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How to Freeze, Thaw and Transport your Cakes
Today I’m giving you all my tips for how to freeze, thaw and transport your cakes.
As many of you already know by now, baking and decorating a cake takes time! It’s not a process that should be rushed. It’s why I like to spread out my baking and decorating over the course of a day or two. Actually, with my crazy schedule, I’ve even been known to bake an entire cake a week before an event – decorated and all!
So don’t let the fear of time prevent you from making a delicious tasting and beautiful looking cake. In today’s post, I’m sharing all my tips for freezing, thawing and even transporting your cakes.
Video Tutorial: Fox 13 The Place
A while back, I visited my friends at Fox 13’s The Place to talk about the topic of storing cakes. If you’re a visual learner, like me, you can check out my segments by clicking the link below.
I’ve also outlined everything from that segment below:
Freezing Individual Cake Layers
- You can bake your cake layers up to a month (even two!) in advance. After the cake layers are completely cooled to room temperature, wrap each individual cake layer with 2 layers of plastic wrap, followed by tin foil. If the cake can fit, you can also place each cake layer in its own zip lock bag.
- If you only need to store your cake layers for a few days, still wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap one or two times, but skip the foil and zip lock bag.
- Before using your cake layers, remove the layers from the freezer about an hour before you plan to decorate. You don’t want the layers to be completely frozen when you start frosting your cake because the frozen layers will start to chill the frosting, making it really hard to spread your frosting. Instead, let the layers thaw a bit, but start decorating while they’re still chilled. Having chilled cake layers is much easier to handle and decorate.
Freezing Completed Cakes
- You can also freeze completely finished cakes. After you decorate your cake, put it in the freezer for about 30 to 60 minutes to set the buttercream. When the exterior buttercream is set, wrap the entire cake tightly with plastic wrap a couple times, followed by tin foil if the cake needs to be stored for more than a week.
- The night before you plan to serve the cake, transfer the cake from the freezer to the refrigerator to start thawing. Keep the plastic wrap on. (Moving the cake right from the freezer to room temperature will cause some condensation and you’ll get water drops on your cake. If you’re using fondant, this will create water droplets between the buttercream and fondant and you’ll start to get bubbles in your fondant).
- The morning of your party or event, transfer the cake from the refrigerator to the counter. Remove the plastic wrap and put the cake in an airtight container or box to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
- After you’ve served part of your cake, if you still have some left over, I recommend cutting the cake into individual slices and wrapping each slice with plastic wrap. I also like to then place all the wrapped cake layers in an airtight container. This will keep the cake fresh for up for one month.
- First, before you even start decorating your cake, you’ll want to tape two cake boards together for your base. The first cake board should be the same size as the cake layers. Place that cake board on top of a cake board that is one size bigger. Having this larger cake board under your cake will allow you to move it in and out of the freezer during decorating without damaging the frosting. You’ll also use this larger cake board to help secure the cake in a cake box for transporting.
- Second, make sure your cake is chilled when you’re ready to transport. I usually keep my cake in the refrigerator before it’s time to deliver.
- When it’s time to travel with your cake, place the cake in a cake box. I like the two-piece Wilton cake boxes. Depending on the size of the box and the size of your larger cake board, you may be able to slide the cake into the box and see that the larger board fits nice and snug inside. If the cake board is smaller than the box, make sure to tape the sides of the cake board to the bottom of the box.
For more of my cake tutorials, check out my YOUTUBE PAGE.
Hi! When you take the wrapped layers out of the freezer to thaw on the counter, do you keep them wrapped or unwrapped? Same question for thawing whole cakes in the fridge and at room temperature? Thanks!
You can keep them wrapped on the counter. For thawing out a whole cake, keep it wrapped in the freezer. Unwrap it when you take it to the fridge.
I was wondering if it’s alright to freeze your cake before you leave on a trip so the cake won’t get spoil on the road! I was planning to go to Nebraska this week! And I’m supposed to bring several different types of cakes! So I just wondering if it’s ok to freeze the cake! Thanks!
Yes of course!!
Do you find that the smooth sides and sharp edges of the frosted cake get ruined when you thaw a frozen, frosted cake in the fridge with plastic wrap on it? Does the frosting stay cold enough in the fridge not to get ruined? I’m worried that all the time I spent getting the perfect smooth frosting would be wasted one I removed the plastic wrap on the thawed cake
Freeze the cake for long enough before you add the plastic wrap. Then when you move it out of the freezer, unwrap before it thaws.
Have you ever frosted a cake is Swiss meringue buttercream and frozen it? Does the SMBC hold up to freezing and thawing? Thanks for all your advice! You are amazing.
I have not! Sorry!
