What’s the Minimum Hot Holding Temperature for Pizza, and Why?

When safely keeping your food, such as pizza warm, it’s essential to know and understand what temperatures it should be kept at and the reason behind those safety precautions. That’ll ensure no one gets sick …

keeping pizza hot in a warmer

When safely keeping your food, such as pizza warm, it’s essential to know and understand what temperatures it should be kept at and the reason behind those safety precautions. That’ll ensure no one gets sick from eating it.

The minimum hot holding temperature requirement for pizza is 140 °F (60 °C). This is because bacteria begin to grow rapidly in temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F (4 °C and 60 °C). This is why pizza and other foods should never be left out even in a warmer for more than two hours. 

The rest of this article will explain the minimum temperature requirement at which to hot hold pizza, why pizza should always be held at a minimum of 140 °F (60 °C), and how long it’s safe to leave your pizza in a food warmer (sources: USD Food Safety And Inspection Service & Idaho Food Worker Health and Safety Handbook). Now, let’s get started!

chef placing pizza in an oven to keep it warm

The Minimum Temperature To Hold Hot Pizza: Explained

The minimum temperature you should always hot hold pizza at is 140 °F (60 °C). This temperature will not vary based on what method of hot holding you choose to do. 

You will want to monitor the correct temperature of your pizza on a regular basis since most hot holders tend to keep foods at a temperature between 110 °F to 120 °F (43 °C – 48 °C). If you can, it is recommended that you use a hot holder capable of reaching at least 140 °F (60 °C) (source: Food And Drug Administration).

I recommend the Benchmark 51040 2 Door Warmer (available on Amazon.com) if you are looking for a warmer that will keep your pizza at a safe temperature.

For example, suppose you are keeping pizza warm and ready in a hot box for waiting customers. In that case, you will want to ensure that all of the pizzas in that warmer maintain a steady temperature of 140 °F (60 °C) to keep the pizza safe from bacterial growth. 

Even if you want to keep one slice of pizza safely warm, you will want to follow the same steps as an entire pizza. 

Whether you plan to keep your pizza warm in the oven or a professional warmer in a restaurant, the optimum temperature at which you hold your pizza should remain the same. 

Next, we will look at why you should approach holding pizza at warm temperatures so delicately. 

Why Should Pizza be Held at a Minimum of 140 °F (60 °C)?

Now that you understand what temperature pizza should be held hot, you are probably wondering why this is. So why should pizza always be kept at a temperature of 140 °F (60 °C) or warmer?

Pizza should be held at a minimum of 140 °F (60 °C) because temperatures below this temperature point grow harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and Staphylococcus much more rapidly, resulting in food that can make the consumer extremely ill.

The temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F (4 °C – 60 °C) is referred to as the “Danger Zone” for food. This is because foods kept at these temperatures can grow bacteria that can rapidly multiply, sometimes even doubling their numbers in as short as 20 minutes. 

This increased danger makes it a good idea to monitor the correct temperature of your pizza carefully and throw out pizza that has been sitting in a warmer for too long. 

You may be wondering what can affect how long pizza can stay good on a warmer and if the type of pizza you wish to hold hot matters.

Perhaps surprisingly, the type of pizza you are keeping warm does matter as some toppings are far more prone to bacteria growth.

Toppings such as:

  • Meat. Beef, pork, chicken, and fish products will be far more susceptible to rapid bacteria growth in the danger zone temperature than other perishable foods.
  • Milk and dairy products. Most pizzas are covered in cheese. Therefore, they will more easily grow bacteria if proper food temperatures are not maintained.
  • Heat-treated plant foods. This category includes vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

How rapidly bacteria will start to grow on a pizza can vary significantly depending on whether the pizza has been kept at the proper temperature and how long it stays in the danger zone. 

If the pizza has come into contact with any outside contaminants (i.e., unwashed hands or airborne pathogens, or even humidity) it can affect how rapidly bacteria begin to multiply (source: North Dakota State University). 

keeping pizza hot in a warmer

How Long Can a Pizza Stay in a Pizza Warmer?

Now that you know at what temperature pizza should be held and why, it’s time to look at how long pizza is safe to keep warm. 

Pizza can stay in a pizza warmer for two hours before it should be thrown out. This is because any foods that sit in temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F (4 °C – 60 °C) are more susceptible to rapid bacteria growth and can easily make the consumer sick. 

If you are trying to keep your pizza warm at home using the oven or a commercial warmer, you will still want to maintain a temperature of 140 °F (60 °C) and cool rapidly when storing for later consumption.

You should always throw out pizza that has been sitting in the danger zone for more than two hours, even when at home. 

I hope that you found all of the pizza safety tips helpful. Hopefully, you will now be able to confidently keep your pizza safe from harmful bacteria when keeping it warm for later consumption.