Can You Freeze Buttercream Icing?

Q. Every time I make a batch of buttercream icing for a cake or for cupcakes, I always have some leftover. It’s not enough for a whole extra cake or anything, but it’s enough to probably frost another 6 cupcakes. I feel bad for wasting perfectly good food every time I throw the excess buttercream icing away, but I’m not sure how to preserve it for the next time I may need it. I see frozen cakes with frosting on them in the grocery store all the time, but processed food contains so many preservatives that I’m not sure if the same method would work with my simple homemade buttercream recipe. Can you freeze buttercream?

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A. While it is true that many processed foods contain stabilizers and preservatives, the good news is that buttercream icing doesn’t need any of those to hold up to being frozen. Yes, you can freeze buttercream icing. Buttercream icing is typically only made up of butter, icing sugar, and vanilla extract, unless you add in some food colouring as well. You may find that the colour of your icing fades a bit in the freezer, so you may want to add another drop of colouring to it after thawing. Other than that, it freezes quite well. Since it is high in fat, it may separate a bit upon thawing, but that shouldn’t affect the quality at all. Simply give it a stir if necessary.

To freeze buttercream icing, start with fresh icing that hasn’t been sitting out on the counter for too long. Scoop the buttercream icing into a hard sided freezer safe container or into a freezer bag. Then, remove the excess air from the bag or place a layer of plastic wrap over the top if in a container. Seal the bag or container. Then, label and date it. Place the buttercream icing in the freezer where the temperature remains constant. Preferably near the back of the freezer, not near the door.

To use frozen buttercream icing, remove it from the freezer the night before you need it. Allow it to that overnight in the fridge, not on the counter. When it’s thawed completely, open the package and scoop the buttercream icing into a bowl. Adjust the colour if necessary, then give it a stir if any separation has occurred. Then use it like you would any batch of buttercream icing. Unused icing can be stored in the fridge for about 48 hours.

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