Frosted cupcakes are little works of art, but all that beautiful piping and decorating doesn’t last forever, unfortunately. Before you know it, your masterpieces can turn into a sugary blob.
So, how can you keep cupcakes looking pristine and tasting fresh for days after baking? More specifically, how can you store frosted cupcakes overnight?
In this article, I share with you some insider tips on how to properly store frosted cupcakes. In addition, I’ll discuss how to troubleshoot common cupcake storage and frosting issues.
Let’s jump right into it!
Why Make Cupcakes Ahead of Time?
There are a few reasons why you may want to make cupcakes in advance. For one, you can do all the baking you need to for an event or party in advance. This will enable you to check “bake cupcakes” off your list and focus on something else.
Another reason why making cupcakes in advance is a great idea is if you need to make a mass quantity of cupcakes and only have so much space in your oven.
When making lots of cupcakes, you might need to work in batches, using your cupcake pans over and over again (unless, of course, you’re not using a pan). You might have to make your cupcakes in advance just for practical purposes.
It is always a good idea to make cupcakes ahead of time regardless of how many you will be making simply to ensure they taste good.
Even professional pastry chefs make baking mistakes now and then, adding too much baking soda (or using baking powder instead) or forgetting to put in the salt.
Make your cupcakes in advance, give one a try, and make sure they taste great. If something is off, you will have time to whip up another batch. It is always good to be prepared!
Why Frost Cupcakes Before Storing?
While you may think that putting the frosting on your cupcakes right before serving them is a good idea, you are actually incorrect. Frosting your cupcakes in advance has many benefits and is a much better way to prepare and store your perfect little dessert.
To begin, frosting your cupcakes in advance will give you more time to get your frosting perfect and your decorations on your cupcakes flawlessly. Rather than rushing to frost the cupcakes right before serving, you can relax and take your time, making each cupcake perfect.
If you make a mistake, you have time to fix it. It is much more fun to ice cupcakes in a leisurely setting!
Frosting your cupcakes in advance will also help the overall taste of your cupcakes. The frosting will act as a barrier for the cake, preventing it from drying out due to contact with the air.
This is especially true if you are using a buttercream frosting. which will place a layer of fat directly on top of the cake, sealing the cupcake’s natural moisture inside.
If you are planning on storing the cupcakes for a day or two, the frosting is almost necessary to help keep the cupcakes fresh!
Frosting cupcakes before storing them is great for decorative purposes and also for keeping cupcakes moist and tasty. Definitely something you should do when you plan to serve the cupcakes later on.
How to Store Frosted Cupcakes
1. Cool the Cupcakes
The first step to storing cupcakes, either frosted or unfrosted, is to let them cool completely (much like cooling a cake). Once the cupcakes come out of the oven, move them to a cooking rack and let them sit until they are not hot, not warm but just room temperature.
You also want to ensure your cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting to prevent the frosting from melting when it touches the cake top. Ideally, the frosting and cupcakes should be the same temperature for a perfect icing experience.
2. Find a Container
The best way to ensure your cupcake frosting stays perfect and your cupcakes stay sealed, safe from the moisture of the air or the drying effects of the freezer, is to find a container that is deep enough to hold frosted cupcakes and has a tight-fitting lid.
Look for something deep and large. The more room the better, especially if you plan on storing a lot of frosted cupcakes. Containers with lids will give the cupcakes their own space and protect them the best.
If you do not have a container, you can get by using plastic wrap to cover the cupcakes. If you have a container that is deep enough to hold the frosted cupcakes, still use this to hold them, and simply wrap the entire container in the plastic, avoiding letting the plastic touch the frosting.
If you do not have a deep container, place the frosted cupcakes on a sheet tray and put them in the fridge, unwrapped for about an hour. If you are using a buttercream frosting, this will give the frosting enough time to harden.
From there, you can wrap the cupcakes on the tray and not worry about the plastic touching the frosting—it is solid and shouldn’t get messy!
Plastic wrap should not mess up cooled buttercream frosting since the buttercream is solid once it cools. However, it will damage the whipped cream frosting on your cupcakes.
Whipped cream will not solidify in the fridge and if you try to wrap cupcakes iced in whipped cream using plastic wrap, you are likely to have a mess on your hands.
If you are going to frost your cupcakes with whipped cream, definitely look for a deep container with a lid! It will be worth the investment.
3. Determine the Best Location
Where to store your frosted cupcakes is almost as important as how to properly wrap them. You can actually store frosted cupcakes in several places and still have great, delicious results when it comes time to eat.
Where you choose to store your frosted cupcakes depends greatly on when you will be eating them. Take a look at the following options and pick the one that is best for your situation.
Store the Cupcakes at Room Temperature
If you plan on eating the buttercream frosted cupcakes within one or two days, it is completely okay to store them at room temperature.
In fact, this is probably the best place to store them as they will not dry out and the cake and frosting will both be soft and ready to eat.
If you use a whipped cream frosting, this option will not work as the icing cannot sit outside the fridge. Cupcakes should only be stored at room temperature for up to two days.
Store Frosted Cupcakes in the Fridge
Once your cupcakes are properly wrapped and sealed tightly, they can definitely be stored in the fridge. Frosted cupcakes can be kept in the fridge for about 4-5 days before they start to get hard and dry.
Be sure to take the cupcakes out of the fridge, unwrap them, and let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.
Cold cupcakes with cold frosting are not so delicious but they will warm back up very easily when taken out in advance!
Store Frosted Cupcakes in the Freezer
When properly sealed, frosted cupcakes can be kept in the freezer for up to three months. Once again, be sure to take them out of the freezer in advance and let them come to room temperature before serving. This should take about 2-3 hours to let them fully thaw.
If you have frosted your cupcakes in a whipped cream frosting, freezing is not recommended. Whipped cream frosting does not thaw well (no cream-based product really does) and the frosting will not hold up when thawed. Opt for the fridge if you plan to store whipped cream cupcakes or ice them on the day of your event.
Troubleshooting Common Cupcake Issues
Are you not satisfied with the quality or texture of your cupcake? Consider the following:
- Frosting Is Too Soft or Melts: If this is the case, your cupcakes may not have been completely cooled before frosting, or they were not stored properly. Ideally, you should let the cupcakes cool completely after baking before frosting. Also, they should be stored in an airtight container if you’re going to store them for more than 1-2 days.
- Frosting Falls or Slips Off: The frosting may have gotten too warm and become runny. To avoid this, make sure the cupcakes are cooled before frosting. Also, be sure to use a sturdier frosting, like buttercream.
- Cake Part Gets Dried Out: The cupcakes likely spent too much time out of proper storage. Next time, be sure to get them into an airtight container as soon as they’re cooled and frosted, then put them in the fridge or freezer.
Frosted cupcakes are surprisingly durable and can be stored for quite some time. The real key is to wrap the cupcakes well, opt for a buttercream frosting (it holds up the best), and always eat the cupcakes at room temperature.
So go ahead and ice those cupcakes in advance, check them off your list, and continue with your other necessary tasks. There is no need to rush to make fresh cupcakes the day of your event when you know how to store them correctly- and now you do!
Now that you know how to store them, you will probably want to know the best way to transport them to that party, right? Well, you can check out my tips here.
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.