So booze and Domino’s exhausted your bank account, and now you have to live on leftover pizza until payday. Don’t feel bad — we’ve all been there. But how long is that pizza good for in the fridge, anyway? And what’s the best way to warm it back up? I asked a couple food scientists on your behalf (and so I could maybe, perhaps, possibly have a slice, please).
Technically, refrigerated pizza is safe to eat for up to four days, after which it becomes a microbiological mess that could give you food poisoning. “The high moisture content in the sauce and vegetables means the pizza should be refrigerated to avoid spoilage,” says Terry Miesle, master flavorist at Sensient Technologies Corporation. “Though, the high acid content of pizza sauce does help preserve the food a little longer.”
To keep your pizza from going all soggy in the fridge, Miesle suggests letting it cool before storing it in a plastic bag — that way, it won’t develop too much condensation. The problem with shoveling the whole box into your fridge is, without proper sealage, your pie will dry out in a matter of days.
As for the best way to reheat your pizza, that depends on what kind you’re dealing with. “A wood-fired pizza or thin crust can be placed in a skillet with a loose cover,” Miesle says. “This should both rejuvenate the crust by direct heat and dry the upper layer of the cheese a little.” That’s important, since all the moisture in the cheese, sauce and vegetables have likely resulted in some mushiness by now.
Another option is sticking your pizza in the oven. Rosemary Trout, program director of Culinary Arts and Food Science at Drexel University, suggests setting the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and placing a slice directly on the rack for five minutes to achieve “maximum crispiness.” Just make sure to place a tray or tin foil on the rack beneath to catch any dripping cheese.
If you’re dealing with a heartier pizza, like one from Chicago, Miesle says baking it low and slow — say, 350 degrees for 20 minutes — is the only way to ensure that the center heats all the way up. “You may want to place these in a pie pan or aluminum foil in a standard oven,” he says.
Microwaving is also an option, but Miesle says, “It really won’t improve the quality of the leftovers.” In fact, you may just end up with a floppier slice.
But better than any of these methods, both Miesle and Trout say you can never go wrong with just eating your pizza cold.
Now, uh, about that slice…