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Can You Freeze Frosted Cupcakes?

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With the extremely busy schedules, we have these days, almost no one has time to bake cakes or cupcakes for special occasions, especially not on short notice!

So, what do you always end up doing? That’s right! Grab an old bland and boring batch of cupcakes from the grocery store! What’s even worse is when you realize at midnight that you need some by tomorrow morning!

There aren’t any stores open, you don’t have time to bake, you barely have enough ingredients – wouldn’t it be so easy if there were already made and frosted cupcakes in the freezer? Of course, it would!

But, can you even freeze frosted cupcakes? Not only is it very possible to freeze your frosted cupcakes, we actually recommend doing so rather than storing them at room temperature. Freezing them extends their shelf life, it helps develop flavor, and it will save you a ton of baking time when you’re in a pinch!

Today we will have a look at exactly how you can freeze frosted cupcakes. We will discuss a few different methods, have a look at some helpful tricks, the different shelf lives of various frostings as well as the effects freezing has on cupcakes.

Finally, we will also answer some frequently asked questions surrounding frozen cupcakes. Let’s get started!

Can You Freeze Frosted Cupcakes?

Cupcakes that have been frosted freeze just as well as unfrosted cupcakes and doing so can make your life a lot easier!

There are a couple of different methods you can follow to freeze your cupcakes well, but this is just the one we personally prefer for a couple of reasons.

One of the biggest benefits of this method is that by pre-freezing your cupcakes before wrapping them will help prevent the icing from getting crushed by the plastic wrap.

The frosting will freeze in the shape that it is meant to, and you can wrap each cupcake with ease.

How to Freeze Frosted Cupcakes

  1. Once your cupcakes have been baked, set them aside and allow them to cool down completely at room temperature. Once cooled, decorate your cupcakes with the frosting of your choice. Do not add any other decorations.
  1. Find a container that is deep enough to place your frosted cupcakes inside without the lid touching their tips. Place the cupcakes inside, making sure they don’t touch and place them in the freezer, covered, for about an hour or until the frosting has fully hardened.
  1. Once the frosting is frozen, remove them from the freezer and gently wrap each cupcake with plastic or saran wrap. Make sure to work quickly to prevent the cupcake from defrosting.
  1. Again, place all of the wrapped cupcakes inside the container, this time they can touch sides to make room for more, and place them covered inside the freezer. Make sure your freezer doesn’t have fluctuating temperatures.

Tips & Tricks

  • You can definitely decorate your plain cupcakes with frosting, but we wouldn’t recommend adding any other decorations unless you know they freeze well.

For example, garnishes like crumbly cookies, candyfloss, or sugar garnishes will not freeze well if at all. Other garnishes like chocolate shavings, chopped nuts, or even fondant decorations can freeze using correct methods.

  • If you do not have a container large enough to protect the cupcakes and their frosting, you can place them on a baking tray and gently add a piece of plastic wrap over them.

The plastic will help prevent the cake from drying out while freezing (especially during the pre-freezing period) and it helps prevent them from absorbing any odors in the freezer.

  • When the cupcakes have been fully frozen, you can place them on top of each other, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Rather place them in a single layer at all times.

Once you have pre-frozen your cupcakes and placed them inside a sealed freezer-safe container, label your batch! You can either choose to wrap the container in plastic and write on that or add a piece of labeling tape or a sticker.

Then, write the details of the batch you are freezing on the container.

This information has to include what the actual items are, the date you made them, the date you froze them, and the estimated date you want to use them by (we recommend 4-6 weeks later).

To be more efficient, always make sure the oldest batch is at the top of your freezer and the newer at the bottom. This way you will grab the oldest food first and you don’t have to go around digging for anything.

Health and Safety

Make sure your freezer doesn’t have any odors lingering around. The cake is very porous and will easily absorb those odors, which you will taste once the cake has defrosted.

To remove odors from the freezer, you can place some coffee beans, vanilla essence, or vinegar inside.

It is also extremely important that your freezer doesn’t have any fluctuating temperatures. This will cause the food inside to constantly freeze and defrost, which will directly affect the shelf life.

Wrap cupcakes individually. This will prevent them from sticking together and breaking when thawing.Do not refrigerate your cupcakes before freezing them as this dries out the cake and frosting. Rather let the cupcakes cool completely at room temperature before frosting. 
Gently wrap your pre-frozen cupcakes as tightly as possible to prevent any moisture from affecting their texture.Do not wrap your cupcakes in aluminum foil. Some foil gives off a metallic taste and greyish color when coming into contact with cake and frosting.
Place your cupcakes in a single layer in a container to protect them from being damaged by other items. The container will also protect them from drying out.Do not freeze cake (of frosting) in containers or freezers that smell like other food.
Garnish your cupcakes or frosting. Rather do those decorations after they have defrosted.

Do Different Frostings Affect the Freezing Process?

Believe it or not, but virtually every type of cupcake frosting can be frozen. Not only that, but all of them defrost really well by keeping their shape, flavor, and original texture.

These frostings include all the different types of meringue-based frostings which are Italian, Swiss, and French meringue buttercreams.

Other frostings that keep very well are cream cheese frostings, ganache-based frostings, and of course the classic buttercream frosting.

The only frosting we do not recommend freezing is whipped cream-based. These are meant to be fluffy and once frozen, they will lose most of their original structure.

Whipped cream is also very porous and will absorb the tiniest traces of odors inside a container or freezer, especially if kept there for several months.

Why Freeze Frosted Cupcakes?

