Pizza is a popular dish enjoyed by people all over the world. Whether you prefer thin crust or deep-dish, with meat or vegetarian toppings, there’s a pizza for everyone to enjoy.
But what happens when you can’t finish an entire pizza in one sitting? Can it be stored and eaten later? How long is leftover pizza good for?
In this article, we’ll explore the best ways to store and enjoy leftover pizza.
How Long is Leftover Pizza Good For?
The answer to this question depends on how the pizza is stored. Let’s take a look at three common storage methods – leaving it out at room temperature, storing it in the fridge, and freezing it.
1. At The Room Temperature
People frequently leave leftover pizza out on the counter overnight and eat it for breakfast the next morning. While this may appear to be a harmless alternative, it is not.
According to the USDA, perishable foods should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. This includes pizza with toppings such as meat, cheese, and vegetables.
Bacteria can begin to grow rapidly on these types of foods if left out for too long, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. Moreover, “Danger Zone” temperatures for food are between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria can multiply quickly.
So, room temperature typically falls within this range, making it an unsafe option for storing leftover pizza. It’s just safe to store pizza at room temperature if you tend to eat immediately.
2. In The Fridge
Storing leftover pizza in the fridge is a better option for preserving its freshness. Leftover pizza can last for up to four days when stored properly in the fridge.
It’s important to let the pizza cool down before putting it in the fridge, as hot food can raise the temperature of your fridge and potentially spoil other items.
After the pizza slices have cooled down, store them in a sealed container or tightly wrap them in plastic to maintain their chill. Remember, the sooner you eat it, the fresher and better tasting it will be.
3. In The Freezer
If you have a large amount of leftover pizza or want to save it for later use, freezing is the best option.
Wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap and then place them in an airtight container or freezer bag. This prevents them from sticking together and allows for easy reheating.
Frozen pizza can last for up to two months in the freezer, but it’s best to eat it within one month for optimal taste and texture.
When ready to eat, simply thaw the slices in the fridge overnight or reheat them directly from frozen in the oven or microwave.
Some Factors That Affect The Shelf Life Of Leftover Pizza
While the storage method is an important factor in determining how long leftover pizza will last, other factors can affect its shelf life as well.
Several factors can affect the shelf life of leftover pizza, starting with the toppings.
High protein toppings such as meat or cheese are more susceptible to bacterial growth, reducing the shelf life. Vegetarian pizzas generally last longer than their meat counterparts.
The second factor is temperature. As previously mentioned, pizza should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
It’s crucial to maintain a constant cold temperature to inhibit bacterial growth, hence the need to refrigerate or freeze leftovers. However, even within the fridge or freezer, temperatures can fluctuate.
A fridge that is opened and closed frequently or a power interruption that affects the freezer’s temperature can compromise the pizza’s freshness.
Thirdly, the moisture content of the pizza affects its shelf life as well. Bacteria thrive in moist environments. Therefore, a soggy pizza is more likely to spoil faster than a crispy one.
4. Type of container
Finally, the type of container used for storage can make a difference. Airtight containers are the best for maintaining freshness as they prevent the pizza from absorbing odors from other foods in your fridge, and also keep out bacteria.
So, while pizza leftovers can be a tasty treat, it’s important to consider these factors to ensure that you’re consuming it safely and preventing foodborne illnesses.
How To Know Leftover Pizza Is Still Good?
We’ve gone through “how long is leftover pizza good for” and some factors affecting the leftover pizza’s shelf life. It’s time to discover some indicators that will help us determine whether or not leftover pizza is still edible.
Even if leftover pizza has been stored properly, that doesn’t mean it will remain safe to eat forever. Here are some signs that your leftover pizza may have spoiled:
1. Check the Date
The first thing you want to do when assessing leftover pizza is to check the date it was made. If the pizza is more than three days old, it’s best to throw it away.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, cooked pizza should only sit in the fridge for three to four days before it’s no longer safe to eat.
So, if you’ve forgotten about your pizza and it’s been in the fridge for a week, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it away.
2. Look for Mold
Another useful way to know whether your leftover pizza is still good is to look for mold. If there is no mold present, you can usually assume it’s okay to eat.
However, if you see anything that remotely resembles mold, it’s important to not take any chances and toss it in the trash. Mold can cause a range of health problems, including respiratory issues, nausea, and vomiting.
3. Check the Smell
The next thing to do when assessing whether your leftover pizza is still good is to smell it.
Trust your nose – if the pizza smells off, it’s best to throw it away. If there is something strange and unpleasant about the scent, it could be a sign that bacteria has started to grow on it.
The smell of spoiled pizza can vary, but it will usually have a pungent and sour odor.
4. Assess the Visuals
Another tip for determining whether your leftover pizza is still okay to eat is to assess its appearance.
If the cheese looks hard and waxy, the toppings are discolored, or there are any visible signs of spoilage, you should throw it away. However, if the pizza looks and smells okay, you can heat it and enjoy it.
5. Conduct the Taste Test
The final step to knowing if leftover pizza is still good is to take a bite. If it tastes fine, it’s likely safe to eat.
However, if it tastes peculiar, sour, or foul, trust your instincts and throw it in the trash. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food safety.
With these tips in mind, you can make sure your leftover pizza stays fresh and safe to eat.
How Do You Store Your Pizza Safely?
So, besides knowing “how long is leftover pizza good for”, people also need to know the proper and safe way to pizza storage.
To ensure the longevity and safety of your leftover pizza, it’s important to follow some best practices when storing it. Here are a few tips:
1. Always let the pizza cool down before storing it in the fridge or freezer.
2. Store leftover pizza in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap to prevent air and moisture from getting in.
3. Label your pizza with the date it was stored to keep track of how long it has been in the fridge or freezer.
4. Discard any leftover pizza that has been left at room temperature for more than two hours.
5. When reheating your pizza, make sure to heat it until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) to kill any bacteria.
Tips For Reheating Leftover Pizza
Now that you know how to store your leftover pizza safely, let’s talk about reheating methods. Here are some tips for getting the best results:
The most common way to reheat pizza is in the oven. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The crust should get crispy and the cheese should melt after baking for ten to fifteen minutes.
If you’re short on time, reheating pizza in a skillet can be a quicker option. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and place the slices in the pan. Cover it with a lid and let it heat for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from heat.
For those who prefer using a microwave, put the pizza slices on a plate that is safe to use in the microwave and cover it with a damp paper towel. Heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until heated through.
If you have an air fryer, it can also be used to reheat leftover pizza. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (180°C) and place the slices in the basket. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until heated through.
In conclusion, leftover pizza can be a delicious and convenient option for a quick meal. However, it’s important to store and reheat it properly to ensure freshness and safety.
Follow the guidelines mentioned in this guide to know how long is leftover pizza good for and how to safely store and reheat it. With proper storage and reheating methods, you can enjoy your leftover pizza without worrying about health risks.
So, next time you have some leftovers, follow these tips and enjoy a tasty meal that’s just as good as the first time!