Sometimes I forget the potatoes in the oven when there's enough going on. And there they are again - baked last evening, they sat through the oven's cool-down and then through the night.

Should they be re-baked for safety? (That might just produce inedible potato-pucks.) Or is this a "cut your losses" situation?


  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it might be better asked over on Cooking SE Aug 12, 2019 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


You could probably leave a baked potato sitting at room temperature for days and it would still be safe to eat as long as it wasn't contained in a sealed container. But notice I said "probably." That's not the stance of food safety experts, and I would never serve other people something I'd left sitting at room temperature for so long.

Note that if you wrap your potatoes in foil to bake them, it's a different matter altogether. Thirty people in El Paso, Texas discovered this the hard way in 1994:


In April 1994, the largest outbreak of botulism in the United States since 1978 occurred in El Paso, Texas. Thirty persons were affected; 4 required mechanical ventilation. All ate food from a Greek restaurant. The attack rate among persons who ate a potato-based dip was 86% (19/22) compared with 6% (11/176) among persons who did not eat the dip (relative risk [RR] = 13.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7.6-25.1). The attack rate among persons who ate an eggplant-based dip was 67% (6/9) compared with 13% (241189) among persons who did not (RR = 5.2; 95% CI, 2.9-9.5). Botulism toxin type A was detected from patients and in both dips. Toxin formation resulted from holding aluminum foil-wrapped baked potatoes at room temperature, apparently for several days, before they were used in the dips. Consumers should be informed of the potential hazards caused by holding foil-wrapped potatoes at ambient temperatures after cooking.

Can you re-bake the potato to make it safe? The short answer is no, as explained by the accepted answer to this question. Although the botulinum toxin is destroyed by heating to 85C/185F for 5 minutes, there are other more hardy bacterial toxins that can't be destroyed short of turning the potato into a cinder.

The US Department of Agriculture, which tends to be ultra-conservative with food safety, has this to say about your potato:


How long can cooked potatoes be left at room temperature? Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F; cooked potatoes should be discarded if left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.

So when you get up in the morning and discover a potato in the oven, the only safe thing to do is toss it. Considering that a potato costs about 15 cents (US) in most of the world, why would you risk otherwise?

  • 2
    A wowwing great answer, @Carey-Gregory! Many thanks.
    – Brendan
    Aug 4, 2019 at 0:50
  • 2
    @Brendan Thanks, and welcome to MedicalScience.SE. The usual procedure if you like an answer is to upvote it rather than post a comment. And after a few days if you think it answers what you asked and it's the best answer, you accept it. You can do both things by clicking the up/down arrow on the left if you like it, and the checkmark symbol if you accept the answer. Aug 4, 2019 at 2:27
  • 1
    I will do so, @Carey! For now, when I tried up-voting last night, I received this message: "Thanks for the feedback! Votes cast by those with less than 15 reputation are recorded, but do not change the publicly displayed post score." My vote's recorded. But I'll see if it becomes public when I hit 15!
    – Brendan
    Aug 4, 2019 at 11:03
  • 1
    @Brendan - If you accept the answer as correct you can accept the answer by clicking the tick underneath the voting buttons. That also gives the answerer and you reputation at the same time getting you to 15 rep more quickly. Aug 4, 2019 at 11:11
  • 1
    One minor note: you lead with it being safe for days then end with toss after two hours. Which is it? Or did you mean unbaked for the first one?
    – JohnP
    Aug 4, 2019 at 12:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.