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How Long Does It Take for Cake to Cool? How to Speed It Up (2022)

How long does it cake for a cake to cool? That depends on the type of cake, its size, and more. Learn everything you need to know about cooling homemade cake. Plus, get tips to cool it faster.

I’ll never forget the day I sat in my friend’s kitchen while she made an afterschool snack for her kids.

She baked a cake in a 9 X 13-inch pan and pulled it out of the oven minutes before the bus roared up to the bus stop. Glancing at the clock, she pulled out the canned frosting and attempted to ice the warm cake.

“Ow, ow, ow,” she winced as she tried to frost the still hot cake.

Not only did she burn her fingers, but the frosting did not spread. Instead, her efforts resulted in a torn cake with clumps of frosting all over the place.

Of course, her kids did not care what the cake looked like. They scarfed it down because they were ravenous after a long day at school.

Sometimes how a cake looks doesn’t matter. But sometimes it does.

If you want to frost your cake or put it in a cake keeper overnight, it must be cool. Room temperature cool.

How long does it take for a cake to cool? It takes a 2- to 3-inch-thick cake between 2 and 3 hours to cool down to room temperature when left to cool on a cooling rack on your countertop. Thicker cakes will take longer to cool. And dense cakes take longer to cool than light cakes.

Cake cooling on a wire rack with the empty cake pan.

The thickness, type of cake, kitchen temperature, and whether the cake cools in or out of the pan affect how long it takes a cake to cool.

Let’s dig into the specifics. And don’t worry. If you are in a hurry to cool the cake, you will get some nifty tricks to speed up the process.

You may also be interested in learning how long cake lasts. Read all about how to store cake to keep it fresh longer.

What is Room Temperature for a Cake?

There is some debate about what is considered ambient room temperature and what is considered room temperature for food. The average temperature of a room is generally around 68°F (20°C). However, room temperature for food is thought to be around 70°F (21°C).

If you want to be precise, your cake should not be warmer than 68 to 70°F (20 to 21°C) before icing it.

However, you can safely cut your cake after it has cooled down for about 20 minutes. But there are plenty of reasons to keep cooling a cake until it reaches room temperature.

  • It can be frosted without making a crumbly, melted mess.
  • It can be stored in an airtight container without heat condensation making the cake soggy.

What Affects How Long it Takes for a Cake to Cool on the Counter?

A standard-sized cake (8-inch round, 2-inch thick) usually takes 2 to 3 hours to cool down when left on your countertop. If you plan to frost the cake, err on the side of cooling the cake longer.

Several things affect how long it takes a cake to cool on the counter.

Cake Size

Large cake next to a small cake with words "which cake will cool faster?"
Larger cakes take longer to cool than smaller cakes.

The size of the cake will affect the cooling time. Which makes sense. The thicker the cake, the longer the cooling time.

Cakes baked in sheet pans (like Texas sheet cake) cool quicker than cakes baked in loaf pans (like pound cake). Small cakes take less time to cool than larger cakes.

But before you get excited, the difference is not huge. Here are the cooling timelines based on my experience:

  • 1-inch cakes can take less than 2 hours.
  • 2-inch and 3-inch cakes will be closer to the 2-hour mark when it comes to cooling down.
  • 4-inch-deep cakes will probably take closer to 3 hours.
  • Over 4-inches deep, plan at least 4 hours.

Cake depth is the easiest way to evaluate size. However, the width plays a role too. Think about how much quicker cupcakes cool than a 10-inch round cake.

The Environment Outside and Inside Your Kitchen

Cool kitchen with window looking at snow covered trees.
Cakes in cold weather cool quicker than cakes in hot weather.

Where you live makes a difference. It will take your cake a long time to cool down if you live in a warmer or humid environment. Summer in Arizona … don’t get me started.

Warmer weather increases cooling time. As a general rule, add an extra hour to your timeline so the cake is completely cool.

A cake takes less time to cool down if you live in a colder environment or it’s the cool season. Minnesota in the winter … the cake could be cool before you know it.

