Does German Chocolate Cake Need to be Refrigerated?

German Chocolate Cake is one of those crowd-favorite desserts that will appease a crowd. The decadent yet surprisingly light chocolate flavor is perfectly complemented by the nutty taste of pecans and the sweet, fresh touch of coconut. 

Does this lovely cake need to be refrigerated, though? Not necessarily. While I prefer to stash this cake in the refrigerator, you can keep it at room temperature for up to five days as long as it is stored properly.

Hi! I’m Michelle, and I’ve spent the last ten years in the kitchen, baking everything from three-tiered cakes to simple fudge brownies. German Chocolate Cake is also regularly on the menu, as everyone in my family enjoys the flavors.

Let’s talk about German Chocolate Cake storage!

Do you Refrigerate German Chocolate Cake?

The simple answer is no; German Chocolate Cake does not need to be refrigerated (unlike another beloved dessert, carrot cake). However, proper storage is key to extending longevity and ensuring it does not dry out and become a crumbly, repulsive mess.

With proper storage, German Chocolate Cake can sit at room temperature for up to five days. There is noticeable deterioration beyond the five-day mark.

However, I will say this – although German Chocolate Cake does not need to be refrigerated, I (and many others) prefer to store it in the fridge. In my opinion, German Chocolate Cake retains a better texture and flavor profile when chilled.

How to Store German Chocolate Cake

Regardless of where you store your German Chocolate Cake, storage is critical. Without proper storage, this type of cake is prone to drying out – especially when it comes to frosting. That said, follow these simple storage tips.

Storing at Room Temperature

If you’re planning to store at room temperature on your kitchen countertop, ensure the area is not too hot or has high humidity levels. This can cause the cake to melt and deteriorate, rendering it trash-bin-worthy. 

When storing at room temperature, German Chocolate Cake must be covered. I suggest using a crystal-clear acrylic cake stand. Not only are they beautiful displays that will showcase your freshly-baked cake, but they’ll keep your cake nice and moist. Yum!

If you don’t have any “fancy” cake stands, you can also opt for an airtight storage container that is big enough to accommodate your German Chocolate Cake. 

When appropriately stored at room temperature, German Chocolate Cake lasts up to five days easily.

Storing in the Fridge

Storing in the fridge isn’t much different, but you have an extra concern: dryness. The refrigerator is notorious for drying out baked goods, including German Chocolate Cakes. So, ensuring your cake is stored in an airtight container of some type is essential.

I recommend using an airtight cake server complete with locks to “lock in” freshness. You can wrap your cake in a bit of plastic wrap before storing it in this container (or any other kind of airtight container). This will act as an added layer of security to keep your cake delicious.

When stored in the fridge, German Chocolate Cake can last up to a week.

Storing in the Freezer

If you’re not planning to consume the German Chocolate Cake within a week’s time, you can always freeze the cake. The cake can be frozen as a whole, or you can store it in slices. Here’s how to do it.

For a whole cake:

(Allow to cool entirely if storing a homemade cake).

Step 1: Wrap the cake with plastic wrap.

Step 2: Wrap the cake again, this time with aluminum foil.

Step 3: Store directly in the fridge or in an airtight container.

For cake slices:

Step 1: Wrap the cake slices with plastic wrap.

Step 2: Wrap each portion with aluminum foil, too.

Step 3: Store slices inside a resealable freezer bag.

Pretty simple, right? And the best part is that your German Chocolate Cake will remain good for up to four months in the freezer.

How to Tell German Chocolate Cake Has Gone Bad

As much as we wish German Chocolate Cake would last forever, the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t. Even with proper storage, your cake will eventually spoil. Here are the three indicators of spoiled German Chocolate Cake.


The most significant indicator that your German Chocolate Cake has gone rancid is dryness. In fact, it may become so dry that it’s difficult – if not impossible – to pick up with a fork.

You should be able to notice dried-out frosting from the get-go. The frosting will have a noticeable dehydrated and stale appearance. It may also begin to crack or separate. Sometimes, it can become slimy, too.

Changes in Appearance/Mold

Are you finding spots of discoloration? If so, this could mean that your German Chocolate Cake is starting to grow mold. Throw it out ASAP. Eating moldy cake can make you quite sick, so don’t risk it.

Horrible Smell

German Chocolate Cake should smell like a sweet dream come true. If it’s emitting a horrible odor, you know it’s time to say goodbye.


Now you know how to successfully store your German Chocolate cake – whether you take my advice and stash it in the fridge or opt for the countertop or freezer instead. Let’s keep learning about this topic with a few frequently asked questions!

How long can German chocolate cake be left out?

If you leave German Chocolate Cake out, uncovered, it will likely remain good for about a day or two. However, I wouldn’t risk it. While your cake might stay moist, it could get damaged by other elements. It’s also best to store it in an airtight container.

Does German chocolate cake have coconut?

German Chocolate Cake contains coconut. In fact, it’s a star ingredient. If you’re a coconut lover (like I am), I highly recommend baking or buying this type of cake and giving it a try!

What is the difference between chocolate cake and German chocolate cake?

There are many differences, but the key difference is that chocolate cake relies solely on chocolate flavors (including the frosting). In contrast, German Chocolate Cake includes additional flavor profiles, including coconut, pecan, etc. 

That said, ingredients, taste, and texture are different between these two popular cake options.

Final Words

While I highly recommend storing your German Chocolate Cake in the fridge, it’s not essential. With proper storage, you can leave your cake at room temperature for up to five days. If you want more longevity, you can store the whole cake or cake slices in the freezer for up to four months.

Do you refrigerate your German Chocolate Cake? Why or why not? Share with us!

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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