A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

14 Things You Didn’t Know About Costco’s $5.99 Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin season is upon us, and the Costco pumpkin pie has you covered

Costco Pumpkin Pie Rachel WilkeRachel Wilke/rd.com

It’s Costco pumpkin pie season!

Can’t get enough of the Costco pumpkin pie? You’re not alone. This delicious dessert is a big-time holiday favorite, bringing joy to hungry givers of thanks since 1987. For many, it’s not Thanksgiving without it, and it’s earned its place as one of America’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

Especially if you feel that cooking Thanksgiving dinner is hard enough and you don’t want to stress about dessert, consider adding a Costco pumpkin pie to your list. For just $5.99, you’ll get all the pie with none of the stress of buying, blending and baking ingredients. Unlike some other Costco secrets, word is out about how good this pie is; 2022 will be the 35th year Costco has sold its pastry behemoth. But beware! Costco is not one of the stores open on Thanksgiving, so you’ll need to get there early the day before if you want to grab a pie before they’re gone.

Get Reader’s Digest‘s Read Up newsletter for more food, humor, cleaning, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.

close up of costco wholesale sign on exterior of buildingScott Olson/Getty Images

When can I buy Costco pumpkin pie?

You’re in luck—this year, the pie is already back in stores! It will remain in stores from now till December. While you’re shopping for Costco pumpkin pie, find out these other supermarket tricks you’ll wish you’d always known.

Pumpkin Pie Slicegsk2013/Getty Images

Does pumpkin pie need to be refrigerated?

If you’re wondering if you need to refrigerate Costco pumpkin pie, the answer is yes! You should stick your pie in the fridge for the same reason eggs need to be refrigerated: to stop the growth of bacteria and decrease the likelihood of salmonella. The USDA recommends that all “egg-rich” pies like pumpkin, pecan, lemon meringue and custard be refrigerated. While some bakeries use preservatives that may give these pies a shelf life at room temperature, Costco pumpkin pies are preservative-free and need to stay chilled.

Pumpkin Pie Ready For ServingDNY59/Getty Images

Can you freeze Costco pumpkin pie?

If you go the route of buying the pie in store well in advance, you’re in luck—you absolutely can pop it in the freezer. Just note that you’re probably best off freezing it before you open it rather than freezing only part of the pie after you’ve eaten some (which is good news if you’re buying it, say, now to eat on Thanksgiving). If you find yourself in Costco this season, consider picking one up—if only to see what all the fuss is about. Can’t wait for the holiday? Brush up on this Thanksgiving trivia to prepare!

Costco Pumpkin Pies on shelf in storeRachel Wilke/rd.com

It’s a lot of pie

When it comes to its offerings, Costco tends to go big, and its pumpkin pie is no exception. Each pie measures a full foot in diameter and weighs in at 58 ounces—that’s more than three and a half pounds! If you’re serving a hungry crowd on Thanksgiving, this mega-pastry provides more than enough bang for your buck. Here are more things at Costco you can’t buy anywhere else.

Urban Halloween Pumpkin PatchPam Susemiehl/Getty Images

Once just isn’t enough

Every piece of pumpkin that goes into Costco’s pies gets cooked not once, but twice. The chunks of pumpkin get cooked once before they’re pureed, and then a second time after canning. The pureed pumpkin cooks for a full five and a half hours before it’s pie-ready. And it’s a lot of pumpkin. Every gallon-size can of puree shipped to Costco contains the contents of three pumpkins! Costco certainly doesn’t skimp on the pumpkin. If side dishes are more your thing, check out your ideal Thanksgiving dish, based on your zodiac sign.

Pumpkin growing in pumpkin patchPhotoAlto/Jerome Gorin/Getty Images

Is Costco pumpkin pie made with real pumpkin?

