How Long Can Pizza Sit Out

How Long Can Pizza Sit Out? Everything You Need To Know!

Have you ever over-ordered pizza and forgotten to store the leftovers? Don’t worry; it occurs to most of us, particularly pizza lovers!

If you’re still thinking about the days-old pizza you neglected to keep in the refrigerator, we’re here to help you out with some of your concerns.

How long can pizza sit out? The USDA recommends not letting prepared food, such as pizza, stay at room temperature for over two hours.

Are you looking for an in-depth explanation? Let’s dive into this article to learn more. Check it out!

How Long Can Pizza Sit Out?

One of the most commonly asked questions about this food is “How long can pizza sit out?”. It seems to be a controversial issue.

While some assume after sitting at room temperature within 2 hours, this food is still safe to consume, and some suppose you can eat leftovers pizza within 4 hours. Which is the ultimate answer?

How long can pizza sit out? You can leave your favorite food on the counter for up to 2 hours. If it’s been longer than this time, you should remove it.

This answer depends on the 2-hour rule of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So, what is the 2-hour rule?

The 2-hour rule refers to the maximum amount of time that prepared food can be left out without refrigeration.

What’s more, this time varies based on the temperature of the surrounding environment.

For instance, if it’s a hot summer day, it’s better to leave this food around 1 hour out of the fridge.

It seems to be a short period. However, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, microorganisms in the air are inescapable.

It can transmit bacterial trace contamination into days-old slices, which then thrive because of the ideal breeding conditions provided by the meal.

Remember that an unrefrigerated pizza won’t be safe to consume the next day. Whether it contains meat or not, it is not edible after 2 hours.

As a result, the pizza’s components have no bearing on this situation. How long can pepperoni pizza sit out? This rule remains the same whether you have ordered a classic pepperoni or a cheese pizza.

So, remember to put the leftovers into the fridge right after the end of the gatherings. Otherwise, you’ll be squandering perfectly delicious cheese slices.

Besides, some types are not ideal at room temperature, including:

  • Deep-dish cheese pizza
  • Neapolitan pizza
  • Chicago deep-dish pizza
  • New York-style pizza

In most cases, the hazardous bacteria will land you in the hospital owing to foodborne illnesses.

So, don’t take any chances by presuming that pizza is a long-lasting dish that you can eat whenever you want, no regardless of how many hours it’s been left outside.

In conclusion, you know the exact answer to the question: How long can pizza sit out? Again, throw leftovers away after 2 hours!

how long can pepperoni pizza sit out

2-hour rule

Can You Eat Pizza That Was Left Out All Night?

Once you understand the question “How long can pizza sit out?” you may realize you can not eat leftovers kept overnight yourself.

When food is left overnight at room temperature, bacteria develop after a few hours, and the food spoils quickly. This rule also applies to this fast food.

Even if you don’t notice any signs of spoilage after a few hours, you shouldn’t eat the food for various reasons.

United States Department of Agriculture recommends it’s not a good idea to consume leftovers left overnight.

Knowing that your favorite food goes terrible quickly after being left out for a few hours can be pretty frustrating.

However, you should follow food safety rules to avoid food-related health problems like diarrhea, headache, dizziness, or food poisoning.

A visual inspection will not be enough when your meal has been outside for a few hours. It takes longer before you can see the results with your naked eyes.

Keep your remaining pieces refrigerated under all circumstances. If you insist on eating a remaining slice that has been put outside during nighttime, you might be making a mistake.

how long can pizza sit out in a box

It’s not good to eat leftovers.

How To Store Pizza Properly?

Pizza is perishable, so it must be stored in the refrigerator overnight. How should you keep your favorite dish properly?

There are several methods for keeping this dish in such a way that preserves the meal’s quality.

With proper storage methods, do you know that this food can be in good condition in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and in the freezer for around two months?

When your pizza has a variety of toppings and flavors to consider, preserving days-old slices might be a challenge, but don’t stress too much!

