How long does cake last? Learn what cake shelf life is at room temperature and in the fridge or freezer. Frosting, filling, and cake type impacts freshness. Find out how.
Nothing is better than a slice of delicious homemade cake. What is even better is leftovers!
If you are lucky enough to have leftover cake, you may wonder how long does cake last? Generally, an unfrosted cake will last up to 5 days at room temperature. A frosted cake usually lasts up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Most cakes can last up to 6 months in the freezer.
However, a variety of factors influence the shelf life of a cake. A cake’s most perishable ingredients and storage conditions have the most significant impact. Frostings, fillings, and even the weather contribute to the freshness of your cake leftovers.
One more thing. Store-bought cakes often stay fresh longer than homemade cakes. Before the cake gets stale, make easy dessert skewers with fruit and cake cubes.
If you make a lot of cakes from mix, you may be interested in this post on how long cake mix lasts. I share lots of tips on how to correctly store it to keep it fresh longer.
How Long Do Different Kinds of Cake Last
The table is based on each cake being correctly covered and stored.
Most Unfrosted Cakes
Most Frosted Cakes
Angel Food Cake
4-5 days (frosted)
What Affects the Shelf Life of Cake?
A cake’s life span is only as long as its most perishable ingredients. Fruit and dairy frostings shorten a cake’s life.
Appropriate storage conditions are the key to keeping a cake fresh for several days. Here are important things to be aware of.
Kitchen temperature makes a difference in a cake’s longevity. If your kitchen is on the warm side, your cake will not stay as fresh for long. And you will have to keep an eye out for food safety warning signs.
Harmful bacteria love warm conditions, as does mold. You don’t want to get food poisoning from a bad cake. So, if it is warm weather, you live in the desert, or your kitchen is hot, the cake may only last two or three days.
To extend the cake’s life, keep it in the fridge.
During months with cooler temperatures, expect your cake to last up to 5 days at room temperature when thoroughly wrapped.
Frosted vs. Unfrosted Cakes
A frosted cake stays moist and fresh longer than an unfrosted one. Ganache, frosting, and icing all act as a barrier to the air. Air will dry out a plain cake.
Frosted cakes keep moisture in, extending the dessert’s shelf life.
Depending on the ingredients in the icing, some adequately covered frosted cakes can be stored at room temperature. Be aware of perishable ingredients in the frosting. Frostings or fillings with dairy products should always be refrigerated.
Sour cream, buttercream frosting, or cream cheese icing always require refrigeration.
Fillings also affect how long a cake lasts. Fruit filling, whipped cream, or other dairy-based fillings shorten a cake’s life span.
All cakes with these fillings must be refrigerated. And if the filling is ice cream, keep the cake in the freezer.
A fresh fruit filling can be particularly short-lived. The fruit may start to get mushy, runny, or sour before the cake itself begins to stale. However, a cooked fruit filling can last longer because the sugar in it acts as a preservative.
You may also be interested in learning about cooling cakes. Check out this epic post on how long it takes for cake to cool. You will love the tips on speeding things up.
How to Store an Unfrosted Cake
Follow these easy steps for the best way to extend the storage life of an unfrosted layer cake.
- Cool the cake completely. Before storing the cake, it must be at cool room temperature (70°F or 21°C). Otherwise, you risk excess moisture accumulating on it during storage. This can lead to sogginess and eventually mold.
- Fully cover the cake in a layer of plastic wrap. Don’t let even a little bit be exposed. You may have to double wrap it.
If you bake a cake at night with plans to decorate it the next day, you may be tempted to just cover it with an overturned bowl for the night. Trust me, I’ve done it.
The problem with this is that the cake can get a dry texture pretty quickly. So, take it a step further by following the rest of the tips.
- Place the plastic-wrapped cake in an airtight cake keeper. Or grab a good old-fashioned cake tin like my mom does. You can also use a sealed plastic zip-top bag, cake box, or another airtight container. Store the wrapped layers side by side if you have more than one layer.
- Store the cake in a cool, dry place. This could be your kitchen counter if you have a cool kitchen.
- Freeze it. If it will take you longer than a day or two before decorating the cake, it is a good idea to freeze it. A frozen cake preserves moisture and freshness.
Thaw it the night before you decorate it.
How to Revive a Dry Cake
If you left your cake to cool overnight and it is dry in the morning, you may be able to salvage it.
