Pumpkin Pie–Do I Need to Refrigerate It or Not?

Pumpkin pie ready for bakingOne of the questions we are asked a lot before Thanksgiving is “Do I need to refrigerate my pumpkin pie or not?” Probably the main reason for the confusion is seeing all the pumpkin pies at the grocery store just sitting on the shelves—stored at room temperature.  The main difference between the grocery store bakery pies and the ones that you make at home is the ingredients.  Those bakery pies are made with shelf-stable ingredients which can include preservatives and anti-microbials that won’t allow the growth of bacteria. If you read the label on the pie you may see a notation of RT; indicating the pie can be stored at room temperature. Leftover pieces of these pies should be stored in the refrigerator.  Remember to use the pie within 2-3 days.  If you need to store it for a longer time, consider freezing the pie.

When you make your own pie from scratch, you should refrigerate it as soon as it has had a chance to cool. Homemade pies have ingredients like milk and eggs which provide a great medium for bacterial growth. If you prefer a warm piece of pie, you can always warm the pie just prior to serving. Enjoy!

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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6 thoughts on “Pumpkin Pie–Do I Need to Refrigerate It or Not?

  1. I am 68 and have made pumpkin pies from scratch for 45 yrs and never put them in the refrigerator. My mother and her mother made pies from scratch and never put them in the refrigerator. When my mother made pumpkin pies, we had a large family so she made 6 to 10 pies at a time. Trust me, there was no room to put them in the refrigerator.
    No one has never gotten sick from eating pumpkin pies in my family. What’s up with that? lol

  2. Hi June, We often hear this from people when we mention safer ways to keep/serve food. There are more bacteria and virus around now than there were previously. Sometimes it is just “dumb luck” that keeps us safe, or sometimes we do become ill but because it takes several days to become ill from food that is contaminated we don’t realize just what made us sick. That “one day flu” is often due to something we ate.

  3. If the concern is the egg in the pie why don’t cookies or cake, that also contain egg, have to be refrigerated?

  4. Hi Mallory, bacteria, like us, require moisture to grow. The pie contains both moisture and is a good supply of protein, another aid for bacterial growth. Traditionally, cookies are dry and contain much more flour and sugar and much less protein than a nice moist rich pumpkin pie. Happy Thanksgiving.

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