It’s never been easier to store remaining slices than it is now. With the following storage techniques, you will know how to store your fast – food leftovers and keep them safe to eat for a few days.

You can consider and apply one of the two ways below:

  • Store your food in the freezer
  • Store your food in the fridge

Is it necessary to keep this food refrigerated? Yes! If you want to prolong its shelf life in good condition, it’s best to keep it in a cool environment. It is also the recommendations of the USDA.

Refrigerating your days-old food assures that your meal is not only delicious but also as safe as possible for subsequent consumption.

In The Freezer

The best hack is freezing. There will be a certain satisfaction with reheating leftovers and realizing it will still be safe. However, this is not always the case.

How to freeze this food properly? Here are step-by-step to follow:

Step 1: Use A Tupperware To Store It

A Tupperware is one of the most effective plastic containers to store food. Sadly, it might release air while storage, which is a potential drawback.

To ensure the safety of your food, use airtight containers. If airtight containers are not available in your kitchen, go to the nearest store or shop online to buy one.

Step 2: Wrap It Tightly

Wrap the leftover pieces in cling film and then cover with aluminum foil around the outside. Allow only one slice for each wrap.

Trying to wrap more than one piece would result in hair amongst the slices, resulting in freezing burn.

Step 3: Put The Food In The Freezer

If you execute it correctly, you might be surprised to find that the pizza is still good after up to 60 days.

That’s two months. Preserve them frozen for no more than two months and toss them in the trash beyond this time.

how long can little caesars pizza sit out

Store it in the freezer

In The Fridge

If you want to eat this dish for the next day, it’s better to store days-old pieces in the fridge rather than in the freezer. Here are some valuable tips to keep your food edible for a few days:

Step 1: Line The Airtight Container With Paper Towels

Allow the food to cool completely before placing it in a watertight container.

Begin by lining the bottom of the airtight container with paper towels. Pick a container large enough to hold either one or two slices.

The purpose of lining is to keep your leftovers dry and maintain their texture in good condition.

Step 2: Stack Remaining Pieces Inside A Sealed Container

After lining with paper towels, it’s time to place your days-old food, one by one, inside the container. Among slices, insert some paper towels.

Alternate between pieces and towels so that all of them are wrapped.

If they don’t all fit in one container, prepare another and continue the process.

Step 3: Using A Lid, Close The Container

Assuming you’ve put all of your leftovers inside one container, cover it with the lid and remember to wrap the plastic around it.

The act of wrapping assists in preventing the air out. You also don’t need to enclose the sealed container when you are satisfied that it is tightly covered.

Step 4: Put It In The Fridge

Before they go bad, these leftover pieces will be edible for 3 to 4 days. If this time goes by, but you have not consumed them, it’s best to toss them away.

The food has begun to decay by the third day, and bacteria that are dangerous to your health have started to multiply. They can wreak havoc on your intestines.

Store it in the fridge

Store it in the fridge

How To Reheat Pizza?

You’ve been saving leftover slices for a while, and now it’s time to try one. What’s the best way to go about it?

It’s one thing to save days-old pieces and the other to heat them. There are various ways to accomplish this, some of which yield better outcomes than others.

Below are the most practical and straightforward to keep the quality and texture of the remaining slices:

On The Stovetop

Reheating this dish over the stovetop is convenient, especially if you only need one or two pieces.

A stovetop is extremely helpful to keep the crust crispy, make the cheese melt, and warm the toppings at the right temperature.

People come up with the idea of putting just a bit of water inside the pan, which acts as a steamer that heats the toppings.

You can follow the steps below:

  • Preheat your skillet on medium heat.
  • Add leftover pieces and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Pour some water around the pan’s edge.
  • Cover your pan.
  • Cook the slices within a couple of minutes or until the cheese has melted.

In An Oven

An oven is one of the best ways to reheat days-old pieces.

