Whether you want to get a headstart on your Thanksgiving Day timeline or are already thinking about how to store Thanksgiving leftovers, one question that’s bound to come up is if you can freeze pumpkin pie. After all, even the most delicious pie might not get finished after a huge feast of roast turkey, cornbread and so many side dishes.
You probably already know that freezing food won’t stop bacteria growth; it only slows the growth. But how will freezing a pumpkin pie impact the quality of the pie? Will the creamy, custard-like filling taste the same once frozen and thawed? Since no one likes a soggy crust, TODAY.com spoke with three pastry chefs who make hundreds of desserts on a daily basis. Here’s what they have to say about freezing pumpkin pie.
Can you freeze pumpkin pie?
Every expert TODAY.com spoke with says you can freeze pumpkin pie, even after it’s baked.
“I’ve done it before and the pie comes out great,” says Jürgen David, Director of Pastry Research & Development at the Institute of Culinary Education. Because pumpkin pie is high in fat and sugar, it freezes and defrosts well. On the contrary, foods that have a high water content don’t tend to come back to life when they defrost. Although pumpkin pie recipes vary, but most are high in sugar and fat.
“You can also make your filling and portion it out and freeze that so if you ever want to make a pumpkin pie, your filling is already made,” adds Noah Whritenour, executive pastry chef of Stevedore Bakery at Thompson Savannah.
How to freeze pumpkin pie
“The first step is making sure that the pie is completely cool,” says Vincent J. Donatelli, pastry chef at The Green O, a five-star ranch in Montana. “This prevents condensation and ice crystals from forming during the freezing process.” Ice crystals and condensation can make the crust soggy when it thaws. David also recommends removing any whipped cream if you’re freezing leftovers. Since the creamy topping has a high water content, whipped cream won’t hold its shape and it will only get “weepy” when it thaws.
Next, place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the top of the pie. “Every freezer is different, but this is so that you can remove any water from the top when the pie is defrosting,” explains David. And don’t worry about the plastic wrap sticking to the pie: There’s enough fat in the filling to prevent that from happening.
Finally, both Donatelli and David recommend double-wrapping the whole pie in plastic wrap. Whritenour adds that it’s important to label the wrap with the date you’re freezing it so you know how long it’s been in for.
How long can you freeze pumpkin pie for?
Donatelli says he wouldn’t leave a pumpkin pie in the freezer for more than a couple of weeks, as he feels it would compromise the integrity of the pie. At most, he says, you can probably get away with 30 days. David agrees with the one-month mark and adds, “Once it’s defrosted, keep the pie in the fridge.” Do not attempt to refreeze it.
“Continually thawing and freezing things can let bacteria grow, and it will definitely affect the flavor and quality of your pie,” explains Whritenour. If you think you’re only going to want a portion of the pie, try freezing it in slices and double wrap those as well.
How to reheat frozen pumpkin pie
Donatelli recommends taking the pie out of the freezer and storing it in the refrigerator the day before you want to eat it. When it’s thawed out and you’re ready to reheat it, he recommends removing the plastic wrap and heating the pie in the oven at 300 F. “Cover the top with foil,” says Donatelli. “That way it doesn’t take on any additional color on top.”
Whatever you do, do not use the microwave to reheat frozen pumpkin pie — or any frozen pie, for that matter.
“Microwaves produce uneven heat so you might have a part of the pie that is defrosted, another area could be overcooked and another could still be frozen,” explains David. “Microwaving will also make the crust soggy.”
Our best pumpkin pie recipes
If you’re craving classic pumpkin pie, look no further than this recipe, which uses fresh pumpkin rather than the canned variety. The pie filling is made with roasted and mashed pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and fall spices for a flavorful take on this must-bake dessert.
If the thought of baking an entire pumpkin pie is intimidating, we’ve got another option. These easy pumpkin bars, which only require seven ingredients and feature a buttery crumb topping.
This twist on classic pumpkin pie calls for winter squash such as kabocha or butternut, which is mixed with sugar and spices for a sweet filling. It’s an apt addition for a harvest dessert spread.
Don’t let the looks of this over-the-top pie intimidate you. Use store-bought frozen phyllo dough to form the flaky crust, then fill with a maple pumpkin custard and bake.
Don’t let apple pie have all the fun. Top a creamy pumpkin pie with a cinnamon pecan streusel for irresistible crunch. For ease, go ahead and use a store-bought pie shell (we won’t tell).