How to Freeze Cakes

We’ve frozen plenty of cakes and have made enough mistakes to know what really works. Let’s learn how to freeze cakes so that they taste the freshest!

stack of frozen cakes wrapped in plastic wrap

You need a cake, but life’s busy and spontaneous plans pop up. We totally get it.

Making desserts ahead of time for a gathering or party is a wonderful way to avoid stress, the last thing you need before an event. So let’s talk about freezing cakes ahead of time.

The best and easiest way to make a cake ahead of time is to freeze the unassembled/undecorated layers. Over the past few years, I’ve tested multiple different ways to freeze cakes including changing factors like the cooling process, the wrapping, the container, the length of time, thawing, decorating, etc. Last year I found the best method when I was prepping and practicing cakes for my daughter’s birthday. I’ve frozen plenty of cakes– all different sizes– and I’m really excited to share the most successful freezing process with you today.

Let’s learn how to freeze cakes so that they taste the freshest.

slice of vanilla cake being served from a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting on white cake stand


How to Freeze Cakes

Step 1: Bake and completely cool a cake/cake layers. These step-by-step photos show round cakes, but you can freeze square, rectangle, Bundt cakes, etc. See 10 Cake Baking Tips for best practices on baking and cooling cakes.

Step 2: Once the cake(s) cools completely, wrap it in Press & Seal. From one baker to another– this is the best product for wrapping cakes. Maybe it’s just me, but thin plastic/saran wrap is incredibly clingy and frustrating. And I always feel like I need to double wrap food when using it. It definitely works, but Press & Seal is so much easier to use and I’ve honestly found that it keeps my food fresher. (Not working with this brand, just really love it.)

stack of wrapped cakes for freezing

Step 3: Write the type of cake and use-by date on a large piece of aluminum foil. For best taste and texture, don’t freeze cakes for longer than 3 months. You could stretch it to 4 or 5 months, but the sooner you serve it, the fresher it tastes. I write on the aluminum foil before wrapping the cake just in case the ink seeps through. (It has before!)

Step 4: Wrap the cake in the aluminum foil.

wrapped cake in foil for freezer

stack of cakes wrapped in aluminum foil

Step 5: Place the cake(s) in a freezer-safe container. Or if you don’t have a big enough container, wrap in another layer of aluminum foil. Of course make sure the foil with the date on it is what’s on the outside. 🙂

container of frozen cake layers in the freezer

Step 6: Freeze for up to 3 months.

The cakes are wrapped in two layers: Press & Seal, then aluminum foil. The first layer keeps the cake tight and fresh and the aluminum foil ensures no condensation will seep in. This is also how I wrap banana bread and other quick breads, too. Double layer = maximum freshness and no freezer burn. Moisture is the enemy, so don’t be afraid to add another layer of Press & Seal or aluminum foil.

plastic wrap and aluminum foil products for freezing cakes


How to Thaw Cakes

Thawing cakes is easy. Transfer the wrapped cakes from the freezer to the refrigerator one day before decorating/serving. I usually take them out of the freezer container to thaw. The cakes take at least 8 hours to thaw completely in the refrigerator. Sometimes I forget and just let the cake(s) thaw at room temperature, but it’s better they thaw at a slower rate in the refrigerator.

This is important: Make sure you’re thawing the cakes while they’re still in the wrapping. You see, condensation forms as foods thaw. This way the condensation will form on the wrapping, not the cake. Wet sticky cake, anyone?


Best Cakes to Freeze

You can freeze just about any cake after they’ve cooled completely. Mega flavorful cakes such as banana cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake, and pumpkin cake freeze and thaw beautifully when wrapped in a couple layers, as detailed above. I find their flavor is even better after the freezing/thawing process! Bundt cakes and pound cake freeze wonderfully as well, just make sure they’re completely cooled and wrapped tightly before freezing. For cheesecake instructions, see “How to Freeze Cheesecake” in my cheesecake recipe.

Baker’s Tip: For absolute best taste and texture, avoid freezing delicate cakes like angel food cake, vertical cake, and pavlova. Though you definitely COULD freeze these (and the recipes instruct how), they taste best when freshly made.

All of our cake recipes include make-ahead and/or freezing instructions.


