Do You Need to Refrigerate Whipped Cream or Buttercream Frosting?


Both whipped cream and buttercream frostings add a tasty and decorative finishing touch to cakes, cupcakes and cookies. After mixing up a batch of either type of frosting, store the leftovers in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. Without refrigeration, these dairy-based frostings may spoil or separate, becoming discolored, melted or sour.

The Whipped Kind

  • Whipped cream frosting is known for its light, fluffy texture and flavor. It's typically made from heavy or whipping cream, sugar, flavoring and sometimes a stabilizing ingredient like gelatin, butter or cream cheese. Because the main ingredient is dairy cream, refrigeration is required to prevent the frosting from becoming too soft or separating and turning sour. Stored in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator, whipped cream frosting can stay good for about a day. Freezing this delicate topping keeps it fresh much longer, for up to two months, according to the Still Tasty website. Defrost the whipped cream frosting in the refrigerator and whisk it before use.

The Buttercream Kind

  • As its name implies, the main ingredient in buttercream frosting is typically unsalted butter, which gives it a creamy yet solid consistency. Additional ingredients include sugar, flavoring and sometimes cream or shortening. You can leave most butter-based frostings sitting at a room temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit or less in a pantry cabinet. After three days, move your frosting to the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. Refrigerated in an airtight container, it can last for up to two weeks, according to the website, home to Wilton products. If your buttercream contains any type of dairy cream or egg whites, as is the case with meringue buttercream frosting, always refrigerate it to prevent spoilage.

On the Cake

  • If you've already frosted your cake with whipped cream frosting, you'll need to refrigerate it. On the other hand, if you've used buttercream frosting that doesn't contain eggs or cream, you can safely leave the cake at room temperature for up to three days in a dark cabinet. In the refrigerator, a cake frosted with whipped cream will last three days and a buttercream-frosted cake will last up to one week. Don't leave a frosted cake out for hours in warm, humid weather or direct sunlight, which can melt the frosting. For best results, simply leave your cake out unfrosted and apply freshly prepared frosting just prior to when you cut and serve it.

Is It Spoiled?

  • If you're unsure whether or not your frosting is still good, give it a whiff and visual inspection. Unpleasant odors and unusual colors are the obvious signs of spoilage, but a watery or lumpy texture may also indicate that your frosting is no longer usable or edible. Taste your frosting before use to determine whether it is still good, even if it looks OK. Toss it if it tastes sour or has developed an unpleasant aftertaste.

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