Everyone loves spaghetti, it’s easy to make and can provide dinner to an entire family in less than 30 minutes. It also makes delicious leftovers that we actually look forward to! However, spaghetti and other pastas are not immune to going bad, even if stored properly in the refrigerator. So exactly how long does spaghetti last in the fridge before it goes bad?
Here’s Tips and Best Practices for Storing Your Cooked Spaghetti the Right Way
The answer is simple, and I’ll explain what you need to be aware of and how to get the most of your spaghetti without having to toss it down the kitchen garbage disposal.
Cooked Spaghetti Will Keep for Up to Five Days in The Refrigerator, but…
Cooked spaghetti follows the same safety and health rules as most pasta products which is 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
Check out my article about how long pasta salad is good for in the fridge for practical tips and storage suggestions. Past that mark, you need to give it a toss. If your pasta has fish, I’d go no more than 3 days.
If you’re wondering how long spaghetti and meatballs will last in the fridge (a common combination), you’re still okay with 3 to 5 days assuming all other factors are considered. Keep reading for more details.
To keep your spaghetti as fresh as possible and less potential for bacterial growth, do not store in the same container as the sauce as this can increase the chances of bacterial growth. Yes, that’s right, spaghetti can actually grow bacteria, just like any other food.
What About Storing the Extra Spaghetti Sauce?
Store your sauce in its own airtight container for 3-5 days max. Glass containers are best. If you’re unsure if you’ll need the sauce within that time, I’d recommend storing the sauce in the freezer instead where it can last for a few months or more – up to 6 months is standard.
What Impacts How Long You Keep Spaghetti in The Fridge
I don’t like to push the limit with keeping items in the fridge in general. And I’m a full 100% believer in the motto, if in doubt toss it out.
However, there are some considerations on what can impact how long you store your spaghetti or other pasta in the fridge.
The proper temperature should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for a fridge according to this US News article here. Your fridge should have a dial or gauge that allows you to adjust the temp. I find that items in the back of the fridge stay cooler and are less exposed to air drops when opening the door. However, make sure not to block airflow.
Size of Refrigerator
Speaking from experience, we have a full-size refrigerator in our kitchen, and a small college-size one in our laundry room. The smaller refrigerator does not stay as cold as the one in our kitchen and I have to keep the temperature lower. When I open the door it releases the cool air and since it’s small the internal temperature drops more quickly. I have items that go bad faster there and I try to rarely open the door.
Also, I don’t like having the smaller fridge in the same room as our dryer which can warm up the room. However, at this point, we have no other area to keep it, so I’m very selective on what goes in that little fridge.
How Packed Your Refrigerator Is
The more items in your fridge the more it will stay cool. You want to avoid having it so packed that it prevents airflow. If this occurs, you’ll have crystal build up due to the trapped moisture.
Other Foods like Fish and Meat Stored with the Spaghetti
If you’re curious about how long you can store your spaghetti if it has meatballs or other foods like fish, clams, or even cheese, the answer is the same. Fish or shellfish should be a max of 3 days, but when your spaghetti includes cooked meatballs, you’re still okay to store 3-5 days. I’ve stored meatballs in my glass containers for 5 days without any issues. But again, consider the other factors as well that are mentioned in this article.
The Type of Storage Container
Using glass airtight containers will help keep your food fresher longer, unlike plastic which is more porous and thus allows air to seep through. We use glass containers and I certainly notice a difference from when I used plastic.
However, I would still keep to the 3-5 days rule. Ironically, I just tossed out some left-over pasta this morning from last week actually – I wasn’t going to chance it.
Remember, air and temperature are the two main factors here. Follow these principals above and your spaghetti will be just fine.
How Long Can You Keep Spaghetti Out?
I decided to make this point its own separate section because it’s very important. When having parties and get togethers, it’s easy to just set and forget when it comes to buffets and other group settings where food can be left out.
Pastas such as spaghetti should not be left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. At this point bacteria can start growing, especially if the room or air temperature is warm. Play it safe, put the food away sooner rather than later.
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Spaghetti
So here’s a logical question, what if you want to freeze your leftover spaghetti? My personal recommendation is not to. But if you must, it will store for a few months up to 6 months, but that depends on a variety of factors hence the wide range of months I used.
One of those factors is how much air is in the container you’re storing it in. The more air, the more ice crystals can form and the faster freezer burn and degradation of food integrity (consistency, flavor, taste, etc.) will set in. I strongly recommend just avoiding this.
Reheating frozen spaghetti can also be a pain. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then reheat in a skillet or pan slowly and add fresh sauce at the end. You can also microwave but expect it to dry out a bit. Again – I just recommend avoiding this and save yourself time by making it fresh when you need it.
The only time I freeze pasta is when I’m preparing a dish such as lasagna, baked pasta or stuffed shells. However, I don’t freeze it fully cooked. I always undercook by about half the time and then when I’m ready to use it I thaw it in the fridge for a day and then cook it until done in the oven. This is the only time I freeze cooked (or semi-cooked) pasta.
Since We’re Talking About Storage, How Long Will Dry Pasta Last?
The shelf life of dry uncooked pasta depends on many of the same factors as any other food. Room temperature, exposure to light, and humidity.
The best way to store dry pasta is in a cool (ideally 50-65 degrees F), dry area which is minimal exposure to light. If you can do that, the pasta will last for a number of years. Make sure not to store near a heat source such as a stove or oven.
Store the pasta in containers to reduce the exposure to air. Don’t just leave them in their cardboard box or plastic bag they were sold in and put them on the self. If you don’t have long containers for spaghetti, you can try wrapping them in foil, plastic wrap and ziplock bags.
You don’t need special containers for long pasta, we use storage bins and place the pasta directly in there in their original packaging and it works well. Just remember to date and write the contents on a label to mark the containers.
Next time you want to store your cooked spaghetti or other pasta, make sure to follow these rules. They are simple to follow and apply to many other foods besides pasta. Just remember, general rule of thumb is 3-5 days in proper storage conditions.
I wish you the best of luck with your Italian cooking.