If you reheat days-old slices put in the refrigerator in some days, it will probably be promising the same as freshly prepared food a day before.

The crust is still crispy, the cheese is gooey, and the pepper is sizzling. Here’s how to warm leftovers in the oven:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
  • Put the slice on foil and lay it immediately on the stovetop for a crispy crust to ensure consistent warming.
  • Allow ten minutes or when you notice the cheese begins to melt.
  • If you would like a crispier dish, heat it more.

In The Microwave

Microwaving pizza is quicker, but it also has a disadvantage.

This dish that has been warmed in the microwave is notorious for becoming soggy. The crust gets tough and indigestible as a result of it.

It is due to the way microwaves work. It generates vibrations that capture water molecules while they move, eventually causing them to evaporate.

Follow these steps to get the best result:

  • Microwave one piece at a time.
  • Place a cup of water beside it to act as a decoy and capture radiation.
  • Heat for 30 to 45 seconds, maintaining a focus on it.

In A Skillet

The key to this preparation is to maintain a low temperature and cover the skillet.

Reheating leftover slices as follows:

  • Put one or two pieces in a skillet
  • Crust down
  • Reduce the heat to a low setting on the stove.
  • Cover the skillet with the lid.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and wait for 5 to 8 minutes.

In A Pan

You might assume you understand baking pizza using a pan, but you may go wrong accidentally.

For instance, you’ll end up with your favorite food with a flaming, bubbling mess if the pan becomes excessively hot.

Below is how to warm leftover pieces in a skillet, along with some helpful hints to prevent disaster:

  • Lay the frozen pie on a pan (it should be a nonstick pan).
  • Warm approximately two minutes on medium-low, or until you see the piece’s base is crunchy.
  • Sprinkle a few droplets of water inside the pan.
  • Allow the evaporating water droplets to hydrate the cheese by covering the pan.

If you want to learn more useful tips to warm your dish, you can watch this video:

How To Thaw Frozen Pizza?

If you store your dish in the freezer, it’s better to know some practical ways to defrost it so that it can stay in good condition for consumption.

In The Fridge

It is the most effective method for defrosting pizza, but it is the most time-consuming. Based on the dimension of your meal, the thawing process may take from eight to twelve hours.

Remember to cover it or put it in a sealable bag or lid the container. After that, take it out of the refrigerator and leave it to sit out for about an hour.

On The Counter

Remove any wrapping or covering from the food and place it in a sealed container.

Seal the jar with plastic wrap and put it on the countertop for about two hours. Simultaneously, it will thaw and prove.

With Cold Water

Place the leftovers inside a sealed bag and immerse it thoroughly under cold water.

It might defrost and become soft after 1-2 hours. Take it out of the unopened bag and place it on the counter. Then prove it for about one hour on a dry plate.

With Warm Water

This technique is identical to the one described before. Place the food in an unopened container and immerse it thoroughly in heated water.

Once the water temperature starts to cool, change the water to thaw it fully. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete this approach.

In The Microwave

Wrap the food in plastic after coating it with oil—microwave for 25 seconds on high on a microwavable plate or tray.

At this time, the pie should still be cool. Then, heat it for 3 – 5 minutes on the defrost mode based on its dimension.

How To Tell If Pizza Goes Bad?

You’ll probably question if the pizza has gone bad because the indicators of decomposition aren’t readily apparent. After that, you may ask yourself whether you should eat or not.

Don’t stress! There are a few easy techniques to determine whether your food is about to be discarded.

Mold Spots

Large moldy spots will most likely appear on your dish that has been in the fridge for a few weeks.

Can you fathom eating anything already begun to form mold, aside from the fact that it makes you sick? Definitely no! Throw it right away!

Slimy Toppings

Pizza slices that appear to be gooey are a no-no. Before you just try to eat, you’ll most likely be dissatisfied. Toss it out.

Terrible Taste

You scrutinized your pie and couldn’t detect anything odd with it. It appears to be fresh, and the ingredients seem to be just as tasty as they were when you purchased it.

