Does Store-Bought Pumpkin Pie Need To Be Refrigerated? Shelf-Stable vs. Cold Storage

Ah, the aroma and flavor of pumpkin pie—a classic Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert that many of us relish, especially during the fall and holiday seasons. If you’ve just purchased one from the store, you may be wondering: Does store-bought pumpkin pie need to be refrigerated?

In this post, I’ll give you some easy tips to keep your pie tasting fresh for as long as possible.

Quick Answer: Does Store-Bought Pumpkin Pie Need To Be Refrigerated?

store-bought pumpkin refrigerated

Yes, most types of store-bought pumpkin pies should be kept in the fridge. However, some are designed to be shelf-stable. Understanding which type of pie you’ve purchased is crucial for proper storage and optimal freshness.

Check the packaging to determine whether your pie is shelf-stable or needs refrigeration, and store it accordingly. But if you are not sure, keep it in the fridge.

Types of Pumpkin Pies in Supermarkets

Commercially-produced pumpkin pie

Shelf-Stable Pies

You’ll usually find these in the bakery aisle or sometimes near the cash register. These pies are sealed tight and have special ingredients like preservatives to help them last longer.

According to the USDA, you can keep these at room temperature until the “Best Before” date. If you put them in the fridge, they might last a few days longer. The preservatives used in these pies can include things like sorbic acid, which helps prevent mold and yeast.

Did You Know? Ready-made pumpkin pies also come with different types of crusts, including traditional graham crackers, nutty pecan bases, cookie crumbs, alternative flours, and even gluten-free options.

Refrigerated Pies

shopping for refrigerated pumpkin pie

These are in the store’s fridge or freezer section. They don’t have as many preservatives and taste more like homemade pies. They have to be kept in the fridge or freezer. Usually, they contain fresh ingredients like dairy or eggs.

The store will often label them with a “Sell By” or “Use By” date. This is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. After this date, the taste and texture might not be as good.

Did You Know? The brand Libby’s is responsible for about 85% of the canned pumpkin market in the United States. Their variety of squash, known as Dickinson pumpkin, is considered optimal for pie-making.

Where to Store Your Ready-Made Pumpkin Pie?

supermarket pumpkin

On the Counter

If it’s a shelf-stable pie, you can leave it on your kitchen counter. Just keep it in its original packaging, and try to eat it by the “Best Before” date. These pies often contain ingredients like ascorbic acid and calcium propionate to ward off mold.

Popular pies like Costco or Kirkland pumpkin pie are typically sold unrefrigerated; then they can initially be stored in a cool, dry place like a pantry. However, once opened, it’s best to refrigerate them to extend freshness and maintain safety. If you plan to store the pie for an extended period, you can freeze it.

In the Fridge

If it was in the store’s fridge, put it in your fridge as soon as you get home. It will last about 3 to 4 days. Keep it in the back of the fridge where it’s coldest. This slows down the growth of bacteria, keeping your pie tasty and safe for longer.

For frozen pumpkin pies like Marie Callender’s or Sara Lee, keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to eat them. Then follow the package instructions for thawing and heating.

Personal Experience

I once made the mistake of leaving a refrigerated pie out on the counter overnight. The next day, it tasted a bit off, and the crust was soggy. So, when the label says “Keep Refrigerated,” they mean it!

How Long Store-Bought Pumpkin Pies Last?

eaten store-bought pumpkin pie

Shelf-Stable Pies

These can last up to several weeks if unopened. However, once you cut into them, try to eat them within a week. Sealing the cut portion with plastic wrap can keep it fresher for longer.

Refrigerated Pies

Usually, these will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Some people like to use a pie keeper, a specialized container that holds a pie, to maintain its freshness. If you don’t have one, plastic wrap or aluminum foil works well too.

Frozen Pumpkin Pies

To store frozen pumpkin pies from brands like Marie Callender’s or Sara Lee, it’s generally best to keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to serve them. You can keep them in their original packaging, which is typically designed for freezer storage.

However, if you’ve already opened the pie or are concerned about freezer burn for long-term storage, you may want to add additional protection.

Freezing Your Pumpkin Pie

If you know you won’t eat it in time, you can freeze your pie. For shelf-stable pies, this can extend its life by up to 3 months. For refrigerated pies, freezing can also prolong its life but may alter the texture.

To freeze your pumpkin pie, wrap the pie tightly in plastic wrap and then again in aluminum foil. This prevents freezer burn.

You can freeze a pumpkin pie in its original packaging, but it may not offer the best protection against freezer burn over an extended period. The original packaging is generally not designed for long-term freezing. If you plan to keep the pie frozen for more than a couple of weeks, it’s advisable to add additional layers of protection.

When to Throw Out Your Pumpkin Pie?

moldy pumpkin pie

If it smells bad, has mold, or the texture has changed, it’s time to throw it out. For shelf-stable pies, look for signs like mold or a sour smell.

For refrigerated pies, if it has been left out for more than 2 hours, if you see any liquid separating, or if the crust becomes extremely soggy, these could be signs it’s time to part ways with your pie.

Related Article: 21 Tips For Baking Pumpkin Pie (FAQs Answered).


So, to sum up, whether you should refrigerate your store-bought pumpkin pie depends on how it was sold at the store. Shelf-stable pies can sit on your counter, but refrigerated ones should go straight into your fridge. Always read the label and storage recomedatoions by the manufacturer and keep an eye on those “Best Before” or “Use By” dates, and you’re all set for a delicious treat.

Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other time when pumpkin is in season, enjoy your delicious pie!

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About Jen Evansy

Nutritionist, researcher, avid home cook, and writer interested in everything nutrition and food-related. Striving to inform, encourage, and inspire all the readers to make healthy and informed choices when it comes to cooking, food, diet, and nutrition.