Sliced pepperoni

Can Pepperoni Be Left Out Overnight?

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There are few things as widely loved and classic as a delicious pepperoni pizza. Pepperoni does not only taste awesome on pizza though. So, it is no wonder that everyone loves it. But what if it has been out for a while? Can pepperoni be left out overnight? 

It depends on the type of pepperoni. If you buy dry pepperoni that has not been in the freezer at the supermarket, it can safely stay out overnight. This is specifically for dry pepperoni sticks. Cooked or refrigerated pepperonis should not be left out for over 2 hours.

It will hit the danger zone after two hours. And consuming it can result in foodborne illnesses. That is something you do not want to deal with. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Can Pepperoni Be Left Out Overnight: Settling The Debate Once and For All

According to the US Department of Agriculture, food that is left out for 2 hours is not safe. After that, they start to enter the danger zone. And there is a chance that consuming it after it has been left out for over 2 hours can be harmful and cause some foodborne illnesses. 

Although you can eat pepperoni right out of the package. That does not mean that it is cooked through. Pepperoni is cured. It is done by a fermentation process and drying. So, after you cook it, you cannot just leave it out overnight.

Everyone knows that leaving food out overnight is not the best idea. Maybe you had some delicious pizza after coming home from a long day at work. And forgot to put the leftovers into the fridge.

Some might think that since pizza comes out so blisteringly hot right out of the oven, you can keep it out. Well, that answer here is still no. All foods start to reach room temperature right around the 2 hours mark. 

That is when they start to enter the danger zone. And that is something that you would want to avoid. The room temperature is right about the 68˚F – 75˚F mark. At that point, it is best to leave it in the freezer to be safe. The same applies to pepperoni.

Do All Types of Pepperoni Enter The Danger Zone After 2 Hours?

There is a bit of a twist here. The 2-hour rule is not applicable to all types of pepperoni. In the supermarket, you will find different kinds of pepperoni. For example, dry and unrefrigerated pepperoni sticks, for example, can sit out for longer. 

And I am not talking about just overnight here. If stored properly, it can stay out for a month or so. However, that is not practical. I do not see much reason to keep it out for a month. But just know that it can. This is not the case with refrigerated pepperoni.  This 2-hour rule applies to pepperoni pizza as well.

Why Cannot Pepperoni Sit Out For Long?

As I mentioned before, you should check if it has been left out for more than 2 hours. Then it is best to avoid eating it. Letting it sit at room temperature will cause the fat to break down. You will notice visible changes starting to appear. Grayish or dark brown spots might appear on it.

At that point, it really is not edible at all! Throw it out. Eating it will make you sick. In fact, eating any kind of protein that has been left out for longer than it should, might make you sick. It can give you food poisoning. That is why it is best not to leave it out overnight.

Pepperoni uses preservatives. It uses nitrate and salt before being packed. This is done to elongate its shelf life. All these nitrate and salt talks might put you off. But do not worry. It is completely safe and approved to eat. That is if it is handled properly. 

If you suspect that some pepperoni or a pepperoni pizza has gone bad, you should always double-check before consuming it. You can check in a couple of ways.


One way of telling whether it is bad or not is by the color. As I already mentioned, you will be able to tell if it starts to turn gray or dark brown. 

Texture And Smell

Another way to tell if it is good or not is by feeling it. It can become sticky and also have a bad smell. The smell and color are obvious signs that it has gone bad. The oils in it will go rancid which gives it a horrible smell. These are some signs you can look out for.

Pepperoni And Temperature

Let’s dive into the temperature for a bit. You might wonder, if I put my pepperoni in the freezer, what do I do in the case of a power outage? The safe long-term storage temperature for pepperoni is below 40˚F. Your food is inside the freezer, and the pepperoni will not go bad in 2 hours. 

So, you do not need to panic in this case. You should be perfectly fine. Although they are not safe from getting spoiled, an outage that lasts less than 4 hours is perfectly safe for all the foods and pepperoni inside the freezer. 

The 2-hour rule when left out does not apply here. You can check out this article for a more detailed guide. Food inside the freezer will not enter danger from a short power outage.

How Should You Store Pepperoni?

The best thing to do would be to properly store the pepperoni when you know you will not be eating it. Instead of taking the risk of it going bad, properly storing it will give you a much higher chance of being able to use this delicious cured meat at a later time.

So, what is the best way to store it? The process is actually not that complicated. You do not need to be some kind of expert cook or a food scientist to do it right. Pepperoni is a cured meat and already has some substances to help preserve it. Mainly nitrates and salt.

Inside The Package

When pepperoni is in its packaging, it will not be much of a headache for you. Keeping it in a dry, and generally, a cool place should be fine. 

However, after taking some out of the package, you can use something like aluminum foil to seal the opened area. This will stop other substances in the air from mixing with it. 

Cooked Pepperoni

The best thing you can do to extend the life of cooked pepperoni is to keep it in the freezer. This will greatly extend its shelf life. Get a cooler bag and get rid of as much air as you can, then store it in the freezer. 

You can enjoy delicious pepperoni at a later date without having to worry about whether it is safe to eat or not. Maybe you can make yourself a pepperoni pizza!

If you have a lot of pepperonis, well, first of all, lucky you. Storing them can be difficult. But do not worry. You can have them sliced up. This will save a lot of space in the freezer, and then you can store them safely inside.

When it comes to food, it is not worth it to take the risk. It is best to store pepperoni in the freezer. And avoid eating it if sliced or cooked pepperoni has been out for more than 2 hours.

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