A great way to soften the cake is to put it in a cake saver for 30 to 60 minutes. You will find the moisture returns, and you have the best quality cake to decorate.
This does not work for old cake. Only fresh ones left out overnight to cool.
How to Store a Frosted Cake
After frosting a cake, you may not be ready to serve it. To keep a frosted cake fresh, follow the simple steps for either room temperature or refrigerator storage.
Store at Room Temperature
If your cake is covered with fondant or a non-dairy frosting, it can be left at room temperature for up to 2 days. Here are some tips.
- Fondant Covered Cake. Fondant acts as a moisture barrier for the cake. You may not need to cover the cake with plastic wrap. However, it should still be placed in a cake cover and kept in a cool place.
- Cake Covered with Nondairy Frosting. Shortening-based frosting, royal icing, or ganache topping are safe to store at room temperature.
However, some non-dairy frostings may not harden without being chilled. In this case, don’t wrap it with plastic wrap because the frosting will stick to the wrap. Instead, use a cake keeper.
Store in the Refrigerator
Sometimes, the refrigerator is the best place to keep an iced and decorated cake. Here are the best steps to preserve an uncut frosted cake.
- After frosting the cake, pop it uncovered into the fridge for half an hour to harden the icing.
- Then carefully cover it in a layer of plastic wrap before placing it in an airtight container.
- Place the container in the refrigerator on the top shelf for best results. The lower shelves are the coldest, and not all cake ingredients do well in very cold areas.
- Remove the refrigerated cake 30 minutes before serving it.
How to Store Leftover Birthday Cakes
If you are lucky enough to have some slices left over from your birthday cake, protect them so you can enjoy them the next day.
Since the cake is cut, be aware of the exposed edges, which will dry out more quickly. Especially in the fridge.
Once a cake is sliced and exposed to air, it will start drying out. Cover the slices with a piece of plastic wrap. Or frost the sliced edges if you have any extra frosting left over.
Another reason for covering your cake before saving it in the fridge is to prevent it from picking up fridge odors. Sliced onions, I’m talking to you.
A sliced/cut cake can safely be stored for up to 4 days either at room temperature or in the fridge.
But if you think you won't eat it within that time frame, crumble the cake into crumbs and freeze. Then you can make leftover birthday cake Rice Krispies treats with mini marshmallows and jimmies. Drizzle with white chocolate for some pizazz.
How long do Different Kinds of Cake Last?
An unfrosted whole cake usually stays fresh for up to 5 days when kept at average room temperature. After that, it starts drying out as it loses moisture.
Cakes with a layer of frosting or fondant will last longer than a plain sponge cake. The frosting or fondant creates a protective barrier around the cake, keeping the moisture safely inside. Unless you live in a hot and humid environment, cakes are best stored at room temperature, with a few exceptions.
When Should You Freeze a Cake?
If you want to save cake for a longer period, freezing is your best option. Cakes freeze well for at least 6 months or longer.
The biggest concern with freezing cake is freezer burn. Freezer burn happens when food has been improperly wrapped before being frozen. Dehydration and oxidation occur during freezing, discoloring the food. The cake will be dry and lack flavor.
Freezer-burned cake is still safe to eat but not as flavorful. Prevent freezer burn by proper cake storage.
How to Freeze Unfrosted Cake
Freeze a whole unfrosted cake for later decorating.
- Cool the cake in the pan for approximately 10 minutes. Then invert it onto a cooling rack to completely cool down.
Warm cakes will let off moisture if put in the freezer straight away, often leading to freezer burn. Give your cake enough time to cool completely.
- Double wrap the cake in plastic wrap. For extra protection, wrap with multiple layers of plastic wrap. Finishing it with a layer of aluminum foil gives it even more protection.
- For best long-term storage, place the wrapped cake in a freezer zip-top bag or an airtight container.
- Freeze for 6 months or longer.
How to Freeze a Whole Frosted Cake
Sometimes you may need to freeze a whole frosted cake. Some newlyweds like to eat the top tier of their wedding cake on their first anniversary.
Freezing tips for success.
- Place the frosted cake uncovered in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden the frosting. Keep it on a flat surface.
- When the frosting and decoration are secure, remove the cake from the freezer. Wrap it with several layers of saran wrap. Follow up with an extra layer of aluminum foil.
- Place the wrapped cake in an airtight freezer container on a flat surface with enough room to prevent it from being smashed.
