Does Buttercream Frosting Need to be Refrigerated

Buttercream frosting is known for being creamy and delicious, but there is some confusion about how to store it. The truth is, (most) buttercream frosting does not need to be refrigerated right away. It can be left at room temperature for up to three days. 

Hi! Michelle here. And buttercream frosting is one of my favorite things on earth. No, seriously – I will eat buttercream frosting with a spoon and not feel guilty about it. Needless to say, I make it often and know exactly how long it lasts in and out of the fridge.

Are you wondering if your precious buttercream needs to hit the fridge? Then keep reading. Below, you will find out why it isn’t necessary to refrigerate buttercream right away. I will also share the “right” time to stick buttercream in the fridge or freezer (and make it fluffy again).

Let’s talk about buttercream!

Does Buttercream Frosting Need to be Refrigerated?

The simple answer to this is no; buttercream frosting does not need to be refrigerated. Unless, of course, you’re dealing with German or French buttercream. Wait, what? Yes, there are different kinds of buttercream. Let’s take a closer look.

Types of Buttercream

There are five kinds of buttercream. However, there are only three ways of making them. That’s why most buttercreams can be left at room temperature while some need to be refrigerated immediately.

American Buttercream

American buttercream is the most popular choice because it is insanely creamy and delightful with a fluffy and smooth texture. It is made with a combination of butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. The high amount of sugar allows American buttercream to be stored in a cool, dry area.

Swiss/Italian Buttercream

Swiss and Italian buttercreams are similar to American buttercream. However, they utilize egg whites. They can still be left at room temperature for several days, though. For concerns about salmonella from egg whites, opt for pasteurized egg whites and follow the recipe closely.

German/French Buttercream

German and French buttercreams are the tricky ones. They are created using egg yolks (and custard for the German version). Since the recipe includes egg yolks, German and French buttercreams must be refrigerated right away. 

How Long Does Buttercream Frosting Last at Room Temperature?

If you’re using American, Swiss, or Italian buttercreams, you do not need to store them in the refrigerator immediately. Instead, you can leave buttercream at room temperature for up to three days

Make sure you’re storing it in a cool and dry area. The buttercream should be placed in an airtight container. The last thing you want is for your buttercream to dry up and get a flaky, difficult to spread texture.

Avoid leaving your buttercream in the heat, too. This can cause the buttercream to melt and be difficult to manage. It can also create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. 

How Long Does Buttercream Last in the Fridge?

If you’re not going to use your buttercream within the three-day period, you will need to stick it in the fridge. Again, keeping it in an airtight container is key to success. When properly stored, buttercream can last up to two weeks in the fridge.

When you are ready to use the buttercream, let it thaw on the counter for at least 15 minutes. 

How Long Does Buttercream Last in the Freezer?

If you need even more time than two weeks, you can always opt for the freezer. When properly covered and stored, buttercream can last in the freezer for up to three months. 

When you’re ready to use the buttercream, let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Then, set it on the counter for about 15 to 30 minutes so it can return to its creamy and spreadable state once again.


Now you know that most buttercream does not need to be refrigerated – at least not right away. If you still have questions about buttercream and storage, then keep reading! Below are a few commonly asked questions you will want to know.

Does cake with buttercream frosting need to be refrigerated?

Nope! A cake covered with buttercream frosting can sit at room temperature for three days. As a bonus, the buttercream will act as an insulator for moisture for a really delicious cake. After three days, the cake can be refrigerated but should be covered to hold in moisture.

Does buttercream frosting with heavy cream need to be refrigerated?

Nope! Buttercream that utilizes heavy cream (or milk or cream) does not need to be refrigerated right away. This is because there is such a small amount that is used. A large amount of sugar will render these ingredients stable for a few days on the counter.

Does buttercream icing harden in the fridge?

It can. That’s why I always suggest covering any type of cake with a cake holder or some type of covering like plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will ensure that no hardening of the frosting or the cake occurs, even after several days in the fridge.

Does frosting go bad if not refrigerated?

Buttercream frosting will not go bad if left out at room temperature for up to three days, but it’s not the same story for all kinds of frosting. Whipped cream frosting and cream cheese frosting, for example, must be refrigerated immediately, or they will spoil.

How far in advance can I make buttercream frosting?

If you make buttercream frosting and store it in the freezer, you can make it up to three months in advance. Just make sure to thaw it before trying to spread it on your cake. Hard buttercream frosting is not easily spreadable and can ruin your cake!

Final Thoughts

Buttercream is delicious and isn’t too demanding about storage, so you can leave it at room temperature for a few days (unless you’re using French or German buttercream). For longer storage solutions, consider placing them in the fridge for two weeks or freezing them for three months.

Do you love buttercream frosting as much as I do? Where do you store it? Share your buttercream storage stories with us below!

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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  • Michelle

    Hi Lisa,
    Next time I would highly suggest removing the amount of buttercream you need to use in batches, rather than thawing and re-refrigerating – to be on the safe side. The biggest question is how long was the frosting sitting at room temp before being placed back into the fridge? If less than two hours, it should be OK.

  • Lisa

    With leftover buttercream (basically Swiss – one lot used pasteurised egg whites and one lot had a bit of cream ( the type you can whip)) is there a limit to how many times it can be bought to room temperature and then refrigerated again? It’s within the 2 week window but I’ve bought it to room temp to use 2 times already, so tomorrow when the cupcakes come out of the fridge it will be the 3rd time…is that ok? I don’t want to poison my workmates! ????

  • Pat

    Leftover refrigerated vanilla icing w/heavy cream was successfully reused. The question is whether the newly iced cupcakes should be refrigerated or not since the icing had been, warmed somewhat to spreadable condition. Will the icing be stable?———–thank you!!!

    • Michelle

      Awesome, Pat! At this point, I would refrigerate the cupcakes.

  • Jean

    The buttercream on my chocolate cake is still very sticky. Can I do anything to get it to harden.?

    • Michelle

      Hi Jean,
      Is your kitchen very humid? It may help to reduce humidity levels.
      Other than that, the best fix is to add some more confectioner’s sugar.
      Happy baking,

  • Anonymous Me

    I was wondering if Swiss meringue Italian buttercream can be stored in a air tight container with plastic wrap sealed up kept inside a cold/cool room with a fan on. I search google and come up with different things. I took it out the freezer last week or week before and stored it inside the cold room

    • Michelle

      I recommend the fridge over a cold room as the buttercream can melt.
      Happy baking,