How Long to Cool Cupcakes Before Frosting

Your cupcake recipe is perfected, whether you’re making the treats from scratch or a box mix. The small cakes came out of the oven without burning or sinking, and all that’s left is decorating.

Knowing when to start frosting the cupcakes is a common question. It seems there is a right and wrong time if you want them to look as great as they taste.  Keep reading to find out how long to cool cupcakes before frosting.

Why Do Cupcakes Need to Cool Before Frosting?

It’s tempting to break out the frosting the minute the cupcakes come out of the oven. They smell delicious, and you can’t wait to take a bite.

Frosting too soon can turn your perfect cupcakes into a mess.

Cupcakes are surprisingly fragile right out of the oven. When you try to spread the icing, the top can crack and crumble, leaving you with a mess.

Another reason to wait until the cupcakes are cool is to prevent the frosting from melting. Even if the cupcake feels cool on top, you still want to wait before icing.

So How Long to Cool Cupcakes Before Frosting Them?

Your cupcakes are done when they are golden brown on top and the batter isn’t sticking to the inserted toothpick. It’s time to take them out of the oven, but don’t reach for the frosting. You need to let the cupcakes cool, and it takes more than a few minutes. So, how long should cupcakes cool before frosting?

The cupcakes should cool for about one hour before you start decorating. To ensure the cupcakes are completely cool, there’s a simple trick you can use.

How to Cool Cupcakes for Frosting

When you take the cupcakes out of the oven, leave them in the baking pan for about ten minutes. You won’t burn your fingers removing them from a hot pan, and there’s less risk of them crumbling and falling apart.

After ten minutes, carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on a cooling rack. Let the small cakes sit for an hour, and then it is time to start decorating them.

Here’s a helpful tip if you are baking multiple batches of cupcakes. Let the baking pan cool for ten minutes before adding more batter. It helps prevent the bottoms from burning.

How to Frost Cupcakes

Do you ever wonder how professional bakers decorate their cupcakes? Their treats always look like delicious works of art.

Decorating cupcakes is easier than you may think. You can add sprinkles, create designs, or even write on top. These simple tips will help your cupcakes look like they came from a professional bakery.

Frosting Cupcakes with a Spatula

One of the simplest frosting methods is using a spatula. Almost every kitchen has one. You want to use a smaller one, as close to the size of the cupcake as possible. It will make it easier to control where the frosting goes.

You can also use a butter knife, but avoid any utensils with sharp edges that can accidentally cut into the cake’s top.

Scoop a large dollop of frosting onto the spatula. You want to start frosting in the center of the cupcake. Gently spread the frosting to the edges. How thick the icing is on top depends on your tastes.

You can also use the spatula to fluff the frosting by giving it swirls. Use the spatula to lift the frosting, moving it in a circular motion.

A frosting bag with a #6 tip also works great when you want to swirl icing.

Frosting Cupcakes Using a Bowl

Sometimes the cupcakes don’t need to look perfect, or maybe you are in a hurry. There’s a quick and easy way to get them frosted after cooling.

Place your frosting in a medium to large mixing bowl. Fluffy frosting works best. You can find it in the store or make a quick batch at home. All you need is your favorite yogurt and frozen whipped topping. Mix the two ingredients, and you have flavored fluffy icing.

Dip the cupcakes into the bowl, and without pressing down, gently spin the cupcakes. It gives the frosting a swirled appearance.

Professional Cupcake Frosting at Home

It’s easy to customize your cupcakes at home. You can decorate the batch the same or make each one unique.

All it takes is changing the color of the frosting or adding sprinkles and other decorations.

You will need a few items besides frosting. You can find them in the baking aisle at your local grocery store.

Look for:

  • Food coloring. You can find it in gel, liquid, and paste. Either type works great, just choose the colors you want.
  • Colored sugar sprinkled on top of the frosting is another easy way to spice up the decorations. You can also find edible pearls and glitter to help make the cupcakes sparkle.
  • Small candies are another way you can make your cupcakes stand out. Place the candies on top of the frosting, usually one or two on top.
  • Bags of premade sugar decorations are another idea. You can find everything from small flowers to birds, hearts, and stars.

Another fun decorating idea is using a food pen. You can write simple messages on cupcakes with edible ink.

Cupcake Frosting and Decorating Tips

Looking for some ideas on how to frost and decorate your cupcakes? Here are a few easy ways you can make your cupcakes look as good as they taste.

Don’t shy away from mixing colors. Cupcakes should look as fun as they are to eat. You can use different colored sprinkles, glitter, nonpareils, and confetti. You can give the cupcakes a rainbow effect or have a batch of various colored ones. Everyone can pick their favorite color to eat.

Use food coloring in the batter. It’s a fun surprise underneath the icing. Even if the batter is flavored, you can still change the color. The main exception is with chocolate and other dark batters. In this case, stick to adding color to the frosting.

Use various size frosting tips to create fun designs. If you aren’t artistic, use premade sugar decorations.

Frosting bags are a cupcake decorator’s best friend, but you can save some money and make one at home.