How to Freeze Cake Slices
Freezing is a great way to extend the expiration date of cut cake slices. The freezing method is similar to a whole frosted cake.
- Optional: Spread leftover frosting on the exposed area of the cake slice.
- Place the uncovered cake slice in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden the frosting.
- Wrap the cake thoroughly with plastic wrap plus a layer of aluminum foil for extra protection if you want. Then place it in an airtight container or freezer bag.
- Return the cake to the freezer. Ensure there is plenty of space to prevent it from getting squashed.
How to Defrost Frozen Cake
Leave your cake in the packaging when defrosting. Defrosting will lead to some condensation. If you leave it wrapped, the condensation will only occur outside the packaging and not on your cakes.
- To defrost an unfrosted cake, pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter. Keep it wrapped as it dethaws.
- To defrost a frosted cake, place it in the fridge to thaw. Keep it wrapped. Thirty minutes before serving, remove the cake from the refrigerator. Remove the plastic wrap and let it warm to room temperature before serving.
Does the Type of Cake Make a Difference in Shelf Life?
The ingredients in different types of cakes factor into their shelf life. Cakes that dry out when refrigerated have a shorter shelf life.
Pro Tip: All refrigerated cakes taste best when brought to room temperature before eating. Take your cake out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving.
How Long Do Different Cake Flavors Last
The table is based on each cake being correctly covered and stored.
7 days (unfrosted)
5 days (frosted)
Red Velvet Cake
Sponge Cake, Pound Cake, Angel Food Cake, and Fruit Cake
Avoid refrigerating sponge, pound, angel food, and fruit cake. These types of cake will dry out far more quickly in the fridge than at room temperature storage.
Fortunately, these kinds of cake are often not frosted. Instead, they can be served with a topping. Storing the topping in the fridge and the cake at room temperature will not interfere with shelf life.
These uncut cakes will generally last up to 5 days when stored at room temperature. A general rule is the more fat and sugar the cake has, the longer it will last.
However, if one of these cakes has a fruit or dairy filling or frosting, they must be refrigerated to stay fresh. This will reduce the cake’s shelf life to 2 to 3 days.
When adequately wrapped, these cakes last between 4 to 6 months in the freezer.
If chocolate is your favorite kind of cake, you will be happy to know that most chocolate cakes stay fresh and full of flavor for a long time. If correctly stored (covered and kept in a cool, dry place), rely on the following timelines.
- Unfrosted chocolate cake lasts up to 7 days at room temperature.
- Frosted chocolate cake with no dairy or perishable fillings or frostings lasts up to 7 days at room temperature.
- Chocolate cake iced or filled with dairy frosting or fruit filling lasts up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
- Any chocolate cake can safely be frozen for 4 to 6 months or longer.
Carrot cake keeps well when refrigerated. It is often covered with cream cheese frosting, so it must be refrigerated.
- Frosted carrot cake usually keeps for about a week in the fridge.
- Freeze carrot cake for approximately 3 months or longer.
Pro Tip: Freeze the cream cheese frosting and cake separately for longer storage.
A naked cake is one with either a thin crumb-coat layer of frosting or no frosting at all. The lack of frosting means a lack of protection from the air. Your dessert will dry out faster. Be sure to keep it in an airtight container to minimize dryness.
- A naked cake lasts two to three days at room temperature.
- Freeze it for 6 months or longer.
A layered cake can be any type of frosted cake with a filling. The fridge is often the best place to store it, especially with perishable frostings and fillings.
- A layered cake stays fresh in the fridge for around 5 days.
- Freeze a layered cake for 6 months or longer.
Pro Tip: Wrap at least two layers of tin foil around the cake to provide extra stability before freezing.
A sheet cake is a 2- to 3-inch-tall cake baked in a sheet pan. These cakes are often rectangular and usually frosted.
In my experience, a sheet cake does not usually last as long as other cakes. It can be difficult to properly cover the cake before storing it, which can cause it to dry out faster.
Many home bakers serve the cake from the pan. The leftovers also remain in the pan.
Covering the whole pan with plastic wrap can be difficult. And since most sheet pans cannot fit in an airtight container, you may be left with a cake exposed to air.
The frosting can help keep it fresh, though.
- A sheet cake stays fresh for 2 to 3 days in the fridge.
- Sheet cakes can be frozen for 4 to 6 months. You may find more success by transferring the cake from the pan into an airtight freezer container.
