Can You Freeze Cooked Pizza? Freezer Storage Tips

Dine-in or delivery, the pizza has become ginormous, and the delicious disc of bread and cheese toppings looks so tasty. Still, when it comes to polishing it off, it’s always a challenge with the inevitable leftovers. Can you freeze leftover cooked pizza?

Did you know that the ubiquitous deciduous Margherita pizza was the favorite of Queen Margherita of Italy? A Greek invented Hawaiian pizza in Canada!

This article delves into pizza and if it is possible to freeze cooked pizza effectively. We answer many frequently asked questions, providing factual information to extend your culinary horizons.

Let’s get into it.

Does pizza expire?

Pizza does expire. The expiry date will somewhat depend on the pizza toppings, but according to the USDA, you can store a cooked pizza in the fridge at 40℉ for four days.

Beyond four days, it is ready for the garbage and should be discarded. If it looks ok, don’t be tempted. The bacteria load on the pizza may be sky-high, and eating it could see you in the ER with food poisoning.

But there is more to storing pizza in the fridge than meets the eye. Whereas the USDA takes the absolutely safe approach, the life of the pizza in the fridge will also depend on whether Your pizza will last less time the more toppings it has. 

A whole wheat crust with cheese and sauce will typically keep in the fridge for 5-7 days. However, a thin crust with cheese and sauce will only keep fresh for 3–4 days.

However, if you decide to keep the pizza for four days or longer, ensure it is reheated well and piping hot. Even piping hot food does not eliminate the toxins from bacteria, so play on the side of caution.

What dictates the shelf of the cooked pizza? It is not just the cheese and bread. It is also the toppings that can have a limited shelf life. It can be the toppings, but most pizzas have toppings that will have a shelf life of four days, so it is a double whammy.

Does pizza need to be refrigerated?

Yes, Once you have finished eating your pizza and it is at room temperature, it should be placed in the fridge if you want to preserve it for four days.

Pizza should preferably be kept in a sealed plastic bag and placed in the coldest section of your refrigerator.

Since there is little airflow in the fridge drawer, if you store it there, it will dry out and get crisp due to the moisture evaporating.

According to the USDA, pizza in a sealed freezer bag should be consumed within two days.

Cold pizza is delicious, different from hot pizza. It takes on a new flavor profile and different texture, with the components being solid rather than soft and mushy. Give it a try.

Should pizza be covered?

The problem with storing pizza in the fridge is that it is not the best place to store it, but it’s the only option. Cold air is dry air; the pizza will lose moisture quickly in the fridge’s dry air. It will become hard and unpalatable. Reheating will not come to the rescue.

The best way to store pizza in the fridge is to cut it into individual slices and either wrap each slice or place the slices into a Ziploc-type bag and store it this way.

Can you put a warm pizza in the fridge?

It is not advisable.

You should always avoid placing hot food or warm food in the fridge. It’s bad housekeeping. Placing warm pizza in the fridge could cause a bigger problem than you might have imagined.

Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing warm pizza in the fridge will elevate its temperature while it radiates heat.

Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.

So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It’s not just your pizza. It is the contents of the entire fridge.

Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.

Seems harsh? According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.

Furthermore, the pizza should be covered in the fridge so there will be no condensation!

How long can warm-cooked pizza sit out?

Two hours.

Eating pizza is a social thing. It’s easy to sit around with friends chatting and drinking, watching tv, grabbing a slice or two of pizza, and generally having a good time.

But the truth is pizza will become contaminated with bacteria and, after just two hours, could make you sick if eaten. 

Remember the food danger zone? According to the USDA, perishable goods sitting out for two hours should be discarded, and the bacteria growth on the food has multiplied rapidly, making the food unfit for consumption.

How long does Pizza last in the fridge?

Four days. If you follow the USDA’s advice, a pizza stored in the fridge at 40℉ will last for four days.

However, according to the USDA, the pizza should be wrapped in cling wrap or foil and should not have been sitting out at room temperature for two hours or more before refrigeration.

The pizza should be stored in the coldest part of the fridge, away from the door, where temperature fluctuations are more prevalent for stored, cooked food.

How do you know if the pizza is bad?

If you have reached the fourth day and wish to eat the pizza, taking some precautionary steps is worth it.

First, check the pizza for mold and funky smells, cheese can go rancid quickly, and the cheese fates from mozzarella are susceptible to spoiling despite being cooked. It will also smell funky and have a very sharp sour flavor. You can notably see some separation of the cheese and liquids contained within when the cheese has reached the end of its life.

Check the pizza for mold. Mold spores can develop and emerge as spots and specks throughout the pizza.

If you see mold skip the taste check, it has already been established the food is inedible and should be discarded.

If you have exceeded the four days, your pizza may look and smell fabulous, but the truth is you can’t see the bacteria load on the pizza, which will send you to the hospital.

Does frozen pizza go bad?

According to USDA scientists, food stored in the freezer at a continuous 0℉ and below should have an indefinite shelf life. However, when it comes to pizza, the rules change slightly.

Cooked pizza that has been frozen has a shelf life of 2 months. After two months doesn’t mean the pizza is bad, but it does mean that the pizza will degrade.

The pizza will lose its flavor from the toppings, and the cheese and the bread will change in texture.

Freezing cooked pizza is easy and can be done in minutes, but a little preparation is needed.

Freezing cooked pizza

You will need the following:

  1. Sharp knife or pizza cutter.
  2. Cling wrap.
  3. Freezer bags.
  4. Cutting board.
  • Only freeze pizza that is cool and has not been sitting out for two hours or more. Hot pizza in the freezer will elevate the temperature and put the freezer’s contents at risk of spoiling.
  • Cut the pizza into portion sizes or sizes that are going to match the size of the freezer bag.
  • Wrap the pizza slices in cling wrap or foil. Double wrap will provide extra protection from the dreaded freezer burn.
  • Place the wrapped pizza slices into the freezer bag. Remove the air from the freezer bag by pressing down on the empty voids in the bag to avoid crushing the pizza. And seal the bag.
  • Mark the bag with the contents, the freezing date, and the expiry date of the pizza.
  • Place the cooked pizza in the freezer.

To get the best quality from the pizza, eat it within two months of freezing. Pushing the boundaries of freezing will result in an inferior product that will be less enjoyable.

How to defrost cooked frozen pizza?

The best way is to place it in the fridge in individual slices and let it defrost naturally over a couple of hours.

You can place the pizza in the oven from frozen, but the bread base may become harder.

If you can’t wait to chow down on the frozen pizza, select a suitable defrost setting on the microwave and then cook until piping hot.

Final thoughts

It could be a contender for the western world’s favorite food, but one thing is for sure it is not unusual to have leftovers from a large pizza.

Pizza in the fridge will last for an impressive four days and in the freezer for two months, giving plenty of scope to enjoy your pizza in a few days or a couple of months.

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