Is it safe to eat pumpkin pie left out overnight?

Pumpkin pie is a beloved fall dessert, but is it still safe to eat if you accidentally leave it out on the counter overnight? This is a common question many people have around the holidays. The good news is that pumpkin pie is one dessert that can typically be safely consumed after sitting out for several hours, as long as proper food safety guidelines are followed.

The Two-Hour Rule

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), food should not be left in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F for longer than two hours. This is because bacteria can grow rapidly within this temperature range. If food is left out too long at room temperature, bacteria may multiply to dangerous levels that can cause foodborne illness when eaten.

However, it’s important to note that the two-hour rule applies to pumpkin pie that has already been fully cooked. Raw or partially cooked pumpkin pie should never be left out at room temperature longer than two hours. Fully cooked pies have an advantage because the high cooking temperature helps reduce bacteria levels initially.

What About Overnight?

Does the two-hour rule mean all bets are off if you leave fully cooked pumpkin pie out overnight? Not necessarily. While leaving food out for longer than two hours is never recommended, overnight refrigerator storage may not automatically make pumpkin pie unsafe to eat. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Temperature – What was the temperature where the pie was left out? Warm environments above 90°F are more risky than cool kitchens in the 60°F-70°F range overnight.
  • Time – Was it out for 8 hours or 10-12 hours? The longer the pie sits out, the more bacteria may multiply.
  • Pie ingredients – Does the pie contain eggs, dairy, or other perishable ingredients? These can grow bacteria faster than fruits and vegetables.
  • Pie texture – Thick, dense pies retain heat better than thin, custard-style pies. Heat retention inhibits bacterial growth.

When in Doubt, Throw It Out

If there is any uncertainty about the safety of pumpkin pie left out overnight, it is best to throw it out. The USDA recommends discarding perishable foods left in the danger zone for longer than two hours, and never tasting food to determine if it is still good. If consumed, harmful bacteria may continue to multiply in the digestive system and cause illness.

Steps to Safely Store Pie

To maximize pumpkin pie freshness and safety, follow these steps for storage:

  • Refrigerate pie within 2 hours of baking or buying.
  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge for 3-4 days maximum.
  • Freeze extra pie tightly wrapped up to 2-3 months.
  • Reheat refrigerated pie slices thoroughly to 165°F.
  • Avoid leaving pie in the danger zone above 40°F for over 2 hours.

Reheating Pie Safely

If pumpkin pie has been left out for more than two hours, it must be quickly and thoroughly reheated before eating to destroy potential bacteria. Here are some reheating guidelines:

  • Use an oven, not a microwave, to evenly reheat the entire pie.
  • Heat pie slices on a baking sheet at 350°F until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Bring pie filling to a boil on the stovetop, stirring frequently.
  • Discard pie if it still smells or tastes unpleasant after reheating.

The Bottom Line

Pumpkin pie left at room temperature overnight should not automatically be considered unsafe, but it does carry an increased risk of bacterial contamination. The longer it sits out and the warmer the temperature, the greater the risk. Reheating thoroughly may destroy bacteria, but it’s impossible to know if the pie is completely safe again. When in doubt, don’t take chances with food safety. Your best bet is to refrigerate or freeze extra pumpkin pie immediately and avoid letting it sit in the danger zone too long.

Time Left Out Room Temperature Safety Risk
2 hours Any Low
8 hours 60°F – 70°F Moderate
12+ hours Over 90°F High

This table summarizes how the safety risk of eating pumpkin pie increases with time left out at room temperature, based on USDA food safety guidelines. Leaving pie out up to 2 hours carries minimal risk, while 12+ hours in a hot environment is very risky. Use your best judgment when storing leftovers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to eat pumpkin pie left out overnight on the counter?

No, it is not considered safe by food safety experts. The USDA recommends throwing out perishables like pumpkin pie that have sat at room temperature for over 2 hours. The longer pie sits out, the more bacteria can multiply, increasing the risk of food poisoning.

Can you get sick from eating pumpkin pie left out?

Yes, you can get sick from eating pumpkin pie left out too long. If dangerous bacteria like Bacillus cereus, Salmonella, or E. coli grow to high levels, eating the pie can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other foodborne illness symptoms.

How can you tell if pumpkin pie left out is bad?

Signs that pumpkin pie may be contaminated after sitting out include an unpleasant sour smell, change in color, dried out or cracked texture, and mold growth. But harmful bacteria are odorless, invisible, and can still be present even if the pie looks OK, so appearance alone cannot verify safety.

