How long do the cupcakes last?

Here’s everything about the shelf life, storage practices, and spoilage of cupcakes. Learn how long they keep, whether or not to refrigerate them, and when to throw them away.

Have you bought or baked a bunch of cupcakes and aren’t sure how many days they can last before they go bad? How long exactly do the cupcakes last?

Or you may be wondering if you should keep your muffins in the fridge. Lots of articles say to keep them on the counter, but that doesn’t seem very appropriate for cupcakes with buttercream frosting.

Do you find it interesting?

If so, this article is for you. Keep reading.

cupcake in hand

Do the cupcakes need to be refrigerated?

In most cases, cupcakes do not need to be stored in the refrigerator. However, if yours are frosted or stuffed, and contain eggs, dairy, or custard, they need to be refrigerated.

Although many people suggest always storing cupcakes on the counter, I recommend chilling cupcakes that meet the above criteria in the fridge.

Think about it. If you were making whipped cream or buttercream, you wouldn’t leave it on the counter, would you? So the logical thing to do is that if you put that frosting on a cupcake, it would also be refrigerated.

If your muffins contain any fruit-based filling, eat them within two days or refrigerate them. That stuffing is likely to develop mold after a couple of days at room temperature.

Cupcakes before baking

The problem with refrigerating cupcakes is the same as refrigerating cupcakes: the fridge dries out baked goods much faster than room temperature.

The best solution for this (that I know of) is to store the frosting (or filling) and cupcakes separately. In this way, both retain the best quality for longer.

The only problem is that you have to add the frosting or filling before serving. Also, that’s not an option if you’re going to buy your cupcakes.

Muffins fresh from the oven

How long do the cupcakes last?

Cupcakes retain their quality for anywhere from two days to a week, depending on the type. Frosted and filled cupcakes hold best for 2-4 days, while unfrosted cupcakes keep for up to a week on the counter. Muffins filled or glazed with eggs or dairy will usually last 3-5 days in the fridge.

Ideally, you should opt for what the author of the recipe or the bakery clerk suggests. But since you’re here, you probably don’t have access to that information. That is when the above guidelines come into play.

As you can see, they are vague, and will fit almost any type of cupcake out there. And if you’re not sure which category yours falls into, you won’t have a problem if you follow the general rule of thumb to “eat your muffins in two days.”

If you need more time than I recommend in the table below, freeze your muffins. Nine times out of ten, they’ll turn out just fine.

Counter Fridge Freezer
Cupcakes with filling or frosting that includes dairy or eggs 3 – 4 days 3+ months
Cupcakes with fruit filling or safe frosting at room temperature 2 – 4 days 3-5 days 3+ months
Plain No Frosting Cupcakes 5 to 7 days 3+ months

Three glazed cupcakes with whipped cream

How do you know if the cupcakes are bad?

Suppose you sometimes forget about your cupcakes (I know I don’t). And then they stay stored for a couple of days. When should you throw them away?

There are a couple of things to pay attention to:

  • Mold. If there’s any sign of fuzz, either on the surface of the cupcake or in the frosting, that little guy is done for.
  • Unpleasant smell. I’ve never had muffins that smell bad in any way, but if yours do, throw them out.
  • Storage time too long. If your Raspberry Filled Frosted Cupcakes have been sitting on the counter for a week, throw them away for safety. They may still be fine, but you never know.
  • Quality. If there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the cupcakes, the last thing to look at is quality. After prolonged storage, your muffins may be dry or taste stale. Or maybe the frosting will melt or lose its shape. If any of this bothers you, that’s reason enough to throw out those cupcakes.

As usual, if you’re not entirely sure your cupcakes are safe to eat, throw them away.

Freshly baked cupcakes 1

How to store cupcakes

Keep cupcakes with frosting or filling that includes eggs, dairy, or custard refrigerated. If yours doesn’t contain either, or you have plain cupcakes on hand, you can store them at room temperature. Whichever storage location you choose, place your cupcakes in an airtight container and keep them closed.

But before you move your cupcakes anywhere, make sure they cool completely. If you have baked them yourself, let them rest on a rack for an hour so that they release all the steam.

If you put your cupcakes in a container before they’re cool, condensation is likely to form, and you’ll end up with soggy cupcakes.

When it comes to removing them from the muffin tins, it’s up to you. I use my silicone muffin pans and take the baked goods out of them shortly after I finish baking them.

Cupcakes in an airtight container

It doesn’t matter if you just want to store your cupcakes overnight or if you want them to last two days (or more), what you need is an airtight container. If your cupcakes are already frosted, make sure it’s high enough so the top doesn’t get crushed.

A closed container means that the muffins do not dry out as quickly and therefore stay fresh for longer. If your muffins are quite moist (like muffins), consider placing a paper towel under them to catch any extra moisture.

If the weather is hot and humid, and your non-dairy or egg-based frosting (for example, sprinkles) could melt in those conditions, refrigerate your frosted cupcakes.

Finally, if you store your muffins in the fridge, leave them on the counter for half an hour before serving them. Chilled muffins don’t usually taste as good.

Cupcake with whipped cream

Can the muffins be frozen?

Most types of cupcakes freeze very well, especially cupcakes without frosting and no filling.

If yours are already frosted or stuffed, in many cases you can also freeze them. You just have to know if that frosting or filling freezes well.

If it does, feel free to freeze them. If not, you can freeze those cupcakes without frosting and add as needed later after thawing.

If you’re following a recipe, check to see if its author says anything about freezing. If you buy your muffins from a local bakery, feel free to ask the clerk if they freeze well or not.

The freezing process is quite simple:

  1. Wrap each cooled cupcake individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will ensure that the muffins do not dry out in the freezer. If you don’t plan on freezing them for an extended period of time (like 1+ month), or you don’t mind wrapping them individually and you’re okay with lower quality, you can skip this step.
  2. Place the muffins in a freezer bag or container. Label with name and date if you want.
  3. Put the bag or container in the freezer.

Keep in mind that the muffins do not freeze solid, so be sure not to squash them. Or place them in a freezer-safe container to prevent them from being crushed by other foods.

When it’s time to thaw, unwrap the muffins and leave them on the counter for an hour or two to come to room temperature. The bigger and denser yours are, the more time they will need.

Last but not least, eat the cupcakes the same day you thaw them.

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