It sure is! Costco pumpkin pie is made from real pumpkin grown in the U.S.—Illinois, to be exact. The Midwestern state, which actually provides the vast majority of all America’s pumpkin crop, has just the right soil and weather conditions to produce the perfect pumpkins for decadent fall desserts.

close up of pumpkin pieEHStock/Getty Images

The ingredients are pretty simple

Costco uses a variety called Dickinson pumpkins for all its pies—the same type used in Libby’s pumpkin products. As for the other ingredients that combine to produce the perfect pie, the recipe is comfortingly simple. Totally free of preservatives, the pies contain eggs, water and a dry mix of ingredients like sugar and spices in addition to the twice-cooked pumpkin puree. These are the Kirkland items you should always be buying at Costco.

costco bakeryTrong Nguyen/Shutterstock

They’ve been around a while

Costco’s bakery has been producing pumpkin pies, using the same recipe, since 1987. Back then, the pies were 10 inches; today, they’re 12, but the recipe itself remains the same. That recipe comes straight from the kitchen of Sue McConnaha, the vice president of bakery operations at Costco. Did you know that your canned pumpkin might not actually be pumpkin?

pumpkin pieDebbiSmirnoff/Getty Images

Is Costco pumpkin pie healthy?

It’s a fruit-based dessert (yes, a pumpkin is a fruit), but a dessert nonetheless. “A slice (1/12th of a whole pie) contains around 310 calories,” says Michelle Keldgord, co-founder of BakingHow. “Those calories include 11 grams of fat, 48 grams of carbohydrates and 30 grams of sugars.” How does that compare with recommended amounts? Well, a healthy amount of carbs, she adds, is 200 to 300 [grams] per day, while 44 to 77 grams of fat is a reasonable daily target.

It’s the sugar content, though, that’s really the eyebrow-raiser: “The daily recommended amount of sugar per day is around 30 (24 for women and 36 for men). This means that a single slice of Costco pumpkin pie will hit the maximum recommended amount,” Keldgord explains. (Here’s a guide to how many calories to eat in a day.) So, no, it’s not a health food. That certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t partake, but enjoy Costco pumpkin pie in moderation. It’s worth noting that it’s free of preservatives, though, so that’s a health thumbs-up!

close up of woman holding smartphoneWestend61/Getty Images

It gets lots of love on social media

One thing that has changed about the pie since 1987: its social media presence. Facebook has an entire page called “Costco’s Pumpkin Pie”—started by fans and unaffiliated with the Costco corporation—that’s devoted to singing (er, posting) the praises of the pie and even sharing memes about it.

It’s a gift that keeps on giving

Three pumpkins for every gallon of puree leaves behind a lot of seeds. Happily, though, the seeds don’t get thrown out—according to The Costco Connection, the canning facility sends the seeds to a bird feed company!

Pumpkin Pie With Whipped CreamDNY59/Getty Images

Some may not be allergen-friendly

The ingredients of the Costco pumpkin pie might stay the same, but the different facilities they’re processed in can’t guarantee that they’re all allergen-free. “The allergen and cross-contamination warnings on labels can vary store to store,” says Marie Clark, managing editor of food, lifestyle and travel at CostContessa. “Some specifically include sesame and peanuts. Check the label at your store if you have allergies—don’t go by images from social media from other stores.”

Costco Pumpkin Pie Sign Rachel WilkeRachel Wilke/rd.com

Business is booming

With their deliciousness, size and affordable price, it’s no surprise that these pies fly off the shelves. Costco sold 6.1 million pies in 2019 alone, 2.1 million of which were purchased during the three days before Thanksgiving. If you prefer to eat out on Turkey Day, these are the restaurants open on Thanksgiving this year.

close up of costco shopping carts lined upMario Tama/Getty Images

Can you order pumpkin pie from Costco?

Unfortunately, you can’t—you’ll have to buy these goodies in-store. While availability will vary greatly by store, you should be good to go if you go to pick one up at the store—if it’s more than a week before Thanksgiving. Last-minute Thanksgiving shoppers, be warned: According to Taste of Home, the bakery has sold out of them before closing on the day before Turkey Day. If you want to be absolutely certain you’ll have a Costco pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, the earlier you shop, the better.

Sources:

  • People: “Costco’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Is Back on Shelves — But the Price Has Gone Up”
  • Simplemost: “Costco’s 4-Pound Pumpkin Pie Is Back Just in Time for Thanksgiving”
  • Costco Connection: “From patch to plate: Tracing Costco’s iconic pumpkin pie”
  • USDA: “What is safe storage for pecan pie?”
  • Michelle Keldgord, co-founder of bakinghow.com
  • Marie Clark, managing editor of food, lifestyle and travel at CostContessa

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for RD.com since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.