You didn’t finish that extra-large pizza, but you don’t want to toss the leftovers. That’s when you ask yourself: how long is my leftover pizza good for in the fridge?
We’ve all been there. We order a large pizza even though a medium one is usually enough, or get two pizzas because we’re feeling famished. And guess what: there are leftovers, and lots of them.
So, how long is leftover pizza still safe to eat?
That depends on whether you placed it in the fridge or not.
Table of Contents
- Pizza Leftovers Sitting at Room Temperature
- How Long Is Leftover Pizza Good For in the Fridge?
- How To Store Pizza Leftovers?
- How To Reheat Pizza Leftovers
- How To Tell If Your Leftover Pizza Is Bad?
- Leftover Pizza Storage Time Summary
Pizza Leftovers Sitting at Room Temperature
If your leftover pizza has been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours, you should toss it because it’s not safe to eat anymore. And if the temperature is over 90°F, that pizza stays safe for only about an hour.
That’s the official USDA recommendation for perishable foods sitting out. This means it applies to other baked goods that require refrigeration, like bread pudding, too.
But truth be told, I left pizza leftovers covered on the countertop for 3 to 5 hours at least a few times. And I have never suffered any ill consequences from doing that.
(That doesn’t mean doing so is safe, of course. I was probably lucky, if anything.)
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 for a bit longer than you’re supposed to. Just keep in mind that it’s risky, and do your best to refrigerate leftover pizza within two hours of receiving it next time.
And speaking of refrigeration, let’s talk about how that works out.
How Long Is Leftover Pizza Good For in the Fridge?
Leftover pizza stays safe to eat for four days if you refrigerate it within two hours of receiving or baking it. Make sure you wrap the leftovers with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or place them in an airtight container or freezer bag.
Leftovers typically are good for about 3 to 4 days, according to the USDA. That’s a pretty safe recommendation.
You might get an extra day, but that’s about it. Any more than that, and things get dicey.
So if those slices sit in your fridge for like a week already, toss them out. That pizza might still be okay to eat, but I don’t think it’s worth risking foodborne illness.
Finally, mind the topping.
If your pizza is topped with something that spoils quickly, finish the leftovers within 24 hours. And toss what’s left if you can’t.
How To Store Pizza Leftovers?
The best way to store leftover pizza slices is to wait until they cool down a bit, then put them in an airtight container or freezer bag and in the fridge. Or 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, as I mentioned earlier.
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.
If you want to reduce cleanup, reuse 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 at least 3 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.
How To Reheat Pizza Leftovers
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 frying 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.
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.
Leftover Pizza Storage Time Summary
Thanks for reading this quick guide on leftover pizza. Here are the takeaways:
- Leftover pizza keeps for about 4 days in the fridge, but only if you refrigerate it within 2 hours of receiving or baking it. If it sits on the counter for longer, you should toss it for safety purposes.
- 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. Otherwise, they’ll dry out and pick up smells.