However, one mouthful of pie makes you want to vomit. It’s most likely ruined when it tastes terrible.

Rancid Smell

If anything stinks, it’s generally your leftover pizza that’s gone rotten.

It might be challenging to eat anything with a strange odor, no matter how long it takes.

Dry And Hard Crust

Your food may be over its expiration date if you’re being dry and hard.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Pizza?

According to USDA, bacteria can survive in perishable food refrigerated at temperatures ranging from 40 to 140℉.

The more food is exposed to the environment at room temperature, the greater the risk of bacteria growing.

It’s often acceptable to leave your food outside for a short time without any problems when consuming it.

Longer durations of time, on the other hand, can constitute a concern.

Take into account what spoiled meat might do if your pizza has meat toppings.

Bacteria like Listeria and Salmonella can make their way into your meal and cause you insomnia. Especially, Salmonella is common in chicken or beef as pizza toppings.

Nausea, flatulence, abdominal discomfort, and many other signs involved in food poisoning may occur after consuming an overnight pizza.

You can have a few of the more severe conditions or only the mildest, depending on various factors such as the temperature, components, or your body’s response to different ingredients.

The best way to avoid bad situations is to toss out old pizza after passing the safe zone.

If you consume stale food and experience the signs listed above, drinking plenty of water is the best solution. If things are out of order, it’s best to see the doctors.


1. Does Reheating Pizza Kill Bacteria?

The good news is yes! If you apply proper reheating, foodborne germs can be exterminated.

When you leave your food at room temperature over a long period, some foodborne microorganisms generate toxins or poisons that aren’t removed by extreme temperatures.

2. Is Pizza Still Good If Left Out For 12 Hours?

The short answer is no. The US Department of Agriculture emphasizes that any perishable food isn’t safe to consume if you leave it overnight at room temperature.

This rule applies to pizza. Moreover, it would be best to keep it in the fridge as soon as possible because it contains cheese that quickly becomes infected with foodborne germs.

3. Is It Ok To Eat Pizza Left Out For 4 Hours?

Excluding experts’ recommendations, eating pizza that sits out for 4 hours may not have a substantial negative impact on your health.

4. Can You Eat 2-Day Old Pizza Not Refrigerated?

The bad news is no! Pizza not stored in the fridge should only last for a few hours, particularly within 2 hours, for safe consumption.

Food not stored under 40 ° F has a higher risk of causing food poisoning. Thus, it’s not a good idea to consume leftovers that have been sitting on the counter during nighttime.

5. Can You Eat Pizza Left Out For 5 Hours?

Do you remember the answer to this question “How long can pizza sit out”?

5 hours is too long for bacteria to enter the food, destroy it, and cause diseases.

According to the USDA, you should throw your food after two hours.

6. Is Cold Pizza Ok To Eat?

You can consume your favorite food cold, hot, or room temperature as long as you accurately follow food safety guidelines about “How long can pizza sit out?

In fact, some people would rather have cold pizza than reheated one.

In A Nutshell: How Long Can Pizza Sit Out?

Now you got the answer to the headache question: How long can pizza sit out? All in all, the general guideline for consuming cooked food, including pizza, is within 2 hours at room temperature.

If there are leftovers not stored in the fridge or freezer right later, it’s best to throw them in the trash rather than eat them.

Don’t eat food left overnight because it may cause health problems such as food poisoning. Hopefully, this article will be helpful for you.

Thanks for taking your time reading this post!

Gerry Bugas
My name is Gerry Bugas. I am a Co-Founder and COO of Pluto's. I graduated from Cornell University, a school dedicated to researching solutions that improve people’s lives. Over the past 15 years, I have worked in the restaurant industry and have gained an expertise in kitchen equipment and products. Currently, I am the main owner of a website that specializes in evaluating kitchen equipment so that people can shop for the best product for their needs.You can follow me Pinterest-Linkedin.