How Long Can You Leave Pizza Out? [Storage Tips]

Almost everyone loves pizza. Whether they break away from the pack and enjoy pineapple pizza or stick to the classic cheese and pepperoni, you can’t go wrong with ordering from your favorite pizza joint or making homemade pizza.

As much as people love pizza, it’s not surprising that they tend to over-order.

This is especially true if they buy more to accommodate a big birthday bash or didn’t realize the pizza size they ordered.

Regardless, it’s essential to know how long pizza can sit out after buying or making it. For all types of pizza, the general rule of thumb is that pizza can only be left out for up to 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperatures are above 90F.

After the 2-hour mark, pizza will have a high level of bacterial growth, rendering it unsafe to consume.

Knowing how long you can leave pizza out is critical to avoiding certain undesirable mishaps such as food poisoning – and that’s exactly what this article is going to teach. 

How Long Can You Leave Pizza Out?

It doesn’t matter what kind of pizza you ordered or made, whether pepperoni, cheese, vegetable, or pineapple.

2 Pizza Slices

Pizza should only be left for a maximum of 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90F.

The reason why is pretty simple: bacteria starts to accumulate in as little as 20 minutes in temperatures ranging from 40F to 140F – temperatures otherwise known as the “Danger Zone.”

These harmful bacterias – including Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis, and Escherichia coli O157:H7 – will grow rapidly, overtaking your pizza and rendering it unsafe to eat in 1-2 hours.

And the higher the temperature, the quicker it will accumulate. 

How Long Can You Leave Pizza Out Before Putting it in the Fridge?

If you are not planning to eat your pizza within the two-hour mark, you will need to refrigerate it to keep it safe to consume.

Ensure that your refrigerator’s temperature is 40F or below – 32F is recommended for perishable food items like pizza. 

Unfortunately, if your pizza sits out for longer than 1-2 hours, it will not be saved by being moved to the fridge. It will need to be thrown out.

How Long Does It Take for Pizza to Go Bad If Left Out?

From frozen vegetable varieties to meat lover pizzas bought from a restaurant, the rules remain the same.

All kinds of pizzas will go bad between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen

That said, if you bring a box of pizza to a picnic and it’s 100F outside, it will only last around 1 hour before it goes bad.

A pizza sitting on a kitchen countertop at 65 F will easily last until the 2-hour mark. 

Can I Eat Pizza That’s Been Left Out Overnight?

Plenty of people are under the impression that they can consume pizza that’s been left out overnight.

Most of these individuals have done it before and didn’t get sick.

So, they automatically assume that it’s entirely safe to leave pizza overnight and heat it for breakfast – or better yet, eat right out of the box.

But this is something that should be avoided. You should never eat pizza that’s been left out overnight.

It all goes back to that pesky bacteria. If your pizza were left sitting in the “Danger Zone” temperatures for 10-12 hours, it would have taken over your entire pizza.

It’s better to err on the side of caution. Just because your friends have done it without getting ill doesn’t mean the same good fortune will happen to you.

Is It Okay to Eat Pizza Out for 4 Hours?

The best answer to this question is maybe. Like “best by” dates on the back of a package, “recommended” time frames are just that – recommendations to keep the public safe. 

If it’s a sweltering and humid day, pizza likely won’t survive the 4-hour mark.

If it’s a particularly chilly day, on the other hand, your pizza may be safe for consumption – but that’s at your own risk.

The best thing to do is to check for signs of spoilage.

Can You Eat Pizza Left Out for 3 Hours?

Much like the “4-hour” question mentioned above, your pizza may still be safe to consume after 3 hours.

This is especially true if the temperatures are below 70F. You will need to double-check for signs of spoilage (listed below).

Can You Eat Pizza Left Out for 6 Hours?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t much matter what the temperature is – pizza that’s been sitting out for 6 hours is not safe to eat and should not be consumed.

This simply allows far too much time for bacteria to accumulate.

Can You Eat 3-Day Old Pizza Not Refrigerated?

Definitely not. Pizza that has been sitting out for 3 full days should not be consumed.

At this point, the pizza will be riddled with bacteria that could cause illness.

Not only that, but pizza left out for 3 days will likely have an undesirably rock-hard texture that is difficult and unappealing to consume.

Is It Safe to Eat Cold Pizza?

As long as the pizza is cold because it was stored in the refrigerator, it is 100% safe to consume.

Pizza

Stored in an airtight container or sealable bag, pizza can last up to 4 days in the fridge. 

When you’re ready to consume the refrigerated pizza, go ahead and eat it right out of the container or heat it in the microwave, oven, air fryer, etc. 

Signs Pizza is Spoiled

Unfortunately, pizza doesn’t last forever. The good news is that there are many tell-tale signs that pizza has gone bad.

Some of the most significant indicators include a dried-out and rock-hard texture, mold growth, bad smell, and slimy toppings. 

1.Dried-Out and Rock-Hard Texture

The texture of your pizza will change based on the type you ordered or baked.

For the most part, a deep-dish or hand-tossed variety will be soft and fluffy, while a thin pizza may have a bit more crunch.

But regardless of the type of pizza, one thing remains true: if the texture has become overly dried-out and rock-hard, your pizza is going bad. 

It’s not there quite yet, though, and can still be considered “safe” to eat. But who wants to bite into a rock-hard pizza that’s difficult to bite off and chew?

When it comes to super dry and hard pizza, make the personal call as to whether or not you’ll munch on it.

But if it’s been left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, it’s always best to toss it.

2.Mold

Mold is a significant indicator that your pizza is way past its prime and should be discarded immediately.

Mold can appear as discoloration, a fuzzy patch, or a combination of both.

If you notice odd colors or fuzziness on your pizza pie, get rid of it. Eating mold can make you sick.

Aside from that, the thought of sinking your teeth into a moldy pizza is enough to make your stomach turn. Don’t do it!

3.Odd Smell

Another key sign that your pizza is spoiled is a rancid smell. After all, pizza is made with perishable ingredients including milk and cheese.

If you’ve ever smelled rotten dairy products, you know how gnarly it is. Well, the same is true for old pizza. Toss it! 

4.Slimy Toppings

Mold isn’t the only visually unappealing thing to look out for; double-check for signs of sliminess, too.

Pizza toppings will become slimy when they’ve gone bad.

This is especially true for pepperoni, salami, vegetables, and fruit. If you see slime, it’s time to throw your pizza in the dumpster.

Can You Get Sick from Leaving Pizza Out Overnight?

A lot of people are under the impression that they can eat pizza that’s been sitting out overnight.

Why? Because pizza won’t show any signs of spoilage at this point. In fact, it might look and feel like the mouthwatering pizza you made or purchased the day before.

However, although you can’t see spoilage, pizza that has been sitting out overnight is bad and should not be consumed.

At this point, it will be overcome with bacteria that are not visible to the naked eye.

Although this bacteria is not seen, it can wreak havoc on your health in the form of food poisoning.

This can lead to a series of misfortune symptoms, including stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea which may or may not require medical treatment.

Hacks to Make Pizza Last Longer

Want to make your pizza last longer? The best thing you can do is keep it in a chilly environment and wrap it in plastic wrap before sealing it in an airtight container.

Pizza in slices

You can also place a few paper towels inside the container to absorb any grease or moisture.

1.Keep it Out of the Sun

If you want to leave your pizza out for a bit, you need to keep it in a cool and dark area.

The sun will only quicken the spoilage of your pizza, so ensure it’s kept out of the sun’s rays. 

2.Opt for Chillier Climates

As mentioned above, the fridge and freezer are the best places to store your pizza. However, you still need to be careful about where you’re placing it.

The back of the fridge or freezer is the ideal spot. These locations have fewer temperature fluctuations, ensuring your pizza stays fresher longer.

3.Keep it Wrapped

Heat and air are your pizza’s two biggest enemies.

When storing your pizza for later, make sure it is wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before being placed in an airtight container.

This might seem like “overkill,” but it’s better to double up on protection when it comes to pizza.

4.Add Paper Towels to the Container

Pizza is usually dripping with grease, which is one primary reason everyone loves it.

But this can also lead to soggy, disgusting pizza that’s overcome with discoloration and slimy toppings.

You can diminish these negative impacts by placing a few paper towels in the bottom of the container.

Again, this is all about adding protection and lending a helping hand to keeping your pizza fresh and delicious. 

This tip is especially handy if you opt to nix the plastic wrap and toss your slices straight into an airtight container. 

Final Words

All kinds of pizzas – homemade, frozen, store-bought – with any type of toppings can only be left out for 2 hours or 1 hour if the temperature exceeds 70F.

Never consume pizza that’s been left overnight. To extend the longevity, store it in the fridge or freezer.

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