Who doesn’t love a good cupcake? Deliciously light and fluffy with an incredibly creamy and flavor-packed filling!
But, isn’t it so frustrating when you accidentally bake far too much or if you have unexpected leftovers. You can’t keep them forever but you can’t really throw them away.
So, how long are cupcakes good for? When storing cupcakes at room temperature, they will stay good for about 2 days, maybe 3 if it’s cold out. And, if stored in the fridge, their shelf life extends to about 4-5 days.
Finally, freezing cupcakes will naturally make them last a couple of months, but they are best used within only one.
Today, we will give you the ultimate guide to what affects the shelf life of cupcakes and how you can extend it.
We will also go into detail on how to correctly store cupcakes on the counter, in a fridge, and in a freezer. Ready to have your life become considerably easier? Let’s get right to it!
What Are Cupcakes Made Of?
Cupcakes are delicious small baked goodies that are made using a mixture of butter, sugar, eggs, flour, a leavening agent, and flavoring.
There are hundreds of different ingredients and flavor combinations that can be used to make cupcakes, which is what makes them so unique.
Cupcakes are also always served with a frosting. This can be a buttercream frosting, a meringue-based frosting, and virtually any other type of topping you’d like.
The frosting is usually added to help give the cupcakes moisture. Generally, cupcakes shouldn’t be dry, but their cake-like texture alone can be quite bland. This is also why a flavorful topping is extremely important.
Now, if you look at exactly how long cupcakes last, it is pretty safe to say not that long by just looking at the ingredients. Cupcakes generally contain highly perishable ingredients like eggs or milk.
And, the frosting is often extremely high in dairy. So, both main elements won’t last that long, regardless of how you store them.s
How Long Are Cupcakes Good For?
This question depends on a ton of different factors. Some of them that will greatly affect the shelf life of the cupcakes are what ingredients were used to make them, whether or not they have a filling or frosting, and most of all, where they are being kept.
Now, cupcakes don’t necessarily expire very soon, but they do lose their freshness within a couple of days. Again, depending on where you are storing them, they can become stale within a day, three at most.
But, if you use the correct storage techniques, you can extend this shelf-life quite considerably.
Only after a week or two, maybe even three, will your cupcakes start developing mold or showing drastic signs of decline.
So, there are a couple of ways you can store your cupcakes that will suit your needs. Obviously, if you are planning on using them relatively quickly after they have been baked, then you will probably store them at room temperature.
But, if you only need them in a couple of days, you may want to consider storing them in the fridge. We know the fridge tends to dry out baked goods, especially those with cake-like textures.
But, that is why following our steps is essential. Our method doesn’t allow the fridge to dry out those ingredients as quickly and will keep them fresher for longer.
And finally, you can also store your freshly baked cupcakes in the freezer for several months. A freezer does alter the taste and texture of anything being frozen. For this reason, you have to always take extra precautions when using this method.
Nevertheless, it is a fantastic way to prep some delicious cupcakes in advance and always have a delicious sweet treat on hand.
Tips For Storing Cupcakes
Below we have listed some essential tips that you can apply when storing cupcakes. Some of these tips should always be followed, regardless of which storage method you choose.
- Properly Cool The Cupcakes
When storing cupcakes, regardless of the method that you end up choosing, it is crucial that you allow the cupcakes to cool completely at room temperature before you store them.
If they aren’t cooled, once stored, they can start sweating, become malformed, and even worse, be a potential breeding ground for bacteria and mold.
To cool cupcakes after they have been baked, simply remove them from the oven and place them on a wire rack. Leave them inside of the cupcake pan to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Then, remove them from the pan and allow them to further cool down for another hour.
- Don’t Add The Topping Too Soon
Regardless of which frosting or toppings you choose for your cupcakes, they don’t last very well.
For example, a chocolate ganache-based frosting will harden and can even become rock solid. A buttercream frosting will dry out and lose its creaminess.
So, if you know you won’t be serving the cupcakes within a day or two, rather keep the frosting and toppings aside or make them a couple of hours before serving the cupcakes.
- Add Any Filling Last-Minute
Sometimes bakers love adding a filling to the center of the cupcake. This is a nice way to add moisture and additional flavor. Not to mention how fun it is to see people’s reactions when they first bite into it!
These fillings are usually soft like jams, custards, or flavored creams. So, when a cupcake is standing for too long, the filling will start making the cake mushy and even discolor it.
To prevent this completely, you can prep the centers so long (make the hole where the filling will go) and even make the filling. Then, a couple of hours before serving the cupcakes, add your filling and finish decorating the cupcakes with frostings.
If you have assembled the cupcake with a filling already, it will only stay good for a day or two.
- Store the Cupcakes Away From Any Odors
This is arguably the most important tip to apply with every storage technique – even beyond just storing cupcakes.
Whether you are placing the cupcakes at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer, always store them away from pungent ingredients.
Cupcakes have very soft and porous textures which will easily absorb the odors around them.
So, if you store your onions right next to a bunch of onions, then the cupcake will start tasting like onions too. So, for this reason, we always store cupcakes in airtight containers.
How To Store Cupcakes At Room Temperature
When storing cupcakes at room temperature, you have to take the external elements into consideration the most.
What this means is that you have to think about how the light, drafts, and surrounding ingredients (and the odors they give off specifically) will affect the cupcakes.
First, place the cupcakes into an airtight container. Make sure the container is high enough so that your decorated cupcakes won’t squish. Do not stack cupcakes, as this will ruin their shape.
Once placed inside of the container, make sure to put it somewhere away from direct light, heat sources, and odorous ingredients. A cool dark place works best, like a pantry.
When To Use This Method
This storing method for cupcakes works the best when you plan on using the cupcakes within (at most) 4 days.
