How Long Can Pizza Sit Out?

Pizza is a widely popular food around the world. It’s delicious, quick, and convenient – making it a go-to meal for many people.

However, there may come a time when you order or make too much pizza and wonder how long can pizza sit out before it goes bad.

In this article, we’ll explore the answer to this question and give you some tips on how to properly store your pizza. So, keep reading to know more about storage pizza!

How Long Can Pizza Sit Out?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the “2-Hour Rule” is the golden standard when it comes to leaving perishable foods, like pizza, out at room temperature. 

This rule states that perishable food should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours, as this is the time frame within which bacteria can rapidly multiply, reaching levels that can cause serious illness.

This rule is particularly important when the room temperature is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, often referred to as the “Danger Zone“, where bacteria growth is most rapid. If you’re having a pizza party and slices have been sitting out for two hours or more, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard the leftovers.

However, if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the window is even shorter. In such conditions, food should not be left out for more than one hour, as the heat provides a perfect environment for bacteria to flourish.

But what happens if you’ve crossed this two-hour mark? Is it still safe to eat pizza? Again, it comes down to the conditions.

If the pizza has been properly cooked and then kept at a temperature lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s likely still safe to eat. These temperatures are outside the “Danger Zone” and minimize bacterial growth.

If you are unsure about the room temperature or the amount of time the pizza has been unrefrigerated, it is safer to discard the pizza than risk foodborne illness. This is especially true for individuals with weaker immune systems, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with chronic diseases.

So, while we all love a good slice of pizza, it’s important to consume it within the safety guidelines to prevent any potential health issues.

It’s always a good idea to store leftover pizza in the refrigerator as soon as possible and reheat it to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating. This ensures the pizza is not just tasty, but also safe to eat.

Several Factors That Affect Pizza’s Shelf Life

Several factors can affect “how long pizza can sit out” without spoiling. These include the ingredients used, the temperature of the room, and other aspects of how well the pizza was stored before being left out. 

Let’s take a closer look at these factors and how they impact pizza’s shelf life:

1. Type of toppings

Pizza with high-moisture toppings like vegetables or meats can go bad faster than pizza with low-moisture toppings like cheese or pepperoni. This is because bacteria thrive in moist environments, making it easier for them to multiply and spoil the pizza.

2. Room temperature

As mentioned earlier, room temperature plays a significant role in how long pizza can sit out before it spoils. The warmer the room, the faster bacteria can grow and spoil your pizza.

3. Moisture

Pizza dough and toppings contain moisture, which can create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. If your pizza has been sitting out in a humid room, it may spoil faster than pizza left in a dry room.

4. Time of year

During the hot summer months, it’s essential to be extra cautious with leaving pizza out too long. The warmer temperatures can cause bacteria to multiply quickly, making it unsafe to consume your pizza after just an hour or two.

5. Storage conditions

If you leave your pizza out on the counter for an extended period before storing it in the fridge, this can also affect its shelf life. Proper storage is crucial to keep your pizza safe for consumption, so always aim to put it in the fridge as soon as possible.

Useful Guides For Proper Storage of Pizza

To make sure your pizza stays safe to eat, it’s important to store it properly. Here are some tips for storing your leftover pizza:

1. Refrigerate immediately: As soon as you’re done eating, place any leftovers in the fridge promptly.

2. Use an airtight container: To prevent moisture and bacteria growth, store your pizza in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with foil or plastic wrap.

3. Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days: Properly stored pizza can last in the fridge for up to 4 days. After that, it’s best to discard it.

4. Freeze for longer storage: If you want to keep your pizza for longer, you can freeze it. After separately wrapping each slice, store them in a container or a freezer-safe bag. Frozen pizza can be kept for up to two months.

When storing food in the fridge, make sure it is not overcrowded. Proper air circulation helps maintain a consistent temperature and prevent bacteria growth.

Tips: Don’t forget to label your leftovers with the date they were stored to keep track of their freshness.

Remember that these tips also apply to other types of food that are considered perishable, such as sandwiches, salads, and cooked meats. Always follow proper food safety guidelines to avoid any potential health risks.  

What Are The Risks of Eating Pizza That Has Sat Out Too Long?

We’ve gone through the answer to the question “How long can pizza sit out“, some factors affecting pizza’s shelf life, and a useful guide for storing pizza. It’s time to go over some potential risks when eating a pizza that sits out too long.

Eating pizza that has sat out for too long can pose several health risks.  

Some of the most common risks include food poisoning and bacterial infections. When left at room temperature, bacteria can quickly multiply and produce toxins that are harmful to our bodies.

Two of the most common types of bacteria that may grow on pizza left out too long are Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus.

Staphylococcus aureus is known to produce toxins that cause food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The symptoms can start as soon as 30 minutes after consuming the contaminated food and can last for several hours.

On the other hand, Bacillus cereus can cause two types of foodborne illnesses. One type is characterized by diarrhea and the other by nausea and vomiting. 

Symptoms can start anywhere from 30 minutes to 15 hours after consumption and can last for 24 hours. In severe cases, these bacterial infections can result in dehydration or even hospitalization. 

Keep in mind that children, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms from consuming spoiled food.

Besides, prevention is always better than cure. So, always follow proper food storage guidelines to avoid any potential health risks and enjoy your pizza safely.

Different Methods For Reheating Leftover Pizza

Reheating leftover pizza can be a process that is necessarily careful, when executed correctly, you can revive the delectable flavors of a fresh pie. The objective is to restore the crispy crust and melt the cheese without overcooking the toppings.

Here are some common methods:

1. In the Oven

The oven is an excellent way to reheat your pizza, especially if you’re heating multiple slices. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the pizza directly on the oven rack for a crispy crust or on a baking sheet if you prefer a softer crust. Heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.

2. On the Stovetop

A stovetop skillet is an ideal method for quickly reheating a slice or two. It helps retain the crunchiness of the crust while melting the cheese evenly.

Heat your skillet over medium flame, add the pizza, and cover it with a lid. In about 5 to 6 minutes, your slice is hot and ready with a crispy bottom and melty cheese on top.

3. In the Toaster Oven

For smaller kitchens, a toaster oven can be a godsend. Set the toaster oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place your slice directly on the rack.

Cook for about 10 minutes – be sure to check your slice around the 5-minute mark to prevent overcooking.

4. In the Microwave

Though not the most recommended method for its tendency to turn the crust soggy, microwaving a pizza is the quickest and easiest way to reheat it.

To combat sogginess, put a microwave-safe glass of water in with your pizza. Heat it on high power for 30 seconds to two minutes.

5. On the Grill

If you’re up for an adventurous method, reheating pizza on a grill can infuse it with a smoky flavor.

Preheat your grill to medium, then lower the heat and place the slice on the indirect heat side. Close the lid and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Each of these methods has its own strengths and preferred pizza style.

Oven and toaster oven reheating works best for pizzas with a thick, hearty crust, while the stovetop method is preferred for thin-crust pizza.

The microwave is the quickest method but often the least satisfying, while the grill method adds an extra layer of flavor.

Always remember to watch your pizza while reheating, regardless of the method, to get it to your preferred level of crispiness and melt.


In conclusion, the answer to “How long can pizza sit out” varies depending on several factors.

As a general rule, pizza should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. However, it’s best to use your judgment and consider other variables like ingredients, storage conditions, and time of year.

To ensure the safety of your leftover pizza, always store it properly and follow food safety guidelines. People need to be careful during the reheating process.

By doing so, you can enjoy your pizza without any worries and avoid the potential risks of consuming spoiled food. Happy eating!

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