How to Store Pecan Pie So It Stays Safe and Delicious

published Sep 8, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Pecan pie has many irresistible qualities, including flaky pastry, rich roasted nuts, and tons of brown sugar sweetness. But the ingredient that pulls those elements together is eggs, and eggs mean that you need to take extra care when it comes to storing pecan pie and keeping it fresh and delicious to eat. (No one wants the family coming down with food poisoning, especially at holiday time.) For everything you need to know about storing pecan pie so it’s both safe and tasty — and even how to freeze it — read on. 

Do I need to refrigerate pecan pie?

According to the USDA, homemade egg-rich pies, including pecan pie, must be refrigerated after cooking and cooling to prevent the growth of bacteria. They recommend chilling pies promptly, and as a general rule, not leaving food at room temperature for more than two hours. 

If you purchased a pie from a bakery or supermarket, it may contain preservatives that will keep it more shelf-stable, but you’ll need to consult the packaging or the shop for guidance. Alternatively, take the safe approach and keep your purchased pie refrigerated. 

How do I follow the rules and still enjoy my pie?

Once you’ve baked a beautiful pecan pie, you want to enjoy it the way you want to enjoy it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to maximize safety without interfering with the flavor, texture, or appearance of your pie. 

First, always let your freshly baked pie cool before chilling. Placing a hot pie in a cold refrigerator will raise the temperature of the fridge, which puts all your food in jeopardy, and may cause the top of the pie to crack. If it does crack, don’t panic — that’s what whipped cream is for! To keep things simple — and in line with USDA guidelines — let your pie cool for up to two hours, preferably on a wire rack to allow for good air circulation, and then move it to the fridge. 

What’s the best way to refrigerate pecan pie?

Once your pecan pie is cool, loosely wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. To preserve its texture and shape you want to avoid wrapping it too tightly. A cooled and lightly wrapped pecan pie can be refrigerated for up to four days, which means you can bake your pie well in advance of when you plan to serve it. 

You can use this same approach for a purchased pie or refrigerate it in its original packaging. 

How should I serve pecan pie?

Most pecan pie lovers already know how they like to eat pecan pie, with some folks being fans of cold pie, others preferring it room temperature, and some insisting on warm pie. If you fall into the first camp, dive into your pie straight from the fridge. Alternatively, remove it from the fridge about a half hour before you want to serve it or pop it a low oven until heated through. 

Can I freeze pecan pie?

If you want to store pecan pie for longer, you can wrap it and freeze it for up three months. The filling is low in moisture, which helps pecan pie hold up in the freezer, as long as you wrap it well. Once the pie is cool, wrap it in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil, and freeze. The goal with wrapping is to keep air out, so try to get the plastic wrap as close to the surface of the pie as possible, but don’t wrap it so tightly that you warp its shape. Individual slices can also be double wrapped and frozen. As with all freezing, add a label and date, so you enjoy your pie on time and it doesn’t get lost in your freezer. 

When you are ready to serve your pie, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. In terms of serving, you have options. You can eat pecan pie cold, let it come to room temperature (for no more than two hours, of course), or warm it the oven until heated through. And, obviously, don’t forget the ice cream or whipped cream!

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