusted buttercream

If I leave a bowl of buttercream out overnight, I place a piece of plastic directly on top of the frosting. I press it into place, to ensure that no bit of frosting is left exposed.

Buttercream frosted onto a pumpkin cupcake

I hope this answers your questions on making buttercream in advance! If you still have any questions I didn’t address in this post, please ask them in the comments section below.

43 thoughts on “How Long Does Buttercream Last?

  1. In the photo with the rainbow buttercreams, how did you make the tip part a different colour butter cream? Is it just food dye in the bottom of the piping bag then add the buttercream on top of it?
    Looks amazing! Thanks

      1. What if you don’t want a Chocolate flavor black icing? How would I get that dark black without the black cacao?

  2. How do I prevent my buttercream from crusting while I’m smoothing it on my cake? I’ve heard it might be bc my cakes are too cold bc I take them right out of the fridge when I frost them. Any tips would be much appreciated. Thanks!

    1. crusting is usually caused by buttercream being exposed to air for too long! if you chill your crumb coat in the fridge for a while, I’d recommend placing plastic wrap directly over your buttercream, to prevent it from crusting in the bowl. I’d then give it a really good stir before adding it to the chilled, crumb coated cake! I frost chilled cakes all the time, and that usually doesn’t cause any problems with crusting. So unless you’re taking a really long time to add the second layer of frosting, I think that my first tip should help fix your problem, and keep your buttercream smooth and workable. Hope that helps Sarah!!

  3. Hi Chels. You mentioned one way of storing the buttercream are in piping bags ….. then you mentioned to get out some of the air bubbles to whip it in mixer or with spatula. …when finished do you put buttercream right back in the same piping bags?

    1. I actually find when I put them in bags, I don’t have an issue with air bubbles! It’s only when buttercream is stored in a large bowl or container that I run into that 🙂 Just another reason why I love storing frosting in piping bags!!

  4. Hi Chels! I’m a novice cake decorator…when you store the buttercream in the bag, how do you get the tip on the piping bag? Or are you transferring it from one bag to another? I’ve been using a coupler, so maybe that affects this process…any tips you can give on easiest way to use various tips with your piping bags is great. I appreciate it!

    1. If I plan to add a piping tip to the bag, I snip the tip and do so before I add the frosting it! most of these bags are simply used to add frosting between the cake layers or around the cake, so no tip is needed 🙂

      I don’t really use couplers often, but that is another way too!!

      1. Perfect – thanks so much! Is there a pro to using couplers vs not? I was only taught to use them but now thinking it seems like an unnecessary step. Thanks again for all your help – I LOVE your clear communication and direction throughout the process!

  5. I live in South Florida and it gets ready hot. Both my daughters birthdays are in July and we have our parties outside. What type of frosting will be best for outside parties without it melting off the cakes or cupcakes?

    1. It’s hard in humid, warm climates! I swap out 1/2 to 3/4 of the butter in my frosting recipe for shortening when I try to stabilize it for hot weather. However, any cake covered in buttercream should be stored in the shade / brought out into the heat only a few minutes before you plan to cut into it!

  6. Hello! I might have missed this but if I make the whole cake, decorated and all for a party the next day does it need to be covered in the fridge? Uncovered in the fridge? On the counter? How do you store cakes already completely made?

    1. I’m curious to know this answer as well, I’m making my nieces first bday cake in a couple of weeks. I have to leave to head home early early on Friday morning, but the party isn’t until Saturday. So I need to decorate it on Thursday and have been dreading how to store it without it going bad

      1. As long as the cake is fully frosted, it will stay good for several days in the fridge! The frosting will lock in all the moisture. Just be sure you don’t store it near any smelly items, like fish or onions. The frosting can kind of absorb the smells of your fridge -__- so just be mindful of that. Hope that helps meghan!! <3

  7. hi there!!!
    How long does frosting last in the fridge?
    it’s made only with butter and icing sugar (no milk or cream)

    thank uu!!! 🙂

  8. Hi! I wanted to know if the american buttercream or swiss is better for frosting a wedding cake for an outdoor summer wedding?

    1. swiss is better than american made with all butter, but you can also do half shortening half butter to help American frosting do better in the heat!

      either way though, frosting will melt if left in hot weather / direct sunlight! It’s inevitable because of the butter in the frosting :/

  9. Im planning to do my wedding cake 🙂 Can I make the same amount that you did but in two parts maybe? My stand mixer is not that big
    Thank you!

    1. definitely! my frosting can be made in half batches, double batches, really any version that works for you! I just try to make a ton at once to save time 😛

    1. Thanks Cynthia! I don’t normally refreeze buttercream, but it should be fine! I know other people who do it all the time, and it won’t change the texture or taste as long as it’s properly sealed /stored. Hope that helps!

  10. I made my sons first birthday party cake recently using your recipe. I use lard for my buttercream instead of butter but I always use the same amount as you do with butter. I of course ran out of icing and had to make more in the middle of decorating. That taught me to of course be more prepared. I’m making another first birthday cake that’s including a guest cake and smash cake. Should I just add more lard and powdered sugar in one batch or do you suggest separately making another batch? I don’t have the large kitchen aid mixer but instead the 5qt.

    1. That’s the worst!! Running out of frosting is so frustrating :/ I usually make 1.5 batches in my 5 quart kitchen aid, which is just enough to cover a 7 or 8 inch layer cake! I’ve also made a double batch, but it really pushes my smaller kitchen aid to it’s max capacity. Hope that helps, happy baking Marissa! <3

  11. I am getting ready to bake 300 cupcakes for a wedding for my best friend (where i am also the maid of honor STRESSED) hahaha. anyways how many batches of this frosting would you suggest I prepare for these cupcakes?

    1. Wowza that’s a ton!! It can vary a lot based on how you plan to decorate them! I always say plan to make more than you think you need though, because there’s nothing worse than running out -___- Best of luck Alysia!!

  12. Hi
    If I made buttercream icing using whipping cream and then stored it in the fridge, will it expire when the whipping cream expires?

    1. Usually whipping cream has an expiration that’s pretty far out from when you buy it! I don’t pay too much attention to the expiration date of the cream, because you only use a tiny bit of it! But I suppose if your whipping cream is about to expire and you want to make your buttercream in advance, you may want to get a new carton <3

  13. You said that fully iced cakes last “several days” in the fridge, but if I am making a wedding cake for a wedding on a Saturday, when would you have it iced and done by? For me it would ideally be thursday or friday AM, but what do you suggest?

    1. Hi Julia!

      That timing should be fine! I made my wedding cake on Wednesday, and our wedding was Sunday. It tasted great when we cut into it 🙂 Hope that helps!!

  14. Hi, I was wondering if there is a way to save on plastic when piping. Is there a way to reuse the bags or certain types of bags that are easy to reuse? I’m really big into conserving and helping the planet. I don’t wanna throw away so much plastic just to make cakes.

Let me know what you think!