Vanilla cake slice on white plate

#1 Success Tip

Don’t Freeze Decorated Cake: For the absolute best taste and texture, assemble and decorate the cake as close to serving as possible. That’s why I recommend only freezing the cake/cake layers. A completely decorated cake will contract and expand during the freezing/thawing process, ruining some of your hard work. You can make the frosting ahead of time and refrigerate it for 1 day, but fresh frosting really does taste best. Freezing leftover frosted cake is completely fine, though. (Because it’s just leftover and doesn’t need to impress anyone anymore!)

Pictured: Vanilla Cake

Print
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stack of wrapped cakes for freezing

How to Freeze Cakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cake
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Use this guide to freeze your cakes so they taste the freshest possible.


Ingredients

  • baked & cooled cake(s)
  • Press & Seal wrap or plastic wrap
  • aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. Bake and completely cool a cake/cake layers. These step-by-step photos show round cakes, but you can freeze square, rectangle, Bundt cakes, etc. See 10 Cake Baking Tips for best practices on baking and cooling cakes.
  2. Once the cake(s) cools completely, wrap it in Press & Seal. This is the best product for wrapping cakes. Thin plastic/saran wrap is incredibly clingy and frustrating. Regular plastic wrap definitely works, but Press & Seal is so much easier to use and I’ve honestly found that it keeps my food fresher. (Not working with this brand, just really love it.)
  3. Write the type of cake and use-by date on a large piece of aluminum foil. I write on the aluminum foil before wrapping the cake just in case the ink seeps through. It has before!
  4. Wrap the cake in the aluminum foil.
  5. Place the cake(s) in a freezer-safe container. Or if you don’t have a big enough container, wrap in another layer of aluminum foil. (Make sure the foil with the date on it is what’s on the outside.)
  6. Freeze for up to 3 months. For best taste and texture, don’t freeze cakes for longer than 3 months. You could stretch it to 4 or 5 months, but the sooner you serve it, the fresher it tastes.
  7. When ready to thaw: Transfer the wrapped cakes from the freezer to the refrigerator one day before decorating/serving. Take them out of the freezer container to thaw, but leave them wrapped in Press & Seal/aluminum foil. The cakes take at least 8 hours to thaw completely in the refrigerator. Make sure you’re thawing the cakes while they’re still in the wrapping. Condensation forms as foods thaw. This way the condensation will form on the wrapping, not the cake.
  8. Assemble, decorate, and serve cake.

Notes

Don’t Freeze Decorated Cake: For best taste and texture, assemble and decorate the cake as close to serving as possible. A completely decorated cake will contract and expand during the freezing/thawing process, ruining some of your hard work. You can make the frosting ahead of time and refrigerate it for 1 day, but fresh frosting really does taste best.

Keywords: cake, vanilla cake

129 Comments

  1. I’ve been baking for 54 years & as my mother always told me You can always learn something from someone by watching them cook or bake. I too have tried all kinds of ways to freeze cakes, but no good. Thank you so much for sharing this tip. Great idea.

  2. Perfect timing as usual Sally!!! Right now we are preparing for a massive amount of entertaining and looking for any and all things we can make ahead and freeze. Cakes I have usually found in the past don’t freeze well for me and they just taste ‘ugh’…..but I’m totally going to do this! Thank you Sally!

    P.S. I love your handwriting!! 😉

  3. Thank you for posting this particular post. I have been traumatized of freezing cakes because of stories of my great grandmother’s frozen cakes. Least to say I do not want to repeat some of those experiences. I want to confidently put cakes in the freezer knowing they will still maintain a delicious flavor when thawed and decorated. I appreciate this post so much and I am thrilled about freezing cakes for the first time in my life.

  4. This is a great post! I also learned something with the wrapping technique.
    I’m wondering how you freeze your muffins? I’ve tried containers, but often resort to ziplock bags. Is one preferable to the other?

    Thank you for sharing your hard one knowledge! I appreciate the “cake” series.

    1. Thank you so much, Carol! Either are fine, but I usually use zipped-top bags. Bake and cool the muffins completely before freezing.

  5. Beverly Powell says:

    Thank you for this Post! Perfect timing for me as I am preparing for a Baby Shower soon. I am wanting to make a Pumpkin Caramel Cream Cheese Poke Cake. I understand that it would be best to frost the cake right before the party. But, is it possible for me to make the base cake with the ‘poked holes filled with caramel’ ahead and freeze? The cake would be in a glass or metal 9×13 pan. I need to make several and this would be such a time saver if I can freeze ahead. Thanks so much for sharing your baking knowledge….

