Is it okay to eat 3-day old pizza?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is it okay to eat 3-day old pizza?” and will discuss how to properly store pizza leftovers?

Is it okay to eat 3-day old pizza?

Maybe, it is okay to eat 3-day old pizza. All this depends upon the storing conditions. It’s not a good idea to consume pizza that has been out all night. Food that has been stored below room temperature for more than two hours, according to the USDA, should be thrown out.

If you eat pizza that has been sitting out in the open all night, you may be at risk for foodborne illness. Temperatures between 40- and 140- Fahrenheit are ideal for foodborne bacteria growth. However, if you keep your pizza in the refrigerator, it will keep for up to four days and in the freezer, it can be eaten safely within 2 months, according to the USDA

USDA recommendation on leftover food

Bakery products such as bread, pizza, buns, are characterized by specific water activity (aw) values, which allow their marketability for a short period of time. Their shelf life is mainly limited by microbial spoilage and staling. After baking, these products are free of viable molds and bacteria, but some bacterial spores can survive the baking process or contamination can occur before packaging is completed (1).

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that any cooked food (even pizza) that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours be thrown away. There is a claim that germs thrive at room temperatures and will grow in your pizza if you don’t refrigerate it.

Foodborne illnesses may be brought on by germs, and many of them don’t show symptoms right away. As time goes on, though, the symptoms may begin to emerge. Pizza that has been sitting out overnight should be avoided at all costs. You’re putting yourself at greater risk of illness if you consume it. Between 1990 and 2005, contaminated multi-ingredient foods such as salads, pizza and sandwiches were the causative agents of 367 outbreaks involving 23,142 cases of food poisoning (2).

Even so, the USDA suggests using up any remaining pizza within four days if it was refrigerated. You should reheat it before eating, but just once. Pizza should only be refrigerated once. Staphylococcus aureus, for example, has been shown to produce heat-resistant toxins, which means they will not degrade even if the bacterium is cooked more.

How to store leftover pizza?

Keep in mind that all food eventually goes rotten. Some foods deteriorate more quickly than others, depending on where and how they are kept. Leftover pizza may either be stored on the counter or in the refrigerator.

With respect to products such as fresh, refrigerated pizza, maintaining the quality of cheese during storage requires protection from dehydration and reduction of undesirable microorganisms including pathogens. These undesirable organisms can cause odor and flavor changes and may also modify cheese texture and appearance. Yeasts and lactic acid bacteria were found to be the main microorganisms of concern in tomato paste and mozzarella cheese as components of fresh pizza (2).

Leaving pizza out on the counter for more than a few hours is not recommended. An elevated risk of foodborne disease may be caused by food that isn’t stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Eating a pie that’s been sitting on your counter overnight isn’t recommended. If left untreated, ants and other pests might infest it, so it’s a good idea to keep it in an airtight container or wrap it in plastic to keep it fresh.

The best way to increase the shelf life of your pizza is to store it in the refrigerator. Bacterial growth rate is decreased on your remaining slices since the refrigerator is kept at a low temperature. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it may survive up to four days when properly kept in an airtight container.

Throwing out leftover pizza

However, even if the USDA mandates a four-day limit, there are still several warning indicators to look out for when eating leftover pizza. Even if your pizza is just out of the oven, the components in it might be near to spoiling. After storing your slice, you may notice that it begins to smell strange. This might be an indication that mold is growing. It’s also a good idea to toss away any cheese that has mold on its surface or crust.

What Happens to Bacteria When You Reheat Leftover Pizza?

As long as you have an idealistic outlook, it’s OK to eat reheated pizza. It’s because germs normally die at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why it’s critical to cook a frozen pizza before eating it, as well as defrost it.

Because germs may be killed by temperatures more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you can theoretically reheat leftover pizza that has been at room temperature for more than 2 hours. But heat resistance is something that certain bacteria seem to acquire. As a result, even when heated, they will not perish. And that’s not a good thing!

