What The Expire/enjoy By Date On McDonald's Pies Mean

McDonald's is known for a few signature food items. The Big Mac will always be synonymous with burgers, and McDonald's fries are among the best in the business. 

The burger joint's apple pies have a loyal following, too, despite some drama when the famed burger chain switched from frying its apple pies to baking them. According to Reader's Digest, the McDonald's apple pie was introduced in 1968. In 1992, the burger purveyor switched from frying their famed pies to baking them. 

McDonald's pie enthusiasts might have noticed a little sticker on their perfectly packaged individual pies. All McDonald's pies, including the apple pies and the beloved holiday pies, have an "enjoy by" or an "expires on" sticker affixed to the packaging. Some observant customers have noticed that the time stamp is always within a couple of hours of purchase. There is a reason why. The pies do, in fact, expire and are thrown out if they aren't sold by the timestamp. 

Why do McDonald's pies have an enjoy by sticker?

McDonald's has never offered a public explanation for the expiry time on its apple pies, but it likely has something to do with food safety regulations. According to ServSafe, a company that offers food safety training and certifications, food is the most hospitable for bacteria growth when it is kept between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Food can be held in the temperature range for just a short amount of time before it is considered unsafe to consume.

Because McDonald's apple pies are kept in a warmer, they are likely kept at temperatures considered in the "danger zone" and thus must be thrown away after a set amount of time. According to a Reddit user, the apple pies at McDonald's are subject to Time/Temperature Control for Safety standards, which explains why it is suggested they are enjoyed within a couple of hours of preparation. All pies that are cooked together have the same expiration time, and the apple pies aren't the only baked goods at McDonald's that have expiry stickers. When McDonald's offers limited-time pies, like the holiday pie, they are also timestamped. 

Can you save McDonald's pies for later?

McDonald's may discard their apple pies once they've been in the warmer for too long, but can a customer consume a leftover pie that they purchased? In most cases, yes, assuming a few conditions are met. The pies are considered fine to eat if they are cooled to a safe temperature, specifically in a refrigerator, after the time on their stickers. The pies must also be thoroughly reheated. You can reheat one of McDonald's famous pies in an air fryer or an oven without much trouble.

According to Pantry & Larder, you can reheat McDonald's signature baked good in a 350-degree oven in just six minutes, flipping the pies halfway through. They can also be reheated in an air fryer. The air fryer route takes about half as long at the same temperature and doesn't require flipping. If you're in a real hurry, a microwave will do, but crispness will be sacrificed.