PSA: You Can Freeze Pumpkin Pie
Bake now, enjoy fall flavors later.
Ever wonder how to make that fall feeling last? Good news: You can freeze pumpkin pies. Because of their rich custard fillings (read: high fat content), pumpkin pies, as well as other custard filling-based pies such as sweet potato, freeze beautifully. We polled pastry chefs and pie pros to get their top tips for making and freezing pumpkin pies, whether you're in baking mode now and eager for a surplus, curious how to use all those pumpkins from the patch or you're on a bake-and-freeze-now-eat-later mission for your Thanksgiving prep game plan. More pie, less stress.
Keep it classic
Though there are a lot of great ways to change up the pumpkin pie — alternate crusts, for example, or adding fruit or chocolate to the mix — regular pie dough filled with classic pumpkin custard are the best to freeze with this method.
Consider the pie dish
To keep your pie in as pristine a condition as possible, Vanessa O’Donnell, owner and pastry chef of Ooh La La Dessert Boutique in Houston, recommends baking the pie in an inexpensive or disposable pie pan. “Since aluminum pie pans are thinner, the pie will freeze faster and avoid developing ice crystals on the surface of the pie,” she explains. (Excessive ice crystals can cause your pie to become soggy once it thaws.)
Wrap it up
Fully bake the pie, then allow it to cool completely, which can take up to three hours. (Freezing a warm pie will create ice and compromise the flavor and texture upon thawing.) Once it’s fully cooled, O’Donnell recommends wrapping and tightly sealing the pie in several layers of plastic wrap. Carl Walker, the general manager at Brennan’s of Houston (who learned his pie-making skills from his mom, a blue-ribbon-winning baker) takes it one step further. He slides the plastic-wrapped pies into a resealable bag for added protection against freezer burn. Pies should last up to one month in the freezer.
Know your freezer
“When it comes to freezing pies at home, the biggest variable is that home freezers have longer and more frequent defrost cycles than commercial freezers. This causes ice crystals and frost to develop,” explains Krystle Swenson, pastry chef at Crawford & Son and Jolie in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I recommend to visually observe the pie if it’s been in the freezer for more than a month before using.”
Remember to thaw frozen pumpkin pie slowly
To ensure that your pie defrosts evenly, allow it to thaw slowly in your refrigerator. “Take it out 8 to 12 hours ahead to let thaw in your refrigerator — not out on the counter,” Walker says. “Once thawed, you can pop it in the microwave or oven for a short time to take the chill off — just don’t leave it in the microwave but for a few seconds at a time, testing the temperature as you go.”
Make-and-freeze these fan-favorite pumpkin pie recipes and serve once Thanksgiving rolls around.
Our Best Pumpkin Pie recipe (pictured up top) has all the makings of a classic custard, including pumpkin puree, eggs and warming spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
For a riff on a classic, try this Pumpkin-Coconut Pie, wreathed in a toasty, sweetened flaked coconut topping, or this Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Crust, which incorporates pumpkin pie’s signature spices in the crust instead of the filling.
Try spiking your pie’s custard filling with bourbon to fortify it with extra toasty, caramel-y flavors, as with this Vanilla Bourbon Pumpkin Pie recipe.
Try the bake-and-freeze method on other custard-filled pies, such as sweet potato. Try this Maple Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie or Trisha Yearwood’s classic Sweet Potato Pie (save even more time by using canned sweet potato puree and a store-bought pie shell).