Does Pumpkin Pie Need To Be Refrigerated?

Brush up on your food safety knowledge before the holidays.

Love it or hate it, pumpkin pie is always expected on the Thanksgiving table. When this classic dessert is not in its usual place on the holiday sideboard, right next to the pecan and apple pies, it feels like a family member is missing.

But what's the best way to keep your pumpkin pie fresh and ready to serve? To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is the question.

Southern Pumpkin Pie
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Does Pumpkin Pie Need To Be Refrigerated?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recipes made with milk and eggs must be refrigerated within two hours of baking. Like quiches, cheesecakes, and other dairy-heavy recipes with a creamy, custardy texture, pumpkin pies cannot sit out at room temperature for very long—even if you reheat them before serving. Eggs and liquid dairy, like milk, are high in protein and moisture. When left at room temperature, bacteria can easily multiply.

classic pumpkin pie with pie crust leaves


How Do You Store Pumpkin Pie?

After baking the pie, let it cool, then wrap it completely in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store the wrapped pie in the refrigerator up to two days ahead of Thanksgiving.

Although the pie will still be good to eat after four days (but not a day longer), for the best flavor and texture, we recommend serving it within two days.

If any moisture forms on the top of the refrigerated pie, gently blot it off with a paper towel. If the top cracks (which may happen when a custard-based pie is chilled), cover the top of the pie—and the crack—with a pile of fluffy whipped cream.

How Far in Advance Can You Make Pumpkin Pie?

Pumpkin pie is a great make-ahead dessert to cross off your Thanksgiving to-do list. You can prepare and bake the pie up to two days in advance, and it will still taste great on the big day.

Just make sure you store the pie in the refrigerator—not on the kitchen counter—until you are ready to serve it.

Why Aren't Grocery Store Pumpkin Pies Refrigerated?

If you're thinking, "Wait, but aren't grocery store pies sold unrefrigerated?" you're not wrong. Many grocery stores offer pies in their bakery departments that come room temperature; however, this is often thanks to extra preservatives in grocery store pies that help stabilize it for the counter.

When you make a pie at home, it won't have the benefit of those added ingredients, and it will therefore spoil quicker if left on the counter.

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  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Are you storing food safely?

  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food Safety A-Z Reference Guide.

  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. Leftovers and food safety.

  4. Geiger M. Storing pumpkin and pecan pie – refrigerate or not? Iowa State University Extension and Outreach AnswerLine.

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