How to Freeze a Cake to Save Time on the Day of a Party

Learn how to freeze cakes with these Test Kitchen tips and a yummy dessert will always be just a quick defrost away.

Freezing cakes is as simple as wrapping them up tight and popping them in the freezer. If you're a planner who always likes to be prepared for a surprise celebration, it's a great way to save sheet cakes and layer cakes for later. It's also a great way to save extra bakes for another day, or prep ahead if you won't have time to bake from scratch later. The best part is they'll come out tasting just as good as the day they were frozen. Use these steps to learn how to freeze a cake, and stay one step ahead on all your baking. Once you defrost, all that's left is the decorating!

confetti cake composite
Matthew Clark

How to Freeze Layer Cakes

Layer cakes can be a little easier to freeze and store than sheet cakes because you don't have to clear out as much space in your freezer for them. Here's how to freeze cake layers:

  • Remove the cakes from their pans and let them cool completely on wire racks. Wrap each cake layer individually in plastic wrap, making sure it's as airtight as possible (this helps keep the cake moist and prevents freezer burn).
  • Place each plastic-wrapped cake in an airtight container or wrap in foil. Label each layer with the date you're freezing it.
sheet cake composite images
Matthew Clark

How to Freeze Sheet Cakes

Depending on the size of the sheet cake you're freezing, you may need different instructions for freezing. Make some space in your freezer, then follow these directions:

  • For a 13x9 cake, remove it from the pan and let it cool completely on wire racks. For a 15x10 cake, allow it to cool completely in the pan, then remove. For both sizes, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and put it back in the pan or on a tray for stability, making sure the plastic wrap is airtight.
  • Cover the pan or tray with foil and label with the date.

How Long Can Cake Last in the Freezer?

Both layer cakes and sheet cakes can be frozen up to six months. After that, the texture may not be quite the same as fresh-baked when you thaw and serve them.

How to Defrost a Frozen Cake

Defrosting cake is just as easy as freezing it. When you're ready to decorate your cake, remove it from the freezer, unwrap it, and frost it any way you want. You don't even have to let the cake thaw before you start adding dollops of buttercream frosting (or your frosting of choice)—you can start decorating straight out of the freezer. However, if you're in a humid climate, your cake might "sweat" a little as it thaws. In that case, to keep your decorations looking picture-perfect, let the cake thaw completely before frosting.

Can You Freeze Cake Batter?

If you have time to make the batter but prefer to bake fresh, you can also freeze some cake batters. After completely mixing the ingredients, pour into a lined cupcake pan for individual portions, or pour all of the batter into an airtight freezer bag and seal. Freeze up to 3 months, and thaw overnight in the fridge before baking. Not all cake batters will freeze well, though—if the batter uses whipped egg whites, like a sponge cake, the baked cake won't have the same light and airy texture if the batter was previously frozen.

Can You Freeze Cake Icing?

Freezing baked cakes and batter is fine, but can you freeze cake with icing? In some cases, yes, though most cakes will taste better (and any decorations will look better) if you freeze the unfrosted cake, then decorate after thawing. Again, frostings made with whipped egg whites won't fare well in the freezer, but classics like buttercream will taste just fine if frozen. Instead of wrapping the cake right away, frost and freeze uncovered just until the frosting sets (about an hour). Then, wrap and freeze like an unfrosted cake. When you're ready to serve, defrost quickly on the counter or in the fridge overnight.

Now you'll never find yourself without a cake. You can get months ahead on your birthday treats by baking on a quiet afternoon or weekend and saving your unfrosted cakes in the freezer for up to six months. Whenever a celebration is coming up, you can focus on the fun of decorating instead of having to start from scratch.

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