Making any type of baked good is very time-consuming and can even take up your whole day! Cupcakes especially have a ton of different steps that need to happen at completely different times.

You first need to bake the cupcakes, allow it to cool, make the frosting and decorate each cupcake, and then we aren’t even looking at any additional decorating that needs to be done!

Making and freezing baked goods in advance will save you a lot of time!

Making your cupcakes in advance will allow you some time to correct any baking mistakes that were made.

If, for example, you forgot to add salt or sugar, or the cupcakes are overbaked and burnt at the bottom, you won’t have to worry about any of these things because you will have enough time to bake another batch!

The same applies to the decorating part of cupcakes. Frosting a bunch of cupcakes, especially when making mass quantities, can take some time – even more if you are new to frosting cupcakes or trying a different technique.

By allowing yourself some time before the event, you take all that unnecessary stress away! Baking and decorating can finally be as therapeutic as it’s supposed to.

Another big reason we recommend making and freezing your cupcakes is that the flavor of both the cake and frosting develops over time and trust us, it gets a whole lot better!

The reason we’d recommend freezing frosted cupcakes over unfrosted is that the fat in the buttercream acts as a protective layer.

This fat will help prevent the cake from drying out in the freezer and give you a moist soft cupcake when defrosted.

Lastly, this is a fantastic way to store any leftover cupcakes after an event. Sometimes you simply cannot eat them all before they expire. And this way it makes for a quick dessert or treats on any other day.

Effects of Freezing on Frosted Cupcakes

Unlike a refrigerator, a freezer helps trap moisture inside the food, whereas your fridge will dry it out. This is a big reason we recommend freezing your cakes and cupcakes, rather than storing them inside a fridge.

So, in order to keep your cupcakes moist, do not place them in the refrigerator at any time before or after freezing.

If you follow our freezing guidelines, your cupcakes will also be unaffected in the flavor department – their flavor will actually improve!

Keep them away from any smelly foods, containers, and even a smelly freezer. Both your cupcake and frosting will absorb them quickly and you will taste them later!

Unfortunately, no food item can withstand the effects of time and after a few months, your cupcakes will go through some changes.

The cake and frosting will both undergo noticeable texture and flavor changes when stored longer than 2-3 months.

To start, the flavor of the buttercream will become bland and almost watered-down. The cake will lose almost all of its flavor and you will eventually be eating a piece of sponge.

In terms of texture, the cake part will become crumbly and course, whereas the buttercream, depending on the type, could become lumpy or gritty. 

We highly recommend using your frozen frosted cupcakes within 4-6 weeks of freezing. This way you can ensure that they stay fresh and will remain unaffected by the freezer.

Shelf Life of Frosted Cupcakes

The shelf life of virtually any type of cupcake will remain the same, however, the freezer-time of different types of frosting will differ. This is again why we recommend using any frozen food item within 4-6 weeks of making it.

The cake part itself will last up to 3 months before becoming affected and undergoing taste and texture changes. Most frostings will keep well for about 2-3 months.

Italian and French buttercream frosting will keep roughly 2 months, whereas your Swiss meringue buttercream, a cream cheese frosting, or a ganache-based frosting will last a bit longer – about 3 months.

Normal buttercream (a recipe made with just butter and icing sugar) will freeze the best and last the longest, at least 3-4 months.

How to Store Frosted Cupcakes

If you aren’t looking to freeze any cupcakes for long-term storage, you can simply keep them at room temperature or inside the refrigerator.

At room temperature, make sure to store them away from any direct light, heat sources, and any odorous foods. 

Keep them inside an air-tight container to help them retain their moisture. Cupcakes at room temperature will last roughly 2-3 days before becoming noticeably different.

Alternatively, you can place the cupcakes inside an airtight container and keep them inside the refrigerator. But remember, the fridge tends to dry out cupcakes, so don’t keep them there for too long or uncovered.

Your cupcakes will keep well in the fridge for roughly 3-4 days before you will notice any flavor and texture changes. Again, keep them away from any odorous foods.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over the best ways to freeze your frosted cupcakes, let’s answer a few more questions you might find yourself asking during the freezing process!

Can you freeze filled cupcakes?

You can definitely freeze any type of filled cupcakes. The type of filling you use will affect the shelf life and fresh fruit fillings won’t last as long – about 1 month less than non-filled cupcakes.

To freeze filled cupcakes, you can follow the exact same method we used to freeze our frosted cupcakes.

Can You Freeze Cupcakes in Their Paper Cases?

You can definitely freeze your cupcakes inside their paper cases – we actually recommend it. Just like the buttercream acts as a protective layer, so do these paper casings. 

They will help retain the moisture inside the cupcake which helps prevent them from drying out, and it also acts as a protective layer between other odors and the cake.

How do you defrost frozen frosted cupcakes?

Believe it or not, but defrosting your frosted cupcakes is easier than freezing them! Simply remove them from the freezer and take off any plastic or saran wrap. Keep them inside of their airtight container and place them at room temperature.

Cupcakes defrost relatively quickly and should be ready in about 1-2 hours. Again, do not defrost your cupcakes inside the refrigerator as this will dry out any moisture that is left in the cupcakes.

Once they have been fully defrosted, you can continue decorating them with additional garnishes.

Can you defrost frozen cupcakes in the oven or microwave?

Do not defrost frosted cupcakes inside the microwave or oven! Because frosting contains butter, it will completely melt inside the oven and extremely quickly!

Another factor to consider is that an oven dries out moisture, so even your cake will not be moist and soft.

Up Next: Can You Freeze German Chocolate Cake?

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