How Long Can Pizza Sit Out

My husband likes to think it’s perfectly fine to let the pizza sit out all night and munch on it the next day. Me? Not so much. Pizza is not supposed to sit out all night. In fact, the lucky number is “two” when it comes to letting pizza sit out – two hours. Beyond two hours, stick in the fridge.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and I am a pizza fanatic. No, seriously, I will eat it every day (if someone wants to pitch in for my pizza fund, that would be great). That said, I end up with many pizza boxes that aren’t finished off, and I need to know how long it lasts sitting out.

If you’re like my husband and think pizza has an indefinite lifespan at room temperature, I implore you to keep reading. This blog is sharing exactly how long pizza can safely sit out and how you can extend your pizza’s lifespan. 

What are we waiting for? Let’s talk about heaven (oops, I mean pizza)!

How Long Can Pizza Sit Out?

Many people will leave their pizza sitting in the box, only to return to it the next morning. Trust me, I enjoy a slice of pizza for breakfast, and I’m sure plenty of these same people didn’t end up getting sick. But was it the right thing to do? Not necessarily.

Okay, I’m not trying to be the Debbie downer here. I didn’t make the rules – the USDA did. Their website specifically says that perishable foods – including pizza – should not be left at room temperature for longer than two hours.

That’s because, after two hours, your pizza enters the “danger zone,” and I’m not talking about the Kenny Loggins song, although I’m a huge fan. 

The danger zone indicates the temperatures that are welcoming for contamination. At the two-hour mark, pizza reaches this temperature. The worst part is, the chance of contamination is doubled every 20 minutes after the pizza has entered the danger zone. Yikes.

Remember – pizza contains cheese and typically some type of meat. You wouldn’t leave a block of cheese or your favorite meats (pepperoni, sausage, chicken) sitting on your countertop. Don’t do it with your pizza, either.

Better Option: Store in the Fridge

When you want (most) foods to last longer, you store them in the fridge, right? Well, why should it be any different for your pizza? While it might be a little inconvenient to shove a pizza box into your refrigerator, it’s nothing compared to the potential discomfort of a food-borne illness.

Store your pizza in the fridge. You can wrap it in tinfoil or place it in a smaller airtight container if you don’t have room for the entire pizza box. From there, your pizza is safe and sound and good as new for up to four days.

When you’re ready for a slice, just toss it into the microwave for about 45 seconds. If you want it to taste like it just came out of the pizza box, then you can also use the oven or air fryer. My personal favorite is the air fryer because it gives the pizza a fresh, crisp crust and delightful ooey-gooeyness.

Another Option: Store in the Freezer

Now, I will be honest. Eating pizza after it’s been stored in the freezer? Meh. Is it still doable? Yup. If you don’t think you will eat your refrigerated pizza slices in less than five days, you can always toss them into the freezer.

When using the freezer option, it is imperative to make sure that the pizza is covered. Tinfoil or an airtight container (or both) is the ideal solution. Your goal is to fend off freezer burn because nobody wants a freezer-burned slice of pizza. Yuck.

When you’re ready to eat the pizza, you can go straight to your preferred heating method from the freezer. I don’t find it necessary to thaw before heating, but you’re definitely welcome to. 

Honestly, I wouldn’t suggest freezing unless you have a ton of pizza you don’t want to waste. 

What Happens if You Eat Old Pizza

If you do leave your pizza on the counter overnight and eat it the next morning, you’re probably not going to get sick. But don’t risk it. Just because it’s somewhat unlikely doesn’t mean nothing will happen. You could end up very sick with a foodborne illness.

Some of the symptoms to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever

Most of these symptoms will appear within 24 hours after eating old pizza and should dissipate within 24 to 48 hours after the onset. If you’re still struggling with the symptoms after two days, you might consider seeking medical treatment. 

FAQs

It’s best to store your pizza in the fridge before it hits the two-hour mark to fend off potential foodborne illnesses. If you still have questions about this topic, though, keep reading. Below are some interesting, frequently asked questions you will want to know.

Can you eat pizza left out for 12 hours?

Can you? Sure. Should you? Nope. Remember the two-hour rule. If your pizza is sitting on the counter for 12 hours, it is simply not safe to consume. Best to throw it out and start from scratch. 

Will pizza left out overnight make you sick?

Plenty of people will tell you “no.” And the truth is, you’re likely not going to get sick. But that does not mean it isn’t possible. If you are one of the unlucky people who end up with a foodborne illness, you will get very sick with vomiting, diarrhea, aches, and more. 

Can pizza give you food poisoning?

Yes, it can. Most of the time, food poisoning occurs from the pizza dough that is not cooked all the way, and there is still some contaminated raw egg. Less commonly, cheese and meats can contain listeria, which will cause food poisoning.

How can you tell if pizza has gone bad?

The biggest indicator that your pizza has gone bad is the texture. The pizza will be more like the cardboard box it came in: hard and dry. If left out for an extended period, it may develop a rancid odor and mold.

Can I keep pizza in fridge overnight?

Of course! I leave mine in the box it came in, but storing it in an airtight container or wrapping it securely in foil will extend the lifespan. I use the pizza box because I know I will be eating the leftovers the next day, so there is no need to plan for three or four-day storage.

Final Words

It may be common to leave the pizza on the counter overnight, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Change the way you store your pizza from here on out, and you will reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Remember that pizza needs to be refrigerated after just two hours of sitting out.

Have you ever left your pizza sitting out overnight and ate it the next morning? Did you get sick? How do you store your pizza now? Share your stories and storage solutions with us below.

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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