Similarly, your kitchen temperature plays a role in how quickly cakes cool.

Room temperature can feel a bit different for each of us. And let’s be honest. Most of us don’t have a handy thermometer on the wall. But people do notice when their kitchen runs on the warmer side.

There may also be hot spots in the kitchen, such as near the oven or by a window getting direct afternoon sun. The best thing you can do to speed up (or at least not slow down) the cooling process is to find a cool place to set the cake.

A counter near the oven may not be the best place to cool the cake. Perhaps the kitchen table works better.

Is the Cake Cooling Inside or Outside the Baking Pan?

Cake in pan cooling and cake out of pan cooling.
Cakes kept in their pan take longer to cool than cakes removed from their pan.

Cakes cooled on a wire rack come to room temperature much quicker than cakes left in their pans.

According to my mom, you’re crazy if you don’t use a cooling cake rack. Be prepared to add an extra half an hour, at least, to the cooling time.

The bottom of the pan and the pan sides are hot. Keeping a hot cake in a hot pan maintains the heat of the cake. Remove the pan, and some of the heat leaves too.

But more importantly, if you don’t use a cooling rack, the bottom of the cake can get soggy from the condensation.

How to Cool a Cake on a Cooling Rack (the right way)

Correctly cooling a cake starts before you even put the cake batter into the cake tin. It starts with prepping your pan so the baked cake is easy to remove.

Prep the Pan

A container of Baker's Joy baking spray next to a bottle of Pam Baking spray made with flour.
Choose a nonstick baking spray that has flour in it.

Prep the pan in one of three ways:

  • Spray it with nonstick baking spray (containing flour)
  • Grease and flour the pan
  • Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper

Parchment paper is one of the easiest ways to prevent a cake from sticking to the pan. Use precut parchment paper. Buy it here. (Affiliate link)

But you should still spray the parchment sheet and the sides of the pan.

You can’t use parchment paper in some cake pans, like Bundt pans. With these type of pans, thoroughly greasing the edges of the pan becomes even more critical.

For best results, use a pastry brush after spraying to get every nook and crevice. Otherwise, your cake may stick.

Keep the Cake in the Pan for a Few Minutes

How long should you cool a cake before removing it from the pan? After taking a hot cake from the oven, cool the cake in the pan for 10 to 20 minutes so it can set. Then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to finish cooling it.

If you try to remove the cake earlier, it can easily break. Goodbye, perfect cake.

Pro Tip:

  • Keep the cake pan on a cooling rack for those 10 to 20 minutes. This helps the cake and pan cool quicker.

Cool the Cake on a Wire Rack

Showing how to flip a cake out of the pan with a cooling rack. Place the cooling rack on top of the cake pan and then flip the pan and cake over at the same time. Then remove the pan from the cake.
Flipping the wire rack and pan together is easier than trying to dump the cake out of the pan.

If you are concerned about your cake sticking to the pan, run a butter knife around the sides of the baked cake. Then:

  • Place the cooling rack on top of the cake pan.
  • Hold onto the cooling rack and cake pan and turn the pan upside down. Pull the cake pan off the cake.
  • Cool the cake on the wire rack on a flat surface. A cooling rack helps a cake to cool down quickly and evenly because air can circulate around the whole cake.

When the cake is at room temperature, approximately 70°F (21°C), you can frost it. Or, if you prefer to decorate it later, store it following these guidelines:

  • Wrap the cold cake thoroughly in plastic wrap. Double wrapping it is preferable.
  • Place the wrapped cake in an airtight container. Do not stack the cake layers, if possible.
  • Store the cake at room temperature. It will stay fresh for a couple of days.

Wondering how long cake batter lasts? It may lasts longer than you think, especially if you freeze it.

How to Speed Up the Cooling Process

Are you in a hurry? Do you want to speed up the cooling process? Here are a few hacks to help.

Cool the Cake in the Refrigerator

Popping your freshly baked cake into the fridge will help it cool down faster. How much faster? A cake can cool in about an hour in the refrigerator. The time depends on cake size, of course. Small shallow cakes cool in a short time compared to large or thick cakes.