    1. Hi Beverly, Unfortunately I don’t have much experience with poke cakes. It *should* be fine to do it that way but you might want to check with the author of the recipe you are using 🙂

  6. Hi sally
    Thanks for the tips. Just wondering about freezing leftover defrosted cakes after an event? I’m never sure about refreezing previously frozen foods.
    Thanks!

    1. It’s fine, but obviously they won’t taste as fresh if they’ve been frozen/thawed multiple times.

  7. Never thought I could freeze cakes! So glad to hear that, especially for the step-by-step instructions you provided: next time I bake a cake, I will try to freeze it, so that I will be ready when I really need one.
    I very much appreciate all the tips and recommendations. I love baking, but I consider myself a beginner, as I used to bake a few types of cakes, where I felt really confident about. Instead, I tend to feel discouraged when something doesn’t work properly in the process. Thanks to you, I’ve started experimenting a bit more, as I have the clear perception that you would take me (as well as all your readers) in hand to help when something does not go as expected while following a recipe.

  8. If cakes need to be trimmed flat for stacking later during assembly, do you recommend trimming the domed tops off before or after freezing?

    1. Honestly, either way works! I usually cut the tops off before freezing just because it’s one less step I have to do when they thaw 🙂

  9. Hi Sally, thanks for these instructions!
    Silly question, as we are two people and usually cannot (or should not!) eat an entire cake, I was wondering how to store individual cake slices? Analogue to the whole cakes or would you recommend another method?

    Best wishes from cold and rainy Switzerland!
    Laura

    1. Hi Laura, I have frozen cake slices many times! If the cake has frosting on it, you can freeze individual sizes laid out on a sheet pan until frozen, and then wrap each one with plastic wrap, etc. I hope this helps!

  10. Hi Sally! Novice baker here. I baked two bundt cakes tonight for a party on Thursday. I plan to decorate tomorrow night. Do I freeze tonight/tomorrow or just refrigerate? Thank you!

    1. If you are serving the cakes two days after baking they should be ok in the refrigerator covered tightly.

  11. Hi Sally,

    If you have defrosted a cake, does it have to stay refrigerated until it is served and then returned to the refrigerator straight after? Just wondering if it is a cake which is usually served room temp like a loaf cake.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    1. Hi Chris, The recommend storage of an assembled and frosted cake depends on a few factors. If you are using ingredients that don’t require refrigeration like regular buttercream, then I store and serve at room temperature. Things like cream cheese frosting or fresh fruit fillings do require refrigeration. Each of my cake recipes include this information in the notes!

  12. Can I freeze a gingerbread cake and an apple cake the same way? This would make thanksgiving so much easier!

    1. Absolutely!

  13. I’ve just baked a thin almond cake in a springform pan. It’s only maybe an inch thick and I’m afraid if I remove it from its base it will break. Do you think I could use this method just leaving the cake on the springform base? Thanks!

    1. Hi Heather, Yes! I have wrapped cakes on the base of a springform pan and frozen it that way many times!

  14. Hi Sally!

    Can I place the frozen can in the refrigerator for 8hrs To thaw and frost or does it need to be thaw at room temp?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Cakes can thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, yes!

  15. I am baking my mum a birthday cake for both a Sunday and Monday in December. Both days are going to be super hectic. I was wondering if I bake the cakes earlier in the week and freeze (only for a couple days), then defrost and decorate the cakes on a Saturday night, will both cakes be okay? (one Sunday night that Im not too worried about and the other on Monday) The cakes will be a lemon, red velvet, and carrot.

    1. Hi Lucy, The cakes should be fine to be frosted on Saturday and then served on Sunday and Monday. Just be sure to read the recipe notes for each specific recipe for storage directions (i.e. cream cheese frosted must be stored in the refrigerator, etc).

  16. How do cake with nuts in them freeze? I will only be freezing for 2-3 days. Thanks.

    1. There shouldn’t be any difference if the cake has nuts!

  17. Thanks so much for your baking tips, especially this one. I am going to bake a birthday cake for Christmas eve , but with so many things to do , I want to get ahead start. Can I split the cakes in layers before freezing them? Thanks again.

    1. You are so welcome, Maria! I’m glad you found this blog post helpful. Definitely – I recommend freezing them as individual layers.