A Bundt cake is any cake baked in a Bundt pan. Bundt pans give the cake it’s a decorative shape. Bundt pans and cakes have holes in the center, like a donut.
Sometimes the only decoration is a dusting of powdered sugar or a sugar glaze. This means that many Bundts can be kept at room temperature with no problem.
However, if your Bundt cake has a cream cheese icing, you must keep it in the fridge.
- A Bundt cake with nonperishable decoration stays fresh for up to 5 days at room temperature when securely wrapped.
- A Bundt cake with cream cheese frosting will last up to 4 or 5 days in the refrigerator if correctly covered.
- Bundt cake lasts up to 6 months when frozen.
Check out this easy chocolate chip Bundt cake recipe from cake mix.
Coconut cakes are made with a white or yellow cake. The cake is filled and iced with cream cheese frosting or American buttercream. Then it is generously sprinkled with shredded coconut.
- Coconut cake stays fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge.
- Coconut cakes freeze well for 3 to 4 months.
Red Velvet Cake
Red velvet cake is a vanilla cake with a few tablespoons of cocoa powder and often red food coloring. It is mainly frosted with cream cheese icing.
- Red velvet cake will keep fresh for 3 to 5 days in the fridge when stored correctly. Generally, the whole surface of the cake is covered in cream cheese frosting, extending the freshness for a couple of days.
- Freeze red velvet cake for up to 6 months.
Does the Type of Frosting or Filling Make a Difference in Cake Shelf Life?
Frostings and fillings can impact the shelf life of a cake. Fillings and frostings with perishable ingredients shorten the shelf life of the dessert. And some are not meant for the freezer.
Here are some frosting and filling tips to keep in mind.
- Cakes with a meringue-type buttercream or cream-based icing don’t freeze very well. It is better to freeze the unfrosted cake layer and ice it once defrosted.
- Cakes with colored frosting or fondant can be tricky. The colors may bleed when they go from cold refrigerator to room temperature. If you plan to decorate with colored icing or fondant, use frosting and filling ingredients that can be kept at room temperature.
- The life of your cake decorated with buttercream, fondant, and ganache frosting is 3 to 4 days.
- Cakes with custard, whipped cream, or fresh fruit last up to 2 days in the fridge.
- Perishable fillings don’t have a long shelf life. Expect up to 2 days before taste and texture start to go off.
- The texture of cream cheese can change when frozen and then thawed. Some home bakers are not bothered by the change, and some are. If you fear the frosting becoming runny, don’t freeze.
- Ganache made with cream will freeze. But if it is made with water or another liquid, it will not freeze well. This is because water expands when frozen and will cause pockets of air which can change the appearance and taste of the ganache.
Yes, vegan ganache can be made with water or other liquid.
If a cake filling or frosting has dairy, fruit, or other perishable ingredients, it should be refrigerated after two hours. You can extend that time a bit longer if perishable items have a lot of sugar because sugar acts as a preservative.
Cake without a perishable frosting or filling that is properly covered can last 5 to 7 days at room temperature in ideal conditions.
Homemade cake has a shorter shelf life than store-bought cake. Under ideal conditions, a homemade cake can last 4 to 5 days if correctly wrapped and stored.
A cake may still be safe to eat after 7 days. However, it will probably be dry and somewhat stale. If the frosting or filling had dairy or fruit, it may not be good after a week.
If you don't finish a cake within a few days, consider freezing it to preserve it for eating later.
Almost every cake is still good to eat after two days as long as it was correctly stored.
Cake batter was meant to be baked right away. But if you can't, refrigerate it for 24 hours for homemade batter and 48 hours for cake mix batter. See my post on how long cake batter lasts for more tips and tricks.
How to Tell if Your Cake Has Gone Bad
The main issue around cake going ‘off’ is the freshness. Once your cake has lost its moisture, the texture changes and becomes dry. You won't get food poisoning from a stale cake, though.
Keep an eye out for any signs of mold growth. This can happen if a cake is stored in hot or humid conditions for more than a day or two.
Aside from mold, cakes with fruit fillings or those using fresh dairy ingredients are known to go off far more quickly than traditional frosting.
Rely on your sense of smell and the cake’s general appearance. You will probably be able to see at first glance if you should try a little taster.
Now you know all there is to know about how long a cake lasts. You will be able to enjoy those leftovers for days. (Says the person who is busy tucking into that last slice!!)