If it is faster to cool it in the fridge, why do I recommend cooling cakes on the counter?

One reason. The refrigerator can dry a cake out. Particularly an unfrosted cake. And especially a cake not in a cake box or other airtight container. Which is just how a freshly baked cake would be cooled in the fridge.

  • A cake straight out of the oven is not frosted.
  • You can’t place a hot cake in a covered plastic container, or it can get soggy.

Many bakers recommend that you never store cakes in the fridge. But this is cooling, not storing. And you are in a hurry.

Here’s the best way to cool cakes in the fridge:

  • Remove the cake from the oven and cool the pan on the wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes. Don’t skip this step if you want your cake to hold its shape and come out of the pan easily.
  • Transfer the cake from the pan to the wire rack.
  • Place the wire rack in the fridge. You can line the refrigerator shelf with greaseproof paper or place the cooling rack on a sheet pan first.
  • Cool for an hour or until the cake is room temperature.

Tasty Tip: To reverse any cake drying, it is a good idea to brush the cool cake with a simple sugar syrup. Just a little bit of syrup can return moisture to the cake. Follow up with a thin layer of icing to secure the cake crumbs. Then continue the frosting process.

Wondering what to do with leftover cake? Try making bread pudding. Get the recipe for leftover cake bread pudding. Transform scraps into an entirely unique dessert.

Cool the Cake in the Freezer

Yes, my impatient friend, cakes can be cooled down the fastest in the freezer. The best part is that the freezer doesn’t dry out an uncovered cake as much as the fridge does. As long as it isn’t kept in there uncovered for too long.

How long does it take for a cake to cool in the freezer? A cake can cool to room temperature in about 30 minutes in the freezer.

The best way to cool a cake is slowwwwly at room temperature. The refrigerator can dry out the cake. And both the fridge and freezer can change the cake’s texture.

However, if the birthday party guests are about to arrive, throw the cake into the freezer to cool it quickly. Here is the best way:

  • Remove the cake from the oven and cool the pan on the wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes. Sorry, but you still can’t skip this step if you want the cake to hold its shape.
  • Transfer the cake from the pan to the wire rack. Then place the wire rack on a tray or plate to keep it stable in the freezer.
  • Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  • Check to make sure the whole cake is cool, rather than just the top of the cake. Frost normally.

Pro Tip #1:

Sometimes the outside of the cake feels cool to the touch but is still warm on the inside. Some people use the toothpick test, but a long thin knife is much more effective.

Simply insert the knife into the middle of your cake and leave it for a few seconds. Remove it and feel the blade. If it’s warm, you will need to let your cake cool down for a bit longer.

Pro Tip #2:

Your cake will not get freezer burn if you just use the freezer for cooling. However, if you plan to freeze the cake for days, weeks, or months, the cake must be completely cool before you freeze it.

What Happens if You Cover a Warm Cake?

Kitchen towel partially covering a cooling cake.
Loosely cover a cake that is cooling overnight.

Ok, you’ve been here, right? It is late at night when your cake comes out of the oven. You simply can’t wait hours for it to cool before you go to bed.

So, what should you do to keep it from drying out overnight?

What happens if you cover a warm cake? If you completely cover a warm cake with plastic wrap, it will get soggy. If you cover a warm cake in an airtight container, it will also get soggy.

However, you can drape a clean cloth over a warm cake. Draping a clean kitchen towel over a warm cake allows it to cool without drying out. Plus, there is enough air circulation to prevent condensation and sogginess.

How to Fix a Dry Cake That Cooled Overnight

Some people prefer leaving their cake out overnight to cool to ensure that it’s ready for frosting.

I have left a cake to cool on the counter overnight more times than I can count. It is cool in the morning but also a bit dry. Especially the edges.

Here is what I do.

  • Wrap the cake in a couple of layers of plastic wrap.
  • Place the wrapped cake in an airtight container.
  • Leave it for a couple of hours.

Often, the cake has returned to the soft state I hoped for. To moisten it further, brush it with a simple sugar syrup before frosting it.

