Not just for enjoying at Thanksgiving, Christmas or even on National Pecan Pie Day on the 12 July, the utterly amazing flavor of pecan pie can be enjoyed at any time of the year!
Although pecans have been a food source for many thousands of years, pecan pie probably came from the French settlers in New Orleans in the eighteenth century, but it was only in 1886 when the first known recipe for pecan custard pie was printed in a popular magazine. It may not have been around for long, but oh boy, is pecan pie one of our favorite treats!
If you prefer to make your pecan pie at home, it should be refrigerated within two hours of baking. Fresh pecan pie containing egg will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator, or you can freeze it for up to two months. If you buy pecan pie from the store it will often be a shelf stable pie that can be stored at room temperature.
Continue reading to learn more about exactly how to store pecan pie safely as well as how to help keep its texture and flavor during storage.
How Long Can Pecan Pie Stay at Room Temperature?
Fresh pecan pie should never be left at room temperature any longer than two hours. So, if you want to serve pecan pie straight after baking, then do so within two hours of it coming out of the oven. This is because of the egg-based filling in the pie.
If a pecan pie or other egg-based pie or food is left out at room temperature, it allows bacteria such as Salmonella to grow and reproduce quickly; especially between temperatures of 40°F and 140°F – increasing the risk of becoming poorly with foodborne illness.
How to Store Pecan Pie in The Refrigerator
Unless you are going to eat it within two hours of it being baked, or you are freezing it, a pecan pie should be refrigerated within two hours of baking. If you place it in the refrigerator within two hours of baking, a pecan pie will keep for two days and potentially up to four days in the refrigerator.
A pecan pie should never be stored in the refrigerator before baking as the egg filling will curdle.
To refrigerate cooked pecan pie, leave it on the countertop until it is cooled to room temperature, or no longer than two hours. The best way to check the temperature is by lifting the pie pan and just touch the center of the pan on the bottom.
Although it may be tempting to refrigerate the pie before it is completely cool, if you do so, there is a chance that the pie or filling may break up as it has not had enough time to set properly. If you must refrigerate it before it is fully cool – as the two hours at room temperature is up – then handle the pie very carefully to try and stop it from breaking up.
Once cool, you can either carefully wrap the pie with food wrap or aluminum foil, or just place a plate over the top of the pie. Be careful not to wrap it too tightly with wrap or aluminum foil though as this can damage the pie. Once wrapped or covered up, then place it towards the back of the refrigerator away from the door to minimize temperature fluctuations.
Storing pecan pie in the refrigerator this way also applies to storing pumpkin pie or other egg or dairy based pies.
How to Freeze Pecan Pie
Although a pecan pie is egg-based it will freeze well as long as the filling is properly cooked. However, unlike some pies such as fruit pies that can be frozen unbaked, pecan pie cannot be frozen before baking because it contains egg. The raw egg in the filling will curdle if it is frozen and then thawed.
You can either freeze a whole baked pie for the next big family dinner or just cut it up into portions before freezing.
The pie should be cooked as normal, there is no need to alter cooking time, but you should make sure it is properly cooked as otherwise its texture may alter when you freeze it. Once the pie is out the oven, leave it to cool on the countertop (for no longer than two hours). It is important that it cools to room temperature before freezing otherwise the pie may end up with freezer burn or a very soggy crust. This means you should be careful about freezing a very large pie whole as the two hour room temperature window may not be enough time to properly cool it before you need to freeze it.
If you want to freeze a whole pie, you can leave it in the baking pan as there will be less chance of the pie being damaged in the freezer. Use aluminum foil or plastic wrap and tightly double wrap the pie – you want to prevent air reaching the surface of the pie. If you are wrapping pie portions, then once you have double wrapped them you can place them into an airtight container to stop the slices from getting crushed in the freezer.
Once you have wrapped the full pie or portions, you can pop it into the freezer. Pecan pie is better stored in a separate freezer rather than the freezer attached to the refrigerator as these types of freezers are prone to more temperature fluctuations.
How to Defrost Pecan Pie
When you want to eat the pie, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. You can then warm it up in the oven at 275°F for 20 minutes or so. The lower reheating temperature helps stop the pie crust burning if the pie center is still on the cold/frozen side.
How Long Does Frozen Pecan Pie Last?
Frozen pecan pie should keep well for up to two months in the freezer although it may be at its freshest within the first month. Even when frozen for a short length of time, there can be a risk of the crust becoming a little soggy. Wrapping it up well and then serving warm will help crisp the crust back up again.
Should Pecan Pie Be Served Warm?
To serve fresh pecan pie hot or cold is most definitely your decision! When pecan pie is cold it does have a lovely texture but if you do prefer it warm, then take the pie from the refrigerator and place it in a preheated oven at 325°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not put any heated pie back into the refrigerator or reheat it in the oven again as this may increase the risk of foodborne illness.
If you freeze pecan pie, it should always be served warm once thawed as otherwise you will have a soggy crust.
How to Store Pecan Pie Bars
How you store pecan pie bars will depend on the recipe used. If the bars contain egg or dairy, then they should be treated as a pecan pie and eaten or refrigerated within two hours of baking.
Some recipes are egg free and these may be suitable to be stored at room temperature for a few days.
Unless a recipe advises against freezing, then most pecan pie bars can be frozen and should keep at their best for up to two months or so.
Even if you have bought the freshest pecan nuts available, it can sometimes happen that the nuts are soft. If your recipe does not already ask you to toast the pecans, then do so in a dry skillet for a few minutes over low heat. This should help to keep them crunchy even when the pie is refrigerated or frozen.
How Long Does Store Bought Pecan Pie Last?
Pecan pies that don’t require refrigeration can be bought from the grocery store. Because they contain added preservatives and other ingredients a store-bought pecan pie shelf life is usually much better than that of a homemade pecan pie.
Frozen pecan pies bought from the store will keep in the freezer for the length of time advised on the packaging. Once frozen pies are baked, they should usually be treated as a fresh pecan pie and refrigerated.
Should Store Bought Pecan Pie Be Refrigerated?
As a rule of thumb, if you did not find the pecan pie in a refrigerator or freezer at the store, then it is probably a shelf stable pecan pie. Do check the packaging though as it may recommend that you refrigerate it when you get it home, or even once you have opened it.
Store bought frozen pecan pies should always be kept frozen until ready to thaw and bake.
How Do You Know If Your Pecan Pie Has Gone Bad?
Soggy crust or pecans along with a cracked filling are not signs that it has gone bad. If you are unsure whether a pie is still good to eat, then have a good sniff. If the pie smells sour or bad, then dispose of it. If it smells ok but you are still not sure then just try a little bit. If you’re still not convinced, then trash it rather than risk foodborne illness.
Just to summarize, a fresh baked pecan pie should only be left at room temperature for two hours because it contains egg. If the pie is not eaten in this time then it should be refrigerated for up to four days, or frozen for up to two months.Always check the label on a store bought pecan pie, but these are often suitable for keeping at room temperature as they contain more shelf stable ingredients. A frozen pecan pie from the store should be frozen until you want to thaw and bake it and after that it should be treated as a fresh pecan pie and be refrigerated.