How Long Can Pizza Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?

Have you ever ordered too much pizza and forgot to put the leftovers away? Don’t worry, this happens to the best of us and we are not afraid to admit it!


Knowing the right information on just how much pizza you need to order can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re ordering for a large group of people. Luckily, you can use our Pizza Calculator to figure out how many slices will be sufficient for you and your guests.

If you still find yourself dwelling over some pizza leftovers you forgot to put in the fridge, we are here to answer some of the questions you might be having. Sit back and read through this brief pizza guide before your next order!

How Long Can Pizza Sit Out?

How Long Does Pizza Last Outside The Fridge?

A pizza can sit out at room temperature for a maximum of two hours and it should not be eaten if it was left outside the fridge for longer than that. The US Department of Agriculture or the USDA claims that no food should be eaten after being left out for longer than 2 hours.

The most common question we hear when it comes to anything pizza-related is how long a pizza can be left out before it goes bad. While we’d like to reassure you that eating un-refrigerated leftover slices is completely safe, you will have to think twice.

With that in mind, a pizza is not going to be safe to eat if you left it un-refrigerated overnight. Anything over two hours is considered risky, regardless of whether the pizza has meat on it or not.

Keep in mind that the ingredients of the pizza don’t play any significant role here. Whether you ordered a cheese pizza or the classic pepperoni, the refrigerator rule remains the same.

Therefore, remember to put your pizza leftovers in the fridge the next time you order more than you can eat. Otherwise, you will be wasting perfectly fine slices of this cheesy goodness.

Related – How long is pizza good for in the fridge?

Will Reheating Cold Pizza Kill Bacteria?

will reheating pizza kill bacteria


There’s word going around that you can kill bacteria by reheating pizza if it’s been out of the fridge for too long. While there is some truth to this, you should be careful when reheating your leftovers.

Reheating any food at a temperature above 165 degrees F will kill most of the bacteria. However, this does not mean the food is entirely safe to consume just because you microwave it.

Even after the bacteria is killed, the toxins in it created will remain in the food. These toxins can be extremely dangerous and cause various food poisoning symptoms.

Therefore, reheating pizza won’t make it safe to eat. One more thing to keep in mind is that you should never reheat food more than once, as that will only increase the amount of toxins and bacteria.

Can You Eat Pizza That’s Been Left Out Overnight?

can you eat pizza that's been left out all night

The short and only answer to this question is no, you cannot eat pizza after it’s been left out overnight. As sad as this might be, it is best to accept the official USDA recommendations and avoid consuming foods that were left out of the refrigerator all night long.

There’s nothing that could save your pizza if you left it out overnight. Reheating it or scraping off the top layer won’t do any good, since the bacteria will already reach the deepest parts of the pizza dough.

Therefore, remember to put your pizza in the fridge if you plan on eating it the next day. The cold temperature, for example, will keep the pizza safe to eat for two to three days in an airtight container.

How Long Does Pizza Last at Room Temperature?

It’s generally recommended not to leave pizza out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. After this time, the risk of harmful bacteria growth increases, which can lead to foodborne illnesses.

Several factors affect how long pizza can safely sit out:

  1. Ingredients: Pizzas with meat toppings may spoil faster than those with just vegetables due to the proteins in the meat. Dairy toppings like cheese can also become a breeding ground for bacteria if left out too long.
  2. Temperature: If the room is especially warm, bacteria can grow more quickly. In contrast, cooler room temperatures might slightly extend the time before the pizza starts to spoil, though it’s still safer to abide by the 2-hour rule.
  3. Humidity: High humidity can further promote bacterial growth, while dry environments might desiccate the pizza.

If you’ve accidentally left your pizza out overnight or longer than the recommended time, it’s safer to discard it rather than risk getting sick. In the future, if you know you won’t be finishing your pizza soon after it’s made, refrigerate it promptly to extend its shelf life and maintain its safety.

Leaving Out Frozen Pizza When Thawing

Typically, you would never thaw out a frozen pizza before cooking it – you just throw it in the oven frozen. However, if you need to thaw out a frozen pizza while keeping it safe to eat and cook it at the same time, check on it often.

Don’t leave it in too long or you might risk food poisoning. Frozen food is usually safe to eat if left out for three to four hours at room temperature. If it’s more than four hours since it’s been in the freezer, you should cook the pizza right away.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Pizza?

Bad pizza is a bad experience!  Pizza is a very common cause of classic food poisoning with symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and intense sickness. If you eat a pizza that’s been left out of the fridge for too long, the bacteria can likely cause severe food poisoning symptoms.

The intensity of the symptoms of illness will depend on how bad the pizza was, as well as how your gastrointestinal system handles the bacteria. However, the food poisoning caused by bad pizza should not put you in any serious or life-threatening condition.

