How long can frosting stay out of the fridge?

Quick Answers

Frosting can generally stay out at room temperature for 2-3 days. However, this depends on the type of frosting and ingredients used. Buttercream and cream cheese frostings should be refrigerated after 1-2 days. Fondant, royal icing, and commercial frostings in a can or tub can last around 1 week unrefrigerated.

How Long Does Frosting Last at Room Temperature?

The shelf life of frosting depends on several factors:

Type of Frosting

Buttercream and cream cheese frostings have a shorter shelf life than fondant, royal icing, and canned or tub frostings. This is because buttercream and cream cheese frostings contain dairy ingredients like butter, cream, and cream cheese that can go rancid at room temperature. On the other hand, fondant is made mostly of sugar which inhibits bacterial growth. Royal icing contains pasteurized egg whites and dries hard when exposed to air. Canned and tub frostings have been formulated to stay stable without refrigeration.

Ingredients Used

Frostings made with fresh ingredients like eggs, dairy, and fruit purees have a shorter shelf life compared to frostings made with more processed ingredients like shortening, corn syrup, and gelatin. Fresh ingredients provide water and nutrients that allow bacteria and mold to grow more easily.

Storage Container

Storing frosting in an airtight container helps prevent it from drying out and keeps contaminants out. Frosting piping bags are more prone to drying and microbial growth.


Warmer temperatures accelerate the rate of frosting spoilage. Storing frosting in an air-conditioned environment prolongs its shelf life compared to leaving it out at room temperature.

How to Tell if Frosting Has Gone Bad

Check for the following signs that indicate frosting has spoiled and is unsafe to eat:

Texture Changes

  • Thinning, curdling, weeping liquid
  • Grainy or gritty texture
  • Hardening or drying out

Appearance Changes

  • Mold growth
  • Unnatural discoloration
  • Crystal formation on the surface

Smell Changes

  • Rancid, sour, or off odor
  • Alcoholic smell

Taste Changes

  • Bitter taste
  • Soapy or metallic flavor

Shelf Life of Different Frosting Types

Buttercream Frosting

Buttercream frosting made with dairy products like butter, cream, and milk should be refrigerated after decorating and consumed within 1-2 days. The high butter content can cause buttercream to spoil quickly at room temperature. If kept refrigerated, it can last 5-7 days.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting lasts 1-2 days out of the fridge as the cream cheese provides a hospitable environment for bacterial growth. For best quality and food safety, store cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator and use within 5-7 days.

Whipped Cream Frosting

Due to its high dairy content, whipped cream frosting is highly perishable and should be refrigerated until ready to use. It will only hold up for 4-6 hours out of the fridge before the peaks begin to collapse and liquid starts releasing.

Ermine Frosting

Ermine or flour frosting made by cooking a flour and milk mixture has a shelf life of 1-2 days at room temperature due to the dairy ingredients. Refrigerate after decorating and consume within 4-5 days.

Fondant Icing

Commercial fondant and homemade marshmallow fondant will last about 1 week at room temperature when tightly wrapped to prevent drying out. Refrigeration can extend the shelf life for 1-2 weeks.

Royal Icing

Royal icing made with pasteurized egg whites and confectioners’ sugar has a long shelf life of 2-3 weeks unrefrigerated if kept in an airtight container. It dries and hardens when exposed to air.

Gum Paste

Gum paste flowers and decorations can last 3-6 weeks out of the fridge. The high gum and sugar content prevents microbial growth. Keep gum paste tightly wrapped if not using immediately.

Rolled Fondant

Store-bought rolled fondant and homemade marzipan can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Refrigeration can extend the shelf life for an additional 3-4 weeks.


Due to its high dairy and cream content, ganache does not hold up well at room temperature. It’s best to refrigerate ganache-covered cakes and use within 2-3 days for optimum taste and texture.


While stable at room temperature due to its sugar content, meringue becomes sticky in humid conditions. For best results, consume meringue pies and decorations within 2-3 days. Refrigeration can keep it from weeping for up to 2 weeks.

Commercial Frosting (Canned, Tub)

Commercial frostings like Duncan Hines and Pillsbury that come in cans, tubs, and squeeze bottles can be kept at room temperature for 5-7 days. Once opened, reseal tightly and refrigerate for up to 4-6 weeks until the best by date.

How to Store Frosting


Place buttercream, whipped cream, cream cheese, ermine, and ganache frostings in the refrigerator within 2 hours of decorating. Cover tightly or place in an airtight container. Refrigeration inhibits microbial growth and keeps frosting fresh for longer.


Frostings like buttercream, cream cheese, whipped cream, and ermine can also be frozen for long term storage. Place in freezer-safe airtight containers, leaving headspace to allow for expansion. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Room Temperature Storage

Fondant, royal icing, gum paste, and commercial frostings have a longer shelf life at room temperature. Keep them tightly sealed in containers to prevent drying out. Avoid temperature extremes and humidity.

Piping Bags

While convenient, frosting stored in piping bags will dry out faster. Use frosting from piping bags within a few hours and do not return leftovers back to the main container.

Tips to Extend Shelf Life of Frosting

Use pasteurized eggs

Raw eggs can potentially contain pathogens like salmonella. Pasteurized eggs decrease this risk in raw egg frostings like buttercream.

Substitute milk with non-dairy alternatives

Using non-dairy milk like almond or coconut milk instead of regular milk will extend the shelf life in frostings like buttercream and ermine.

Avoid fresh fruit purees

Fresh fruit provides moisture that encourages spoilage. Opt for fruit preserves or high quality extracts instead of purees.

Reduce moisture content

Adding more powdered sugar to frostings while reducing liquids helps remove water available for microbial growth.

Use grain alcohol

A small amount of vodka or grain alcohol helps improve preservation in frostings through antimicrobial activity.

Replace butter with shortening

Shortenings like palm oil or hydrogenated vegetable oils increase the shelf life compared to perishable butter.

Incorporate acids

Adding a small amount of lemon juice, vinegar, or cream of tartar lowers pH and helps prevent bacterial growth.

Use preservatives

Preservatives like potassium sorbate can be used in very small quantities to extend frosting’s shelf life at room temperature.

Store properly

Always refrigerate perishable frostings within 2 hours and store in airtight containers. Keep room temperature stable frostings away from humidity.

Can You Freeze Frosting?

Many frostings can be frozen for longer term storage:


Freeze buttercream frosting for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese frosting can keep in the freezer for 1-2 months. Thaw completely before using as cream cheese stiffens when frozen.

Whipped Cream

Whipped cream can be frozen for 2-3 months but will need to be re-whipped after thawing to restore texture.


Ermine frosting can hold well in the freezer for 2-3 months. Remember to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.


Ganache can weep and lose texture if frozen. Freeze for no more than 1 month and thaw completely before use.


Meringue starts to break down after about 1 month in the freezer. Use within 2-3 weeks for best quality.

Fondant, Royal Icing, Gum Paste

These sugar-based frostings do not freeze well. Their texture changes dramatically after thawing.


The shelf life of frosting is variable, from 1-2 days for perishable types like buttercream to 2-3 weeks for more stable fondant and royal icing. For food safety, refrigerate dairy-based frostings within 2 hours of use. Commercially processed canned frostings have the longest unrefrigerated shelf life. While many frostings can be frozen, their texture may change after thawing. Always store frostings in airtight containers and avoid temperature fluctuations for maximum freshness no matter what type of frosting.

Leave a Comment