Got an old box of cake mix in your cupboard? Find out if it is still safe to use in the post on how long cake mix lasts. Longer than you think, says the USDA.

Do Different Kinds of Cake Have Different Cooling Times?

Does the type of cake make a difference in how quickly it cools? The variety of cake affects the cooling time. A light sponge cake will cool a lot faster than a denser fruit cake. Let’s look at the average cooling times for a few popular cakes.

CAKE TYPE

COOLING TIME

Sponge cake

2 to 2½ hours

Bundt cake

3 to 3½ hours

Angel food cake

2½ to 3 hours

Loaf cake

3 to 3½ hours

Chiffon cake

2 to 2½ hours

Cake roll

1 to 1½ hours

Pound cake

3 to 4 hours

Fruitcake

3 to 4 hours

Cheesecake

3 to 3½ hours

Chocolate cake

2½ to 3 hours

Carrot cake

2½ to 3 hours

Cake for cake pops

2 to 2½ hours

9 X 13-inch cake

2½ to 3½ hours

8-inch round cake

2½ to 3 hours

9-inch round cake

2½ to 3 hours

How Long Does It Take Chocolate Cake to Cool?

Chocolate cake may be your favorite cake. It’s mine. And freshly baked chocolate cake is the best.

How long does it take chocolate cake to cool? Chocolate cake will take 2½ to 3 hours to cool to room temperature. Cool the cake in the cake pan for 15 minutes before transferring the cake to the wire rack.

If you are looking for the fastest way to cool the cake, based on your urgent need to consume a slice, try the fridge or freezer. A chocolate cake cools in the refrigerator in 1½ hours or in the freezer in 30 minutes.

Find out how to melt chocolate chips in the microwave.

Learn the best way to melt white chocolate chips.

How Long Does It Take Carrot Cake to Cool?

Do you love carrot cake as much as I do? You can convince yourself it is healthy with all those carrots. Which means a second slice is obviously good for you.

How long does it take to cool a carrot cake? Carrot cakes take 2½ to 3 hours to cool to room temperature. Keep the cake in the pan for a good 15 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

It takes around an hour to cool in the fridge and approximately half an hour in the freezer.

How Long Does It Take a 9 X 13-inch Cake to Cool?

Cooling a cake in a 9 X 13-inch cake pan.
9 X 13-inch cakes usually cool inside their pan. This will increase the cooling time.

I grew up eating birthday cake from a 9 X 13-inch glass Pyrex pan. I was an adult before I saw a round cake pan. If the 9 X 13 is your pan of choice, great.

How long does it take a 9 X 13-inch cake to cool? It takes a 9 X 13-inch cake about 2½ to 3½ hours to cool to room temperature. Most cakes baked in a 9 X 13-inch pan are kept in the pan to cool. But the pan can be placed on a cooling rack to help air circulate.

Cakes in a pan should not be cooled in the refrigerator or freezer, or the bottom of the cake may end up soggy.

If you want your cake to cool quicker, remove it from the 9 X 13-inch pan to cool. When the cake is room temperature, you can always return it to a clean 9 X 13-inch pan to frost and serve if you want.

How Long Does It Take Cake to Cool for Cake Pops?

Many cake recipes can be used to make cake pops. If you plan on making a cake specifically for pops, choose a sizeable narrow depth pan to bake the cake in. A half or quarter sheet pan is ideal.

When you use a sheet pan, the cake bakes and cools quicker.

How long does it take a cake to cool for cake pops? Cake baked in a 1- or 2-inch-deep sheet pan may cool in as quickly as 1 hour. Cakes baked in a round cake pan take about 2 to 2½ hours to cool. However, you can speed up this process.

Here’s how:

  • Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and cool for another 15 minutes.
  • Cut the cake horizontally into 2 or 3 layers (if it is a standard-sized cake). If it is a sheet cake, skip this step.
  • Cut the cake layers (or sheet cake) into 4 to 8 smaller pieces.
  • Leave all the cake pieces in a single layer on the cooling rack. The cake should be cool in another 15 to 20 minutes.

