The Absolute Best Ways To Keep Cupcakes Fresh

Cupcakes can be the perfect single-serving treat to satisfy your sweet tooth. Whether you prefer the classics like chocolate and red velvet or something more out-of-the-box, like lemon-lavender or dulce de leche, sometimes the little desserts just hit the spot. According to Tastemade, cupcakes were first mentioned in "American Cookery," written by Amelia Simmons in 1796, spiking in popularity in the 2000s, thanks in part to "Sex and the City." And while the cupcake craze has died down, they are still a staple when it comes to baked goods.

The flavor combinations of the cute cakes might be endless, but their shelf life sadly isn't. When your sweet tooth craving hits, a dried-out cupcake just won't do — so how do you keep them fresh if you want to enjoy your cupcakes beyond the day you baked or bought them? Cupcakes will keep anywhere from a couple of days to a few months if handled properly (via StillTasty). Here are the best ways to store cupcakes.

Keep cupcakes at room temperature

If you can't enjoy all your cupcakes the day they are baked when the flavor is best, Hummingbird Bakery recommends storing them in an airtight container at room temperature. This method works for cupcakes frosted with buttercream, but those frosted with cream cheese frosting (like carrot cake cupcakes) should be refrigerated.

The bakery explains cupcakes keep best stored unfrosted and wrapped in plastic. Wait to wrap your unfrosted cupcakes until they are completely cool, as any moisture trapped in with them can make the treats soggy. Frosted or unfrosted, cupcakes stored using this method will last about two days.

Keeping them stored in a proper container is important. Per LeafTV, exposing the cupcakes to air is what makes them go stale and opens them up to possible contamination, so make sure the container is securely closed. (Tell the kids no peeking!)

Need your cupcakes to last longer? Try the freezer

When stored in the freezer, StillTasty reports cupcakes are best eaten within four to six months. (Cupcakes frozen for longer are unlikely to make you sick, but they probably won't taste all that great.) It is important that they are stored in an airtight container, freezer bag, or wrapped in freezer-grade foil or plastic wrap to keep out moisture and air.

Putting cupcakes in the freezer to thaw later is a great method for storing them for a longer period of time, according to Kansas State University Research and Extension, as long as the proper procedures are followed. Like other methods, it's important to make sure the cupcakes are cool before wrapping them or putting them into your storage container to prevent soggy thawed cupcakes. If the cupcakes are frosted, the university recommends putting them in the freezer first to harden the frosting before putting them in your storage container of choice. It is best not to freeze cupcakes with egg-white frostings and custard-like fillings.

Unfrosted cupcakes can be left covered at room temperature for two to three hours to thaw; frosted cupcakes should be thawed in the fridge.

For some cupcakes, the fridge is the safest choice

The Spruce Eats cautions against storing cupcakes in the refrigerator. This may seem like a good way to try to keep them for a few more days, but the fridge is liable to suck the moisture right out of them. The outlet explains refrigeration "speeds crystallization in the sugar and flour," leaving you with a dry cake. No one wants to serve their hungry party guests stale cupcakes, even if they look as pretty as the day you frosted them.

Despite the risk of drying out, refrigeration is recommended for some types of cupcakes to keep them safe to eat. Cupcakes with frostings or fillings that include ingredients like cream cheese, whipped cream, or custard, according to StillTasty, can make you sick if left out at room temperature for too long. If you are experiencing particularly warm weather, you may also want to move your cupcakes to the fridge, regardless of the type of frosting you're using. When storing leftover cupcakes in the fridge, it's best to place them in airtight container or wrapped in foil or plastic to prevent further drying out. Once stored, they can last up to a week.

A final note: No matter your preferred method of storage, if your cupcakes look or smell funky, StillTasty says they've probably gone bad. And if you spot mold, it's definitely best to throw them away. Serving your party guest slightly dry cupcakes is one thing, moldy cupcakes is another.