We also don’t recommend storing cupcakes at room temperature during the summer as the heat is simply too high for them to keep well.
When applying this method, you can store either undecorated or decorated cupcakes. You can also add the filling so long if you have one. Again, just make sure to store the cupcakes away from light and heat. Use them as soon as you can.
How To Store Cupcakes In The Fridge
Storing cupcakes in the fridge is just as easy as storing them at room temperature. But, this method has its benefits and downfalls when stacked against room-temperature storage.
A fridge will help slow bacterial growth and ultimately spoilage of your cupcakes, its filling, and the frosting. This is because the temperature inside of a fridge is just on the low side of the temperature danger zone.
Within this temperature range, bacteria thrive, multiply and grow quickly. This causes food to spoil.
However, if the temperature is on the lower end of this range, the bacteria’s growth will slow down significantly and keep your cupcakes fresher for longer.
Now, the downside is that fridges tend to dry out ingredients by removing the moisture If you properly store your cupcakes, this will also not be as big of an issue.
So, to store cupcakes in the fridge, again, place them inside of an airtight container with or without the filling and frosting.
When To Use This Method
This method is definitely also a short-term storage method. But what makes it better than the room temperature one is that it will keep longer even if it does go stale.
But, this will only start to happen after about 3-4 days. After that, they should still be completely safe and fine to eat for another 2 days.
This is also a great method to use during hot summer days. The filling and perishable frosting won’t go off as quickly or even melt.
And finally, this is the best method to use if you have included highly perishable ingredients in the frosting or filling. This can include anything like berries, fresh fruit, or herbs.
How To Freeze Cupcakes
We love freezing cupcakes. It can save you a ton of baking time during those crazy busy weeks. But, it also just makes a delicious treat.
Now, there are a lot more factors to consider for freezing cupcakes. This is because freezing generally changes the consistency, texture, and flavor of the food item being frozen.
So, to counter this (because you obviously don’t want mushy freezer-burnt cupcakes) you can follow our guideline below.
First, place all of the cupcakes in an airtight container. Then, wrap the entire container in some foil. The foil will help protect the cupcakes inside from freezer burn.
Finally, add a label to the container that includes what the item is when it was made, and the estimated expiry date (or use-by date).
Cupcakes will keep well frozen for about a month. But, they can keep well-enough for up to 4 months. Remember, the longer something stays frozen, the more it will lose its structural integrity.
Can You Freeze Cupcakes Individually?
You can definitely freeze cupcakes individually, it just takes a bit more work. However, it is definitely worth it!
First, wrap each cupcake in some plastic or saran wrap. Make sure that the cupcakes haven’t been wrapped too tightly that they warp. Then, cover them with a layer of foil to protect the cupcake from freezer burn.
Place all of the individually wrapped cupcakes into an airtight container and label it. The label should include what the items are when they were baked, and what the estimated expiry date is (maximum 4 months after the date they were made).
How To Freeze Cupcakes With Frosting
Sometimes you’ve already added frosting to these cupcakes and can see that you won’t be able to finish the batch in time. Luckily, it is possible to freeze frosted cupcakes.
Simply place the cupcakes inside of an airtight container. Make sure that the container is high enough to avoid the top of the frosting smashing. Then, freeze the cupcakes without the lid for a couple of hours.
After about 4 hours, place the lid onto the container and wrap it with foil. Then, keep it inside of the freeze for up to 4 months!
How To Thaw Cupcakes Correctly
To thaw unfrosted cupcakes, you can basically use 3 different methods. The first is to defrost the cupcakes at room temperature for a couple of hours.
Alternatively, you can slowly defrost it inside of the fridge, where it won’t become as mushy. Always use the fridge method during the summer.
And, if you want a much quicker thawing option for unfrosted cupcakes, simply place them inside of the microwave on the defrost setting. You can also place them in the oven at a low temperature.
Once your cupcakes have been thawed, you can continue adding a filling to them and their frosting.
Now, if you are thawing frosted cupcakes, the fridge is your best option. It will slowly thaw them without drastically changing the texture of the frosted cupcakes. So, for example, your frosting won’t necessarily slide off, etc.
You can also thaw frosted cupcakes at room temperature for quicker results. But, never use a microwave or oven. They are far too hot and will melt your frosting.
How To Tell If Your Cupcakes Have Expired
As we have mentioned before, cupcakes don’t really expire, but they do go stale very quickly (which some people consider expired). Cupcakes will dry out and lose their flavor if exposed to oxygen, heat sources, and direct sunlight.
When the cupcake (or its frosting) becomes dry, it is still fine to eat but they won’t be as appetizing. On the other side of that, when cupcakes are also extremely moist, they aren’t very appealing.
This happens when cupcakes were stored in a high humidity area or they sweated inside of the container due to direct sunlight or heat. Again, they aren’t expired, they are just not as appetizing.
So, when cupcakes actually expire, they start growing mold. This is often the first sign and there aren’t necessarily sour or rancid odors. When mold grows on any food, the item should be safely discarded.
Furthermore, if any physical characteristics start changing, the cupcake is expiring. This can include changing color, drastically changing texture, and of course, tasting differently.
Does freezing make your cupcakes moister?
Freezing doesn’t make your cupcakes moister. And, contrary to popular belief, it actually dries them out. This is because the water droplets completely freeze.
So, when they are defrosted, ALL of the water is pushed from the cakes’ texture, leaving it drier than it used to be.
This is also why we highly recommend thawing cupcakes slowly; to help prevent too much moisture loss.
Can you use this guideline for cakes and other baked goods?
You can use this guideline for any other baked item that has a very similar texture and other characteristics. This includes most types of cakes, like genoise, sponge cake, or pound cake.