How Long Can Pizza Sit Out On The Counter? (Should You Eat It?)

Cold pizza is one of those things that you see in a lot of movies and television shows, right?

Usually a character open a box of pizza that has been sitting out for who knows how long and just chows down on that cold pizza.

I’ve got nothing against cold pizza, but I am against food poisoning.

And you really need to know how long pizza can sit out before going bad, if you want to eat those leftovers.

To avoid getting sick, we suggest you keep reading to learn if you should really eat that pizza that’s been sitting out.

The Golden Rule For Leftovers: Two Hours Outside The Fridge

pizza leftovers on counter

When it comes to pretty much any food that is sitting out, the rule of thumb is two hours – and that goes for pizza.

No, it doesn’t matter what kind of toppings are on the pizza.

No, it doesn’t matter if you’ve left it in the box on the counter.

The time between coming out of the oven and going into the refrigerator is two hours.

Why two hours?

Because after that you run the risk of harmful bacteria growing on the pizza, which can end up making you very ill – and in extreme cases, it can result in death.

What if you’re just a few minutes past that two hour mark?

You should use your best judgment here, but for most people the few extra minutes won’t be all that harmful.

If you’ve got a strong immune system and you are otherwise healthy, then you have less to worry about than someone who is immunocompromised.

Personally, I give myself a bit of leeway on that two hours, but not much because food poisoning sucks.

I once ended up projectile vomiting pizza for hours after getting food poisoning – and I never want to experience that again! I even ended up in the hospital to get rehydrated!

What If It’s Been Delivered?

woman sniffing pizza delivery

If your pizza was delivered to your home, then you have a bit of a tricky situation because you don’t really know how long it has been out of the oven.

In my house, we take a delivery pizza out of the box, get our slices, and put the on a baking sheet in the oven on low while we eat.

Our theory is that being in the oven on low means that it’s technically cooking again, which helps reset that two hour timeline since heating food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit is supposed to kill bacteria in food.

Is that a good rule of thumb? I honestly have no idea, but that’s how we do it.

Otherwise, you should get that leftover pizza into the refrigerator ASAP if it was delivered to you.

Should You Eat Pizza That Was Left Out Overnight?

leftover pizza in box

If you wake up to discover that you’ve left the box of pizza leftovers on the counter, you may be tempted to just pop them in the fridge.

Definitely do not eat pizza that was left out overnight because there is a very real chance that you will get food poisoning from it.

You probably don’t even want to know the amount of bacteria that could have grown and multiplied in those overnight hours.

Be sure to throw away any pizza leftovers that sat out overnight to avoid getting sick.

Yes, I know it sucks cause I’ve had to do this myself in the past, but you will thank yourself if you ever experience food poisoning in the future. Trust me!

Final Word

If you have some leftover pizza that has been sitting out for more than two hours, then you should not eat it.

Instead, throw away any pizza left out for more than two hours to avoid getting food poisoning.

Always store your pizza leftovers in the refrigerator so that you can reheat the slices later.

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