  18. I want to freeze niche de Noel, a jelly roll cake with butter cream frosting. Can I freeze the rolled up (frosting on the inside) cake, then frost and decorate the outside when defrosted?

    1. Yes! Just wrap the rolled up cake in a couple layers of plastic wrap, then aluminum foil.

  19. What’s your rule of thumb for how long to cool cakes before freezing?

    1. Until they are no longer warm. Depending on the thickness of the cake, this is usually a few hours if cooling at room temperature.

  20. Breanna Badger says:

    Hi Sally. Is it better to ice a cake after it’s completely thawed or is frozen ok. Seems like a frozen cake would not crumble as easy?

    1. I definitely recommend letting the cake completely thaw before decorating. Also, let it thaw while still wrapped in the Saran / foil. Otherwise, your cake will become wet and mushy as it thaws. Hope this helps!

  21. I am baking Chocolate Cupcakes this weekend for the following Thursday. I know that I should be able to freeze them and decorate after thawing. My question is – I will have a chocolate ganache filling in the cupcakes. Can I freeze with the filling?

    1. Hi Linda, They should be ok to freeze with the filling. Be sure to thaw them in the refrigerator before decorating.

  22. Can i freeze a Baci cake? Once i did it but it was not home made and had a layer of fondant on.

    I was thinking of preparing s baci cake for my chrisining and wanted to prepare it before.

    And what about Christmas fruit cake?
    Thank you

  23. Nellie Silva says:

    If you are baking a cut-out cake, such as a number, do you freeze the cut/out or the whole cake & cut it out after thawing?

    1. Hi Nellie, I would recommend freezing the layer and then cutting it out. It would be less delicate and easier to wrap that way!

  24. Hi all!
    I made a ton of cupcakes today to practice piping buttercream- but now I want to freeze them to prevent eating them in all one go! Can I chop up and layer the cupcakes / buttercream in a mason jars and pop them into the freezer? I’m not sure how that’ll affect condensation and everything.

    Thank you!
    Olivia

    1. Hi Olivia, I don’t see why that wouldn’t work!

  25. martha Weiss says:

    how do you freeze slices of cake? I just made your blueberry lemon cake. So good!

    1. Hi Martha! To freeze slices of cake, I recommend wrapping each slice tightly in plastic wrap and placing each wrapped slice into a freezer safe storage container. Thaw to your liking prior to serving 🙂

  26. How long does it take for a cake to freeze?
    What is the shortest time you would recommend leaving a cake in the freezer for?

    1. Hi Kiersten! The length of time it takes a cake to freeze depends on the size and thickness of the cake. Freezing for up to 3 months is perfect. You can freeze for just 1 day if you want to make it ahead, though you could simply wrap a cake up tightly and leave at room temperature for that 1 day.

  27. Generally speaking, I have trouble with press n seal sticking to and removing the top layer of things. Do you experience this when wrapping and freezing cakes? I wonder if a parchment round would prevent that issue?
    Thank you!

    1. I can see that happening with ultra moist cakes. A parchment paper round on top (before wrapping up) will definitely help.

  28. nancy hoekman says:

    Thank you, it is very helpful to me as a beginner! I have a 3 layer birthday cake to make for this Friday pick up, when can I make the cakes and when should I decorate it? Would I also need to add dowels into the cake?
    Also, I have a small naked 2 tier wedding cake for this Saturday pick up, when would I make the cakes for that and decorate?
    Thank you!!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nancy, After decorating anything with buttercream or cream cheese frosting, it’s fine for 1 day at room temperature. After that, I would definitely refrigerate it. But, use your best judgment and whatever you are comfortable with- We’ve never had any problems leaving frosted desserts at room temperature for a day. You only need dowels in a cake if you are making it very very tall or if you are stacking tiers (see Simple Homemade Wedding Cake for an example)
      For a naked cake, the frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. For more details see the recipe notes in the Naked Cake Recipe.

  29. Sally, I didn’t see this post last night and wrapped my cake layers in plastic wrap only. Did I ruin it? Was planning on beginning defrost tonight.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chrissy, They should be fine, especially if they weren’t frozen for a long time.

  30. You mentioned angel food doesn’t work as well. What about sponge cake layers, does that fall under angel food cakes? Thanks.

    1. Sponge cakes freeze a little better than angel food cake. You can use this method with sponge cakes. (But they definitely taste best when served fresh!)

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