Did you forget to put your leftover pumpkin pie in the fridge after Thanksgiving dinner? Find out how long a pumpkin pie can sit out before going bad.

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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 for pumpkin pie.

How Long Can Pumpkin Pie Sit Out?

First off, understand that homemade pumpkin pies are less forgiving than, say, apple pies, because they are made with eggs and milk. 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.

"Pumpkin pie is technically a custard pie," says Valeri Lucks, founding partner and chief executive pie officer at Honeypie Cafe in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That means eggs and milk are involved. "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 2 to 4 days, so you should refrigerate pumpkin pie after it cools. Place your pie in a sealed container or wrap in plastic wrap or foil to refrigerate. If you want to bake your pumpkin pie weeks ahead of time and freeze it, follow our rules for successful pumpkin pie freezing and defrosting.

Should You Refrigerate Pumpkin Pie from the Store?

Store-bought pumpkin pies, which include shelf-stable ingredients such as preservatives, are a different story.

How long can store-bought pumpkin pies sit out at room temperature? 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 2 to 4 days after their printed date in the refrigerator and about 6 to 9 months in the freezer. If your pumpkin pie does not have a sell-by date, and you bought it from a bakery or another place that baked the pumpkin pie in a traditional way, without preservatives, follow the homemade pumpkin pie rules above.

If you left your 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.