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How Long Does Pizza Last? Can It Go Bad?

Millions of Americans are hooked on pizza and for good reasons too. This tasty food is excellent for parties and so many events. You can even munch on a pizza during a Netflix and chill evening. However, if you have had one of those huge parties with lots of pizzas leftover, what do you do? Most people would leave them on the countertop throughout the night and be faced with the dilemma of throwing them out the next morning or reheating. Is this safe? How long does pizza last? These are important questions that will help you decide if your leftover pizza is the right choice for breakfast or should end up in the trash can. We will talk about the shelf life of pizza and how to find out if it has gone bad. Keep reading.


(Also Read: 8 Best Countertop Convection Oven Reviews for 2020)

Can Pizza Go Bad?


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Absolutely. However, the time it takes for it to go bad depends on a lot of external factors. When you keep the pizza at the counter for several hours, pathogenic bacteria swings into action, making it go bad. At this point, you should never eat it. At room temperature, the bacteria are able to thrive and grow freely. So, place the pizza in the refrigerator as soon as you’re done with it to increase its shelf-life. 


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How to Store Pizza


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Pizza is best enjoyed without setting any aside for the next day. However, if you must have leftovers, you need to get them to your fridge as fast as possible. This means refrigerating them as early as two hours after receiving the pizza. If the temperature is more than 90°F, then this should be after one hour. Perishable foods should not be kept at room temperature for long, or it would lead to spoilage. The rules are stricter for pizza because it is a good breeding ground for bacteria when it is neither hot nor cold. At this point, bacteria like Escherichia coli or Salmonella will multiply fast, and lead to food poisoning. Do not leave your pizza to sit on the countertop for more than an hour. Instead, get them to the fridge as soon as you’re sure that no one else is taking any more helpings. When you’re ready to eat it, reheat the pizza. 


It’s okay to refrigerate the pizza in its original cardboard box, especially if you plan on eating the leftovers for breakfast. However, if you plan on storing them for a longer time, take the pizza out of the box and place each slice in an aluminum foil. Wrap it carefully before returning the pizza to the box, which allows airflow. When pizzas are kept for a long time, they dry out and become unsafe for consumption. 


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Can You Refrigerate or Freeze Pizza?

If you don’t plan on eating the leftover pizza for breakfast, you have to freeze them. The process for doing this is straightforward. You need some freezer bags and an aluminum foil. Start by wrapping each slice in an aluminum foil like you would if you were placing them in a refrigerator. Then transfer the wrapped pieces to freezer bags. For those people who wouldn’t want their pizza slices to crumble before they are completely frozen, transfer the slices to an airtight container instead. This will ensure that they stay in one piece. Finally, place the pizza in the freezer where they can stay for a couple of months without spoilage. Thaw your frozen pizza slices by leaving them in the fridge throughout the night. Alternatively, you can reheat the frozen pizza slices in the oven. However, it’s better to defrost it slowly as it preserves the quality better.


How Long Does Pizza Last?

As stated earlier, pizza should not spend more than two hours sitting at room temperature. The shelf life for pizza is as little as an hour, and the quality diminishes the longer it stays out. Refrigerated pizza can last for about four days. This is only valid if it is appropriately stored without being exposed to moisture or an unfavorable environment. Therefore, if you want your pizza to last in the freezer for more than 24 hours, you should pay more attention to your storage method. These estimates are accurate for pizzas with a lot of water and no toppings. Any pizza that sits on the countertop overnight doesn’t deserve a space in your stomach. 


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How Can You Tell If Pizza Has Gone Bad?


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To accurately tell if your pizza has gone bad, there are a few features to look out for. First, check for any sign of organic growth like mold. No matter how little the mold growth is, if you see any, you should throw out the pizza immediately. Bad pizzas also give off a terrible smell that could make you puke if you smell it for too long. However, pizzas are known to pick up smells around them when they are not sealed completely. So, confirm if the smell is not just the pepperoni or chorizo you kept on the same shelf. Finally, a bite of your pizza will let you know if it’s time to throw them out. You should enjoy your pizza slices, not try to force them down. When they taste bad, it’s safe to let them go. Bad pizza also becomes dried out and won’t be any better even after reheating. These are usually hardened and could also include the occurrence of a freeze burn. At this point, there will be ice crystals on the frozen pizza, which can lead to the release of a lot of moisture, making it toxic. Look out for darkened spots on the surface of the pizza and toppings that are slimy. 


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Is It Okay to Use Expired Pizza?

Pizza is considered expired after two days. Usually, expired pizza has a different taste from freshly made ones. Since they contain cheese, it limits the time that they can be kept in the freezer. When it melts after being thawed, the taste is not always great. This is why a lot of industrial pizza makers use other compounds apart from cheese. This can stay longer in the freezer and still be safe for consumption after being reheated. To be on the safer side, don’t leave your pizza in the freezer longer than necessary. At the first sign of spoilage, especially a spongy crust, throw it out. 


Related Questions

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What Can You Do with leftover pizza?

There are hundreds of things to do with leftover pizza that will ensure that they taste great the next morning. Here are some of them:

  • Set a preheated skillet to medium-high heat. Place the slice of pizza in a nonstick pan and cook until it forms a slight crust. This will give you a delicious melted pie
  • Cook your pizza with the crust down and over medium-low heat. Pour some water at the bottom of the pan, and you know it’s ready when the cheese forms a perfectly crisp crust.
  • Put your waffle iron to good use. Add some toppings on your slice of pizza and fold it in. remove the crust and place the folded pizza on your preheated waffle iron. In about five minutes, it will form a crispy crust with gooey cheese. With some extra sauce, you should be ready for an experience of a lifetime.
  • Revive your leftover slice of pizza by adding a glass of water to the microwave. The glass of water should sit beside your pizza. This will prevent the crust from getting soggy. This should take less than a minute with the pizza looking like it was reheated in a wood-burning oven. 
  • Make an extremely satisfying breakfast with a mixture of salt, milk, extra cheese, and eggs on your slice of pizza. Use a skillet or griddle for cooking the pizza until it becomes fluffy. Add some hot sauce and make it healthy with some herbs. 


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Can your refrigerator get overheated?

When you place hot foods in the refrigerator, you could be worried about it getting overheated. This applies to pizza, as some people may want to refrigerate while it is still hot. However, your appliance is safe as its thermostat is designed to operate at a safe temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep your refrigerator even safer, use shallow airtight containers to chill your pizza. Don’t place it in the fridge while the pizza is still hot, and be sure to divide it into slices to help it cool faster. 


No matter what, fresh foods will always beat frozen food that has stayed a few days. So, relish the taste of your pizza by avoiding leftovers as much as possible. However, if it is unavoidable to keep some till the next day, be sure to keep the slices from moisture.

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