How Long Can Pasta Sit Out? Here’s the Answer

Pasta is a family favorite. Adults love how easy it is to cook pasta, and children love the taste and think pasta is a fun dinner meal. This makes pasta a great choice for get-togethers and parties. The only problem is, at these parties, the pasta will be sitting out for a long period of time. So, how long can you let your pasta sit out and still be able to eat it safely?

You only want to allow for your pasta to sit out at room temperature for no longer than two hours. Bacteria tends to grow quickly at room temperature because the air is moist, and it is warm. It is best to cover your pasta and place it in the refrigerator until it is time to eat it. This can help prevent bacteria from growing on or in the pasta.

Continue reading to learn more about how long you can leave pasta out at room temperature. Also, continue reading to learn how you can tell if your pasta has gone bad.

How Long Can You Leave Pasta Out?

When left out at room temperature for a long period of time, pasta can spoil. This is very similar to other foods. Most foods, including pasta, will spoil when left out at room temperature because bacterial growth tends to happen when temperatures range from 40°F to 140°F, and room temperature falls within this range.

There is a difference in the time frame for how long pasta can sit out depending on if you are talking about uncooked pasta or cooked pasta. Out of the two, cooked pasta tends to spoil faster. This can be because cooked pasta contains a lot of moisture due to the pasta having been boiled in water during the cooking process. Uncooked pasta does not have this issue, so it tends to last longer when stored at room temperature.

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Uncooked pasta can last longer than cooked pasta when kept out at room temperature. If you have bought the pasta from the store, dry pasta can last for around a year when kept in the pantry as long as it is still packaged correctly. While a year is a nice estimate for how long your dry pasta can sit at room temperature, it is always best to look at the packaging to see when the expiration date is.

It is best to use your pasta before this date in order to ensure that the pasta does not go bad before you get the chance to cook it and eat it. If you make your own pasta, these noodles will not last as long as dry pasta bought from the store when kept at room temperature.

Fresh pasta dough should not be kept at room temperature. The dough can be refrigerated; it can be stored in the refrigerator for three days. It can also be stored in the freezer; fresh pasta dough will last for four weeks when kept in the freezer.


Cooked pasta can only sit for two hours at room temperature. After these two hours have passed, your pasta can start to go bad. When kept at room temperature, it is likely that bacteria will begin to grow in or on your pasta. Once this happens, it is no longer safe to eat the pasta, so it should be thrown out.

What Happens If You Leave Pasta Out For Too Long?

If you leave your pasta out for too long, bacteria can begin to grow on the pasta. This is the start of the process in which pasta goes bad. Bacteria tends to grow quickly when at a temperature between 40°F and 140°F.

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Room temperature falls within this range, so it is best to not leave food out for an extended period of time. It is best to not leave pasta sitting out for more than two hours. It is also recommended that you make sure your pasta is covered properly when left out at room temperature. This can help to keep the pasta from going bad for a little bit longer, but it is best to throw your pasta away if it has been left out for longer than two hours.

How to Tell If Pasta Has Gone Bad?

You need to be able to tell if your pasta has gone bad. If you are unable to tell and happen to get pasta that has spoiled, it can make you sick. One of the biggest signs that pasta has gone bad is by looking at the appearance of the pasta.

When pasta goes bad, it experiences a change in texture as well as a change in color. When pasta goes bad, you should be able to notice that the texture of the pasta has changed. Spoiled pasta tends to have a mushy or sticky texture. This happens just before mold begins to form on the pasta.

The color may also change. The pasta may start to have a gray or white coloration. These are the biggest signs to look for when wondering if your pasta has gone bad.

There are two other signs you can look for that will notify you that your pasta has gone bad. These signs are:

  • A foul smell coming from the pasta.
  • A sour or different taste.
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If any of these signs are present in your pasta, it is best to throw it away.

Tips to Prevent Pasta From Going Bad

  • Serve your pasta either just before your guests arrive or just after your guests arrive.
  • Serve the sauce and the pasta separately.
  • Once you start to serve the pasta, set a two hour timer. This timer will let you know when it is time to put the pasta away.
  • Provide different serving spoons for each guest, so they are not using spoons that have bacteria from everyone else when getting their pasta.
  • Refrigerate your pasta after the two hour timer has gone off in order to keep the pasta from spoiling.

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Final Thoughts

Pasta can be the perfect dish to serve when you have guests. It is important that you not keep your pasta sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours. After these two hours have passed, the pasta will begin to spoil. If you notice a change in the texture, color, smell, or taste of your pasta, it is best to throw the pasta away.