How Long Can Cake Sit Out?

Is there such a thing as having too much cake? Not usually – but every once in a while, you might find that you have leftover cake sitting on your countertop. How long can cake sit out before it needs to be tossed or stashed in the freezer?

Cake can sit out for two hours to five days. Buttercream and fondant last the longest (2 to 5 days). Cakes with perishable ingredients, like whipped cream and cream cheese frosting, must be refrigerated within two hours.

Hi! I’m Michelle, an enthusiastic and experienced home baker. I enjoy making cakes, but sometimes I end up with leftovers. I’ve discovered how long different types of cakes can sit out before going bad.

Want to know how long cake can sit out? Check out the information below!

How Long Does Cake Last in Room Temperature

Cake can sit out anywhere from two hours to five days. It really depends on the type of frosting used to cover the cake and fillings. 

As a general rule, cakes made with perishable ingredients must be refrigerated within two hours.

Let’s take a closer look.

Buttercream (2 Days)

Let’s start by discussing my personal favorite – cake with buttercream frosting.

Buttercream is a crowd favorite because it’s delightfully sweet and easy to work with, ensuring your cake tastes delicious and looks flawless.

When left at room temperature (and properly stored), a buttercream-covered or filled cake can last up to two days. At this point, it will need to be thrown away or stored in the freezer.

Note: If the cake has yet to be cut, it can last up to five days.

Whipped Cream (2 Hours)

Those looking for a less thick and dense frosting will choose whipped cream frosting.

Whipped cream frosting is lightweight, fluffy, and impossibly scrumptious. The delightful texture is the perfect pairing for any cake, especially those that may have powerful or overly rich flavors (we’re looking at your dark chocolate cake).

Unfortunately, whipped cream frosting doesn’t last very long. When left at room temperature, cakes covered or filled with whipped cream will only last up to two hours before it needs to be placed in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese (2 Hours)

If you want a relatively thick frosting, like buttercream, yet it isn’t as sweet, cream cheese frosting is the obvious way to go. It has a delicious, slightly tangy flavor that pairs well with many types of cakes, including carrot cake and red velvet cake.

Like whipped cream frosting, cakes covered or filled with cream cheese frosting won’t last very long, either. These cakes cannot sit at room temperature for longer than two hours before spoiling.

Fondant (3 Days)

There’s nothing quite like a cake covered with fondant. The smooth, matte-like finish is awe-inspiring – not to mention quite delicious.

Fondant-covered cakes have the most extended longevity at room temperature. They can last up to three days when stored correctly.

Note: If the cake has yet to be cut, it can last up to five days.

Fruit (2 Hours)

Whether you use fresh fruit to cover your cake or use it as a delightful filling, you shouldn’t leave fruity cakes sitting out for longer than two hours.

How to Store Cake at Room Temperature

Cake can last anywhere from two hours to three days at room temperature, but that doesn’t mean they will. You must store the cakes correctly to ensure they remain moist and yummy. Improper storage can lead to dried-out, disgusting, rock-hard slices. Ew.

Here’s how to store cake at room temperature:

1. Add Frosting to the Exposed Cake

Now, this step isn’t required. You can get by without performing this step.

However, adding frosting to the cake’s exposed areas will help lock in moisture that would otherwise escape with ease. (It also gives your cake some more frosting – and you can’t go wrong with more frosting!)

That said, reach for your preferred type of frosting and slather it over the open areas. 

2. Cover with Plastic Wrap

After you’re done frosting your cake slices, it’s time to cover the cake with plastic wrap.

You want to make sure that the plastic wrap forms a tight seal around the cake. Otherwise, you’ll allow moisture to penetrate the cake, leaving you with a disgusting cake that’s hard and difficult to eat.

3. Place in an Airtight Container

This is another optional step when it comes to storing cake at room temperature. But in my opinion, the more protection for your cake, the better.

After wrapping your cake tightly in plastic wrap, stash it in an airtight container.

I like these cake stands because they’re the ideal shape and have an airtight seal to keep your cake looking and tasting fantastic!

4. Store in a Cool and Dark Area

Leaving your cake sitting in direct sunlight is a big no-no, as it can cause your cake to deteriorate quicker. The other issue is allowing your kitchen to get too hot or humid. If temperatures exceed 90F, you’ll need to place the cake in the fridge or freezer.

With all of that in mind, keep your kitchen cooler (around 70F is excellent) and leave your cake in a darker space in your kitchen. For example, you might place it in the back corner of your kitchen on the kitchen countertop.

How to Tell if Cake Has Gone Bad

Do you want to eat an old cake? I certainly don’t. To avoid the mishap of sinking your teeth into a cake that’s passed its prime, double-check for these signs of spoilage before diving in:

1. Hard/Crumbly Texture

The first indication that your cake is old and no longer suitable to eat is a hard and crumbly texture. 

(Most) cakes are meant to have a tender texture that’s moist and inviting.

If your cake is falling apart the second you touch it with your fork, or it tastes more like a rock-hard sponge than a yummy slice of cake, it’s time to toss it.

2. Odd Smell

Cakes should smell sweet.

Take a whiff of your cake.

Does it smell sweeter than sugar or sour and rotten?

If your cake doesn’t smell the way it’s “supposed” to, then I wouldn’t change it. (And honestly, why would you want to eat something that smells off anyways?)

3. Mold

If you see mold on your cake, it is definitely old – not just unpleasant.

Mold can arise in various colors, including black, white, green, and blue. It may or may not be accompanied by a fuzzy or furry texture.

If you see mold, throw the entire cake away. Mold can travel before it starts to exhibit yucky colors. So, your whole cake will be infected, even though it might not “look” that way.

4. Sliminess

Another way to check whether or not your cake is still safe and delicious to eat is to run your finger over the frosting and/or the fillings.

Frostings and fillings should have a relatively smooth texture. If you notice any type of sliminess, it means that the cake (especially the frosting or filling) is no longer safe to consume. Throw it out!


Basically, most cakes can live at room temperature for a couple of days before going bad, but some can’t. It’s best to pay attention to the type of frosting (and fillings). Oh, and if you want to learn more about how long cake can sit out, check out these FAQs.

Does cake go bad if not refrigerated?

Cake will only go bad if not refrigerated if it’s coated or filled with a perishable product, such as whipped cream frosting, fruit, or ice cream. Other than that, cakes actually do better at room temperature and will retain their texture and flavor.

How long can frosted cake sit out unrefrigerated?

It depends on the type of frosting used. If the frosting is perishable, such as whipped cream or cream cheese, it can only sit unrefrigerated for two hours. If the frosting is not perishable, like buttercream or fondant, it can sit unrefrigerated for two to three days (or five days if uncut).

What makes cake spoil easily?

There are a few things that make cake spoil easily. For one, if the cake is exposed to too much air, it will dry out. On the other hand, if the cake is presented with moisture, it will become moldy and gross. Finally, high temperatures and humidity can cause the cake to dry and mold.

How Long Cake Lasts Sitting Out Depends on the Frosting and Fillings!

When it comes to how long cake can sit out, it depends on the type of frosting used and the fillings. Buttercream and fondant last the longest at room temperature. Fruit, whipped cream, cream cheese, and other perishable items must be refrigerated within two hours, or they will go bad.

Do you leave your cakes at room temperature, or do you prefer to store them in the refrigerator or freezer? Do you have anything to add to this list? Share with us in the comments!

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *