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.

52 thoughts on “How Long Does Buttercream Last?

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

Let me know what you think!