How Long Can Pumpkin Pie Sit Out?

Don't forget to put your leftover pumpkin pie in the fridge after Thanksgiving dinner.

When you're hosting a big dinner party—and Thanksgiving is the ultimate dinner party!—it often makes sense to make your dessert first, get it out of the way, and then focus on everything else. And because most cakes, cookies, and pies can sit out at room temperature for days, you might be in the habit of storing your dessert on the counter (or in the microwave, hidden from wandering hands). Fresh pumpkin pie, however, should not be stored indefinitely at room temperature—you should find a spot in the refrigerator. Here's what else you need to know.

Pumpkin Pie at Room Temperature

First off, understand that homemade pumpkin pies are less forgiving than, say, homemade apple pies, because the former is made with multiple eggs and heavy cream. You need to treat your homemade pumpkin pie like you would a quiche. According to the FDA, homemade pumpkin pie can be left at room temperature for two hours, after which it is in danger of growing harmful bacteria.

Homemade vs. Store-Bought

"Pumpkin pie is technically a custard pie," says Valeri Lucks, founding partner and chief executive pie officer at Honeypie Cafe in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "Homemade ones all need be stored in the fridge because they do not have the preservatives and such that commercial bakeries use to make something room temp safe."

Homemade pumpkin pie is safe in the fridge for two to four days, and you should refrigerate the pumpkin pie promptly after it cools. Place your pie in a sealed container or wrap it in plastic wrap or foil to refrigerate. You can also bake your pumpkin pie weeks ahead of time and freeze it.

Refrigerating Store-Bought Pumpkin Pie

Store-bought pumpkin pies, which include shelf-stable ingredients such as preservatives, are a different story. If your pie was sold unrefrigerated in the store, it can continue to be stored on your counter until the sell-by date. In general, store-bought pies last about two to four days after their printed date in the refrigerator and about six to nine months in the freezer.

If your pumpkin pie does not have a sell-by date, and you bought it from a bakery or a place that baked the pumpkin pie in a traditional way (without preservatives), follow the homemade pumpkin pie rules above.

If you left any pumpkin pie out for too long, don't be tempted to roll the dice. Thanksgiving is about more than just pumpkin pie. It's about gratitude and family and friends—none of whom want to get sick!

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