If you order pizza, it’s likely to be gone in hours. Something about that wheel of dough, the melted cheese, the warm tomato sauce, and the seemingly endless topping options is irresistible. If only pizza could always be that way.
Even so, as you rummage through the fridge for food the next day, it’s difficult to resist the temptation of a leftover slice. There’s no shame in liking cold pizza, but if you want to learn how to reheat pizza in a way that brings back some fresh-pizza magic, you’ll need to know what you’re doing.
To Reheat a Pizza, you have to Know How it is Made
It’s too hot to eat pizza right out of the oven, and We might not even do it cooking yet. But, like everything else on Earth, it begins its inevitable march toward complete decay around 140 degrees Fahrenheit—the temperature experts recommend you dig in to avoid burning your mouth.
If you can’t (or won’t) eat your pizza while it’s still hot, the only thing you’ll be able to do later is to repair the damage. Cheese, you see, only likes to be melted once because it loses its consistency, and cheese loses fat and water when exposed to high temperatures, and there’s no way to get it back.
“That water isn’t going up,” says Francisco Migoya, head chef of Modernist Cuisine and a bread and pizza expert. “Because the dough is like a sponge, it will absorb everything, making it soggier and gummier over time.”
The moisture from the sauce and water, as well as the fat from the cheese (and any meat), seeps into the crust over time, forming “the gum line”—that layer between the sauce and crust that looks like raw dough to pizza connoisseurs. The gum line will be more pronounced on thicker pizzas, and the longer it sits there uneaten, the thicker it will become. According to Migoya, this permanently alters the crust.
Because of bacteria, you should never leave pizza out on the counter or in the oven overnight, but putting it in the fridge won’t help. Low temperatures congeal everything the dough has absorbed, speeding up the staling, or retrogradation, process. In a nutshell, the starch in the crust recrystallizes, and all that chewy, fresh-pizza texture vanishes.
How did we do it?
Because PopSci is based in New York City, we put each method to the test with the thin-crust pizza the city is known for. Your results may vary depending on whether you’re reheating Chicago-style deep-dish pizza or another type.
We refrigerated the slices we used (plain cheese and those with various toppings) for 12 to 48 hours. It’s a different story regarding reheating frozen pizza, which we can’t discuss here.
The games are about to begin.
This is the /r/pizza subreddit’s official reheating method. It involves placing your cold pizza on an oiled, preheated, non-stick pan and cooking it for two minutes over medium-low heat (or until the bottom of the slice is crispy). Then, as far away from the pizza as possible, pour two drops of water (less than a teaspoon) into the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for an additional minute.
You might be tempted to use a cast-iron pan for this, but we found that a regular non-stick pan worked best. The crust was crisp, the cheese melted perfectly (thanks to the steam from the water circulating beneath the lid), and the slice was just the right temperature to be eaten immediately.
However, using a cast-iron pan amplifies several issues you might not want to deal with while heating a quick bite. Depending on your stove, warming the thick metal pan could take an eternity. Tossing a cold slice onto a hot, dry iron if it’s not properly seasoned is a recipe for the burned crust (more on that later). The crust will become extremely crispy before the cheese can melt, even if the pan is heated with a thin sheen of oil.
In a Hot Oven, on a Hot Tray
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and place a baking tray inside. You can line the tray with foil if you don’t want to clean it later. Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, remove the hot tray with an oven mitt and place your slices on it. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the tray on the middle rack for five minutes. If your oven is too hot or your ‘za is too crisp, cook it at 450 degrees for the same time.
We had to wait a minute or two for the pizza to cool down before eating it, but once it did, we were rewarded with excellent crispiness, melty cheese, and a slice that was almost as good as new. One author thinks this is the best way to reheat pizza.
You can experiment with different temperatures, but ensure the tray heats up along with the oven. We baked it for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, and while the first bite was crispy and delicious, the slice became difficult to chew as we got closer to the end—it was more like a cracker than a pizza. A cheese slice came out dry, but a pepperoni slice was fine—the fat in the meat likely kept the cheese moist. The pepperoni slice’s crust was also better: it was just the right amount of crisp and didn’t get tough to chew as it grew thicker.
We’ve covered you if you want to reheat pizza in an air fryer. Place a slice of pizza in a cold air fryer, set the temperature to 400°F, and cook for five minutes. We didn’t use foil and put it directly on the air fryer tray, which didn’t make a huge mess, and we also caught any excess in the drip tray. We found that this combination of heat and time worked best for us, but given the wide range of air fryers available, you may find that your sweet spot is between 360 and 400 degrees, cooked for four to eight minutes.
This is the fastest of the top-tier methods by a long shot. You won’t have to wait for a pan or an oven to heat up; place it in the air fryer and go. After five minutes, you’ll have a crisp, bubbly, and delicious slice. However, there are a few drawbacks: you can only heat one slice at a time, and more delicate ingredients (such as vegetables) may burn after five minutes. Even at 360 degrees, We burned the entire crust after eight minutes. So get it out of the fryer and onto your plate as soon as possible.
