How Long Should a Cake Cool Before Frosting?

In my opinion, the frosting is the best part of any cake. That said, you don’t want to screw it up – and you can easily do so by frosting too soon. With that in mind, you’re probably wondering – how long should a cake cool before frosting?

Your cake needs to cool for about 30 minutes on the counter before it’s wrapped and cooled in the fridge (two to three hours) or freezer (about 30 minutes). Then, place a crumb coat and cool in the refrigerator and freezer for about ten to 30 minutes. Then, you’re ready to frost!

Hey! I’m Michelle, a self-taught baker that seriously enjoys baking cakes. I am a cake-a-holic! That said, I’ve made many cakes of all different types of flavors. I’ve cracked the code on how long to let a cake cool before frosting, and I’m here to share my findings.

Be cool and learn how long it takes to cool the cake before frosting below!

How Long Should a Cake Cool Before Frosting?

How long a cake needs to cool before frosting depends on one key thing: whether you use the fridge or the freezer

Regardless, you’ll need to wait at least 30 minutes for the cake to cool on the counter before wrapping it and placing it in the fridge or freezer. Otherwise, your cake can become a crumbly, wilted disaster.

Once placed in the fridge, you’ll need to wait about two or three hours until the cake’s cooled. The freezer shortens this time to about 30 minutes. Either way, you’ll need to remove the cake, add a crumb coat, and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for ten.

Considering all these things, it takes anywhere from 1 ½ to 3 hours to cool a cake long enough to frost it successfully.

Why is Cooling Important?

I know what you’re thinking – Is this even necessary? And let me tell you, it is. Not allowing your cake to cool entirely before frosting it will result in a disaster. Here are the two issues to consider:

  • Frosting a hot cake will lead to a melted mess. Since frostings are typically crafted with some type of dairy, they’ll melt under hot temperatures. So, once you apply the frosting to your cake, it will melt and end up all over the countertop instead of your cake.
  • Frosting a warm cake will be downright challenging, resulting in a crumbly nightmare. Warm cake might not melt the frosting entirely, but trying to slather frosting on a warm, ultra-moist cake will leave your cake looking like it’s been run over by a semi-truck. Yeah, just don’t do it.

How to Cool and Frost a Cake Correctly

Melted frosting and crumbly cakes? No thanks. To make sure you don’t prematurely frost your cake (and end up ruining your hard work), check out these simple steps to cool a cake correctly. 

1. Cool it on the Countertop for 30 Minutes

The first step to cooling your cake is to take it out of the oven, of course! Using your handy dandy oven mitt, remove your cake from the oven and place it on a potholder or other safe place. 

Give your cake a few minutes before removing it from the pan and transferring it to a wire rack – and yes, you need a wire rack. This will allow the cake to cool at every angle.

Once placed on the wire rack, allow the cake to sit for about 30 minutes. This will allow it to cool down just enough.

But don’t think about touching the frosting just yet!

2. Wrap and Stick in the Fridge or Freezer

Now that your cake isn’t “hot” anymore, you can wrap it with some plastic wrap. Ensure all areas of the cake are tightly secured by plastic wrap. The last thing you want to do is dry out your freshly baked cake with sub-par wrapping.

  • Leave the cake in the refrigerator for two to three hours (or up to 24 hours)
  • Leave the cake in the freezer for about 30 minutes

You can cut the cake into sections or layers if you’re short on time and need the cake to cool down ASAP. Of course, I don’t necessarily recommend this unless you need or want layers or don’t mind your cake being in several pieces.

3. Crumb Coat

After waiting the designated amount of time (30 minutes to two hours, depending), remove the cake from the plastic wrap. Ensure that it is 100% cooled. Otherwise, stash it back in the fridge or freezer until it’s chilled.

Then, give your cake a crumb coat. A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting around the entirety of the cake. It “locks in” the crumbs, almost as if your cake was wearing a lightweight jacket.

It’s OK if this layer doesn’t look appealing. This coat is more for protection and security than decor. You will add more frosting and decorations to make it look good.

4. Refrigerate or Freeze Once More

Now that the crumb coat is applied, you’ll need to place your cake back into the fridge or freezer once more. You won’t need to wait too long. 

  • Leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes
  • Leave in the freezer for around ten minutes

5. Frost and Enjoy!

Now it’s time for the grand finale – frosting your cake!

At this point, your cake will be 100% cooled and “ready for action.” So, don’t hesitate, cake baker! Bring your cake dreams to life with all the frosting and decorations you could ever desire. 


Yes, it takes quite a bit of time to cool a cake before frosting successfully, but it’s essential for a top-notch result. Don’t run off just yet, though! Here are a few frequently asked questions you might want to check out.

Should I put the cake in the fridge before icing it?

You should definitely put the cake in the fridge before icing it. This will not only allow it to cool entirely but will give it some added robustness to handle the impact of the frosting. So, don’t skip this step. (You can also opt for the freezer if you’re short on time.)

Is it better to frost a cake cold or room temp?

It is absolutely better to frost a cold cake compared to a room temp cake. So, ensure your cake is stashed in the fridge for the recommended amount of time before attempting to frost it. This will reduce the chances of your frosting melting or cake becoming a crumbly disaster.

What is the fastest way to cool a cake for frosting?

The fastest way to cool a cake for frosting is to wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. Do not forget to wrap it tightly in plastic, as the freezer can dry out a freshly made cake.

Cool the Cake Entirely Before Frosting It!

Cooling cake is really a four-part process. Let it cool on the counter, wrap it and place it in the fridge or freezer, apply a crumb coat, and place it in the refrigerator or freezer one more time. Then your cake is ready to be frosted and decorated! 

How long do you cool your cake before frosting it?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Nathanial

    I nailed the cake with your help! My cakes went from a hot mess to spectacular! Thank you so much!