Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Lori Walker
Cream cheese icing is a popular choice for cakes and pastries due to its rich, tangy flavor. But when it comes to storage, there’s a common question: Does cream cheese icing have to be refrigerated?
I’ve used cream cheese icing plenty of times, and based on my experience, the answer is crucial for taste and safety. Let’s delve into the reasons behind the recommendation.
Do You Need To Refrigerate Cream Cheese Icing?
Yes, cream cheese  icing requires refrigeration. Due to its dairy content, it’s susceptible to bacterial growth when left at room temperature for extended periods.
“Whipped ganache is a great gateway icing if you’re working your way slowly into the vast world of egg-based buttercreams. It’s just a few ingredients and far superior in flavor to the basic butter/sugar/milk frosting.”– Claire Saffitz, American Food Journalist
Refrigerating cream cheese icing ensures it remains fresh, flavorful, and safe to consume.
Whether you’ve spread it on a cake or have some left in a bowl, always store it in the fridge to maintain its quality and prevent spoilage.
Can It Be Frozen?
Cream cheese icing can be frozen for more extended storage. If you have excess icing or want to prepare in advance, place the cream cheese frosting in an airtight container, ensuring minimal air inside.
By freezing, you can extend its life for up to three months. When you’re ready to use it, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then give it a good stir before spreading or piping onto your baked goods.
This method ensures that both the texture and flavor are preserved.
How Long Can It Be Left Out?
Given its dairy content, cream cheese icing should be included for extended periods. Generally, it’s safe at room temperature for up to two hours.
However, in warmer environments, where temperatures exceed 70°F (21°C), limiting this to just one hour is advisable.
Beyond this window, bacteria  can multiply rapidly, compromising the safety of the icing. If you suspect it has been left out longer, it’s best to err on caution and discard it to prevent potential health risks.
Signs That Cream Cheese Icing Might Have Gone Bad
- Unpleasant Odor: A clear indication of spoilage in many dairy products, including cream cheese icing, is a sour or rancid smell. Fresh cream cheese icing should have a mildly tangy but pleasant scent. If it smells off, it’s best to discard it.
- Change in Color: While cream cheese icing is typically off-white, any yellowing, darkening, or the appearance of mold (usually green or black spots) suggests that it has gone bad.
- Separation or Liquid: If there’s noticeable liquid separation or the consistency becomes watery, the icing might be past its prime. This can be a sign of bacterial activity or the breakdown of the product’s components.
- Altered Taste: If the icing tastes sour, excessively tangy, or just “off” in any way, it indicates that it shouldn’t be consumed.
- Change in Texture: Fresh cream cheese icing should be smooth and spreadable. It might signify spoilage if it becomes lumpy, gritty, or curdled.
- Mold Growth: Even a tiny spot of mold is a sign that the entire container of icing has been compromised. Mold can produce harmful toxins, so it’s essential to discard the icing immediately if any mold is detected.
- Extended Time at Room Temperature: If you know that the cream cheese icing has been left out for more than two hours (or one hour in temperatures above 70°F or 21°C), it’s safer to assume it might have gone bad, even if there aren’t obvious signs of spoilage.
“For the best of both worlds — taste and safety — let cream cheese icing chill in the cool embrace of the fridge.”– Leonelli Bakery
Check out these tips to make cinnamon roll icing without powdered sugar here.
Tips On How To Store Cream Cheese Icing
- Cool First: Before storing, allow the freshly made icing to come to room temperature. This will prevent condensation from forming inside the storage container.
- Airtight Container: Transfer the icing to an airtight container. This prevents it from absorbing other flavors and odors from the refrigerator and keeps it moist.
- Refrigeration: Always store cream cheese icing in the refrigerator if it’s not being used immediately. It can last up to one week when stored properly.
- Label and Date: Always label your container with the date it was made. This will help you keep track of its freshness.
- Flat Storage: When storing in the fridge, lay the container flat. This allows for more cooling.
- Freezing: For longer storage, you can freeze cream cheese icing. Please place it in a freezer-safe container or bag, leaving space for expansion. It can last up to three months in the freezer.
- Thawing: If you’ve frozen your icing, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Once thawed, give it a good stir to refresh its consistency.
- Avoid Double-Dipping: Using the icing for multiple desserts or sessions, use a clean spoon or spatula each time you dip into the container. This will prevent the introduction of any contaminants.
- Check for Spoilage: Before using stored icing, check for any signs of mold or off-odors. If in doubt, it’s better to discard it.
- Limit Time Out of Fridge: When using your icing, avoid leaving it out for extended periods. Work quickly, especially in warmer conditions if you’re icing a cake or cupcake.
- Re-whip Before Using: If your stored icing has been in the fridge for a few days, whip it with a mixer to bring back its creamy and fluffy consistency.
- Limit Freeze-Thaw Cycles: Try not to repeatedly freeze and thaw your icing, as this can affect its texture and consistency.
Also Read: Is It Okay To Color Cream Cheese Frosting?
Does cream cheese icing on cookies need to be refrigerated?
Yes, cookies with cream cheese icing should be refrigerated to ensure freshness and prevent spoilage.
Will cream cheese frosting harden in the fridge?
Yes, cream cheese frosting will become firmer in the fridge due to the chilling of the fats and dairy ingredients.
Cream cheese icing, with its rich dairy components and moisture content, mandates refrigeration to ensure its prolonged freshness and to avert bacterial growth, which can lead to spoilage.
When left at room temperature for extended periods, the icing is susceptible to rapidly deteriorating, compromising its taste and safety.
Furthermore, the texture and consistency of the icing are best maintained when chilled, providing an optimal experience for consumption.
Hence, for those who prioritize food safety and the quality of their culinary creations, refrigerating cream cheese icing is an essential practice.
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