If you prefer, refrigerate the cake pieces for 10 to 15 minutes or freeze them for 5 to 10 minutes.

How Long Does It Take a Sponge Cake to Cool?

Sponge cakes cool down faster than fruit cakes due to their lightness. Leave your cakes in the baking tins for 10 minutes before placing them on the cooling rack.

How long does it take a sponge cake to cool? A sponge cake will take 2 to 2½ hours to cool on a cooling rack on your counter. It will take around an hour to cool in the fridge and approximately half an hour in the freezer.

Slicing a cake horizontally to make two cake layers.
Slice the cake horizontally to create layers. The layers will cool quicker than a whole cake.

Want to speed up the cooling time? Here’s a little tip I use if I’m making layer cakes. After 30 minutes of cooling on the wire rack, the cake is safe to cut into layers. Use a sharp bread knife to cut the cake in half horizontally. Or, if the cake is thick enough, cut three layers.

Then place the cake layers on the wire rack to cool. Do not stack them. This reduces the cooling time to around an hour and a half.

How Long Does It Take a Bundt Cake to Cool?

Who doesn’t love Bundt cake? Their beauty comes from the gorgeous shape of the pan, which has a hole in the center.

The cake is rarely frosted smooth. Instead, it is dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with glaze, or piped with cream cheese frosting.

For the perfect Bundt cake, leave it in the Bundt pan for up to 15 min before transferring it to the cooling rack. This gives the cake enough time to ‘firm’ up before you remove it from the pan.

If you remove it too soon, your cake will most likely break. However, leaving it in the pan too long can also be problematic. Condensation can cause the cake to become soggy at the bottom. And it may be hard to remove from the pan.

How long does it take a Bundt cake to cool? A Bundt cake will take close to 3 hours to cool completely. Bundt cakes are usually deeper than round or sheet cakes.

It will take more than an hour to cool in the fridge and approximately 30 to 40 minutes in the freezer.

Check out this recipe for an easy chocolate chip Bundt cake from a mix.

How Long Does It Take Angel Food Cake to Cool?

Angel food cakes are light and airy because of their whipped egg whites. These delicate cakes don’t have butter or oil that could weigh them down.

How long does it take for an angel food cake to cool? Angel food cake will take about 3 hours to cool to room temperature.

The trick with angel food is to cool the cake upside down. If you don’t do this, your cake will collapse.

Bake your angel food cake in a tube pan. A tube pan makes it easy to cool and remove the cake from the pan.

As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, place a cooling rack on top of the tube pan and flip the cake upside down. Cool angel food cakes upside down in the pan.

It will take approximately an hour to cool in the fridge. You could do this, but it may dry out the cake too much. And I’m not sure you need to hurry this cooling process along too much since angel food cake is rarely frosted.

I don’t recommend cooling these cakes in the freezer.

How Long Does It Take Loaf Cake to Cool?

Many cake recipes can be baked in a loaf pan. Loaf cakes are taller and denser than cakes baked in other cake pans.

How long does it take a loaf cake to cool? It will take a loaf cake close to 3 hours to cool to room temperature. Give it adequate time to cool because thicker cakes take longer. Sometimes the top of the cake feels cool, but the inside is still warm.

  • Cool a loaf cake in the loaf pan for 15 minutes.
  • Then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

How Long Does It Take Chiffon Cake to Cool?

Cooling chiffon cake upside down on top of a glass bottle and then removing it when it is cool.
Cool a chiffon cake upside down in the pan to prevent it from collapsing.

A chiffon cake is light like an angel food cake but has baking powder, oil, and whipped egg whites that contribute to it’s rise. Bake a chiffon in a tube pan.

The ideal way to cool a chiffon cake is upside down, with the tube hole fitting on top of a tall glass bottle with a narrow neck, like a bottle of wine, olive oil, or balsamic vinegar.

