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How Long Buttercream Frosting Lasts (With Storage Chart)

Nothing beats buttercream frosting in its simplicity and delightful taste. It is by far the most popular topping for cakes or cupcakes and is perfect for any occasion. Whether you are buying it or making it yourself, it’s helpful to know how long it will last before it goes bad.

At room temperature, buttercream lasts 2-3 days in a covered bowl and up to 3 weeks in an airtight container. In the refrigerator, it can last up to 1 week in a covered bowl and 2 weeks in an airtight container. Buttercream will last about 3 months in the freezer, whether on the cake or not.

How long buttercream lasts:

Buttercream Storage MethodRoom TemperatureIn the RefrigeratorIn the Freezer
In a covered bowlUp to 3 daysUp to 1 weekN/A
In an airtight containerUp to 3 weeksUp to 2 weeksUp to 3 months
On the cake with an airtight lidUp to a weekUp to 1 weekUp to 3 months

For frosting, an airtight container like this one found on Amazon will do the trick nicely.

Of course, as with anything, the devil is in the details. There are multiple factors that can affect the exact shelf life of buttercream frosting. Read on for more information.

How Far in Advance Can You Make Buttercream Icing?

Powdered Sugar Added to a Bowl of Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Many bakers make their frosting and cake layers ahead of time; that way, all the hard work is already done when they begin to decorate the cake, making far more enjoyable.

You can make this buttercream icing several days in advance, and sometimes even weeks if you are not adding an ingredient that has a short shelf life, such as milk. Check the list of ingredients and find which one has the shortest shelf life. That is how long you would want to store it before it goes bad.

However, I would recommend that you never make your frosting more than a week before you plan to use it. And if you do, make sure that you use a quality airtight container, like this one. It’s actually designed to hold ice cream, but it also works really well for frosting. Just don’t tell anyone our secret.

How To Properly Store Buttercream

Jelly Grandma's Chocolate Buttercream Frosted Cake Next to a Bowl of Frosting

If you are planning on using buttercream in the next few days, you can store it in an airtight container until you are ready to use it. However, if you want to use it in a few weeks, it is best to store it in the freezer. You will need to thaw the buttercream at room temperature and possibly re-whip it if it needs to be brought back to a fluffy consistency.

Related Does Cake Need to Be Refrigerated? | How to Store All Types.

How Can I Increase the Shelf Life of Buttercream?

You can increase the shelf life by changing the ingredients of the buttercream. If you want something that lasts a long time, you can use a recipe that only requires you to add water. Avoid ingredients that go bad quickly, such as butter and milk, which have the shortest shelf life.

How Long Does Buttercream Last at Room Temperature?

If you store buttercream in a bowl with an airtight lid, it will last about three weeks if you have added butter or milk. If you only made buttercream with water, it will last for up to 6 weeks at room temperature.

If you do not store in an airtight container, and instead opt to let it sit out in a bowl that is covered or in a cool, dry place, it will go bad after more than three days.

How Long Does Buttercream Last on a Cake?

A frosted buttercream cake will only last around a week if refrigerated. However, it will go bad after 2-3 days at room temperature. Remember to store your cake in an airtight container.

However, a store-bought cake with buttercream can typically last for about six months if stored in the freezer.

Should I Refrigerate Buttercream?

Buttercream will last longer if you refrigerate it, so this is a better option then allowing the frosting to sit uncovered or at room temperature. However, once on a cake, it does not require refrigeration as long as it does not contain any perishable ingredients, like whipped cream, eggs, cream cheese, or fruit.

How Long Will Buttercream Last in the Fridge?

Buttercream can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge if made with milk or butter, but it is at it’s freshest if used in one week. However, once on the cake, it will only last about a week in the fridge.

However, if not made with milk or butter, your buttercream can last for up to 6 weeks before going bad. As mentioned before, check the shortest shelf life of your ingredients.

How Long Does Buttercream Last in the Freezer?

Buttercream can be stored in the freezer for up to three months if made with butter and milk. This includes when it is on cupcakes or cakes. Just store them in a freezer, and once ready to eaten, thaw out at room temperature.

However, if you want the texture and flavor to remain the same after thawing, make the frosting and store it in smaller batches.

How Long Does Homemade Buttercream Last?

The shelf life of buttercream is pretty much the same whether it is store-bought or if you make it at home.

Homemade buttercream that contains milk and butter can be stored for a couple of weeks in the fridge or longer if sealed in a container. All homemade frosting can be frozen for months in the freezer, and thawed for later use.

Does Buttercream Icing Go Bad?

If you make the frosting out of sugar, food coloring, and water, it will take weeks for the buttercream to go bad. However, if it includes butter or milk products, it will go bad sooner rather than later.

How Do You Know When Buttercream Is Bad?

Cakes with buttercream frosting will eventually turn green on the bottom, and the frosting may even turn watery. It will also get a sour taste and smell. Mold or a thick cream can also form over the top. If there is mold, it is always advised to toss the product out. Buttercream is meant to be smooth, so if it is lumpy or thickened, discard it.

If your buttercream is store-bought, check the expiration date. If it is past the date and has already been opened for four weeks or more, it is best to toss it.

If you are unsure about when you made or purchased the frosting and don’t know how long it has been open, you might want to consider throwing it away to avoid a stomach ache or sickness.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Buttercream?

Food poisoning can happen if you eat buttercream that has gone sour. This is caused by bacteria or toxins to contaminate the frosting, and this can also occur if the icing was cross-contaminated with other utensils or other ingredients.

Buttercream Cupcakes on a Plate with Candles
How long have these been sitting out?

Can Buttercream Make You Sick?

Buttercream can make you sick if you have eaten it after it has gone bad. It can also make you sick if you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. An allergy can either be severe or mild, but both can cause sickness.

You can prevent lactose intolerant symptoms by replacing the milk with a different ingredient or supplementing it. A milk allergy can cause a severe allergic reaction that can cause death if not treated.

Helpful Related Products

For your convenience, I have included a few storage-related products to help your food stay as fresh as possible.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped you learn all you need to know about storing buttercream. If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!

For more, don’t miss 5 Best Chocolates for Melting (And How to Use Them).