Rebaking in its Purest Form
This method recommended placing the pizza directly on the oven rack, but Migoya advised against it. He was shocked and said, “There is no food I would put in an oven like that.” “The risk of the cheese melting off is too great, and all that grease in such a hot environment is a perfect recipe for an open fire.” That’s something you don’t want.”
We did it anyway for the sake of science (with a sheet of aluminum foil on the rack below to catch any drippings and hopefully prevent a fire). However, it would help if you did not do so.
This strategy worked best when the pizza was baked on a sheet of foil (rather than directly on the rack) at 450 degrees for five minutes. The crust was crisp, and the cheese was warm—it was solid all over but not as good as rebaking it on a hot tray. You can bake it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes for a slightly less crisp slice if you prefer. When we used this method, we had the worst results when placing the pizza directly on the oven rack. We didn’t start a fire (we had a fire extinguisher), but the crust cooked unevenly due to the lack of a solid heated surface beneath it. In the end, this isn’t the best method for reheating pizza, but it’s also not the worst.
The Microwave + Oven Combination
We were skeptical of this technique at first, but we were pleasantly surprised. To begin, heat the pizza for 30 seconds in the microwave. Then, place the pizza on a baking tray in a cold oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Take the pizza out of the oven when it says it’s done preheating—around the time you’d normally put food in.
The pizza was extremely rubbery after its time in the microwave. It’s not off to a good start. We doubted the oven’s power could restore it to even a sliver of its former glory. It did, however. We crisped up the pizza nicely, and some rubberiness was removed by baking it. The thicker parts of the crust were a little floppy, but it was still good. Even so, we’re not sure why anyone would choose this method over tossing it on a hot tray that’s been in the oven unless it’s slightly faster. But only by a small margin.
In the Oven, Cook on Low And Slow
Place cold pizza slices on a baking sheet and tightly wrap them in aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and place them on the bottom rack. Allow 25 to 30 minutes for baking.
The cheese slice we used had a crispy crust, but our pepperoni slice was a little too chewy, likely due to the extra fat from the pepp. Both looked bad on the outside: the cheese was soft, but it dried out quickly after coming out of the oven, and the sauce looked like one big scab. It’s also one of the time-consuming techniques we tried. However, when it came to the overall flavor, it was still good.
An Extremely Hot Pan
Heat a pan on the stovetop over high heat for a few minutes or until it’s hot. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the pizza. Cook for a total of two to three minutes.
We tried this method with a porcelain non-stick pan and a cast-iron pan, but both yielded disappointing results. After only a minute and a half, the non-stick pizza had to be removed from the heat. The cheese had started to bubble, and the crust had turned black and stuck to the pan. It was a nightmare to clean, and we do not advise it.
It was even worse with cast iron. The crust began to smoke in a dry pan as soon as it came into contact with hot metal. For hours, the stench of badly burned bread lingered in the air. The pizza was still cold on top for some reason. If Hell ever freezes over and we get a taste of it, it will most likely be like this: scalding, burnt, and covered in a layer of cold, congealed fat.
We oiled the cast iron to give this strategy a second chance, and it took about three minutes for it to start to burn. The crust was better (perhaps too crispy), but the cheese was still, at best lukewarm.
A Mug of Water in the Microwave
Place your pizza in the microwave and a microwave-safe mug of water for one minute.
No. Just—no. The pizza had a rubbery flavor, was overly hot on the outside, and was still cold on the inside. Yes, the cheese didn’t look as bad as when We microwaved the pizza without a glass of water, but it was still barely edible.
Disasters caused by microwaves
This jumble of a title encompasses several microwave methods:
Heat the pizza in the microwave for 45 seconds at 30 or 40 percent power. Check it out and do it as many times as you need to.
Microwave your pizza for 100 seconds with a wet paper towel on top.
For 145 seconds, heat it upside down on a plate (2.5 minutes).
The crust was gummy and not at all crispy. The cheese melted but was extremely dehydrated, so it didn’t have much flavor and had a rubbery consistency at best. They all tasted as if they had been reheated in the microwave for two minutes, regardless of the topping. A complete waste of delectable food.
Even though our paper towel was barely damp, it soaked the pizza. Biting into the crust was like biting into an old shoe because the bottom was soggy, the whole thing was limp and floppy, and biting into the crust was like biting into an old shoe. Furthermore, we could not pick up our slice for several minutes because it emitted steam and hot water at the slightest touch.
If you ignore that a lot of the cheese stuck to the plate, this method wasn’t too bad for the cheese. But what about the crust? We had to snap the thickest part like a twig because it was leathery and rubbery.
So, that’s it! As you have seen, we discussed how we could heat a pizza. Also, we pointed out some to-do and not-to-do points and shared the results, which you can consider while doing so. We hope that you have found this article helpful and now have an idea about how you can heat your pizza, So read them carefully and enjoy your pizza party!