How long is pizza good for in the fridge is a question that all kinds of folks have wondered. It's important to know when having leftovers
Who doesn’t love a good pizza? Who doesn’t love a good leftover pizza? It’s an important part of the history of pizza to know all of the ins and outs of the food, especially when it comes to leftovers. If you are one of the many millions who love their slice of pizza the next day, cold, right from the refrigerator, it’s important to know just how long you have before you’re taking any needless chances. This leads us to the most important question of all – how long is pizza good for in the fridge?
THE FRIDGE EFFECT
Pizza, as does with many foods, has a shelf life. Regardless of if you order a pizza for delivery, have some left over after a night at the local pizza joint, make your own homemade pizza, or even cook up one of those frozen pies, they all have their shelf life. Your refrigerator can lengthen that shelf life, but beware, it can also lull you into a sense of pizza security that may actually do you harm. Let’s explain.
Sure, you figured out how many slices are in a large pizza, but it is not uncommon for the lay pizza person to leave out their pizza pie for longer than a 2-hour time frame. Maybe you’re fully engaged in a movie or perhaps you’re just having a fun game night at the old homestead. Whichever the case, the rule of thumb is to get that leftover pizza into the fridge within those first two hours.
When storing your pizza in the fridge, it is best to wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil instead of leaving it in its box. Even better would be to put those extra slices into an airtight container. How long is pizza good for when done properly also depends on its toppings. But for the most part, you can keep your pizza stored for up to four days before things start heading south.
Now, if you don’t think you are going to get to those extra slices within those four or so days, you may want to consider tossing them into the freezer. Again, an airtight container works best here, but you could also get away with freezer wrap or aluminum foil. If you go the freezer route, your pizza should be good for two or three months.
But we want to know how long pizza is good for in the fridge. The most common number, which equates to your safest bet, is to make sure you consume your properly stored leftover pizza within four days. To be even safer, you may want to snack on those slices within two days, three tops.
ALL NIGHT LONG IS HEADING TO THE DANGER ZONE
While those three words (All Night Long) may have worked for Lionel Richie in 1983, they do not work for leaving pizza out in its box all night long. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), leaving any perishable foods out, and sitting at room temperature, overnight is not safe for consumption. This, unfortunately, includes pizza. We know, some of you may have already made this foodie faux pas and survived to tell the story of your exploits. Still, if the USDA isn’t recommending it, we won’t be recommending it either.
This rule applies to your pizza, whether it is full of goodies, including meat, or not. Before you figure out the best way to reheat pizza, know that when you leave your pizza out, sitting around at room temperature, you significantly increase your risk of finding yourself contaminated by food-borne illnesses i.e., food poisoning.
The USDA says any foods stored at temperatures between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit will be on the “highway to the danger zone.” Yes, we are on an ‘80s kick here, though we aren’t talking about the Kenny Loggins Top Gun hit song. They also say that the number of food-borne illnesses will actually double for every 20 minutes your favorite food has ridden into the danger zone. Be careful.
HOW LONG IS PIZZA GOOD FOR IN THE FRIDGE? – I’M NOT FEELING GOOD
In the moment, you are probably not upset with your decision to engulf that room-temperature pizza that has been left out all night. All you know is that you felt the urge to eat some pizza and there it is, sitting in front of you. You eat a slice and for a while, all is well. In fact, you may not start feeling poorly until the next day, perhaps even two.
But you do. And the “do” you do is taking you right to the bathroom. Some of the common symptoms you will experience with any food-borne illness are vomiting and diarrhea. For those unlucky ones, you’re going to get a bout of both at the same time. Have fun making that sit or kneel decision.
There have been a shocking number of different kinds of food poisonings identified. Of the 250+, the most common are E. coli, norovirus, listeria, and salmonella. Many of you may have had dealings with the norovirus before, it is commonly referred to as the “stomach flu.”
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF PIZZA IS BAD?
So, you had your pizza binge a few nights back and did the proper thing by tossing the leftovers in the fridge in the correct amount of time. But as it often happens, the leftover pizza slides further and further to the back of the fridge, out of sight, out of mind. You roll up on it once again a few days later and that immediate craving begins to gnaw at you. You grab the container, open it, and immediately are hit with an odor that takes your breath away and puts the idea in your stomach that your breakfast is ready for an encore appearance. Your pizza is bad.
The poor smell is just one of the ways you can tell if your pizza has been left in the fridge too long. Sometimes, though, the smell is not there. You’re still wary of the cool slices because you aren’t quite sure how long they’ve been hanging out in the fridge. Time for an inspection. Treat it how a doctor would treat you at your annual physical. Look closely. Look for anything that is fuzzy and growing. Be vigilant because it may not be immediately noticeable. The last thing you are going to want is to toss some moldy pizza into your mouth.
CAN YOU EAT 2-WEEK-OLD PIZZA?
Perhaps we can answer the above question with another question. Would you want to eat 2-week-old pizza? We get it. Some of you are college students whose food budget allows for Top Ramen and Mac and Cheese. Stretching the dollar, in this day and age, is something that not even Merlin the Magician can pull off. So, eating 2-week-old pizza just might be in the cards.
Well, the answer is yes, you actually can. As we discussed above, if you are smart about how you store your pizza, you can. We already know how long pizza is good for in the fridge, so please do not eat leftover fridge pizza after four days. But if you have properly stored it in the freezer, then knock yourself out.
HOW LONG IS PIZZA GOOD FOR IN THE FRIDGE – FINAL THOUGHTS
The simple rule of thumb here is to be smart. Don’t let your pizza sit out over two hours or you are just inviting a food-borne illness to climb inside your body. Get those extra slices into the refrigerator, cover them properly, and give them four days max to start munching on them. Anything after that is like playing craps at the local casino. It’s fun while you’re playing but the house always wins.