Question: I am planning to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. After it’s baked, does the pumpkin pie have to be refrigerated or can I leave it at room temperature?
Answer: You should refrigerate the pumpkin pie, unless you’re planning to serve it within two hours of baking.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it’s not safe to eat homemade pies with egg-based fillings (including pumpkin pie) that have been allowed to sit at room temperature for two hours or longer.
The reason is that bacteria will grow rapidly when the homemade pie is kept at temperatures between 40° F and 140° F. To prevent foodborne illness, the pumpkin pie should be refrigerated within two hours. It’s okay to place the pie in the fridge if it’s still warm.
The baking experts at Libby’s and Betty Crocker likewise recommend refrigerating homemade pumpkin pie (check the links for classic pumpkin pie recipes.) Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Properly stored, pumpkin pie will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator.
So why are store-bought pumpkin pies often displayed and sold unrefrigerated? As the food safety specialists at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center point out, commercially produced pumpkin pies have preservatives and other ingredients added to make them shelf-stable. Once you have cut into the store-bought pies, they should be refrigerated.
Technically speaking, you can also freeze pumpkin pie — but unlike the case with most other types of pies, you may be less than happy with the texture after it has thawed (although the taste should not be affected.) To freeze, wrap the pie tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place in heavy-duty freezer bag. For best results, use the frozen pumpkin pie within two months.