Take a small plastic bag, like the ones you use for food storage. Cut off one bottom corner, but don’t make the hole too large. You want to control the flow of the frosting. You also don’t want the hole too small. Applying too much pressure to the bag can result in it bursting open, leaving you with a sticky mess to clean up.

Other fun and edible decorations include coconut shavings, nuts, grated fruit peels, and chocolate shavings. You can also drizzle caramel or chocolate across the cupcakes.

How to Keep Your Cupcakes Fresh

Your cupcakes are frosted and decorated, but the party doesn’t start for a few hours. You don’t want your guests eating stale treats, but you also don’t want to ruin the icing.

Covering the cupcake platter with plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or parchment paper will keep the cupcakes fresh. Insert a toothpick into the top of one or two of the small cakes to prevent the cover from touching the frosting.

Store cupcakes with buttercream icing at room temperature. Cupcakes with whipped cream or cream cheese icing need refrigeration if not immediately served.

With fluffy icing, it’s best to frost the cupcakes right before serving. If you can’t wait that long, cover the plate, and use toothpicks.

Here’s a detailed article on How to Keep Cupcakes Fresh.

How to Store Leftover Cupcakes

It’s surprising, but sometimes you have leftover cupcakes. Don’t worry, you won’t have to throw them out. It’s easy to store the cakes for a few days. You may have to clear some space in your refrigerator, depending on the type of icing.

Cupcakes with fluffy and buttercream frosting will stay fresh at room temperature for two days. Make sure the plate is completely covered. The goal is to prevent air from getting in.

Whipped and cream cheese icing needs refrigeration. The cakes will stay fresh for two days. Cover the plate before placing it on the shelf.

Here’s a detailed article on How to Store Cupcakes.

How to Freeze Frosted Cupcakes

Freezing unfrosted cupcakes works best. Let the cupcakes cool for one hour before placing them in a bakery box. You can find them at most bakeries, even the one at your local grocery store. You may even be able to get a couple for free.

Carefully place the cupcakes in the box without overcrowding. Cover the cupcakes with foil, plastic wrap, or a freezer bag. Close the lid and place the box in the freezer. You can leave the box in the freezer for up to eight weeks.

It’s a little harder freezing frosted cupcakes, but it is possible. Cream-based frosting freezes better than whipped or fluffy icing. These types of frosting often stick to the covering.

Before frosting the cupcakes, freeze them for an hour. Do not put the cupcakes directly into the freezer from the oven. You still want to let them cool for about 60 minutes.

After freezing the cupcakes, go ahead and start frosting. Before covering them, insert a few toothpicks in their tops to keep the plastic from sticking to the frosting.

You can store frosted cupcakes in the freezer for around two or three months.

Leave the cupcakes sitting out at room temperature for an hour after freezing before serving to your guests.

Here’s a more detailed article on How To Freeze Cupcakes.

Mistakes to Avoid for Perfectly Frosted Cupcakes

How your cupcakes turn out from the oven plays a large role in how they look after frosting. Some problems you can fix with frosting. For example, if the cakes didn’t rise to the top of the liner, adding extra frosting easily takes care of this problem.

Falling frosting is another common problem, and it’s easily preventable. Frosting falls or melts when you start icing before the cupcakes are completely cool. It’s tempting to start icing as soon as the tops are cool, but don’t forget heat can rise from inside the cupcakes. Always wait at least an hour before you start decorating.

Have you had a problem with soggy cupcake tops? It is often a result of decorating the cakes too early before serving.

You can frost the cupcakes a day or so before eating but hold off on any additional decorations. Sprinkles and other sugary decorations can bleed into the icing, becoming soggy. Adding these final touches a few minutes before serving ensures your cupcakes look great.

How to Prevent Transport Problems

Transporting cupcakes is stressful. You worry about the frosting melting in the heat or the cupcakes being jostled on the trip.

Using a baker’s box with dividers or one specifically designed for cupcakes helps prevent them from being jostled or crushed.

Turning the air conditioner on in the vehicle a few minutes before getting in will keep the frosting cool instead of melting during the drive. If the frosting isn’t perfect when you get to your destination, you can use a knife to smooth it back into shape.

You also want to wait to add sugar decorations until you are out of the vehicle. Heat can melt the sugar, leaving you with soggy cupcakes.

Here’s our more detailed article on How to Transport Cupcakes.


Frosting cupcakes is easy with the right tools, and when you let them cool for an hour. Making sure the cakes are completely cool is the crucial step. After, it is up to your imagination.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different decorations. You have plenty to choose from in different shapes, textures, and colors.

Remember to properly store the cupcakes when you’re not serving them immediately. It’s also a good idea to wait on the sugary toppings until it’s time to eat.

So, you now know how long to cool cupcakes before frosting. Following these simple tips will help ensure your cupcakes look like they were frosted by a professional baker.



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Ava Gardner
Ava Gardner

Hi! My name is Ava and I love baking. I love the process of creating something from nothing, and the satisfaction of taking a bite of something I made myself. I love trying new recipes and experimenting with different flavors. Baking is my form of self-care; it's how I relax and unwind after a long day. That's why I founded!

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