Pizza that is properly stored in the refrigerator should last 3 to 5 days before it starts to go bad. The exact shelf life depends on the type of pizza and how it was stored.
How Long Does Leftover Pizza Last?
The shelf life of leftover pizza depends on several factors:
Type of Pizza
Thick crust pizza with lots of toppings like cheese, sauce, vegetables etc. will not last as long as a thin crust cheese pizza. The more moist toppings on the pizza, the faster it will go bad.
Pizzas with meats like pepperoni, sausage, bacon etc. tend to spoil faster than veggie pizzas. The meat adds more moisture. Pizzas with vegetables last a little longer.
How Pizza is Stored
Proper storage is key for maximizing leftover pizza shelf life. Steps should be taken such as:
- Allowing pizza to cool before refrigerating
- Wrapping tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap
- Placing in air-tight containers
- Keeping fridge at 40°F or below
Has Pizza Been Reheated
Reheating leftover pizza reduces its shelf life. The more times it is reheated, the faster it will go bad. For longest shelf life, refrigerate pizza without reheating.
How to Tell if Leftover Pizza is Bad
Signs that indicate leftover pizza has spoiled and should be discarded include:
- Mold growth
- Slimy texture
- Weird sour smell
- Change in color
- Dried out crust
- Off taste when sampled
Maximizing Leftover Pizza Storage Life
To get the most days out of leftover pizza before it goes bad, follow these storage tips:
Cool Properly Before Refrigerating
Allow freshly baked pizza to come down to room temperature, about 1-2 hours, before placing in the fridge. Hot food brings up fridge temp, shortening shelf life.
Use Proper Wrappings/Containers
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place in air-tight containers or resealable bags. This prevents fridge odors from seeping in and moisture from escaping.
Position Correctly in Fridge
Place leftover pizza on shelf above raw meats/seafood. The bottom shelf is coldest, but also most prone to temperature fluctuations from door opening.
Avoid Reheating More Than Once
Reheating leftover pizza reduces its shelf life. For maximum lifespan, avoid reheating pizza more than once. Just eat cold after initial reheat.
Use Oldest Leftovers First
Practice FIFO – first in, first out. Keep track of dates and use oldest leftovers before newer ones to avoid waste.
Don’t Keep Longer Than 5 Days
Regardless of storage method, leftover pizza should not be kept longer than 5 days. Toss after this time, even if it shows no signs of spoilage.
How Long Does Frozen Pizza Last?
Properly frozen pizza can last much longer than refrigerated pizza. Follow these guidelines for freezer storage life:
|Type of Frozen Pizza
|Freezer Shelf Life
|Homemade pizza, unbaked
|Homemade baked pizza, leftovers
|Store bought, unbaked
|Check “best by” date
|Brick oven style, unbaked
|Thin crust, baked
|Deep dish or thick crust, baked
For best quality and safety, frozen pizza should be tightly wrapped in freezer bags or airtight containers to prevent freezer burn. Monitor for signs of spoilage during use, discard immediately if mold, odor, or off color develops.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Pizza
Storing Leftover Pizza
To store leftover pizza in the refrigerator:
- Let cool for about 1 hour first
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil
- Place in airtight container if possible
- Refrigerate for up to 4 days
For the freezer:
- Wrap each slice individually in foil or plastic wrap
- Place wrapped slices in freezer bag or airtight container
- Remove as much air from bag/container as possible
- Label with date and contents
- Freeze for up to 2-3 months
Reheating Leftover Pizza
Choose from these methods to safely reheat leftover pizza:
- Microwave: Preferred method. Reheats pizza quickly. Place slice on paper towel and microwave 20-30 seconds. Check often to prevent sogginess.
- Oven: Bake slices or whole pizza at 400°F for 6-8 minutes. Use foil or pizza stone for crispiest crust.
- Skillet: Cook pizza 2-3 minutes per side over medium heat. Add a little oil or butter for more flavor.
- Toaster Oven: Great for single slices. Cook 4-5 minutes at 350°F for warm, melty pizza.
Regardless of method, reheat fully until steaming hot throughout (165°F). Avoid partial reheating which can increase spoilage risk.
Best Ways to Use Leftover Pizza
Leftover pizza doesn’t have to become boring before it spoils. Try these fun ways to enjoy pizza again:
Pizza Frittata or Quiche
Chop up those crusts and veggies and mix into eggs for a tasty breakfast pizza frittata or quiche. Quick, easy, and makes use of every bite!
Chop or tear cooked pizza into bite-sized pieces and toss with salad greens, vegetables, and dressing. Top with extra cheese or pepperoni for a filling main meal salad.
For an Italian-inspired (and kid-approved!) sandwich, stack slices of pepperoni pizza inside a sub roll with banana peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and Italian dressing.
Cheesy Pizza Quesadillas
Wrap leftover cheese pizza slices inside a tortilla with extra cheese like cheddar or Monterey Jack. Grill like quesadillas until crisp and melted.
Cube stale crusts and layer in casserole dish with pizza sauce, cheese, vegetables and cooked sausage or bacon. Bake 30 minutes at 375°F for a hearty one-dish meal.
Cut leftover crusts into wedges. Toss with oil and spices like garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes. Bake 10 minutes at 400°F until crispy. Tasty pizza-flavored homemade chips!
Simmer chopped stale crusts, tomato sauce, Italian seasonings and chicken or veggie broth until thick. Top bowls with shredded mozzarella. Comforting pizza-inspired soup!
Food Safety Tips for Leftover Pizza
To avoid illness when storing and reheating leftover pizza, follow these safe food handling guidelines:
- Refrigerate within 2 hours of baking or delivery
- Divide into smaller portions to chill quickly if needed
- Only reheat fully until steams hot (165°F) throughout
- Avoid leaving pizza at room temperature more than 2 hours total
- Store open pizza in fridge no more than 3-5 days
- When in doubt, throw it out!
Adhering to temperature control, storage times, and proper reheating will maximize leftover pizza shelf life and minimize your risk of foodborne illness.
Leftover pizza stored properly in the refrigerator should last 3 to 5 days. Freezing extends shelf life to 1-3 months. Reheating in the oven or microwave are best for food safety. With mindful storage and creative uses for leftovers, you can enjoy your favorite pizza again without wasting a single slice!