How to Freeze Cakes

I’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!

frozen cake

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

I 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.

Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting


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.)

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 for freezer

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. 🙂

freezing cakes

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.

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 my cake recipes include make-ahead and/or freezing instructions.


Vanilla cake slice

#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
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

I’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!


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

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23 Comments

    1. Hi Francie! Cupcakes are easier to freeze as they don’t dry out as quickly. Bake and cool cupcakes completely, then place in a freezer-friendly bag or container. Once they are relatively frozen, you can remove them and then layer them between sheets of parchment paper if your container is large enough. You can individually wrap them too, if desired. I usually don’t.

  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. 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!

  7. Hi Sally, I am making 50 cupcakes for my friend’s wedding & will be baking & frosting them with buttercream frosting tomorrow (Friday). The cupcakes are not going to be on display until Saturday night 8pm. What’s the best way to store them? I have 3 tier cupcake containers. Do I need to keep them in the fridge & only take it out the fridge a few hours before display so it’ll come to room temperature? Thanks!

    1. Hi Ida, How fun to bake for your friends wedding! Buttercream can be left out at room temperature for a day so as long as the cupcakes are covered they should be just fine. My only tip is to cover the entire tops of the cupcakes with frosting so that any exposed cake doesn’t dry out.

  8. 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.

    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!

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