Studies revealed that among the main factors that contributed to the causation of food poisoning outbreaks was the insufficient cooking temperature or time of food or insufficient reheating of cooked food. In some cases, the time / temperature exposure during reheating or heat processing of a previously cooked or heated food (which has often been cooled, frequently, overnight) was inadequate to kill the pathogen. In addition, some vegetative forms of pathogens and spores are able to survive cooking, and growth and perhaps toxin production during refrigerated storage may happen. In the case of psychrotrophic pathogens, long durations of storage enable the growth of these bacteria, which are able to grow at refrigeration temperatures. There is also the possible contamination of food after cooking, due to poor handling. Moreover, pathogens or toxins can eventually survive reheating, depending on the conditions. Because of this, even when reheated, a pizza stored for a long period may not be safe (3).

Staph and other heat-resistant bacteria are among the examples (or staphylococcus aureus). This is usually able to withstand extreme temperatures. When that happens, your immunity to foodborne infections will be compromised.

How Long Does It Take for Leftover Pizza to Taste Bad?

When it comes to flavor, don’t expect it to be the same as when you purchased it. The textural quality is an overall physical sensation perceived about a food during mastication and this is negatively affected with increased storage of pizza (4). However, the flavor might be fully lost or retained depending on the heating method used. Reheating leftover pizza in the oven is the preferred method.

Other breakfast options include reheating leftover pizza. You may use a pizza stone, a grill, or even a microwave to make your pizza. If you’re concerned about the food’s flavor, just bake it. It retains a good deal of the pizza’s natural flavor and aroma.

Microwaving can result in the increase of hardness of the pizza bread. There are a number of factors that ren-der it difficult to prepare cereal-based products that can be baked, heated or reheated in a microwave oven and which will be accepted to the consumer and microwave heating of bakery products often culminate in the development of inferior textural product characteristics (4).

Does Eating Leftover Pizza for Breakfast Qualify as A Meal?

Yes, you may have the leftover pizza for the morning if you keep it in the fridge. Reheated slices of pizza are an excellent substitute for breakfast cereals. Pizza, on the other hand, is a far healthier option than a bowl of cereal. Studies have shown that pizza delivers a more balanced diet than sugary breakfast choices, which was a surprise to many. 

The ingredients of the pizza determine how healthy it is. The presence of olive oil and tomato increases its healthiness, thus these ingredients were proven to be favorable against certain types of gastrointestinal cancers. In a research study, an inverse association was found between regular pizza consumption (>1 portion of pizza per week) and the risk of cancers of the digestive tract (5).

Protein, fat, and carbohydrates may all be found in a piece of leftover pizza. Sugar and low-fat milk are the major ingredients in a bowl of cereal. However, this does not imply that pizza is particularly beneficial to one’s health. In most cases, pizza is not the best option if you’re not in peak physical condition. Be aware that most pizzas are not gluten-free, but you can always request a gluten-free pizza. 

However, compared to breakfast cereals, making pizza in the morning is a superior option. Your leftover pizza may be used for this recipe.


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is it okay to eat 3-day old pizza?” and discussed how to properly store pizza leftovers?


  1. SiNgh, Preeti, Ali Abas WaNi, and Gyanendra Kumar Goyal. The extension of the shelf life of ready-to-serve pizza by a combination of modified atmosphere packaging and refrigeration. Food sci technol res, 2010, 16, 373-380. 
  2. Donnelly, Catherine W. Refrigerated Foods Association (RFA) Standardized Protocol for Determining the Shelf Life of Refrigerated Ready-To-Eat (RTE) Foods (revised January 2009).  
  3. Bryan, Frank L., John J. Guzewich, and Ewen CD Todd. Surveillance of foodborne disease III. Summary and presentation of data on vehicles and contributory factors; their value and limitations. J food protect, 1997, 60, 701-714.
  4. P. Singh, A. Wani and G. Goyal, Prolonging the Shelf Life of Ready-to-Serve Pizza through Modified Atmosphere Packaging: Effect on Textural and Sensory Quality, Food Nutr Sci, 2011, 2, 785-792. 
  5. La Vecchia, Carlo, and Cristina Bosetti. Diet and cancer risk in Mediterranean countries: open issues. Pub health nutr, 2006, 9, 1077-1082.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!