Is it better to refrigerate or freeze leftover pumpkin pie?

Refrigeration preserves pumpkin pie for 3-4 days max, while freezing can keep it safe for 2-3 months. Both methods inhibit bacterial growth. Freeze pie in air-tight containers or wrapped in plastic to prevent freezer burn. Reheat refrigerated pie thoroughly before eating.

Can you get food poisoning from reheated pumpkin pie?

You may still risk food poisoning when eating reheated pumpkin pie left out too long. Reheating may not kill all bacteria present. Also, toxins released by bacteria can remain in the food even after the bacteria are destroyed and make you sick.

Storing a Whole Pumpkin Pie

Follow these tips for storing a whole fresh-baked pumpkin pie:

  • Let the pie cool completely first, about 2-3 hours.
  • Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  • Refrigerate for 3-4 days maximum.
  • Label the pie with the bake date so you know when 4 days are up.
  • Cut into slices as needed instead of cutting the whole pie.
  • Avoid storing pumpkin pie with foods like meat that can cross-contaminate.

Proper refrigeration preserves freshness and inhibits mold growth or bacterial overgrowth. Leaving the pie uncut with intact pastry layers also protects the filling from contamination.

Storing Leftover Pumpkin Pie

For leftover pumpkin pie slices, follow these storage tips:

  • Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
  • Wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap or foil.
  • Place slices in airtight freezer bags for 2-3 months of freezer storage.
  • Eat refrigerated leftovers within 4 days and frozen leftovers within 2-3 months for best quality.
  • Label leftovers with the bake date and use oldest first.

Avoid repeatedly letting pie sit at room temperature after reheating leftovers. Only reheat the amount needed for one serving at a time.

How Long Does Pumpkin Pie Last in the Fridge?

An entire fresh-baked, properly stored pumpkin pie will typically last 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Leftover pie slices may last a similar timeframe when refrigerated in a sealed container. Some signs that refrigerated pie is expiring include:

  • Drying out
  • Mold or spots forming
  • Unpleasant sour smell
  • Weeping liquid or condensation inside the container

For optimal freshness and food safety, eat refrigerated pumpkin pie within 4 days and do not store it for longer than this. Refrigeration beyond 4-5 days is risky.

What Is the Best Way to Store Pumpkin Pie Long-Term?

Freezing is the best method for long-term storage of pumpkin pie. Properly frozen pie can maintain quality and safety for around 2-3 months in the freezer. To freeze, wrap pie tightly in plastic wrap, foil, or place in airtight freezer bags. Freeze whole pies or individual slices. Avoid freezer burn by minimizing air exposure.

Only freeze baked pumpkin pies that have cooled fully first. Do not freeze unbaked or partially baked pies. Frozen pie should be thawed in the refrigerator before reheating to prevent the pastry crust from becoming soggy.

How to Store Pie Pumpkins

Here are some tips for storing fresh pie pumpkins before baking:

  • Store whole, uncut pumpkins in a cool, dry place up to 2-3 weeks.
  • Clean pumpkins thoroughly before storage to prevent premature rotting.
  • Place pumpkins on layers of newspaper or wood racks so air can circulate underneath.
  • Discard any pumpkins that become soft, cracked, or moldy.

Once cut open, pie pumpkins being prepped for baking should be refrigerated and used within 3-5 days. Wrap cut pumpkins in plastic wrap or foil to retain moisture.

How to Properly Freeze Pumpkin Puree

Extra homemade pumpkin puree can also be frozen for later use in pies, breads, and other recipes. Here are some freezing tips:

  • Allow puree to cool completely before freezing.
  • Portion puree into 1-2 cup amounts based on recipe needs.
  • Pack puree into freezer bags or airtight containers, leaving 1/2 inch space.
  • Remove as much air as possible and seal tightly.
  • Label bags or containers with the date and volume.
  • Use frozen puree within 4-6 months for best quality.

Freezing prevents spoilage and retains the flavor, color, and nutritional content of homemade pumpkin purees. Thaw frozen purees overnight in the fridge before using.


Pumpkin pie is best enjoyed fresh but can keep for several days with proper refrigeration or freezing. Leaving it sitting out for longer than 2 hours, especially overnight, carries an increased risk of bacterial contamination and potential food poisoning. When reheating pumpkin pie after extended time at room temperature, err on the side of caution. You can’t always see, smell or taste dangerous bacteria that may be present. Your safest bet is storing extra pie in the fridge or freezer as quickly as possible and avoiding letting it linger in the danger zone too long.

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