Pecan Pie in the counter

With Pecans being native to North America, it's no wonder that pecan pie is a favorite for dessert.

Since many of us can't consume a whole pie in one sitting, then it's generally best to store it away for another night. So, this may lead some to wonder, can you leave pecan pie out on the counter?

According to the FDA, homemade pecan pie can be left on the counter for two hours before it starts building up bacteria and four hours at max before it starts to spoil.

For store-bought pies, they can stay out on the counter indefinitely due to preservatives and additives to prevent bacteria from growing.

If the pie is freshly made, you can leave it out on the counter for 30 minutes before transferring it to the fridge.

Now, that doesn't mean you have to throw out your pie if you've left it out for longer than that.

However, you should know that there are risks to consuming pie that has been left out for too long. Below, we'll highlight everything you need to know about pecan pie safety and how to prevent your pie from going bad.

Store-Bought Pecan Pie Shelf-life

Any convenience pecan pie that has preservatives or chemicals added can stay outside of the fridge without much harm.

The preservatives slow down bacteria from forming, which keeps the pie safe to eat.

However, most store-bought pecan pies will still have an expiration date which you'll need to look at to ensure you aren't eating something potentially harmful to you.

So, you can leave the store-bought pecan pie out on the counter until it expires. This is the safest method if you don't want to store a homemade pie in the fridge. 

Homemade Pecan Pie Shelf-life

Homemade Pecan Pie

A homemade pecan pie is much different than a store-bought one with preservatives.

A pecan pie has dairy in it, mainly eggs and butter, which causes the pie to spoil if kept at room temperature.

If left out for an extended period, the pie will start to go bad and can become potentially harmful to eat.

Aside from that, homemade pies lack preservatives or additives that can help prevent bacteria from growing.

So, anytime the pie reaches room temperature, new bacteria will grow. What happens is that more and more bacteria will grow, which will then spoil the food and make it bad for our bodies to digest.

When Should You Put Pecan Pie Away?

Homemade pecan pies or store-bought pies without preservatives will need to be put away two hours after it has been left out, according to the FDA.

Any food that is left out with eggs or dairy becomes potentially harmful to the body if left out over that time.

While it won't kill you or be anything dangerous, it may cause an upset stomach or food poisoning.

What if it's left out overnight?

If you accidentally left your pie out overnight, you should probably toss it out. Having an upset stomach or being food poisoned isn't fun and can potentially lead to a doctor's visit.

So, it's safe to say you should not consume pecan pie that has been left out.

What if it's been longer than four hours?

If your pie has been out longer than four hours, then you may be able to get away with eating it.

However, you should put it in an airtight container as soon as possible. You should then put it in the fridge and make sure that you don't leave it out again.

The more times you leave the pecan pie out, the more bacteria will grow. The more bacteria, the quicker the pie will spoil, and you won't be able to eat it.

What if it's freshly made Pecan Pie?

Any pie baker will let you know that putting your pie directly into the refrigerator can lead to a ruined pie.

So, if you've homemade your pie, then you will want to let it sit out and cool down.

The reason this isn't harmful is that the pie has a high internal temperature that isn't causing the ingredients to form bacteria.

So, leaving it out until it reaches room temperature is fine. Additionally, pies generally have a 'setting' period where the pie will stabilize and form a nice consistency.

If you put the pecan pie directly into the fridge, it may lose its consistency and become inedible.

How to Properly Store Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie slices

When it comes to putting pecan pie away, you'll want to ensure that you're doing it right. Even if you put it in the fridge, it can still end up becoming bad due to exposure to air. So, we've created a small guide to help ensure this doesn't happen.

  1. Take your pecan pie and slice it into individual slices.

  2. Take each slice and wrap it with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container.

  3. Place the airtight container in a fridge with an internal temperature of 41 degrees or cooler.

  4. Let the pie sit in the fridge until you plan to eat it again. 

If a cold pie bothers you, then you can let it sit out for 30 minutes to an hour as it comes to room temperature. Bacteria won't form during this time because the pie's internal temperature is now lower than what bacteria like to breed. So, you can consume it after it reaches room temperature.

Storing Pecan Pie FAQs

Pecan Pie bite sizes

Can pecan pie be left unrefrigerated?

Homemade pecan pie can be left out of the fridge for up to four hours without starting to go bad. A freshly made pie should be left out to cool, as placing a hot pie in a cool refrigerator can bring down the fridge's internal temperature and prevent the pie from stabilizing. Make sure to store the pecan pie in a closed container as well.

Do you have to refrigerate a pecan pie?

Any homemade baked good that has eggs will need to be refrigerated after it cools. Pecan pie uses multiple eggs along with butter, which is a dairy product. That's why pecan pies are prone to going bad quickly if kept out.

Why is store-bought pecan pie not refrigerated?

Store-bought pecan pies have added preservatives and additives that help make the pie shelf-stable. These preservatives help prevent bacteria growing slowly, which can help stop spoiling. Unless the pie has been homemade, then it can usually be left out on the counter.

How long is pecan pie good for at room temperature?

According to the FDA, a pecan pie can only last two hours after it gets room temperature on the counter before it should be put away. The pecan pie will start to grow bacteria after it reaches room temperature. At maximum, you should keep your pecan pie out for four hours.


Pecan Pie ingredients

Whether you have store-bought or homemade pecan pie, you'll need to take certain precautions to prevent bacteria from growing. At most, you should put a pecan pie away 30 minutes after cooling. If you're taking the pie out to eat, then you can leave it out on the counter for up to four hours.

Just remember, after two hours, the pecan pie will reach room temperature. So, bacteria will start to grow. This will speed up how fast the food spoils, and it may not last as long as it should because of it.