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How Long Is My Leftover Pizza Good For? Is It Safe To Eat?

You didn’t quite finish that extra-large pizza, and you don’t want to throw out the leftovers. That’s when you ask yourself: how long is my leftover pizza good for?

We’ve all been there. We order a large pizza even though a medium one is usually enough, or even two pizzas because we’re famished. And guess what, there are leftovers, and lots of them.

Fortunately for you, those leftover slices can last for up to 4 days, assuming you do everything right.

Want to know more? Read on.

Pizza with broccoli
Pizza with broccoli

How Long Is Leftover Pizza Good For?

Pizza leftovers stay safe to eat for four days if you refrigerate them and for less than two hours if you leave them on the counter. That’s, at least, what the USDA says about the topic.

Leftovers keep for about 3 to 4 days, according to the USDA ([USDA]). That’s a pretty safe recommendation.

I, for one, routinely keep leftovers for between 4 (for foods that spoil quickly) to even 7 days (I’m looking at you, chicken broth), and I’m pretty sure you do too. Therefore, I wouldn’t be bothered if those pizza slices sat in the fridge for an extra day or so.

Nevertheless, if those slices stay in the fridge for like a week, toss them out. That pizza might still be okay to eat, but I don’t think it’s worth risking foodborne illness.

Pizza topped with greens
Pizza topped with greens

What about pizza that’s been sitting on the counter for a couple of hours?

Well, the official recommendation is the following:

Throw away all perishable foods that have been left in room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is over 90° F, such as at an outdoor picnic during summer).

USDA

But, truth be told, I left pizza leftovers on the countertop for 4 to 6 hours at least a few times and have never suffered any ill consequences of doing that.

Now, I’m not recommending you do the same, but I won’t blame you if you reheat those slices that you left on the table after you finished eating. Just remember, it’s potentially risky business.

Reheating pizza slices that sat at ambient temperate for more than two hours isn’t safe. Do it at your own risk.

Pizza slices on a cutting board
Pizza slices on a cutting board

How To Store Pizza Leftovers?

The best way to store leftover pizza slices is to wait until they cool down a bit (if they’re still hot), then put them in an airtight container or freezer bag and in the fridge. If you’re not sure when you’re going to eat the leftovers, freeze them.

I know it’s much easier to close the cardboard pizza box when you’re done and leave it on the counter. Unfortunately, that’s good enough only for an hour or two ([USDA]).

If you don’t have any plans for the leftovers, toss them in the fridge in a food container or bag.

By making sure you seal the pizza tightly, you protect it from picking up any smells and bacteria that might be present in the refrigerator.

Wrapping leftover pizza slice
Wrapping leftover pizza slice

If you want to reduce cleanup, use the foil that your pizza sits on. This way, wiping the container clean is usually a breeze.

If the mentioned four days of storage aren’t good enough for your needs, freeze the leftover slices. It’s as simple as wrapping them in plastic wrap and then putting them into freezer bags. This way, they’ll keep for months.

When it’s time to reheat the pizza, thaw the leftovers in the fridge overnight, and follow the instruction in the next section. Or, if you’re in a hurry, thaw and reheat them in one go.

Two pizza slices on a cutting board
Two pizza slices on a cutting board

How To Reheat Leftover Pizza

There are a couple of ways you can reheat pizza, depending on the equipment and time that you have. Those are:

  • In the microwave. Microwave the pizza on high in short 15-30 seconds bursts. After each one, check if the leftovers are as warm as you like. And don’t forget to put a glass of water cold water in the microwave while reheating. Change the water after a few bursts so that it doesn’t boil.
  • In the oven. Set your oven at 400°F (or 200°C) and put the pizza in there. After about 15 minutes, check how the leftovers are doing. They might need an extra 3 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven, the thickness of the pizza crust, and how cold it was when you started reheating it. Important: don’t postpone transferring the pizza to the oven until it warms up.
  • On the stovetop. Grab a non-stick pan and warm it up. Then add the pizza slices and put a lid on it. The lid will help warm up the top of the pizza quicker and lessen the chance of burning the bottom. Give the pan a shake every minute or two to ensure the pizza bottoms don’t stick.
Leftover pizza slice
Leftover pizza slice

How To Tell If Your Leftover Pizza Is Bad?

Discard your leftover pizza if:

  • There’s mold or any fuzziness visible. Make sure you inspect every slice thoroughly before you start reheating them. That’s especially important if the leftovers sit in the fridge for like 3 or 4 days already.
  • It looks or smells off. If something is wrong, it’s time for it to go.
  • It sits in the fridge for more than 5 days. If you only remembered about the leftovers after a week, throw them out.

The rules above aren’t rocket science – they’re based on common sense. That’s, pretty much, all you need when it comes to deciding if your leftover pizza slices are good to eat or not.

Thinking about the money you spent on that pizza doesn’t help when you’re deciding if the leftovers are safe or not. It’s better to cut your losses and stay safe instead of trying to get the most out of it and ending up with an upset stomach.

Summary

  • Leftover pizza keeps for about 4 days in the fridge, and stays safe for about two hours at room temperature.
  • If you need more than 4 days to finish that pizza, freeze it.
  • Make sure you wrap the leftovers well before putting them in the fridge.

References