Pizza is comfort food for most people. Nothing tastes better than a fresh slice of pizza after a long night, whether you choose to devour the whole box by yourself or decide to share it with some friends.
On some nights, ordering an extra-large pizza sounds like the best thing that you could do. Even though you know you cannot finish that pizza all by yourself, you choose to order it anyway. After all, pizza can be eaten for breakfast, right?
Leaving pizza out or in the fridge, for leftovers, the next morning is something that almost everyone has done. The real question here is whether it is safe to eat pizza that has been refrigerated for a while now. Depending on the type of pizza you ordered and how you stored it, the answer to this question can vary.
If you have leftover pizza in the fridge and are wondering whether it is safe to eat it now, we have the answers to all your mind-wrecking questions.
Keeping Leftover Pizza in the Fridge
Lucky for you, the USDA approves of eating pizza that has been kept at lower than 40 degrees F for up to four days. If you remembered to keep your leftover box of pizza in the fridge last night, it is certainly safe to take it out for breakfast and enjoy the comfort food all over again.
Even if you forgot about the pizza in your fridge for about three days, it is definitely safe to eat it on the fourth day too. However, the problem arises when your pizza has been in the fridge for too long.
Even in ideal storage conditions, it is not recommended to eat pizza that has been in the fridge after four days. At this point, the risk of catching a food-borne disease increases significantly. If you don’t want to wake up with food poisoning the next day, it is probably best to throw that five-day-old pizza away and just order a new one.
Remember to take the pizza out of the takeaway box if you are planning on storing it for a few days. The best way to keep pizza fresh in your fridge is by storing it in an airtight container that maintains the delicious freshness.
Freezing Your Pizza
If you are running on a busy schedule and already know that you have to eat dinner with your colleagues over the next few days, then the best way to save your pizza is to freeze it.
Instead of the fridge, just place the airtight container of pizza inside your freezer. Frozen foods are safer to eat no matter how long they are stored.
Here are my top picks for the best freezer-safe airtight containers:
However, the only drawback with freezing your pizza is that you would have to compromise on taste whenever you decide to reheat and eat it.
After four to five days, the quality of your pizza is likely to start deteriorating and you might not enjoy the taste of frozen cheese as much as the melting hot goodness that you are accustomed to.
Forgetting the Pizza on the Counter
Not everyone has the energy to take a trip down to the kitchen and store your pizza properly after a long day. All you want to do is eat some pizza and go to sleep, and we understand. However, if your pizza has been sitting on the kitchen counter for over two hours, then you probably should not eat it.
The USDA regulatory authority says that it is not safe to eat any perishable food that has been stored at room temperature overnight. While people think that this only applies to meat pizzas, the rule actually extends to all kinds of pizzas.
By leaving your pizza on the counter overnight and deciding to eat it as a quick breakfast, you are putting yourself at risk for some serious food-borne diseases. If you live in an area with a hot climate, then the risk heightens even more.
USDA further adds that food stored between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F for over 20 minutes has a risk of being contaminated and is not safe to eat.
In case you forgot your pizza on the counter last night, it is time to say goodbye.
How to Increase the Shelf Life of Pizza
We all want to store our extra-large pizzas for as long as we can. Instead of just throwing the takeaway pizza box in the fridge and calling it a night, you can extend the shelf life of pizza by storing it properly. Pizza can go stale easily if you expose it to cardboard and air. To avoid waking up to dehydrated pizza, just stack and wrap them instead.
Take a straight dinner plate and place your first slice of pizza. Cover the slice with a layer of foil or parchment paper and place the next slice of pizza on top. Continue stacking by alternating between pizza slices and foil or parchment until all of your slices are stacked.
When you are done, grab some plastic wrap and tightly wrap it around the whole plate. You might need to cover twice to ensure proper, airtight packing. Now you are ready to place the plate of wrapped pizza in your fridge and call it a night.
Even though this method takes longer than simply putting the whole cardboard box in the fridge, it is definitely more effective for storing leftover pizza. Instead of waking up to stale and dry pizza, you can continue enjoying every piece over the next four days until it is all finished. You can also place this plate of stacked pizza in the fridge to retain freshness for up to two months, but we still recommend eating the takeout pizza as soon as possible.
Reheating Pizza from the Refrigerator
You might have gone the extra mile to store your leftover pizza properly, but all the effort can go to vain if you do not reheat it properly. Using the oven is the ideal way to reheat your pizza, but that can be too much effort just for a few slices. Putting your leftover pizza in the microwave can result in a soggy mess, and nobody wants to eat that.
If you enjoy eating cold pizza, then there is no need to reheat it at all. But if you do want to bring that leftover pizza back to life, then we recommend using a good old skillet. If you have a cast-iron skillet, then that is the ideal utensil to reheat your pizza. If not, any nonstick skillet and a lid will do the job.
When you decide to reheat leftover pizza on a skillet, you need to be patient. The reward for your patience will be a crispy bottom crust and melting hot cheese – making your leftover pizza feel as if it just came out of the oven.
To reheat leftover pizza, place your slice on the dry skillet with the crust side downwards. Put the lid on top and place the skillet over a burner on low heat. Wait for about 8 minutes, and your fresh pizza is ready.
No matter how intrigued you are, do not remove the lid mid-way to peek. If you let any air inside the skillet, you can end up with a soggy slice of pizza. Feel free to adjust these instructions as per your type of skillet and burner settings.
There is no need to add any water or oil to make your pizza taste better. All you need to do is be patient, keep the burner set on low, and not remove the lid of the skillet. If you think 8 minutes would burn your pizza from the bottom, then you can cook it for five minutes and check if it is done.
Reheating Frozen Pizza
If you decided to freeze your pizza in an airtight container or plastic wrap, then you need to let it thaw before reheating. Simply take the pizza out of the freezer and let it stay on the kitchen counter for 30 to 60 minutes before following the instructions above.
The trick to reheating pizza properly is to start off with cold (not frozen) pizza and let it heat over low heat for about 5-8 minutes. Keeping the lid on creates steam inside your skillet and successfully melts the frozen cheese on top. It also tenderizes your meat, giving you a flavorful slice of pizza all over again.
Has My Pizza Gone Bad?
Pizza can go bad for many reasons. Perhaps you didn’t store it properly, or maybe the brand of pizza you got is just meant to be eaten fresh. The biggest sign of a bad pizza is dry texture.
If your pizza has dried out overnight, then you should probably toss it away and order a new one. Your pizza has definitely gone bad if you can smell a rancid odor or spot some mold on the slice.
Remember that you should never eat expired food because it puts you at risk for a range of food-borne diseases, especially food poisoning from the bacteria on decomposing food and even salmonella.