How long does it take a chiffon cake to cool? It takes a chiffon cake about 2 to 2½ hours to cool to room temperature. Cool a chiffon in an inverted pan for 30 minutes. Then transfer the cake to a wire rack to continue to cool for about 2 hours.

Cooling a chiffon cake in the fridge or freezer is not a good idea.

How Long Does It Take a Cake Roll to Cool?

A cake roll is a thin cake, baked in a sheet pan. The cake is rolled into a tube shape when it is still warm. After it has cooled to room temperature, it is unrolled, filled with frosting, rerolled, and then chilled. All this before being served.

How long does it take a cake roll to cool? When a warm cake roll is rolled, it takes 1 to 1½ hours to cool to room temperature. After it is unrolled, filled, and rerolled, a cake roll should be refrigerated for another 2 hours before serving.

To speed up the process, you can chill the cake roll in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes or in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Chilling it in the fridge or freezer may cause the cake to crack when unrolled.

How Long Does It Take Pound Cake to Cool?

A pound of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. That’s what goes into a pound cake. Pound cakes are usually baked in a Bundt pan or a loaf pan. Which makes them bake up taller than traditional cakes.

How long does it take pound cake to cool? A pound cake can take between 3 and 4 hours to cool to room temperature, depending on how tall it is. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto a cooling rack for the rest of the cooling time.

To cool a pound cake quicker, chill it in the fridge for 1 to 1½ hours after removing it from the cake pan. Or freeze it for 30 to 45 minutes.

How Long Does It Take Fruitcake to Cool?

Fruitcakes always remind me of Christmas and my mom’s fruit cake. She is very particular when it comes to her techniques. First, line the loaf pans with brown paper. This helps prevent the cake from sticking during the long bake times.

Only remove the fruitcake when it is cool. Then you can peel off the brown paper.

How long do fruitcakes take to cool? Fruitcakes generally take around 3 hours to cool down properly. Fruitcakes need a bit longer to firm up, so cool them in the loaf pans on a wire rack.

Placing them in the fridge will reduce the cooling time by around an hour and a half. Cooling them in the freezer can take 45 minutes to an hour.

Cake density determines the exact time. With fruitcakes, it is best to check the coolness using the knife method to make 100% sure the cake is chilled.

How Long Does It Take Cheesecake to Cool?

A cheesecake cooling on a wire rack.
Cool a cheesecake on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature. Then chill in the fridge for another 4 to 6 hours.

Cheesecakes are baked in a springform pan. They take a long time from start to first bite. Cooling and then chilling in the fridge takes a significant chunk of time.

How long does it take cheesecake to cool? A cheesecake takes about 3 to 3½ hours to cool to room temperature. Then it should be chilled in the refrigerator for at least another 4 to 6 hours before topping and serving it.

Throwing the cheesecake directly into the refrigerator can compromise its texture. Reducing the temperature of a hot cheesecake in the freezer is also not wise for the same reason.

FAQ

Should you leave the cake in the oven after baking?

Do not leave a baked cake in the oven after it has finished baking. Even if you turn the oven off. Ovens take 30 to 60+ minutes to cool down after they are turned off. If a cake is left in the hot oven, it will continue to bake.

This can lead to a dry or burnt cake.

Should I cover a cake while cooling?

Do not cover a cake while it is cooling. This can interrupt the air flow and slow down the cooling process. And if a warm cake is wrapped in foil or plastic wrap, the condensation will be trapped, making the cake soggy.

The Perfect Frosting Scenario

Woman smoothing a crumb coat in a layered cake.
The cooler the cake, the easier it is to spread frosting.

The perfect frosting scenario is room-temperature frosting and a cold cake.

Spread a crumb coat on the cake and let it set for a few minutes before the serious business of frosting begins. A crumb coat is a very thin layer of frosting covering your entire cake, creating a seal around the cake.

This prevents crumbs from getting caught up with the icing. But if you see crumbs, just pretend you are going for a rustic look.

No matter what cake you bake, cool your it thoroughly. Then it will turn out just right for decorating and storing.

But if you do end up with a crumbly, melted mess – well, I have yet to find a child who will turn even that cake down.


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