How Long Does it Take for a Cake to Cool?

Have you ever tried to frost a piping hot cake? It’s the recipe for a messy disaster. To avoid frosting mishaps, you should let your cake cool first. Cakes take several hours to cool on the countertop. You can quicken the time by placing it in the fridge or freezer.

Hi! My name’s Michelle, and my least favorite part of baking a cake is waiting for it to cool down. I just want to eat it! That said, I know the importance of letting a cake cool entirely before trying to frost, transfer, and eat it. Yes, it might feel like a little slice of torture, but it’s worth it for the slice of cake.

If you’ve just popped your cake out of the oven and are wondering how long it takes for a cake to cool, you’ve come to the right place. I will share the importance of letting a cake cool (entirely) and how long you should let it cool down in this article.

Who’s ready to bake some cakes?

Why Do Cakes Need to Cool?

When I first started baking, I always thought about why cakes needed to cool entirely before frosting and eating. Then, I wondered why my frosting was always sliding off my cake and looking like a crumbly mess. Finally, I put two and two together. (Don’t judge me, I was young).

The reason why cakes need to cool is so the frosting can slide on smooth and not melt. Trying to frost a cake with even the slightest bit of warmth can lead to a melted, crumbly mess. This results in a very unattractive cake, although it’s still delicious. 

That said, you need to let your cakes cool off before consuming them. Here’s how long.

How Long Does it Take for a Cake to Cool?

There are three ways to cool down a cake. Each method has its time frame for cooling. Let’s take a closer look.

Countertop – Two to Three Hours

On average, it takes cake around two to three hours to cool on a countertop. However, the longer the cake is left to cool, the better.

You shouldn’t leave the cake in its original pan to cool down. This can cause the cake to stick to the pan, making it difficult to remove.

Instead, wait around ten to thirty minutes for the cake to cool down enough so that you can remove it with ease. If you’re using something like a bundt cake, you will need to flip it upside-down to remove it, so make sure you’ve waited long enough so that it doesn’t break.

When removing from the original pan, place the cake on a cooling rack. A cooling rack will allow all cake surfaces to cool down simultaneously, so there are no hot spots when you go to frost it.

Refrigerator – One Hour

Don’t have time to wait several hours? Just don’t want to wait hours before eating your delicious cake? Don’t worry – there are other options. One way to speed up the cooling time is to stick your cake in the refrigerator.

When using the fridge method, you definitely want to cover your cake in some cling wrap or foil. Refrigerators can dry out the cake and create an unappealing texture. Avoid this by wrapping the cake properly.

Once in the fridge, your cake should take around an hour to cool. 

Freezer – 30 Minutes

Those that are on a major time crunch have one final option – the freezer. In the freezer, cakes typically take around just 30 minutes to cool down entirely. They should be wrapped before entering the freezer to make sure the texture is not negatively impacted.

How to Check if the Cake is Cooled

Whether you’re using the counter, fridge, or freezer method, you still need to check your cake to make sure it’s cooled after waiting the allotted time. Not all cakes are created equal, and some might need some more time to cool. But how can you tell?

Don’t rely on touch alone to check for coolness. Cakes can be cold on the outside but still have warmth on the inside. To check, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. Leave for a few seconds. Remove, and touch the toothpick. If it’s still warm, let your cake continue to cool.


Now we know some of the basic timeframes for cake cooling. If you still have questions, then keep reading. Below you will find some more handy questions to help you know everything about cake cooling.

How long does it take for a cake to cool to room temperature?

At room temperature, it will take several hours for a cake to cool down entirely. Most of the time, it will take at least two to three hours. However, it’s best to wait as long as possible. You can even leave a cake to cool overnight (wrapped, of course) to be sure.

Should I put the cake in the fridge before icing?

Yes. Although it is not necessarily ‘essential’ for icing, it sure helps a lot. Stick your cake in the refrigerator a while before icing, and you will notice how quick and easy it is. Never try to frost a warm cake!

Can I leave cake to cool overnight?

Yes, you can leave your cake to cool overnight. In fact, I highly suggest it. I will tell you to wrap the cake, though, so that it can hold onto its moisture and texture, and there’s no chance of flies coming to take a bite.

How long should you leave a cake in its pan after baking?

Not long. Around ten to twenty minutes is sufficient. You want the cake to be warm enough to slide easily off the pan without breaking or sticking.

Final Thoughts

Waiting for a cake to cool might be agonizing, but your perfectly frosted cake will be well worth the wait. Leave the cake on the countertop for several hours or opt for a faster method like the fridge or freezer. Make sure they’re wrapped if you’re using the latter.

How long do you let your cakes cool?

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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