Does Cream Cheese Frosting Need to Be Refrigerated?


Cream cheese frosting is one of the most popular toppings for baked goods. It is delicious and versatile so you can put it on just about any baked confection like red velvet cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and any flavor of cake or cookie you can think of. Between its taste and texture, it is a true crowd-pleaser.

Cream cheese frosting should always be refrigerated until it is ready to be eaten. Before placing cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator, it should be secured in a sealable, airtight container. In the refrigerator, your frosting can last from one to two weeks before having to be tossed out.

Keep reading if you are planning on making or buying cream cheese frosting and want to make sure it is properly stored. Not only will this prevent your treats from causing tummy aches, but it will also extend the shelf life and decrease waste.

Cream Cheese Frosting Storage Guide

As with any dairy-based product, you need to keep your cream cheese frosting refrigerated most of the time to prevent bacteria growth that can cause foodborne illnesses.

While your cream cheese frosting is in the refrigerator, you want to make sure it is stored properly to preserve its delicious taste and texture. This also prevents it from drying out. Proper storage requires a few easy steps.

  • Wrap it securely in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or a Ziploc bag
  • Make sure there is as little air as possible, especially when using a Ziploc bag
  • Place in a sealable, airtight container
  • Write the date you stored your frosting

Frosting is correctly stored if it is wrapped and in a sealed, airtight container like this one. As an added precaution, you should place some clear wrap or foil on top of the frosting before sealing the lid. Writing the date of storage helps you keep track of freshness.

If the frosting is already on a dessert, that item should be tightly wrapped with either clear wrap, wax paper, or aluminum foil. When using the latter, you should use multiple layers to reduce the amount of air that can penetrate it.

If you have refrigerated a cake with cream cheese frosting, you should only take out the pieces you are going to eat, rather than the entire cake. It is also a good idea to store your dessert in individually wrapped pieces. This way you can take out what you are going to eat while the rest remains securely covered in the fridge.

Storing your frosting or frosting-covered food in the fridge is the best way to ensure it is safe for consumption. For your frosting to be preserved longer, it must be properly wrapped and stored. This way you can use it for a multitude of scrumptious desserts, days, or weeks after it is made or open.

Can You Keep Cream Cheese Frosting at Room Temperature?

While cream cheese frosting should be refrigerated most of the time, no one likes cold, stiff frosting. Luckily, it can be kept at room temperature for a short period of time.

Cream cheese will last up to 8 hours outside of the fridge, but it is generally recommended that it should not stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If your kitchen tends to be hot, you will want to reduce the amount of time cream cheese frosting is left out as bacteria grows faster in warmer temperatures.

When food is in the danger zone, which is 40-degrees to 140-degrees, bacteria growth is most rapid.

When it comes to food safety, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Can You Leave a Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting out over Night?

While frosting on a baked item may last longer because of the sugar, it is not recommended to leave any cream cheese frosted baked goods out overnight. While the frosting can last for up to 8 hours at room temperature, the longer you leave it out, the greater the chance is that harmful foodborne bacteria will grow.

Pro Tip: If you do plan on leaving a cake or cupcake covered in cream cheese frosting out for more than an hour or 2, you want to cover the dessert in clear wrap or wax paper to preserve its freshness, reduce exposure, and slow the growth of bacteria.

Can You Freeze a Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting?

Cream cheese frosted baked goods are so delicious, you may want to make more than one serving.

A cake with cream cheese frosting can be frozen. You can freeze your cream cheese frosted desserts for up to 3 months and they will retain their flavor and smoothness. Make sure you write the date you are freezing you baked good so you can keep track of its freshness.

Pro Tip: To regulate the freezing process, it is a good idea to put your baked goods in the refrigerator before placing them in the freezer. This will decrease the chances of your cake drying out.

Make sure to place your frozen dessert in the refrigerator 24 hours before serving so it has adequate time to thaw. If you move it from the freezer to the counter, the temperature can increase too quickly and create excessive moisture. This can make your cake soggy and cause bacteria to grow.

Does Store Bought Cream Cheese Frosting Need to Be Refrigerated? 

While homemade frosting is usually the best, you can also purchase cream cheese frosting from the supermarket. Cream cheese frosting is purchased in sealed tubs in the baking aisle.

Store-bought cream cheese frosting, like Betty Crocker or Pillsbury, can be stored at room temperature until the inner seal is broken. Once the canister is opened it must be used or stored in the refrigerator after it is resealed with the included lid.

These sealed canisters of cream cheese frosting can be safely stored at ambient room temperature until the expiration date printed on the tub. Once it is opened, it must be used in about two weeks and kept covered in the refrigerator.

Homemade cream cheese frosting does not have as long of a usable life because it is made from fresh cream cheese. It should be mixed as needed and used as soon as possible. Fresh cream cheese frosting will last about a week in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

How Can You Tell If Cream Cheese Frosting Is Bad?

Cream cheese is extremely perishable, especially if not stored correctly. You never want to ingest cream cheese frosting if you have any doubts about its freshness. If you are unsure if your cream cheese frosting is still good, there are a few signs you can look for.

SmellIf your frosting is giving off a strong stench, it is no longer edible. It can smell like spoiled or rotten
TextureKnown for its smooth texture, if your frosting becomes watery, slimy, or hard, it is time to toss it.
TasteIf your frosting tastes even slightly sour or bitter, it should not be eaten.
AppearanceFresh cream cheese frosting is smooth and white. As it starts to go bad your frosting will begin to darken in color. It may even grow mold.

Even if there is only a little bit of mold, the whole batch must be discarded. The molded parts cannot be cut off as it is likely that the bacteria has spread further than the spot it is visible on.

If any of these signs are present, your frosting has gone bad and needs to be tossed in the garbage.

What Can I Do with Extra Cream Cheese Frosting?

Extra cream cheese frosting leftover? Who wants to throw out something so delicious?

The best way to store extra cream cheese frosting is to freeze it after placing it in either an airtight container or freezer bag. Like when refrigerating cream cheese frosting, adding a layer of plastic wrap before putting the lid on will add an additional layer of protection.

If using a freezer bag, it is important to get as much air out before putting it in the freezer.

Typically, frozen frosting is good for 3 months. It can last as long as 6 months, but it is likely that the frosting will start to lose its taste and texture.

If you freeze cream cheese frosting, make sure to thoroughly thaw it prior to use. The best way to thaw frozen frosting is to put it in the refrigerator. This regulates the speed of the thawing process, ensuring that the temperature of the item doesn’t change too quickly which can encourage the growth of bacteria.

Pro Tip: Due to the high-fat content, cream cheese-based frosting tends to separate as you thaw it. To bring it back to its luscious consistency, re-whip it in its container until all contents are thoroughly blended.

Once your frosting is thawed out, it cannot be refrozen. It is best to use thawed frosting within 3 to 4 days after taking it out of the freezer.

Final Thoughts

Cream cheese frosting is a tool every baker should have in his or her arsenal. It is creamy, tasty, and goes well with just about any baked treat you can think of. Whether homemade or store-bought, you will want to make sure to properly store this delicious topping. Making delicious cream cheese frosting is not just a matter of retaining taste and texture, but a matter of food safety.

As long as you follow proper storage regulations, you can enjoy your cream cheese frosting for days, weeks, or months.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss 8 Best Substitutes For Cream Cheese In Cheesecake.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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