Either way, be cautious of what kind of pizza you’re eating and make sure not to leave it out of the fridge at higher temperatures for too long. The best way to avoid potential risk is to order just the right amount of pizza so you can eat it all while it’s fresh.

The Pizza Calculator can help you figure out how much pizza is too much for you and your company. You can also use it to calculate calories per each slice.

How Long Can Cheese Pizza Sit Out?

The rule for cheese pizzas is quite the same as the rule for all other types of pizza. It should not be left out at room temperature on your kitchen counter for longer than 2 hours after preparation.

Technically, even if the cheese pizza sits out for three to five hours, it is not likely to cause any food poisoning or stomach-related issues.

However, just to be safe from illness, it is best to refrigerate the leftovers as soon as you are done with them. That way, you will manage to preserve as much of the pizza as possible. After all, no one wants delicious cheese slices to go to waste!

How Long Can Pepperoni Pizza Sit Out?

Assuming that your pepperoni pizza arrived fresh, you should follow the same general rule for all pizza types. Don’t let it sit out for longer than three hours, especially if you are planning to eat the leftovers later.

Since this pizza has meat ingredients on it, it can go bad much faster than a regular cheese pizza. The bacteria germs formed in the meat can also cause much more severe food poisoning symptoms from issues like salmonella.

However, as long as you refrigerate your pizza right after you’re done eating, there should be no reason to worry. The leftovers should be perfectly fine to eat, as long as you consume them within three to four days.

How Long Does Perishable Pizza Last in the Box?

Did you ever forget to put your pizzas in the fridge and you ended up leaving it in the pizza box for almost the entire day? Don’t worry, this happens to the best of us! Sadly, your pizza might not be edible anymore.

It all depends on how long your pizza was left out of the fridge. As we already mentioned, no pizza should be left at room temperature for longer than two hours.

Just because the pizza is closed in the box it does not mean everything will be preserved. In fact, there is no difference between leaving your pizza out on the table and closed inside the original box.

The pizza box does not change the fact that the food will still go bad if you don’t refrigerate it within two hours of cooking. However, keeping the box closed while you’re still eating the pizza can have a positive effect.

The cardboard box top will prevent the pizza from cooling down too quickly while keeping it safe from dust that’s flying in the air.

Best Way to Reheat a Leftover Pizza Delivery

As we already explained, reheating pizza will kill all the bacteria but won’t remove the toxins that were already formed in the food. However, if your delivery pizza is still safe to eat, you might want to reheat it just so you can enjoy the delicious cheese mixed with other ingredients.  Great way for an easy breakfast meal!

Unfortunately, reheated pizza will never taste the same as the real deal. However, you can get the best out of it by using the right reheating technique in the oven.

Most people will reheat their leftover pizza slices in the microwave, which is a complete waste of delicious pizza. Instead of going for the easiest route, consider using the oven to give the pizza a second chance.

To do so, preheat the pizza to 350 degrees F. Place the pizza slices on tin foil and put them directly on the rack. This way, you will equally heat up both sides of the pizza to get the best results.

If you want a crispier crust, then use a pan instead of tin foil. Let the pizza reheat for ten minutes until the cheese melts again. It will then be ready for you to enjoy its deliciousness once again.

How Long Can Uncooked Pizza Sit Out?

Uncooked pizza dough that contains yeast can sit out at room temperature until it has doubled in size, which can typically take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the recipe and environmental conditions. This process is known as proofing or rising. The yeast ferments the sugars in the dough, producing carbon dioxide, which makes the dough rise.

However, if your uncooked pizza includes toppings:

  1. Cheese and Meat Toppings: Just like with cooked pizza, you shouldn’t leave it out for more than 2 hours. Dairy products and meats can become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria when left at room temperature.
  2. Vegetable Toppings: While veggies might not spoil as quickly as meat or dairy, they can still attract bacteria or other pathogens when left out. The 2-hour rule still generally applies.

For uncooked pizza dough without toppings, if it’s been sitting out for an extended period and has over-proofed (become too airy, with large bubbles, or even collapsed), it might not bake as desired. Over-proofed dough can lose its structure and flavor.

If you’re unsure about the safety of any food that’s been left out, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

All Things Pizza

These were some of the most common questions customers ask about pizzas and how long it can last in or out of the refrigerator. To sum it all up, make sure to refrigerate your pizza as soon as you are done eating and try not to eat the leftovers if they are older than 4 days.  And if you want to make it last a lot longer, put it in the freezer.

Let us know in the comments below if there are any other questions or dilemmas you have regarding pizza, delivery form places like Pizza Hut or Domino’s pizza, and orders. We’d like to hear back from you and learn more about your experiences with pizza delivery, tips, and different pizza slices.