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How Long Does Buttercream Last?

In addition to getting asked for my American buttercream frosting recipe, I 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 vanilla American buttercream in a glass bowl

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 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!

image of almond buttercream being piped on a WASC cake

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 it 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.

image of vanilla buttercream being piped onto a cake with a wilton 1m frosting tip

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

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.

image of vanilla buttercream being mixed that's smooth

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 the bowl by hand.

Leaving Frosting 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 keeps 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 a long period of time.

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

image of a cake being frosted and smoothed with an offset spatula

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.

image of gluten free vanilla cupcake being frosted with vanilla bean buttercream

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.


Wednesday 9th of August 2023

Why is my buttercream gritty


Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Hi Jodi,

When the texture of your buttercream isn’t nice and smooth, it may be because you need to add a bit more heavy cream. I recommend adding 1 additional Tablespoon at a time to make sure you don’t throw off the consistency of your frosting.

If there isn’t enough liquid in your frosting to help dissolve the powdered sugar, it can throw off the texture of your frosting.

But sometimes adding additional heavy cream doesn’t solve the problem.

When you run into this, the grainy texture might be caused by the brand of powdered sugar you’re using!

Some brands are less fine than others and in some place of the world powdered sugar is also less fine.

I usually use the Domino or Shoprite brands, which are both 10x.

When you see this on a package, it refers to the number of times the sugar is processed to make it into the fine powder that we know and love.

Be sure to check your package when you buy it, to be sure it’s been processed to a fine enough powder. Hope that helps, happy baking!


Saturday 15th of July 2023

I was panicking that I left my cupcakes on the counter overnight until I read this, thank you so much!


Sunday 16th of July 2023

Aw happy to hear this helped Madison!! :) They should be just fine!

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