What's the Best Way to Freeze Baked Cupcakes?

Some cupcake advice from Cook's Illustrated magazine:

What's the Best Way to Freeze Baked Cupcakes?

When freezing baked cupcakes, we wanted to prevent the common problems of freezer burn, dryness, and gummy tops. Because the texture and consistency of frostings and icings can change drastically in the freezer, only plain (unfrosted) cupcakes should be frozen. Once thawed, they can be topped or decorated as desired.

We tried several methods of storing, freezing, and thawing our favorite yellow cupcakes. We froze them--individually and in groups of four--in four different ways: in a plastic zipper-lock bag with most of the air removed, in plastic wrap, in foil, and in plastic wrap and foil. After a week in the freezer, we took the cupcakes out to thaw on the countertop for 1 1/2 hours until they reached room temperature; half of each sample was kept wrapped and the other half unwrapped.

Thawing the cupcakes wrapped--whether enclosed in foil, plastic wrap, or both or left in a zipper-lock bag--allowed condensation to form between the wrapper and the tops, which turned gooey. Those that were unwrapped before thawing were as good as new. In terms of taste, there was little to differentiate one storage method from another. For longer periods of storage, where the likelihood of freezer burn increases, we recommend double-wrapping cupcakes in plastic wrap and foil (in groups or individually) before placing them in the freezer. And make sure to unwrap them before thawing.


Blair said…
"...freezing baked cupcakes..."
strikes me as funny, but makes me asked... are there cupcakes that aren't baked?
Anonymous said…
Yes, it's called batter.
Heidi said…
Thanks for this! My little girl just got sick the night before her birthday party. I'd hate to have all those cupcakes go to waste! Thanks again!
Jill Douglass said…
Thank you, thank you! I try to pre-prepare for my son's birthday party, and this advice is really helpful!
Mandy B. said…
But....what if I've already frosted them? My husband swears his mother frosted them & then froze them. I'm now worried that they're going to turn out oddly textured or tast funny if I freeze them frosted! :( Please, is there any way I can put them in a plastic tupperwear type thing designed to store cupcakes, already frosted, & then put them in the freezer??
My grandmother used to freeze her cupcakes all the time for when we'd come and visit. She'd just pull them out of the freezer a little ahead of time to defrost them.

All she did was frost them, wait until the frosting stiffened a little and then put the in a big ice cream bucket. They tasted fine after being frozen but the texture seemed more dense. They were never frost bitten though as the article suggests will happen unless "properly" wrapped in plastic and then foil.
Rosie Posie said…
Thank you so much for posting this, and for being thorough in your research! I made a large batch tonight and realized I won't be able to pawn them off on people until this weekend. Thank goodness they won't go stale in the meantime! I'll wrap them up, pop them in the freezer, take them out, promptly unwrap, thaw, and frost. Easy peasy - and what a neat trick for company! I'll try to keep some in the freezer from now on!
Elaine Tooze said…
I would like to ask what kind of cases you used, because although cupcakes freeze succeessfully, I have found paper case melt of the cake sometimes?
Ohohohohohohohoho. said…
Thanks so much!
My mom has been trying to get me into baking more, and I always want to but I always, always mess things up and get frustrated and swear to never bake again. But today I made some cute mini cupcakes, and I figured they would be perfect little snacks to take out a few at a time, but wasn't sure if I should frost them now or not before freezing. Thanks for the tips!