Does Pumpkin Pie Need To Be Refrigerated ? Yes, And Here’s Why

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and you’ve got all your meals thought out, the only thing missing is the pie. How soon can you make it, and how long can it stay in the fridge ?

Does pumpkin pie need to be refrigerated ? You’ve seem them on shelves in supermarkets and they didn’t seem cold. And if you decide to buy a pre-made one, do you need to refrigerate that too ? How long is it good for ?

No one ever said Thanksgiving or any big holiday is easy to cook for. Especially if you’ve got extended family coming over, or just a big immediate family. Lots of mouths mean lots of food, and that means carefully planning what and when to cook.

Hopefully we’ll be able to ease your mind, and tell you everything you need to know about pumpkin pie ahead of time. So let’s start with whether it needs to stay in the fridge or not.

fridge pumpkin pie

Does pumpkin pie need to be refrigerated ?

Yes, pumpkin pie needs to be refrigerated, otherwise it can go bad. After all, the pie filling is a sort of custard made with eggs, milk, sugar, spices, and pumpkin puree.

We recommend you let the pie cool at room temperature for a few hours after taking it out of the oven. Then, you should place plastic wrap on the top to keep it from absorbing smells from the fridge. Put it in the fridge, and it should be good for 3-4 days.

Of course, if you’re baking the pie on Thanksgiving day you can serve it as soon as it’s cooled down. If you’re very good at multitasking then you can probably pull that off. If not, then you’re probably going to bake the pie the day before and keep it chilled until needed.

Read also: Pumpkin Pie Filling VS Pumpkin Puree 

Why are store bought pumpkin pies not refrigerated ?

The main reason store bought pies (of any kind) are not refrigerated is because they contain preservatives that make them shelf-stable. This means that you can leave them on the counter overnight, and they will still be good for a few days. Or at least until the best-by date printed on the label.

Homemade pies are not shelf-stable, they can’t be. They have dairy and eggs, which spoil very quickly. Even if store bought pies are safe to leave on the counter, we recommend you put them in the fridge.

This will keep them safe to eat no matter what, and you can add a few more days to the best-by date.

How long can pumpkin pie sit out ?

Homemade pumpkin pie shouldn’t sit out for more than 12 hours. Four to six hours is the recommended time to let a fresh pie cool off and reach room temperature.

The more you leave it, the more likely you are to get a spoiled pie. Store-bought pie isn’t as sensitive and can be left out for a few days.

Why pumpkin pie needs to cool down

Let’s talk about pumpkin pie and why it needs to cool down. Actually this applies to any custard pie, like a lemon curd pie or a vanilla tart.

The whole point of the pie is to get the custard to set, and thus become edible. You cannot bake the custard until it’s set in the oven, because residual heat in the pie will cook it even further. Not only that, but a cracked custard is usually the result of an overbaked pie.

This is why the pie needs to be slightly jiggly in the center when you take it out of the oven. In the following hour or so the residual heat will cook the custard and you’ll be left with a smooth, perfectly baked pie.

The best way to make sure your pie comes out perfect is to turn off the oven when the center is still a bit jiggly. Jiggly, not wet and sloshing ! Then, leave the oven door ajar with the pie inside. This does two things.

First, the residual heat from the oven will cook the pie further.

Second, you’re not exposing hot pie to cold air right away. So you have less of a chance of  getting a cracked custard.

Can you eat pumpkin pie right out of the oven ?

If you were to slice into a pumpkin pie when it’s still hot, you’d get a mess. The center would simply melt or fall apart, and you’d get a pretty unsightly pie.

Not only that, but the custard won’t be fully cooked, or set. You also risk cracking or deflating the custard more than necessary.

In short please be patient and wait for the pie to cool down. If you like you pie warm, only let it cool for about 2 hours.

Is pumpkin pie served warm or cold ?

That is entirely up to you. Most folks end up eating the pie cold, because it’s refrigerated, because it’s made the day before. Even when it’s made the day-of, it still needs to cool down and most folks prefer making it in the morning, so it has plenty of time to cool.

In a way, it’s better to eat pumpkin pie cold, because in general sweet foods taste better cold. There’s also the fact that the spices will develop more in the hours after the pie is baked. The same way a curry is better the next day, than immediately after cooking.

However if you want to sere your pie warm, you still have to let it cool after removing from the oven. Only let it cool for about 2 hours, and then it will still be warm.

If your pie has already cooled off completely, you can gently microwave it on low (not medium, not high) for a few minutes. If you use too high a setting you’ll burn the outside and the center will be lukewarm at best.

How long is pumpkin pie good for ?

In the fridge pumpkin pie can last up to 4 days after baking. That being said, we recommend you eat the pie within 2 days, because the flavors will go off quickly afterwards.

If your pie is home-made and on the counter, you shouldn’t keep it out for more than 12 hours. You won’t have to throw it out, but you risk it begging a weird flavor. It’s best to refrigerate it after it’s cooled, so after about 4-6 hours.

And in the case of store bought pie, you can keep it for as long as the best-by date says. If you put it in the fridge, you can push a few days past the printed date.

Finally, if you’re planning on freezing the pie, it should only be kept for about a month, two maybe. You may be disappointed when you take it out though. The custard won’t be all that amazing in texture, but the flavor should be the same.

How can you tell if pumpkin pie is bad ?

The first way to tell your pumpkin pie’s gone bad is to smell it. In fact, you might even smell it beforehand. There’s pumpkin, milk, and eggs in there. All three of those smell terrible when they go bad.

Another thing to look for is excessive moisture on the top of the custard. If it’s starting to get pools of water (not the ones from plastic wrap on top) and it’s separating, it’s best to throw it out.

Obviously, if you see tiny specks of mold (white or blue), there’s no point in keeping it.

And finally, if you know you baked the pie Monday morning and you’re opening the fridge Friday evening, don’t even think about the pie. It’s already lost the flavor and most likely the texture as well.

Can you make pumpkin pie the day before Thanksgiving ?

Yes, you can make pumpkin pie the day before Thanksgiving, even two days before if you’re a very busy cook. Pumpkin pie will keep for as long as 4 days in the fridge, but we recommend eating it within 2 days of baking.

You can mask any imperfections with some whipped cream, and/or sprinkle some extra cinnamon on top.

If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.