Cupcakes are ideal for many occasions but ensuring they stay fresh is essential. Besides, everyone can taste a stale cupcake! But how long do cupcakes typically keep before the flavor and texture start to go? How do you best store them to prevent any issues? Here is what you need to know!
So, how long do cupcakes last? Typically, fresh cupcakes will last 24 hours when left out, or 2-3 days if appropriately prepared and stored in a sealed container. Putting cupcakes in the fridge dries them out faster, even when in a container, so it’s advised to keep them at room temperature, such as on a countertop. However, store-bought cupcakes, made with preservatives, usually last longer – sometimes up to a week.
There’s nothing better than a soft chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting.
But there is nothing worse than when you know that cupcake has gone a little bit stale.
It just a disappointment.
And you notice it from the very first bite.
While it’s not the most complicated thing in the world, knowing how to store your cupcakes will make all the difference.
This will ensure you get the best out of them and don’t waste any of their goodness!
So, here is what you need to know about keeping your cupcakes fresh!
How Long Do Cupcakes Stay Fresh?
In general, frosted cupcakes will last about 3-4 days without them getting too stale to eat. Having said that, with each day that goes by, you may feel a little bit of the freshness and moistness that was first there when they came out of the oven (or container) on day one!
One thing to consider here is store-bought vs. home-baked.
Store-bought cupcakes may have a slightly different life shelf than home-baked cupcakes.
Store cupcakes that you often find in sealed packaged and in multiples last about a week.
This is because they have usually had preservatives added to extend their freshness.
On the other hand, preservatives are rarely added to cupcakes made from fresh ingredients at home or from a reputable or higher-end baker.
For stores and more affordable brands of cupcakes, these simply need to last longer.
Besides, they are rarely ever bought the first day they are put out.
This is also why you may feel like store-bought cupcakes are a little firmer in their cake and frosting than a homemade version.
How Long Do Cupcakes Last In The Fridge?
Putting cupcakes in the fridge is a no-no. When you put cupcakes in the fridge, they generally only last one to two days rather than three to four or even a week.
This is because the cooler temperature of the fridge dries out the cupcakes at a much faster rate.
Essentially, the coldness of the fridge evaporates the moisture in the cupcakes.
The only time when it is a good idea to store cupcakes in the fridge is when it is a very hot and humid climate, and any frosting is melting.
In this case, store them in the fridge as minimally as possible and let them come back to room temperature before serving.
For the most part, it is a much better idea to store cupcakes on the counter and, better yet, in a sealed container.
If you are using an airtight container, be sure that it is large enough that the cupcakes can be separated from one another.
And do not wrap them in any plastic.
Not only can this smudge the frosting, but this is not very stable if the cakes need transporting. Sometimes it can even affect the flavor too!
How Long Do Cupcakes Last Out?
Cupcakes generally last between 24-48 hours when left out at room temperature.
The total time cupcakes will last however, will of course depend on when they were made, the ingredients and the temperatures they are kept at.
When cupcakes are served at a function like a wedding, they generally will be able to last the full afternoon, assuming they were made the day before.
But, if you are having a wedding in the hot summer heat, you will need to keep your cupcakes in a cooler room, such as an air-conditioned room, until they come out.
This is because if the cupcakes are on display for hours on end in hot temperatures the frosting will begin to melt.
Along these lines, you may only want to have them brought out for dessert – or for just 1-2 hours at most.
Any more than that and you may find the cupcakes go mushy or are just not at their best.
The cupcakes should be kept as close as possible to the same conditions they were in when they were cooling off just coming out of the oven.
How Can You Tell If Cupcakes Have Gone Bad?
There are two telltale signs that cupcakes have gone bad; texture and taste. However, how much these two things have changed will depend on the quality of the cake (and ingredients used), how the cupcakes have been stored, and how long for.
And it can get a little tricky.
Sometimes cupcakes will taste just fine but may feel or look a little off.
Othertimes they may look fine but taste entirely different than they should!
Nevertheless, these are some of the signs that your cupcakes are no longer any good for serving.
One of the first signs to tell that the cupcakes are starting to, or already have, gone bad is how soft the base will be.
Typically, the cake part starts to get a little crusty, starting with the outer layer and moving in.
Sometimes you can save the cupcake a little bit by peeling off a little of that top layer.
Along with the hardness usually, you will find that the cupcake may start to feel dry when you bite into it, and it lacks that moisture.
In general, it will start to crumble very easily or break apart.
It almost will feel gritty in your hands, and it may stick to the paper, causing the rest of the baby to fall apart easily.
This is usually different than when you just peel the wrapper off, and a little bit of the outer layer sticks to the paper.
Moist is a great thing when it comes to cupcakes, but when the cupcakes get overly wet from humidity and moisture kicks in too much, the cupcakes start to feel very soggy and gross.
You can tell this is happening when the frosting is melting off, or the fluffy cake part starts to get squishy and shrivel a little.
How To Keep Cupcakes Fresh
The best way to keep cupcakes fresh is to be very considerate and mindful of when and where you buy or make them and then how you store them.
Buying them too early can result in any of the above, and the same can be said for when you bake them (or get a professional to on your behalf).
Let us take a further look at what to do in each context:
When To Buy
If you are buying store-made cupcakes, there are two different kinds you will want to consider.
There are the ones that are made and put in packaging already.
They will usually have a sell-by date, and in that case, you may have a few days.
If they had a made date, these cupcakes could last a little longer, like a week – but no more.
The cupcakes from the bakery section, behind the glass, will typically last a few days less.
And any cupcakes exposed to air will not last as long as those in sealed packaging – like the bakery cakes sold in bulk.
You do have to consider the quality of the cake too.
Cakes that are made with fewer preservatives will not last as long.
Besides, that’s what they were added to do. To preserve.
When To Bake
Baking your own cupcakes is always a fun thing to do and usually tastes better than the store-bought cupcakes.
The only issue is that home-baked cupcakes tend to dry out/spoil a little quicker.
You will want to make any homemade cupcakes as close to the date of serving as possible.
In fact, the same day is always best or the night before!
Just leave time for time to cool!
How To Store
Speaking of cooling, before you store away the cupcakes, you always want to make sure that you allow your cupcakes to cool off.
If you put them in a container while too hot, it will trap the moisture and make your cupcakes turn soggy and later inedible.
The best idea for storing your cupcakes is fresh on the countertop.
If you have to store them, putting them in an airtight container when cooled is always the best way to go.
Try to avoid using Saran wrap because it ends up smushing them, especially if frosted.
When done right, cupcakes are ideal.
They are fun, versatile, and of course…delicious.
But only when done right!
Stale cupcakes will not suffice. They’re easily detectable, and it is soon noticed.
And it does not take long.
Cupcakes, in general, are supposed to be eaten as soon as possible after baking.
This is when they will be most fresh!
This is why baking them, or getting them baked, as late as possible (before you can safely store them) is always advised.
The same day or night before is best.
Just make sure that they are cooled before they are placed in a sealed container and kept out of the fridge. Otherwise, they’ll dry out!
If this is not possible, you may need to consider a sealed cupcake option – one with the preservatives added that will extend their shelf life.
In doing so, they should last between a few days up to a week.
At the end of the day, try not to stress too much about the process.
Talking with or ordering from a professional baker can ensure that you get the cupcakes just how you need them.
Hey, I’m Allison – a bride-to-be and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I have accumulated since researching for my wedding over two years ago. I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding.