Can You Eat Pizza Left Out Overnight?

Imagine this: you just got home from a long work day and all you want to do is relax and enjoy a hot slice of pizza. But as soon as you open the fridge, your heart sinks as you realize the leftover pizza from last night was left out all day. 

Your stomach grumbles in protest as thoughts of potential food poisoning cross your mind. Do you toss it? Or take a chance? 

In this blog post, we’ll find the answer to the question of whether can you eat pizza left out overnight and what precautions can be taken to avoid any negative consequences. Scroll down to read!

What Is Leftover Pizza?

Leftover pizza refers to the slices of pizza that are not consumed immediately after being cooked and are kept for consumption at a later time. This could be the extra slices from a takeaway or delivery, or from a homemade pizza that you couldn’t finish in one sitting.

Usually, these slices are stored in the refrigerator to be reheated and consumed the next day. The quality of leftover pizza often depends on how it’s stored and reheated, which can significantly impact its taste and texture.

How Long Can Pizza Safely Sit Out?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), perishable foods, which include pizza, should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours at room temperature.

This is because bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 41 °F and 135 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often referred to as the “Danger Zone“.

Can You Eat Pizza Left Out Overnight?

So, can you eat pizza left at room temperature overnight? As per food safety guidelines, eating pizza left out overnight is not recommended.

Consuming pizza that has been left out overnight can pose significant health risks due to the following reasons:

1. Bacterial Growth: As mentioned previously, bacteria can multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” temperatures A pizza sitting out overnight can harbor harmful bacteria, such as Staphylococcus, Salmonella, and E. Coli.

2. Perishable Ingredients: Pizza often contains perishable toppings like cheese, meat, and sometimes even vegetables. These ingredients, when left out for prolonged periods, can spoil and lead to foodborne illnesses.

3. Inadequate Cooling: If a pizza has been left out overnight, it has not been cooled properly, which is a critical step to slow bacterial growth. A lack of proper cooling can not just alter the taste and texture of the pizza, but also make it unsafe to consume.

4. Potential Contamination: Leaving pizza out overnight also increases the chances of it coming into contact with other contaminated surfaces, such as countertops or utensils, which can further increase the risk of foodborne illnesses.

With these potential risks in mind, it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming pizza that has been left out overnight.

What Are The Signs Of Spoiled Pizza?

If you’re still unsure whether your pizza left out overnight is safe to eat, let’s dive into some telltale signs that indicate your pizza has spoiled.

1. Smell

One of the easiest ways to identify spoiled pizza is by its smell.

Fresh pizza has a pleasant aroma, consisting of the scent of baked dough, melted cheese, and various toppings. If your pizza emits a sour, unpleasant, or rancid odor, it’s an indication that it has likely started to spoil.

2. Appearance and Texture

In addition to the smell, appearance, and texture can also provide clues about the freshness of your pizza.

If you notice that the cheese on your pizza has become discolored or slimy, or if the toppings look wilted or dried out, the pizza is likely spoiled. Similarly, if the crust is extremely hard or has a moldy appearance, it’s safe to say that the pizza has gone bad.

3. Taste

The taste of the pizza can also serve as a significant indicator of its freshness.  If you find the taste of the pizza to be sour, overly tangy, or just off in general, the pizza has likely spoiled.

However, remember that tasting should be the last resort as consuming spoiled food can lead to foodborne illnesses. It’s best to rely first on smell and appearance to determine if your pizza has gone bad.

Which Types Of Pizza Are More Likely To Spoil?

Certain types of pizza, particularly those laden with specific toppings, can be more susceptible to spoilage when left out overnight. Let’s delve into the details of these types of pizzas.

1. Defrosted Pizzas

Defrosted pizzas, especially those that come with meat toppings, are quick to spoil if left out overnight. This is because defrosted pizzas were initially frozen, meaning the bacterial growth was halted.

When you defrost this type of pizza, the bacteria start to multiply once again, and leaving the pizza out overnight provides ample time for this process to occur. 

Moreover, these pizzas often contain preservatives that may lose their effectiveness once the pizza is defrosted.

2. Homemade Pizzas

Homemade pizzas tend to spoil faster than commercially prepared pizzas when left out overnight. This is primarily because they lack the preservatives used in store-bought or takeaway pizzas.

In addition, homemade pizzas often feature fresh ingredients, which are more susceptible to bacterial growth. These include fresh cheeses, meats, and vegetables, which are typically more perishable, thus hastening the spoilage process when left out overnight.

3. Pizza With Meat Toppings

Pizza adorned with meat toppings such as sausage, pepperoni, and bacon are at a higher risk of spoiling when left out overnight. This is because meat is a perishable ingredient that cultivates bacteria quickly, especially when kept at room temperature.

Additionally, these meats often contain fats that can turn rancid after prolonged exposure to air. 

Therefore, pizzas with meat toppings should always be stored properly and never left out for extended periods.

4. Undercooked Pizzas

Undercooked pizzas are more likely to spoil when left out overnight. Insufficient cooking not only leaves the pizza dough soggy but also fails to kill off any existing bacteria in the toppings.

Consequently, these bacteria can multiply rapidly when left out, increasing the chances of foodborne illnesses.

Some Symptoms Indicating Sickness From Spoiled Pizza Left Out Overnight And What To Do

We’ve discovered whether pizza that is left out overnight is still good to eat or not, but what happens if it’s not? If you accidentally eat a spoiled pizza left overnight, consider some of the signs of poisoning below to promptly handle it:

1. Nausea: One of the first symptoms that might indicate food poisoning is a feeling of nausea. This is your body’s initial response to the consumption of spoiled food.

2. Diarrhea: Diarrhea is another common symptom of food poisoning. It occurs as your body tries to flush out the harmful bacteria ingested from spoiled food.

3. Stomach Cramps: Painful abdomen or stomach cramps can occur due to the body’s response to harmful bacteria.

4. Fever: In some cases, you may also experience a mild to high fever. This is your body’s immune response to infection.

5. Headache: Headaches can often accompany the aforementioned symptoms, adding to the discomfort caused by food poisoning.

6. Muscle Aches: General weakness and muscle aches are additional symptoms that can indicate food poisoning.

If you experience these symptoms after consuming spoiled pizza, here’s what you should do:

1. Stay Hydrated: As diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration, it’s important to replenish your body with plenty of fluids. Water, electrolyte-rich drinks, or clear broths can help restore the lost fluids.

2. Rest: Your body needs energy to fight off the infection, so make sure to get plenty of rest.

3. Seek Medical Attention: If the symptoms persist for more than a few days, or if they become severe, seek immediate medical attention. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to alleviate the symptoms and counter the infection.

What Are Some Useful Ways To Store Leftover Pizza Safely?

Storing leftover pizza safely is crucial to prevent spoilage and foodborne illnesses. Here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Refrigeration

The simplest way to store leftover pizza is to refrigerate it. Place slices in an airtight container or wrap them individually in foil or plastic wrap to maintain freshness.

Refrigerated pizza can last for up to 4 days.

2. Freezing

If you plan on keeping your pizza for longer, consider freezing it. Wrap individual slices in plastic wrap, then place them in a resealable freezer bag.

Freeze for up to two months. Remember to defrost the slices in the refrigerator before reheating.


In summary, the temptation to enjoy that last slice of pizza left out overnight might be strong, but the potential health risks it carries are far stronger. From defrosted pizzas to meat-topped delights, the susceptibility to spoilage can vary, but the consequences remain the same.

So, the next time you find yourself facing a box of pizza in the morning, remember: pizza tastes best when it’s fresh, and nothing good comes from an all-nighter on the kitchen counter. 

When in doubt, rely on your good friend – the refrigerator, to keep your pizza safe and scrumptious for another day!

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