Every pizza lover will tell you this – pizza tastes better the next day. But they’ll also tell you this – pizza doesn’t age like wine and after some time, that leftover slice will stink, taste awful, and probably even make you sick. So we’ve prepared this post to make sure you’ll never experience that. Read on to find out how long pizza lasts and when it’s time to put it in the trash.
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Does Pizza Go Bad?
Unfortunately, yes. Pizza, like all perishable foods, does go bad. However, how long that takes to happen depends upon how the pizza was stored.
At room temperature, pizza tends to go bad much quicker. Thus, you should always follow the 2-hour rule of food storage when you have some pizza leftovers. Bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature, making unpreserved foods spoil much faster. As such, if your pizza has been left on the kitchen counter for more than two hours, it will likely not be safe to eat.
By letting your pizza sit out, you increase your chances of developing foodborne illnesses. If you have a piece of pizza you would like to store for the next day, it’s best to put it in the refrigerator.
How Long Does Pizza Last?
Again, the answer to this will depend on where and how you store the pizza. At room temperature, two hours is the recommended time. Of course, that doesn’t mean your pie will become unsafe to eat right after.
However, the longer you leave it out, the higher the possibility of that happening. In other words, it is up to you to decide whether you will eat or discard it. But if the pizza sits on the countertop the whole day, definitely toss it out.
In the refrigerator, pizza can keep for up to four days. If you have a piece that has been sitting in there for a week, it may still be okay to eat too, but after the fourth day, there is a higher risk of getting sick, so basically, it would be best to just order fresh pizza.
If you end up having leftovers from this new pizza, make sure to chuck it in the freezer instead. That way, you can enjoy your pizza even after the fourth day without worrying about getting sick. Frozen pizza can stay good for up to two months.
Here is a brief summary of pizza’s shelf life.
Pizza (whether whole or a slice)
|2 hours max||4 days||2 months|
5 Tips to Tell if Pizza Has Gone Bad
If you have been staring at a slice of pizza that has been in the fridge for a while wondering whether or not it is still good to eat, here are some tips to help you, or rather, things that should tell you if the pie belongs to the dustbin.
Perishable foods grow mold when they start to spoil, and pizza is no exception. If you see gray or white spots on your beloved pie, discard it immediately.
2. Change in Smell
Fresh pizza will have a fresh, distinct aroma associated with its ingredients. If yours gives off a sour or rancid scent, it is probably too old and should not be consumed.
3. Hard Crust
While some people may like their pizza dry and crunchy, an extremely hard crust could be a sign that your pizza has been in storage for way too long. Whether to eat the pizza or throw it out will be totally up to you. But if the pie doesn’t show any other signs of spoilage and you aren’t bothered by the dry crust, you can go ahead and eat it.
4. Gooey Toppings
Depending on what the top of your pizza is made of, some ingredients may start to spoil after staying in storage for some time. If the toppings look slimy, don’t eat that pizza.
5. Change in Taste
If your pizza looks okay up to this point but you are still doubting its integrity, it’s time to take a bite. And don’t worry; a small bite won’t kill you. If it tastes awful, it has likely gone bad, and there is no point in eating the rest of it.
3 Tips to Store Pizza
As with all perishable foods, your pizza needs to be stored correctly if you hope to enjoy it the following day (and in the next couple days). You can either refrigerate or freeze your pizza to extend its lifespan. The following tips are a great place to start and will keep your pie tasting nearly as delicious as it was when fresh.
1. Do Not Store Pizza in Its Original Box
Sure, throwing the entire box of pizza straight into the fridge can be easier and tempting but don’t do it. The moisture from the toppings will soak into the crust and make the entire pie soggy, and no matter what method you use to reheat the pizza afterward, you will not achieve its original texture.
Instead, transfer the pizza into a large airtight container. Make sure to place parchment paper or paper towels on the bottom; it will help absorb excess moisture. Storing your pizza this way will not only keep the pie tasting fresh but also help it retain its texture after reheating.
2. Keep the Pizza Sealed
Covering the container the pizza is stored in protects the pizza from contamination, keeps moisture at bay, and locks out smells and flavors from the nearby foods, enabling it to retain its original aroma and flavor.
Before placing your pie in the refrigerator, wrap a thin film around the container. If you are using a container that has a lid, just replace the lid instead.
3. Freeze Pizza for Long-Term Storage
If you plan on keeping your pizza for more than four days, store it in the freezer. While the refrigerator will not alter the pizza’s texture like the freezer does, your pizza will not stay fresh for too long. Frozen pizza can stay good for up to two months.
We will give you tips on how to properly freeze pizza in a moment, but first, here is a short video that shows you exactly how to correctly store your leftover pizza:
The Risk of Consuming Bad Pizza
Chances are you will not get sick after consuming pizza that has gone bad because let’s face it; even getting that pizza into your mouth is close to impossible. You will likely know the pizza is spoiled just by looking at it.
But suppose you actually decide to eat spoiled pizza, then what? Well, for starters, you will be putting yourself at risk of food poisoning. Depending on the ingredients of your pizza, your age, and your health, you could end up with either mild or severe symptoms of food poisoning.
Also, keep in mind that different toppings may harbor different types of bacteria including salmonella which can cause severe illnesses. But despite the wide range of pathogens, most cases of food poisoning will exhibit symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
If you are just experiencing mild symptoms, you may get better without a doctor’s visit. But some people develop such severe symptoms that they may require treatment.
Can You Freeze Pizza?
Absolutely. But as we mentioned earlier, after thawing, your pizza’s taste and texture will not be as good as it was before freezing. Regardless, freezing is a great way to prolong the shelf life of your pie and you can do it in 4 easy steps as explained below:
- Cut the pizza into small individual pieces. This only applies if you are storing a whole pizza that came unsliced. If your pie is sliced or you have only one leftover slice, you can skip this step. However, note that even if the pizza came already sliced, the pieces may still be connected along the crust. Make sure these are completely separated.
- Wrap each piece individually with a plastic wrap, making sure to cover every part of the pie.
- Add wax paper or aluminum foil over each slice to keep the plastic wrap from sticking. You want to freeze each piece separately, not have the slices sticking together, as they can be difficult to detach from each other once they are frozen.
- Put the pieces in an airtight container or freezer bag and place them in the freezer for storage. You can store all slices together if the bag or container is large enough. Also, remember to label the storage medium to make sure your pizza doesn’t stay in storage longer than it should.
For more tips on how to freeze pizza, check out this video:
While pizza has an extremely short shelf life, you can keep it from going bad prematurely by storing it properly. Whether you are ordering a delivery or making your pizza at home, make sure to store any leftovers in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Only store pizza at room temperature if you plan to eat it within two hours.