Spaghetti is a great go to meal when you’re looking for something quick and delicious. It is also easy to cook in large quantities, meaning you’ll have plenty of leftovers to spare. But how long is spaghetti good for? Check out these storage tips and tricks to store your leftovers correctly to make sure they don’t go to waste.
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For me, a big spaghetti dinner is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a super simple dish to make, and you can make large quantities at a time and serve it different ways, meaning more meals with less time.
The downside to this plentiful meal, though, is that it spoils quickly if it’s not preserved properly. The perishables in the sauce can quickly make cooked spaghetti go bad.
The moisture and the perishables in the spaghetti make it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow. If you like spaghetti and meatballs, the meat makes this dish even more prone to bacteria growth. For that reason, proper storage will make all the difference when it comes to how long your leftovers will last.
Follow along to find out how to correctly store leftover cooked spaghetti, so you can dine for days on this delicious home cooked meal. I make my Chicken Spaghetti or Southern Baked Spaghetti because the leftovers are amazing!
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How long is spaghetti good for at room temperature?
Because bacteria can grow quickly, spaghetti does not last long at room temperature. Leftover spaghetti will not be good if left out for more than three hours.
How long is spaghetti good for in the fridge?
Whether or not the spaghetti noodles are already combined with the sauce makes a difference in how long your leftovers will last in the fridge.
- If you store the spaghetti noodles separately from the sauce, then they should be good for about 4-5 days. Cooked pasta lasts in the fridge longer than the sauce.
- If the sauce and spaghetti are together, then only keep your leftovers for 3-4 days.
- If you like meat sauce rather than plain red sauce, then only keep your leftovers for 2-3 days. The meat mixed into the sauce shortens the shelf life.
- Always store meatballs separately from the pasta and sauce.
For best quality, uncooked fresh pasta has a shorter shelf life and is best the next day.
As usual, dry pasta or uncooked pasta is best stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place. This is a great pantry staple as it is inexpensive and has a long shelf life. Even though it lasts a long time, be sure to check the expiration date as everything has one.
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How do I store it in the fridge?
The best way to store cooked pasta is in the fridge. Make sure the leftovers are completely cooled before storing. Rinse thoroughly with cold water to stop the cooking process and drain as much as possible.
When you are ready to store the leftovers, use a shallow airtight container. If using a bag, be sure to remove as much air as possible. Keeping the air out will prevent bacteria growth.
If you have a lot of leftovers, store them in multiple shallow airtight containers rather than one deep container. Shallow containers ensure even cooling. Tightly cover with plastic wrap if no container lid.
Store the pasta and sauce in the fridge separately, if possible. Pasta will generally last longer than the sauce, so separating them will give the pasta its optimal shelf life.
How long does pasta last in the freezer?
If properly stored, spaghetti can last up to 2 months in the freezer. I like to toss my cold spaghetti in a little bit of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking. Be sure to use heavy-duty freezer bags or a freezer-safe container.
How do I store it for freezing?
Unlike refrigerating, when freezing leftover spaghetti, it’s actually better to keep the leftover pasta and sauce combined.
Plain pasta can get mushy when thawing, so combining it with the sauce helps maintain the consistency. Be sure to cook al dente or slightly undercooked to avoid getting too soft when thawing.
Store pasta in airtight resealable plastic bags rather than containers. Squeezing out the air will help with preserving the leftovers and avoiding freezer burn.
If you have multiple servings, store each serving in a separate bag. Once you thaw the frozen leftovers, you cannot re-freeze them. Separating the servings beforehand lets you thaw the right amount of pasta you’ll need for your meal.
Is spaghetti still good after 5 days?
If the spaghetti is frozen properly, then absolutely.
If you store it in the fridge, it might be good after 5 days, but only if the pasta and sauce were stored separately. It’s still best to eat the leftovers within 3-4 days to be safe, but plain pasta can last up to the 5 day mark in the fridge.
I recommend freezing any leftovers you plan to eat after 5 days rather than storing them all in the fridge.
Is spaghetti still good after 7 days?
Spaghetti is only good after 7 days if it is stored in the freezer.
You should not eat spaghetti stored in the fridge after 4 days. The variation of colors and textures in pasta sauces hide bacteria well, so even if it looks okay to eat, it might not be.
What if it has meatballs?
Even if you store the pasta and sauce combined, always keep the meat separate. Meat spoils the fastest, so storing it with the other ingredients will shorten the shelf life of the entire dish.
If you want to enjoy your refrigerated leftover spaghetti with meatballs, make sure you eat it within 2-3 days. After day 3, you can still enjoy the other parts of your spaghetti for another day or two.
If you freeze your leftovers, then the meatballs can last up to 2 months, but still store them separately to be safe.
How do you know when spaghetti goes bad?
The variations in color and texture that come naturally with spaghetti sauce can make it hard to know when it’s time to toss. If your leftovers have any of these warning signs, it might be time to get rid of them. You don’t want to get food poisoning.
- The noodles are slimy. Gooey spaghetti noodles are the first sign the pasta has gone bad. This will only be apparent if you store it separately from the sauce.
- Specks of mold. Spotting the specks of mold in pasta sauce can be tricky. Mold can often look like the seasoning and herbs in the sauce, so look closely at the leftover sauce before consuming it.
- Unpleasant odors. Even if the scent is faint, if there is any change in odor to the spaghetti, don’t eat it.
How to Prepare Leftover Spaghetti
If you stored the pasta and homemade spaghetti sauce separately, you can heat the sauce in a saucepan or in the microwave. If you’re reheating it in the microwave, be sure to stir for even heating. Reheat the pasta in boiling water for 30 seconds. Strain the pasta like normal and combine with the sauce.
If the pasta has sauce on it, heat 2-3 tablespoons of water in a pan. Add in the pasta and simmer on low until the pasta is completely heated. You can also add the leftovers and a little water and microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave again until reheated.
If you stored the pasta in the freezer, you can move your leftovers to the fridge to thaw overnight and prepare how you would for refrigerator-stored spaghetti. You can also thaw the frozen leftovers by placing the plastic bags in a bowl of hot water. Once the spaghetti is malleable, you can go about reheating pasta according to the steps for refrigerated leftovers.
If you have meatballs, you can reheat these in the microwave in 40-second increments until thoroughly reheated. You can also pop them on a baking sheet and reheat them in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
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The great thing about spaghetti is that, like other types of pasta dishes, no matter how you decide to reheat it, it always tastes just as delicious as it did on day one!
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