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.

58 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.

  15. Hi Chelsea!! I made a few batches of buttercream the night before I needed them. They were perfect, I left them out on the counter overnight with a piece of plastic wrap placed flush on them just like you mentioned. I had a TON of air bubbles in them the second day despite mixing them with the kitchen aid and by hand. I couldn’t get my cake to be smooth due to all these air bubbles. Please help!!! And thank you !!!

  16. Question … I’m making some delicious chocolate covered buttercream filled candies with spicy flavors. I resell them. I take the finished balls and freeze then take them out and put in an ice chest when I visit my prospective customers. When I return to my house, I usually have several balls left. I immediately put them in the refrigerator and leave them there for up to 10 days. Then I take them out again for another trip in the ice chest (filled with ice, of course). Can I continue to do this until all the sample balls are used up? If I need to delay their use for several weeks, I will refreeze them and then put them into use later. Are there risks of spoilage or contamination using this method? If so, what are the risks?

    1. Hi Guard,

      You don’t mix the buttercream with anything else? The center is just my american buttercream recipe??

      As long as you’re following food safety rules and keeping the them out of the danger zone (40 °F – 140 °F) They should keep well. I hope that helps, I’m not sure how long they last in total because I’ve never made anything like that before. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  17. How do you feel about the crust that develops on a frosted cake that you keep in the fridge for up to a week? Do you deliver fresh cakes to your clients and let them be the ones to keep in the fridge for a week or do you use that week in the fridge (or some portion) so you can plan out your baking?

    1. Hi Brigid,

      I actually don’t sell any of my cakes anymore! But that decision is up to you. Most people don’t want to store the cake in their own fridge for long periods of time, so usually the cake maker will store it until the client wants / needs it. If you make a lot of cakes, you may need to get a separate cake fridge.

      I don’t mind the crust that develops, and explain that it’s natural when using american buttercream if anyone asks. Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. Hi Lujain,

      You sure can! A frosted cake can stay good in the fridge for up to a week. As long as the frosting is completely covering the cake layers, it should lock in all the moisture, and the cake should stay nice and moist 🙂 I let cakes sit in the fridge overnight, or for a few days all the time! I usually leave my cakes just open in the fridge without a covering! It should be fine as long as you don’t have anything fragrant in your fridge (like fish or onions). Hope that helps, happy baking!

  18. Hi! I was wondering how you mix your butter cream if your storing it already in piping bags? Do you have to wait until they’re completed thawed to the pipe it out in a mixing bowl?

    1. Hi Jannixa,

      I actually find that if I put the frosting in bags it keeps its smooth consistency and doesn’t need to be stirred before use! I just let the frosting thaw in the bags then use it once it reaches room temp. Just be sure the frosting is super smooth before you put it in the bag 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking!

  19. Hello I’m having to make a bachelorette grooms and wedding cake which are due next Saturday (today is Friday) and I have a couple of questions the bachelorette cake (due the evening before)is a chocolate sculpted cake covered in fondant is your chocolate cake recipe sturdy or should I say dense enough for sculpting and also I’m using your chocolate buttercream recipe to go under it how far ahead should I make this and how do I store it without the fondant sweating? Also the grooms cake will be a vanilla bean sculpted cake that will be covered in fondant and the wedding cake is white almond with American buttercream do you have recipes for these and how far ahead can I make them because I work 7 days a week also….. sorry if this is too much

  20. Hi! I have some questions about storing a fully decorated buttercream cake. Would I store the decorated cake directly in the fridge after I’m done decorating or could I leave it out? Also, what is the best way to properly store a decorated cake in the fridge without the buttercream becoming hard and crusty.

  21. Helo, junisa here its my first time to keep in touch in baking….only this year 2020….when I bake I probably enjoying it…,but sometimes I get tired specially when my item is not good enough to promote….I think I’m losing hope to be good enough in baking….but I’m pushing my self not to give up, I chalenge my self to go on….but you know what? I said to my self what ever it takes this is what I want to make my self great….not as great as what others done…but to push on through what ever it takes…..thanks for the goggle search and youtube?????

    Best of luck for me and to all who loves baking……?

  22. I am doing a two tiered semi-naked wedding cake, which I have watched your tutorials, thank you btw! My question is do I dare attempt this with cream cheese frosting (preferred by the Bride) over buttercream? I do not need to stack the tiers until arriving at the venue.

  23. Hi! Thanks so much for all these tips. I’ve got a batch of buttercream in the freezer, if I take it out and put it in the fridge Wednesday night, can I use it to frost a cake the next Tues? or has it been out too long?

  24. Hie! My swiss buttercream leaves water when I keep it in piping bag for more days.. I know it can be repaired by just remixing the buttercream, but is thr any way u know that I can avoid the water in the piping bag??

Let me know what you think!