Leftover pizza that has been properly stored will usually stay good for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and 2 to 3 months in the freezer. The exact shelf life depends on how the pizza was handled and stored after being cooked.
How Can You Tell if Leftover Pizza is Bad?
There are a few clear signs that indicate leftover pizza has gone bad:
- Mold growth
- Dried out crust
- Off or sour smell
- Weird flavor
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to throw the pizza out. Don’t take chances with leftover pizza that seems off.
Storage Timeline for Leftover Pizza
Here is a general timeline for how long leftover pizza lasts in the fridge and freezer:
- Pizza in box: 2 to 3 days
- Pizza wrapped in foil: 3 to 4 days
- Pizza in air-tight container: 3 to 5 days
- Pizza in box: 1 to 2 months
- Pizza tightly wrapped: 2 to 3 months
- Pizza in air-tight container: 2 to 3 months
The fridge timeline keeps the pizza safe to eat for a few days. The freezer timeline extends the shelf life for several months. Just make sure to thaw the pizza properly before eating it.
Does the Type of Pizza Crust Matter?
The type of crust can impact how long leftover pizza stays fresh. Here’s a comparison:
Lasts shorter in fridge (2 to 3 days)
Gets soggy quicker
Lasts longer in fridge (3 to 4 days)
Lasts shorter in fridge (2 to 3 days)
Cheese filling can go bad quicker
Lasts shorter in fridge (2 to 3 days)
Goes stale faster
As you can see, a thick crust holds up best for storing leftover pizza. Thin and stuffed crust pizzas don’t last as long.
Does Topping Type Affect Leftover Pizza?
The toppings on the pizza can also impact how long it stays fresh:
|Topping||Lasts Longer||Lasts Shorter|
|Veggies||Mushrooms, Onions||Fresh Tomatoes|
In general, meaty toppings reduce leftover pizza shelf life. Vegetables last longer. And aged cheeses like mozzarella do better than soft cheeses.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Pizza
Proper storage and reheating are the keys to enjoying tasty leftover pizza:
- Let pizza cool completely before refrigerating
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil
- Place in air-tight container
- Never let sit at room temperature more than 2 hours
- Use oven, toaster oven or microwave to reheat
- Place slice on parchment paper in oven at 325°F for 10 minutes
- Microwave single slice for 45 seconds to 1 minute
- Eat reheated pizza within 3 to 5 days
Following proper storage and reheating helps leftover pizza retain its flavor and texture.
What Temperature Should Leftover Pizza be Stored At?
These are the ideal storage temperatures:
- Room temperature – Only 1 to 2 hours
- Refrigerator – 40°F or below
- Freezer – 0°F or below
Room temperature allows bacteria to multiply quickly. The fridge or freezer prevents spoilage.
Some key fridge and freezer pointers:
- Store pizza towards back of fridge, not the door
- Make sure your fridge is 40°F or below
- Keep freezer at 0°F or below at all times
- Never refreeze thawed leftover pizza
Monitoring fridge and freezer temps helps keep leftover pizza safe.
Does the Pizza Box Matter for Storing Leftovers?
Here’s how the original pizza box impacts leftover pizza:
Good for Short-Term Fridge Storage
The box holds the pizza shape nicely and prevents drying out for 1 to 3 days in the fridge.
Not Ideal for Freezing
Pizza boxes take up a lot of space and can get soggy in the freezer. Better to wrap frozen slices well in foil or plastic.
Absorbs Moisture and Odors
The cardboard box can make pizza soggy and absorb other food odors in the fridge over time.
Let Pizza Cool Before Boxing
Boxes trap steam and moisture if you put hot pizza straight in. Allow to cool first for better storage.
Overall the pizza box is fine for short term fridge storage for a day or two. But you’ll get better freezing and longer fridge life by wrapping well in other materials.
Use FoodSaver or Plastic Wrap for Leftovers
Using materials like plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and FoodSaver bags are ideal ways to store leftover pizza. Here’s why:
- Wraps slices tightly and prevents drying out
- Clear to see the slices inside
- Can mold to the shape of the leftover pizza
- Blocks air and moisture to extend fridge life
- Easy to wrap around slices or blocks of pizza
- Can freeze foil wrapped pizza
- Removes air and seals flavor in
- Special bag material won’t crack when freezing
- Flattens slices for easy freezer storage
Make sure to label any wrapped pizza with the date and contents before storing. And use freezer bags or foil for any pizza going into the freezer. The proper wrapping material can extend the shelf life.
Avoid These Things When Storing Leftover Pizza
Some common mistakes can shorten the shelf life of leftover pizza:
Clings and sticks to the pizza making a mess. Hard to wrap well.
Don’t seal out air and often leak in the fridge. Not durable for freezing.
