How Long Can Heavy Cream Sit Out? (Explained!)

When you’re preparing yourself dinner while you’re starving, it’s more than likely you’ll be hurrying and probably won’t even clean the kitchen before eating. Because of that, you can also forget to put some ingredients back into the fridge. 

That most often happens with the small things, like, for instance, a tiny leftover piece of butter. Or heavy cream. Therefore, many of you may be wondering:

How long can heavy cream sit out? According to the USDA, heavy cream can sit out for no more than two hours, just like any other perishable dairy product. That’s because bacteria start to grow extremely fast in it when heavy cream’s left out of the fridge for a longer time.

But this is just a scanty answer; in order to indeed understand how is it with heavy cream and refrigerating, we have to look into this topic more deeply.

So let’s not waste any more time and just get started, shall we?

How Long Can Heavy Cream Sit OutPin

Does heavy cream need to be refrigerated?

Yes, heavy cream needs to be refrigerated to prevent it from spoiling. Just like any other perishable milk product, heavy cream is simply extremely prone to turning bad at room temperature.

Therefore, you should never leave it out of the fridge for a longer amount of time because it may very likely make it dangerous to eat. More about that in the following paragraph, though!

How long can heavy cream sit out of the fridge?

According to the USDA, heavy cream cannot sit out of the fridge for any more than two hours. Why? Well, because bacteria’s activity is very high at room temperature, that means perishable food should never be left out of the fridge for a long time.

How long can heavy cream sit out unopened?

As the USDA says, heavy cream (and no other cold perishable food) cannot sit out for more than two hours. The reason for that is after that time, at room temperature, bacteria grow exceptionally quickly in the heavy cream, slowly but surely turning it bad.

Can heavy cream be left out overnight?

No, heavy cream can’t be left out overnight because it’s dangerous to eat it just after it spent more than two hours at room temperature. After that time passes, harmful bacteria start to grow very fast.

And since “overnight” usually means eight or more hours, nothing but throwing it out can be done with your heavy cream when you leave it out overnight.

Unopened heavy cream left out overnight – is that ok?

As we have explained above, no heavy cream can ever be left out overnight, and that’s true even with an unopened pack of it. So no, unopened heavy cream left out overnight is not okay, and you shouldn’t try to consume it under any circumstances.

How can you tell if heavy cream is bad?

It may sound like a difficult challenge, but telling if heavy cream is bad is pretty straightforward –  if the heavy cream starts to curdle and there’s a disgusting smell coming out of it, you should throw it away as soon as possible.

How do you keep heavy cream fresh?

While storing heavy cream, there isn’t anything special you could do to keep it as fresh as possible. The only thing you have to do is put it into the fridge. With that being said, though, we have a pro tip for you – if you know you won’t be using the cream much soon, put it in the back of the fridge and not into the doors so that it’ll keep a more stable temperature.

What happens when you eat a bad heavy cream?

When you eat a bad heavy cream, you’re likely going to experience some of the most common symptoms of food poisoning like diarrhea, stomach ache, bloating, or vomiting.

And when we’re talking about pregnant women and elderly people, the bacteria in bad heavy cream can cause very severe illness as well. Hence, you should never touch heavy cream that smells or look weird.

Frequently asked questions

How long can heavy cream frosting sit out?

Like the heavy cream itself, heavy cream frosting cannot sit out for any more than two hours. The reason for that is that at room temperature, bacteria’s activity is extremely high, and any perishable food (heavy cream frosting not excluded), therefore, spoils very quickly. 

How long can buttercream with heavy cream sit out?

Believe it or not, buttercream doesn’t need to be refrigerated, not even when there’s heavy cream in it. That’s because of the extremely high amount of sugar used to make it – thanks to that, buttercream can stay good for a few days even when it sits out.


Heavy cream is a perishable dairy product, and just like any other of those, it starts to turn bad pretty quickly when left unrefrigerated. According to the USDA, heavy cream can sit out for only two hours.

After that, eating it may be dangerous because harmful bacteria have now started to grow very quickly in there. And even though eating bad heavy cream can’t do that many horrible things to an average, healthy person, it may cause very severe illnesses to older people or pregnant women.



Image credits – Canva

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