If I wrap my cake tightly after it has hardened in the freezer but then don’t remove it until it is defrosted and been on the counter surely removing the wrap will mess up my buttercream icing?
Take the wrapper off your cake when you take it out of the freezer. Not after its thawed.
Hi there! Love this tutorial. When you freeze a fully decorated cake, let it thaw in the fridge, then take it out day of, you said to store in an airtight container or box. What would constitute an airtight box? Looking to travel in the car with a bunch of mini cakes and I’m not totally on board with spending a ton of money on Tupperware for them all, so trying to look into boxes.
I usually just use a Wilton cake box!
Are the wilton cake boxes tall enough for a 4-layer 6inch cake? Thanks!!
I had a request to make my carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. The gentleman that wants the cake is traveling 8 hours for Christmas. I’ve froze the layers then frosted the cake and froze it. My question is do I wrap the cake or can I wrap the cake box ?
Any information would be greatly appreciated. This was the first time I’ve been asked to make my cake other than for family member.
You can wrap the cake for its journey!
How far in advance can I freeze a coconut cream cake with butter cream frosting? Would the cake still taste good after about 3-4 weeks in the freezer?
Yep! Just wrap it well with saran!
Hi Courtney – I have a quick question as I was reading through some of the comments. In your instructions above on thawing a cake, you mention taking from freezer to fridge the night before the event but to leave Saran Wrap on. You don’t mention taking it off until you move it to countertop on the day of the event. In the comments below you said to remove Saran Wrap as soon as you move from freezer to refrigerator. Can you confirm which should be done for a fully decorated cake? And if I remove the Saran Wrap right away, should I also put it in a box right away as well or wait to do that until I have it on the counter? Thanks so much!!
Remove saran after placing in the fridge.
I don’t know what a cake board is. For transporting
It’s what you build your cake on!
Is there an issue with freezing the cake layers, thawing to assemble and decorate, and then freezing the fully decorated cake with previously frozen layers?
Not at all!
I will try this cake. I am looking for a good moist gluten free white cake for a wedding. Can u the
help? Thank u linda
My white cake recipe, just sub GF flour!
I have to make about 6 cakes for a fundraiser dinner. I was thinking of just making them 9×13 cakes. I was wondering if I should just get disposable foil containers that are 9×13 and bake them in that, make the icing, and then freeze. Or, should I use my Wilton 9×13 pan and put it on a cake board, ice it, and then freeze them? I’ve never made this many cakes, so I wasn’t sure if I should just plan to make them all the day before the fundraiser, or make a cake a day and freeze them. What would you suggest? Thanks!
I think do what is easiest for you! Disposable is great
Thank you so much for this! I have been trying to figure out a solution for transporting my son’s birthday cake to our campsite next week. We have very little room in our trailer fridge and his birthday isn’t until our last day there (4 days out). I really didn’t want to spend a whole day out of our vacation decorating a cake in the RV lol! Freezing it decorated will work perfectly! 🙂
Will sprinkles bleed while defrosting a frozen fully decorated cake? I’m going to be doing your confetti cake design.
I’m making a 5 layer wedding cake and plan to make on layer a day for that week starting with the 16 in on Monday and working till Friday ending up with the 6 inch freezing them all and so pulling them all out and putting them in the frig on Friday for a two hour trip on Saturday. pulling them but should I freeze the small one for any thine or should just putting it in a small box be okay for the trip if it’s been in the frig for the night , I plan on having our keep with the air on ahead of time for a cooler trip , freeze out I guess lol , this will be my first cake I have traveled with and the mother in law is a mother inlaw Godzilla so concerned . Help
Hi! I’ve been asked if I could make a cake for an engagement party 6 hours away. How would I freeze and transport this? I’m nervous the buttercream would get soft for that long of a trip, and if I just take it from the freezer it would sweat from going straight from freezer to room temperature.
Maybe dry ice? That’s a long time to be transporting it.
Hi Courtney, I am a big fan of yours. I have started freezing my cake layers and they are real game changer. I however have few questions:
1. When should I put simple syrup on the layers? Before freezing them or after thawing to room temperature?
2. I once had a disaster that I froze the cake and once it was still 70% frozen, I cut the layers. It was definitely frozen in the middle and I put the simple syrup on the layers and went on decorating it. What came out was a super dense like rubber cake layers. I am horrified after that and thaw my cake layers completely before decorating and this causes me a lot of time than instead of baking the cake and letting it to come to room temperature the same day for decorating. Please help me with this problem.
I don’t use simple syrup. If the cake is frozen, put in the fridge the morning of the event and then remove from the fridge a few hours before serving.
I would like to make a smash cake with chocolate ganache on top. Can you freeze it and the ganache will be good when defrosted? Thanks!
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