Allows fridge odors and airborne mold to contaminate the pizza.
Bacteria multiply rapidly at room temp after 2 hours.
Causes soggy bottoms on the stacked slices. Separate when storing.
Avoid these things and your leftover pizza will last longer. Proper wrapping materials and techniques are a must.
Should You Refrigerate Pizza Before Putting in Fridge?
It is recommended to let pizza cool to room temperature before refrigerating it. Here’s why:
Avoids Temperature Shock
Putting hot pizza straight into the cold fridge can create moisture and texture issues.
Prevents Foodborne Illness
Letting pizza cool allows time for bacteria on the crust or toppings to die off before refrigerating.
Eliminates Soggy Bottom
The steam from hot pizza can make the crust soggy if refrigerated too soon.
Keeps Crisp Texture
Allowing the pizza to completely cool helps maintain a crisper crust and toppings after refrigerating.
For food safety and quality reasons, always let leftover pizza cool to room temp for about 30 minutes before putting it into the refrigerator. Just don’t let it sit out beyond 2 hours.
Can You Eat Refrigerated Pizza Cold Without Reheating?
It is safe to eat leftover pizza cold without reheating, as long as it has been refrigerated promptly and properly. Here are some tips for enjoying cold pizza:
- Only eat pizza that has been refrigerated within 2 hours after cooking
- Eat within 3 to 5 days for best quality
- Check for signs of spoilage like mold, off smells, etc.
- Avoid any slices that seem overly dried out or soggy
- Use a paper towel to soak up excess moisture
The acidic tomato sauce helps prevent bacterial growth on refrigerated pizza. Just remember to eat cold leftover pizza within the recommended 3 to 5 day timeframe for food safety. Reheating does help improve the texture.
Can You Refrigerate Pizza in the Box it Came In?
It’s generally fine to refrigerate uneaten pizza in the original box, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Only keep it 1 to 2 days max
- Wrap any remaining slices well in foil before returning to the box
- Don’t let the box touch any raw meats or liquids
- Make sure the box fits flatly in the fridge without gaps
- Transfer any remaining slices to an airtight container after 2 days
The pizza box offers some initial protection but doesn’t seal out moisture and odors over time. Limit the time pizza sits in the box in the refrigerator. Transferring to foil or a container extends the shelf life longer.
How to Freeze and Thaw Leftover Pizza
Freezing and thawing leftover pizza properly ensures safety, taste and texture:
- Let pizza cool completely before freezing
- Tightly wrap each slice or whole pie well in foil or plastic
- Place wrapped slices in freezer bag or airtight container
- Press air out before sealing and label with date and contents
- Use freezer pizza racks to keep wrapped slices flat
- Thaw wrapped pizza in fridge overnight, not at room temperature
- Microwave individual slices, checking often to avoid overheating
- Reheat thawed pizza in a 300°F oven for 5 minutes or more if needed
- Consume thawed pizza within 3 to 5 days
Freezing pizza gives you months of shelf life. Just make sure to wrap properly and thaw safely in the fridge or microwave before eating.
What Are Good Containers for Storing Leftover Pizza?
The container you use can make a difference in leftover pizza quality. Look for containers with these features:
A lid that seals tightly helps block moisture and keeps odors out.
A wide flat container prevents soggy stacked slices.
Use hard plastic, stainless steel or glass that won’t crack in the freezer.
Choose a container size that matches your leftover amount.
Some good pizza storage containers include:
- Plastic food storage containers
- Stainless steel bento boxes
- Glass food prep containers
- Acrylic pizza savers
Investing in some good food storage containers can prolong the shelf life and quality of your leftover pizza.
Should You Keep Pizza Uncovered in the Fridge?
It’s best not to store leftover pizza uncovered in the refrigerator. Here’s why:
Causes Drying Out
The open fridge air will dry out uncovered pizza, creating a tough crust.
Leads to Off-Flavors
Absorbing the smells of other foods can give pizza an off taste.
Uncovered pizza is more likely to get microbes from other foods.
Enables Mold Growth
Moisture and humidity in the fridge can allow mold to grow on open pizza.
Always keep leftover pizza well wrapped or in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Don’t leave it sitting out uncovered. This protects the quality and safety.
When stored properly in the refrigerator or freezer, leftover pizza can safely last for several days or months. The critical things are to cool completely before storing, use proper wrapping methods, monitor fridge and freezer temps, and avoid keeping pizza at room temperature too long. With the right techniques, you can safely enjoy tasty leftover pizza for multiple meals. Just remember to rely on your senses – if pizza smells, tastes or looks bad, throw it out. Paying attention to food safety recommendations will keep your leftover pizza delicious and healthy to eat.