If you’re getting ahead of the game and baking pies in advance of when you want to serve them (or, should you find yourself with the exciting and rare predicament of having leftover pie), you may be wondering: What is the best way to store pie? How long can it sit out on the counter, and when does it need to be refrigerated?

Well, that depends. We cut through the crust of the dos and don’ts of pie storage.

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Illustration by Maya Chastain

The pie experts at Pillsbury suggest covering custard and cream pies with plastic wrap before refrigerating for up to 4 days.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture backs this up. They also recommend throwing away all perishable foods after they’ve been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, since bacteria grow rapidly between 40ºF (4ºC) and 140ºF (60ºC).

But the folks at Betty Crocker argue it’s OK to keep fruit-filled pies at room temperature, as long as it’s for 2 days or less. After that, the pies should head into the fridge.

But if you’re in a place that’s a little warmer, Betty Crocker recommends you should always store fruit pies in the refrigerator. So, check the weather forecast before leaving your pies out.

Our advice?

  • Be sure to refrigerate cream, custard, pumpkin, mousse, chiffon, or any other pies containing eggs or dairy as soon as they’ve cooled. They’ll keep for up to 2 days.(This includes savory pies like quiche.)
  • Fruit pies can stand at room temperature for 2 days. If you need to store them longer, wrap them in plastic and put ’em in the fridge for up to another 2 days. (But we hardly think they’ll be around that long.)

You can successfully freeze many kinds of pies, including fruit pies, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie, but more delicate mousse and custard pies will not fare well. Neither will meringue.

When freezing pie, we advise wrapping it well in a layer of plastic, then a layer of foil, to be sure it’s protected from freezer burn. It should last for a few months.

Check out our favorite Thanksgiving pies and recipes that light up other holidays and festivals.

You don’t have to scarf down your pies the moment they leave the oven. Storing them is absolutely fine — and you can even store some (like fruit pies) at room temperature for a couple of days before slinging them in your refrigerator.

Pies that make use of eggs and dairy (like pumpkin, mousse, and custard pies) should go straight into the fridge after cooling. They’ll stay good for 2 days.

You’re also fine to freeze some pies like pecan, pumpkin, and fruit pies (as long as they’re well wrapped to protect them from freezer burn).