How To Freeze Cake Properly

A cake in the freezer (even if it is leftover cake) means you are never without dessert.

The crowning touch of many holiday dinners is a beautiful layer cake in the center of the dessert table. Baking and assembling that cake, however, can take a big chunk of your meal prep time, which is where prior planning comes in.

Whether you want to prepare the cake in advance, or you want to store leftover cake so you have dessert later, here is a guide to freezing cake properly so it's fresh and delicious when you eat it again.

cake layers wrapped individually in plastic
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

How to Freeze Unfrosted Cake

If you need to prepare a cake ahead of schedule or just like to have one on stand-by for an unexpected need (drop-in guest, new neighbor, book club, etc.), freezing unfrosted cakes (such as pound cakes) or cake layers is the way to go.

Step 1: Make sure your cake layers are completely cool

Wrapping a warm cake will trap moisture from steam, leading to a very soggy cake. Leave the cake layers on a cooling rack for several hours until they're perfectly cooled.

cooling cake layers
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

Step 2: Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap

When the cake layers are completely cool, wrap each one tightly in a layer of plastic wrap, and then again in a second layer.

For extra protection against freezer burn, you can then either wrap the cake in a sheet of aluminum foil, or slip the cake layers into freezer-safe storage bags. Be sure to label your packages with the type of cake and date you froze them.

If working with layers, lay the wrapped layers on a flat surface, like a baking sheet, and freeze. Doing this guarantees one surface of the cake will have a flat surface, making it easier to layer and frost later on. Once the layers are frozen, you can remove the baking sheet and stack the layers in the freezer for easier storage.

two cake layers ready to go to freezer
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

Step 3: Defrost

When you're ready to use the cake, simply leave it on the counter, and let it defrost for about an hour. Partially frozen cakes are easy to assemble and frost since they are stiffer and produce fewer crumbs, so you don't need to wait for your layers to thaw completely before frosting them.

You can keep unfrosted cakes in the freezer for two months.

two chocolate cake layers defrosting on plastic wrap
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

How to Freeze Frosted Cake

You can freeze frosted cakes as long as the frosting is freezer-stable. Delicate meringue-based frostings will not freeze well, but buttercream and cream cheese frostings will freeze nicely.

Step 1: Freeze cake uncovered for one hour

To freeze a frosted cake, place the cake, uncovered, in the freezer for an hour. If the frosting is still soft to the touch after one hour, freeze for another hour until you can touch the frosting without it coming off the cake.

frosted cake in freeze
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

Step 2: Wrap tightly in plastic wrap

Once the frosting is frozen and firm, wrap the cake in two layers of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil.

whole cake in freezer wrapped in plastic wrap
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

Step 3: Defrost

Thaw a frozen, frosted cake by letting it warm up on the counter or in the refrigerator, uncovered for several hours.

How to Freeze Slices of Cake

For those looking for a small treat now and then, you might want to consider freezing cake slices. You can wrap each piece up alone, or put them on small plates, layer with plastic wrap, and again with aluminum foil. As always, be sure and identify the cake and date the package. Individual pieces should keep for about two months.

slice of frozen cake
Emily Laurae
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