Not many cakes taste good with a vegetable added to the mix. Carrot cake is one of the rare exceptions.
Sweet, moist, and creamy, it makes for a delicious dessert whether at breakfast, brunch, or a dinner party.
But what if you end up whipping up more carrot cake than you need for the day? Or maybe you want to make carrot cake ahead of time for when you need a quick treat?
Whatever the reason is, you’re probably wondering how to store carrot cake.
Today, I’m covering everything you need to know about carrot cake storage whether at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer.
Storing carrot cake for later munching is a simple task, but you should first figure out the right way to do it. This will depend on two factors: when you plan to reuse the cake and if it has frosting.
Let’s start with the first aspect. If you’re planning to eat the carrot cake within the next few days, then you’re looking at either overnight storage or short-term storage.
Overnight storage can be as easy as keeping your carrot cake on the counter (or in your pantry) or in your fridge. The same goes for short-term storage, although if you’re planning to keep the cake longer than 2 days, refrigeration is the go-to option.
If you’re looking at a period longer than a week before using the carrot cake, the answer is to freeze the cake.
As for the frosting status of your carrot cake, it can affect your choice of storage method as follows:
- Unfrosted carrot cake can last at room temperature longer than the frosted version.
- If the frosting is homemade or contains cream cheese, it’s best that you keep it in the fridge.
- If it’s store-bought or free of cream cheese, it can be alright to leave the frosted carrot cake out for a short period.
While the general answer is yes, it still depends on multiple factors such as the temperature of the room and the ingredients of the carrot cake.
If your kitchen is at a high temperature, the heat will make the cake spoil faster especially if it contains cream cheese layers or is covered in cream cheese frosting.
In that case, it’s best to stay on the safe side and avoid leaving your carrot cake out overnight.
If your kitchen is at a comfortable room temperature (68 to 77 degrees F) or if it’s winter, then it can be okay to leave your carrot cake overnight even with cream cheese filling or frosting.
The interesting bit about storing carrot cake at room temperature is that the steps differ quite a lot depending on whether the cake is frosted or not.
Keep in mind that storing at room temperature refers to a temperature range of 68 to 77 degrees F (20 to 25 degrees C) or lower. A higher temperature will accelerate spoilage and requires refrigeration or freezing according to your usage plans.
If you’re keeping unfrosted carrot cake on your countertop or in the pantry, all you need to do is cover it with plastic wrap. Make sure the seal is airtight, and if possible, do a second layer of wrap.
If you’re making multiple layers of carrot cake, it’s more effective to wrap each layer individually. This will keep each layer fresh for longer.
After applying the plastic wrap, place the carrot cake in a plastic zipper bag (keep layers in a separate bag each) to block air and moisture as much as possible.
If you’re keeping a frosted, uncut carrot cake on your countertop or in your pantry, you don’t really need to do any wrapping or storage tricks.
That’s because the frosting will act as a seal to lock in moisture while blocking environmental bacteria thanks to the sugar content. This is the case for any type of frosting, even cream cheese icing.
To further ensure that your frosted carrot cake won’t go stale while at room temperature, place it under an overturned bowl or cake keeper. This will also protect your precious dessert from debris sticking to it.
Now what if you’ve already cut into your frosted carrot cake? Well, you have a couple of options to choose from.
You can cover the exposed part of the cake with frosting so it’s like a cake covered entirely in icing. It’ll then keep just as well at room temperature as an uncut frosted carrot cake.
Alternatively, you can press a sheet of wax paper or a piece of plastic wrap onto the exposed parts of the cake (into the empty wedge-shaped space).
You can follow either option with an overturned bowl or cake keeper to maximize the freshness period.
At room temperature of 68 to 77 degrees F (20 to 25 degrees C), carrot cake will last up to 2 days.
While most types of cake can last for 3 or 4 days at room temperature, carrot cake spoils faster because it tends to have a higher moisture content thanks to the presence of shredded carrots and raisins.
If you want to prolong the shelf life of your carrot cake beyond 2 days, refrigeration or freezing is the better option.
Although you don’t need to keep your carrot cake in the fridge if you plan to eat it within 2 days of baking, it is better to refrigerate carrot cake to ensure it doesn’t go bad.
This is particularly true if the cake contains cream cheese filling or is covered in cream cheese frosting. Because it’s a dairy product that quickly expires if left unrefrigerated, the cream cheese element is better stored at a cool temperature.
Of course, the cake itself may contain dairy products (milk and eggs, for example) that are also prone to spoiling if left out of the fridge for too long.
Aside from spoilage, refrigeration can help keep carrot cake moist given that it’s properly sealed. The colder temperature slows down the evaporation of liquids in the cake, keeping it from drying out.
Here’s how to correctly keep carrot cake refrigerated:
- Wait for the cake to cool down.
- If the cake is frosted, chill it in the fridge for around 15 minutes to let the frosting harden before wrapping.
- Once cool, grab some plastic wrap and wrap the cake as a whole or as individual pieces. Whole cakes may need double-wrapping.
- Check for loose edges on the plastic wrap. Tighten it to create an airtight seal.
- Alternatively, you can seal the cake in a plastic container with an airtight lid.
- Place the cake in the fridge.
When it’s time to serve the carrot cake, remove it 1 or 2 hours beforehand. Simply let it sit on your countertop until the cake and the frosting (if present) reach room temperature.
You can let it warm up while in the container or still wrapped, but uncovering or unwrapping will make the process go faster.
A carrot cake can last for up to 7 days in the fridge with proper wrapping or covering.
Freezing carrot cake is the ideal option for long-term storage (more than a week).
While freezing works well for both unfrosted and frosted carrot cake, you should keep in mind it may affect the frosting. That’s because freezing may alter the consistency of the frosting, but then again, it may come out just fine.
Here’s how to freeze carrot cake:
- Wait for the cake to cool down after baking.
- When it reaches room temperature, cover it tightly in plastic wrap and foil (2 or 3 layers each). You can wrap the cake as a whole or as slices, just make sure no part of the cake is left exposed.
- Move the cake to a freezer-safe container or bag.
- Stick a label with the date on it and transfer it to the freezer.
When it’s time to serve the carrot cake, remove it from the freezer a few hours beforehand. Uncover and unwrap then let it sit on your countertop until the cake and the frosting (if present) reach room temperature.
Carrot cake can last up to 1 year in the freezer, but it’s best eaten within 6 months to avoid any changes in flavor or texture.
There you have it, an easy guide on how to store carrot cake.
You can keep carrot cake at room temperature for up 2 days, in the fridge for up to 7 days, and in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.