Storing Cream Cheese Frosting

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2014

Can a cake with cream cheese frosting be stored at room temperature, or does it have to be refrigerated?

Because we don’t particularly enjoy eating cold cake, whenever possible we like to leave cake out on the counter and consume it within a couple of days. One exception is cake with cream cheese frosting. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises refrigerating any food made with cream cheese after 2 hours (that includes time spent making the food). In general, that seems like sound advice. However, we feel comfortable leaving the frosting for our Simple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (see related content) out for up to 8 hours, since we know that sugar acts as a preservative and that the amount we use is more than 50 percent of the weight of the cream cheese.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Cake with cream cheese frosting does need to be refrigerated—and generally within 2 hours after you’ve made it. To serve the cake after it’s been chilled, remove only the slices you plan to serve from the refrigerator, rather than the whole cake, since individual slices will warm up more quickly. This will also minimize any food safety risks.