Does pizza go bad?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does pizza go bad?”. We will also discuss how long pizza lasts, how to freeze it, how to spot a spoiled pizza and what happens if you eat it.

Does pizza go bad?

Yes, pizza goes bad when not stored properly. According to USDA, perishable foods should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours after cooking. They should be placed inside the fridge within two hours after they have cooled off (1).

Even if you have ordered pizza and have some leftovers, place them inside the fridge. Do not let the leftovers sit on the counter top as after 2 hours, bacteria will start to grow on it. Temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees have been termed ‘danger zone’ as bacteria multiplies in these temperatures (1).

For optimum storage, store your pizza in the fridge at temperatures below 40 degrees to avoid spoilage and contamination (1).

What determines how fast pizza goes bad?

The speed at which a pizza goes bad depends on various factors such as the quality and freshness of the ingredients, storage conditions, cleanliness during preparation and handling, and the total shelf life of the components used (2,3,4).

Cheese, meat, and vegetables are examples of perishable components that might hasten the pizza’s spoilage since they have different physicochemical characteristics and will spoil at different times.

It is crucial to store pizza properly in a cold, dry environment since storing food at room temperature, particularly in a warm environment, can encourage bacterial development and rapid decomposition. As we mentioned before, do not let the food sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Remember, hygiene and safe handling practices prevent contamination and microbial growth, so avoid contact with unclean surfaces, utensils, or hands during preparation, serving or storing pizza. 

Overall, proper storage, handling, and attention to expiration dates can help maintain the pizza’s quality and extend its longevity, while factors like high temperatures, excess moisture, and poor hygiene can accelerate spoilage.

How long does pizza last?

Pizza lasts around 4-5 days when stored in the fridge and not left out for more than two hours. It is recommended that you eat your pizza within 4 days of storing it in the fridge to reduce the risk of any foodborne illness (5). 

You can also store your pizza in the freezer to make it last longer. Pizza stored in the freezer lasts for about 2 months (6).

How to freeze pizza?

When freezing pizza, your main concerns should be to keep it away from bacteria, any moisture, and freezer burn. To ensure that your pizza is good after weeks of freezing it, follow the following tips (6).

  • Wrap your pizza in aluminum foil and place it inside a heavy duty freezer bag to avoid freezer burn.
  • Place the pizza inside an airtight container.

How to spot spoiled pizza?

You can tell if the pizza has gone bad by looking at it, tasting it or smelling it. Look for the following signs to tell whether your pizza has gone bad or not (7).

  • The pizza toppings have a gooey or slimy texture. This weird texture is a sign of spoilage.
  • Look for any growth of mold. It can appear as bluish-greenish spots on your pizza. Discard the pizza if you see any mold because who wants to eat mold right?
  • You can also tell if the pizza has gone bad if it smells bad. Pizza should smell the same as it did when you ordered it. Any bad smell is a sign that it has gone bad.
  • The crust can become dry and hard when it has been sitting for too long. It might not be as enjoyable as it was when it was fresh however, if all else is fine and you do not mind the hard crust, you can still have the pizza.
  • If the pizza appears fine and you eat it but the taste is bad, then it is an indicator that the pizza has been spoiled. You should discard this pizza.

How to reheat pizza?

Eating leftover pizza from last night seems like a good option when you have had an exhausting day and you do not feel like cooking right? Let us give you some tips on how to reheat your pizza so that you can enjoy your meal (8).

  1. You can reheat your pizza in the oven. It is the best way to reheat your pizza to make it as good as it was on the day you ordered it.
  2. You can also reheat the pizza in a microwave oven however, the pizza will get soggy and the crust will harden. To avoid this, place a cup of water next to the pizza in the microwave while reheating it.
  3. Alternatively, you can reheat the pizza on the stovetop in a pan. Heat the pizza in the pan uncovered for a few minutes, then add a few drops of water to the pan and cover it. When it has reheated completely, place it on a plate and enjoy.

What happens if you eat spoiled pizza?

Pizza that has spoiled might have been infected by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter or other pathogenic microorganisms during storage or cooking, which can result in foodborne disease if consumed (9). 

Food poisoning symptoms might include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea

The type and quantity of spoilage, as well as a person’s immune system and general health, all influence the specific risks and degree of sickness (10). 

To avoid foodborne illness or any microorganism contamination it’s crucial to properly store, handle, and inspect food for signs of spoilage before eating and throw away any spoiled food to prevent any health risks.

If you suspect that you have consumed spoiled pizza and experience severe or persistent symptoms, it’s advisable to seek medical attention.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does pizza go bad?”. We will also discuss how long pizza lasts, how to freeze it, how to spot a spoiled pizza and what happens if you eat it.


1. What is the “2 Hour Rule” with leaving food out? USDA, 2023.

2. Roccato, A., Uyttendaele, M., & Membré, J. M.  Analysis of domestic refrigerator temperatures and home storage time distributions for shelf-life studies and food safety risk assessment. Food Res Int 2017, 96, 171-181.

3. Coorey, Ranil, et al. The impact of cooling rate on the safety of food products as affected by food containers. Compr. Rev. Food Sci 2018, 17, 827-840.

4. Redmond, Elizabeth C., and Christopher J. Griffith. The importance of hygiene in the domestic kitchen: implications for preparation and storage of food and infant formula. Perspec Public Health, 2009, 129, 69-76.

5. Are You Storing Food Safely? USDA, 2023.

6. Ahmad, J. et al. Review Article on; Traditional and Modern Techniques For Food Preservation. Inter J Modern Agricul, 2021, 10, 2021.

7. What are the signs of food spoilage? USDA, 2023.

8. What methods of reheating food are safe? USDA, 2023.

9. What You Need to Know about Foodborne Illnesses. FDA, 2022.

10. Bintsis T. Foodborne pathogens. AIMS Microbiol. 2017;3(3):529-563.