Let’s face it, we all will have leftover pizza, so, how long is pizza good for in the fridge and remain safe to eat?
So you have ordered pizza and can’t quite finish it, so what do you do? The answer is to pack away the leftovers in the fridge, which raises another important question.
Now, for some, that may not pose a problem. After all, you may eat the leftovers the following day, like most people. However, that’s not always the case.
So, what’s the answer?
Before we delve into it, you need to consider that you cannot simply throw a pizza in the fridge. Also, I don’t think it’s something that can stay there forever.
You need to take real care over how you store the pizza since that directly influences the length of time it will stay there.
According to the USDA, leftover pizza in the fridge should still be absolutely fine to eat up to four days after placing it there. However, you need perfect conditions to reach those four days.
That’s where the problem lies. It will only last four days if you can achieve several other things. Also, we feel it’s best to err on the side of caution and only keep it there for three days to ensure everything remains perfectly safe to eat.
But there’s another issue. That four-day limit is not exactly something that finds itself set in stone.
The problem is that some food safety experts feel that four days is sort of pushing things to their absolute limit here.
Instead, some feel that three days should become the maximum time as you just reach a point where there’s an increased chance that bacteria is starting to take hold.
So, while you may get away with four days, we think three days is the better option.
Your pizza needs to be kept in conditions where the temperature remains below 40 degrees.
Anything above that temperature increases the potential for bacteria to grow and multiply on the pizza, which means you may end up ill.
This 40 degrees mark means your pizza falls below this magical figure above which bacteria can grow and multiply.
So, while we say it has to be below 40 degrees, it still makes sense to be a few degrees under that 40 mark.
Doing so reduces the risk of anything going wrong, and that’s the last thing we want to happen to you.
What we recommend is you only keep the pizza in the fridge for 3 or 4 days if you have an accurate temperature reading in your fridge.
If you doubt the temperature or cannot monitor it, you should certainly not keep it there for those four days.
When to Place Pizza in the Fridge
Placing it in the fridge is part of the key to getting the maximum leftover time from your pizza.
Never leave it lying out for hours before you pack it away. That sort of thing is dangerous as there is a time limit for this type of thing.
Generally, people recommend you do not store any leftovers if they have been left out chilling for more than two hours. If that’s the case, then you should bin the leftovers immediately.
But we want to come across as more precise than that.
First, don’t place piping hot pizza leftovers straight into the fridge. That’s just not a safe idea. Instead, leave the pizza to cool, but pay close attention to that time.
Keep on checking on how warm the pizza feels. You want it to feel cool to the touch but not ice cold before placing it into the fridge.
How to Store Pizza in the Fridge
It all comes down to the storage if you want to keep your leftover pizza for as long as possible.
The best approach is to place the leftover slices in an airtight container. That’s what we recommend since it does help slow down the potential development of bacteria.
This is due to the way the airtight container keeps the environment surrounding the pizza steadier, so there’s less chance of anything going wrong.
But that’s not the only option you have available.
Another option is to wrap each pizza slice in plastic wrap and ensure it’s tight around the pizza. In a sense, that creates a vacuum, becoming something similar to an airtight container.
Also, you may wish to place the slice in a resealable storage bag. However, if that’s your approach, then squeeze out all of the air as you seal the bag. That alone will slow down the potential development of the bacteria.
How to Know Your Pizza is Off
So let’s say it’s ticked over into day three, and you suddenly feel like that leftover pizza. How do you know it’s still fine to eat?
Well, this is the time when carefully checking your pizza is crucial. However, don’t simply go by how it looks.
Of course, the first thing is to see if any mold has appeared on the pizza. That stuff remains obvious, and you should throw away the pizza if there’s any uncertainty.
But it’s not only the visual appearance. The smell can also be crucial in determining if the pizza is fine to eat.
Leftover pizza that is ‘off’ will have a smell to it. Also, it’s quite difficult to describe this smell. However, if you have ever had to sniff at food past its best, you get the idea of what to expect.
But there’s also the taste.
It may smell fine and look fine, but if you take that first bite and something doesn’t taste right, stop eating. This is one of those times when listening to yourself becomes very important.
What may happen here is that the pizza tastes past its best. You may taste the very earliest part of the pizza starting to turn and bacteria multiplying.
We aren’t saying you will end up ill by eating a mouthful of pizza that is just starting to go bad, but it’s best to stop straight away and just discard the rest of the leftovers.
Tips for Storing Pizza in the Fridge
But to help you out, we have a few tips regarding storing pizza in the fridge. Hopefully, they will mean you have a better experience when finally getting around to eating those slices.
If Wrapping, Make it Individual Slices
If using the wrapping method, ensure you do so with individual slices. Sticking two slices together could cause problems where the two slices are meeting and touching.
Also, it reduces the chances of the slices sticking together as nobody wants a pizza with the topping ripped off one of the slices.
Aluminum Foil Can Work
You do have the option of using aluminum foil if you would prefer when it comes to storing pizza leftovers in the fridge. However, we would only recommend doing this if you plan on eating it by the end of day two.
The problem with foil is you cannot get it airtight enough to slow down the process of the bacteria growing and multiplying. That’s where the problem lies, and it’s something you need to counteract.
So while it does work, to a certain extent, it’s certainly not the best approach.
Think About Freezing
If you feel unsure when you will eat your leftovers, we suggest freezing the slices. It’s best to take that extra precaution knowing you can still reheat the leftovers a month later and that it will taste just as amazing.
Pizza leftovers work well with being frozen. You can simply wrap it up the same way you would for storing in the fridge, but throw it into the freezer compartment instead.
That way, you can go back to it when you want, but don’t go beyond two months.
Leftover pizza can stay in the fridge for up to four days, but we recommend you eat the leftovers by day three to keep yourself safe.
Make sure you cool the pizza down correctly and don’t leave it sitting out for more than two hours before placing it into the fridge. Also, ensure it is well covered and airtight since that extends the potential lifespan of the pizza.
Eating leftover pizza is an amazing thing. But you need to ensure you do everything correctly, or you could cause problems for yourself in the future.
At least now you know exactly what you need to do, and there’s no need to eat all that pizza at once.