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How Long Can Pizza Sit Out Before It Goes Bad

How Long Can Pizza Sit Out Before It Goes Bad? Revealed

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by Lori Walker

Have you ever experienced the temptation of leftover pizza on pizza night, hours after it was first served? But do you know how much time is safe for pizza to remain unrefrigerated before it spoils?

You’re racing against the clock once that pizza cools. Let’s dive into the specifics and ensure your next slice is delicious and safe.

How Long Can Pizza Be Left Out?

People Holding Slices of Pepperoni Pizza

Pizza should be included for at most two hours at room temperature. After this period, bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses multiply rapidly, making the pizza [1] unsafe to eat. 

“I eat whatever I want. I don’t follow any diet. The reason I workout is so that I can eat. If it’s a bikini shoot, of course you should not eat a pizza a day before. Otherwise I am not a dieting kind of a person. If I am hungry, I make sure I eat.”

– Amyra Dastur, Indian Actress

If the surrounding environment is warmer than usual, such as during summer, this time frame can be even shorter. To ensure safety, always refrigerate leftover pizza promptly.

How Long Can Pizza Stay In The Fridge?

In the refrigerator, leftover pizza typically retains its best quality for 3 to 4 days. To maximize its shelf life, store the pizza slices in airtight containers or wrap them tightly with plastic or aluminum foil. 

This prevents the pizza from drying out and protects it from absorbing unwanted odors from the fridge. Beyond the 4-day mark, it’s essential to use your judgment. 

Check the pizza for any changes in smell, appearance, or texture. Mold [2] or a sour odor indicates that the pizza should be discarded.

While it might be possible for pizza to remain safe beyond this window, its taste and texture could deteriorate. But how long will pizza dough last in the fridge?

Is It Okay To Freeze Pizza?

Yes. Freezing pizza is a great way to extend its shelf life. Whether store-bought, homemade, or leftover slices, pizza can be frozen for 1-2 months. 

To freeze, place individual slices on a baking sheet until frozen solid, then transfer to airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. 

This method prevents the slices from sticking together, ensuring they’re ready for individual enjoyment later. When you’re ready to eat, reheat directly from the freezer for the best results.

Signs That It Has Gone Bad

  1. Unpleasant Smell: A sour, pungent, or unusual odor emanating from the pizza indicates that it has started to spoil. Fresh pizza should retain its aromatic ingredients’ scent.
  2. Visible Mold: If you spot fuzzy or slimy mold patches on the crust, cheese, or toppings, it’s time to discard the slice. Mold can appear in various colors, including white, green, black, or blue.
  3. Off Texture: If the cheese becomes overly hard or the crust turns soggier than you remember, it’s a sign the pizza’s quality is deteriorating.
  4. Change in Color: Toppings, especially vegetables, may look discolored or faded when the pizza goes bad. For instance, vegetables might appear browner than usual.
  5. Slimy Residue: When touching the pizza, if it feels slimy, mainly the underside of the crust, it indicates bacterial growth.
  6. Taste: If unsure, a small taste can be a telltale sign. An off or sour taste suggests the pizza is past its prime. However, avoid relying solely on this method, especially if other signs are present.
  7. Expired Ingredients: If you made the pizza yourself, consider the ingredients’ freshness. If any ingredient was close to expiration, the entire pizza might have a reduced shelf life.

“Pizza’s allure remains, but with time it wanes; two hours out, and safety’s in doubt.”

– Leonelli Bakery

Find out if you can get food poisoning from eating a pizza here.

Tips On How To Extend Shelf Life

  1. Proper Storage: Use airtight containers or tightly wrap the pizza in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before refrigerating. This prevents moisture loss and protects the pizza from other odors in the fridge.
  2. Prompt Refrigeration: Wait to leave pizza out for more than two hours. Refrigerate leftovers promptly to limit bacterial growth.
  3. Freezing: For longer storage, freeze pizza slices. Place them separately on a baking sheet until they are frozen solid, then store them in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.
  4. Avoid Cross-Contamination: Use clean utensils and hands when handling pizza. This prevents the introduction of new bacteria to the pizza, which can reduce its shelf life.
  5. Reheat Properly: When reheating pizza, ensure it reaches a temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). This helps kill potential bacteria and revitalizes the pizza’s taste and texture.
  6. Use Fresh Ingredients: If making pizza at home, ensure all ingredients are fresh and haven’t been sitting out for extended periods. Fresh ingredients taste better and extend the final product’s shelf life.
  7. Consider Vacuum Sealing: If you have a vacuum sealer, it can be an excellent tool for extending the shelf life of pizza by removing air, which slows down oxidation and bacterial growth.
  8. Avoid Repeated Temperature Changes: Taking pizza in and out of the fridge or freezer can affect its quality. Limit these temperature fluctuations to maximize shelf life.

Related Post: A Guide To Keep Pizza Warm In The Car

FAQs

Is pizza still good if left out for 12 hours?

No, pizza left out for 12 hours is not safe to eat. Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature, increasing the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Always refrigerate leftovers promptly and avoid consuming pizza left out for extended periods.

Is it safe to eat cold pizza?

Yes, it’s safe to eat cold pizza if stored correctly in the refrigerator and consumed within its safe timeframe (typically 3 to 4 days).

However, ensure it has been at room temperature for only two hours before refrigeration.

Final Thoughts

Pizza’s tempting allure can make us overlook its safe consumption window. However, for health’s sake, any pizza left at room temperature for more than two hours should be considered unsafe. 

The risk of harmful bacteria multiplying rapidly after this period is too high. To ensure taste and safety, always store leftovers promptly in the refrigerator and consume them within their optimal timeframe.

When in doubt, prioritize health over a late-night snack.

References:

  1. https://www.seriouseats.com/pizza-recipes-5117816
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288651
Lori Walker

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