The key to a more relaxed Thanksgiving Day is organization. You can start by planning the meal — and writing out your Thanksgiving shopping list well ahead of time. But there are other ways to get ahead of the game, too. One of the smartest is to get a head-start by baking a few desserts or casseroles before the big day, including one of the star of your Thanksgiving dessert spread: a classic pumpkin pie.
Purists may point out that pumpkin pie was not served at the first Thanksgiving, and they would be right. But it's become a staple of the season, inspiring a host of other desserts, like pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin lattes, and pumpkin cookies.
As happens every year, there are always Thanksgiving leftovers. But even if you think you won't want to even look at a pumpkin pie for the next few days, it doesn't mean you should put it in the trash bin! Lucky for all of us, it's pretty easy to preserve a pumpkin pie by freezing it, keeping it pristine for another day!
Can you freeze a pumpkin pie after baking?
You can freeze a pumpkin pie before or after baking—though we recommend letting a baked pie come all the way to room temperature before freezing. This is because you want the pie to freeze as quickly as possible. A shorter freeze time cuts down on ice crystals forming inside the pie, and the pie will taste better after defrosting. A frozen unbaked pie can be baked straight from the freezer—as long as you aren't using a glass or porcelain pie plate (more on that below). The cook time will be a little longer, though.
Does freezing ruin pie crust?
Not at all. Traditional pie crust has such a high fat content that it freezes surprisingly well, so no need to worry about sub-par crust crunch (provided you follow the instructions below). Whether you've just finished your Thanksgiving meal, or you're preparing a pie in advance, it's easy to pack it up in a freezer-friendly way.
Note that there are two important items you'll want to have on hand: an aluminum pie plate and plenty of plastic wrap. A reusable tin may not be as charming as the Pyrex passed down from grandma, but it will minimize freeze time because it's much thinner — and it won't crack or break.
Before clearing space in your freezer, be sure to let the pie cool completely. Then cover thoroughly with multiple layers of plastic wrap. A tighter seal prevents unwanted air and moisture from messing with the pie's consistency and texture during its time in the icebox. (Of course, feel free to finish off with a layer of aluminum foil for an additional protective barrier.)
Can you freeze pumpkin pie filling?
Yes! Should you ever find yourself with a surplus of filling, the extra can easily be salvaged and saved for future baking endeavors. Just transfer the leftover filling into freezer-safe zip-top bags, freeze for up to five days, and thaw it in the refrigerator for a few hours when you're ready to use it. (A trick to speed up this thawing process: Submerge each bag in a bowl or tub of lukewarm water.)
How long can you keep a baked pumpkin pie in the freezer?
Frozen pumpkin pies are best consumed within a four-week window—all the more reason to continue the holiday celebrations as soon as possible!
How do you defrost a pumpkin pie?
About 12 hours before serving the pie, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator. Whatever you do, don't thaw it on the counter or at room temperature! This causes the filling to "weep," or form extra moisture, which leads to a soggy crust. And nobody wants a soggy piecrust.
Once it has completely thawed, remove it from the fridge and serve cold or at room temperature. You can also warm it up for 10 minutes in a 200 degree oven. Garnish with whipped cream because it's delicious, but also to cover up any unsightly wrinkles the wrap may have caused.
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