Food like lasagne and casserole seem to improve after a day or two in the fridge. A quick burst in the microwave, and they’re ready to go.
But pizza is a different beast.
People complain that reheated pizza is awful compared to when it’s straight out of the oven at the Pizzeria. The base is usually soggy, and the cheese tends to separate and become oily when heated a second time.
The question most want to know is, what is the best way to reheat pizza to get maximum culinary enjoyment? Of course, you can eat a slice cold, straight from the fridge. There’s no shame in that. But if you feel like something hot, you need a trusted heating method.
We decided to buy a frozen pizza, cook it, then leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day we tested some of the popular heating options to find out which was the best.
It was decided to use the following methods of heating: toaster oven, conventional oven, skillet, BBQ (grill), microwave, and iron. If you’re the scientific type, you can check out our “brief methodology” towards the end of this article.
Which method was best?
1. Toaster Oven
Time: 5 minutes. Rating: 9/10
A toaster oven is a super-helpful appliance in the kitchen. It is big enough to cook decent sized portions of food, but quicker to heat and more energy-efficient than a traditional oven. We recommend the Breville Smart Oven Pro as it’s a suitable size and has lots of preset cooking options like a microwave. There’s even a pizza setting! Check out our review of the Smart Oven here.
Preheat the toaster oven to 350°F (176°C) and cook for around five minutes until the cheese is sizzling. Carefully remove the slice and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes before eating.
The pizza was perfectly heated throughout, with a nicely browned top. Of all the methods tested, this pie was as close to the newly bought product as we could find.
The final result was only marked down one point because the constricted space of the toaster oven caused a few bits of the topping to burn slightly. For some, this is probably a positive.
2. Conventional Oven
Time: 30 minutes. Rating: 8/10
Most people have an oven, and it was probably the most popular appliance for getting the job done. Cooks Illustrated offer a useful suggestion: cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and then add the pizza, before covering with an additional layer of foil. Now, add the tray to a cold oven, on the lowest shelf and bake at 275°F (135°C) for 25 minutes (I cooked for 30 minutes).
Positioning the tray down low allows the crust to heat sufficiently from the bottom up, without excess heat from above, burning or shriveling the toppings.
This method causes the pizza to warm slowly, allowing the starch crystals in the crust to break down and release moisture. The foil covering stops the food from drying out.
The heated slice was pleasing, with evenly warmed toppings and a fresh, crispy, crunchy crust. An experienced pizza-lover probably would have thought it was freshly bought pie, which is our objective, right?
Sadly, I had to deduct points from this method for two reasons. First, the oven method is slow – when I eat reheated food, I want it fast. Spending a half-hour waiting isn’t ideal. Second, foil stuck to the toppings, which was far from ideal.
Time: 5-8 minutes. Rating: 8/10
Using a skillet is a quick and easy option for reheating pizza. Without using any oil, add the pizza slice to a skillet, heating on medium-low, uncovered.
As the crust begins to crisp up, and the cheese begins to glisten, it’s time to use a “secret hack.” Add a few drops of water to the pan, ensuring the liquid is well away from the pizza. Now add a lid and continue to heat for one minute on low, allowing the cheese to steam melt.
Using a skillet is another useful method that is quick and easy. The resulting pizza was delicious, especially the crust. I preferred the toaster oven method, though, mostly because the toppings were toasted better.
Using a decent skillet will also impact the result in a big way. A cheap pan with a thin bottom will likely be too hot and won’t reheat evenly. If you’ve only got a basic pan at your disposal, you’re better to use the oven.
Time: 8 minutes. Rating: 6/10
Toss the uncovered pizza directly onto the grill and allow it to cook for about eight minutes until the cheese is melted. You’ll want to check it regularly to make sure your food doesn’t burn.
Reheating pizza on a barbecue produced a pleasing result. The base was the star performer, as it was crusty, and some extra smoky flavor had worked its way in there, thanks to the grill.
However, some flaws couldn’t be overlooked. Most importantly, the slice didn’t cook evenly – in parts, there was burning, while some cheese wasn’t fully melted. The higher temperature also messed with the cheese’s structure, and there was some separation.
If you’re already cooking dinner on the grill, then tossing on leftover pizza is a good option. But we wouldn’t bother starting the grill just for pizza.
Time: 45 seconds. Rating: 3/10
Of all the methods, this is the easiest; a technique commonly used by “novice chefs” and those short on energy. Place your slice on a plate then add to the microwave, with a glass of water next to it, and begin heating. Some believe the water reduces the energy hitting the pizza, and therefore stops the crust from becoming chewy. It also helps maintain moisture in the pizza’s base.
Does the “water hack” result in a delicious pizza? No. The crust was still limp and unpleasant, while the cheese was like lava on the palate. The cheese was overly oily and far from enjoyable.
The only real benefit of microwaving is speed. If you need to eat and don’t care much about flavor and texture, then this is the option for you. Can spare a couple more minutes? A good option would be to microwave first, then give it a quick burst of heat on the skillet to improve the base.
6. Clothes Iron
Time: 10 minutes. Rating: 1/10
Have you sold all your kitchen appliances for beer? Maybe you’re staying in a hotel with no access to any cooking apparatus? The everyday clothes iron has been touted as a useful option for reheating pizza.
Simply wrap the slice in aluminum foil and place topping side down. Start by applying heat to the pizza’s base (which should be facing up). Then flip it and continue heating the top until cooked. Be careful not to burn yourself!
Quite frankly, this was a frustrating option that wasn’t ideal. Parts of it weren’t hot and the base was unpleasantly limp. The pressure from the iron had squashed the toppings into the foil, creating a mess. You’re better off eating it cold than using this option.
The worst part is standing, holding the iron in place. Maybe the heating process only took 5 minutes? But it certainly felt like more.
Find out how to reheat chicken wings using next-level techniques.
Okay, so this study wasn’t exactly high-level scientific experimentation. We’re talking pizza. Although a ton of thought didn’t go into the planning stage, two points need to be mentioned.
1. Pizza slice storage
Each leftover pizza slice was individually sealed in plastic ziplock bags and then wrapped a second time in aluminum foil. It was essential to ensure no slices were exposed to air, resulting in an unfair quality comparison the next night.
In the real world, you may not want to go to these levels of wrapping. One layer of plastic or foil will do the job, so long as it is airtight. Just make sure not to toss the leftover pizza into the fridge, still in the box – rookie error number one.
2. How the reheating methods were shortlisted
As an ex-struggling College student, I have a lot of personal experience in this area. To up my skill level, I spent an hour researching online, looking for advances in the field of pizza reheating. I was pleased to find some exciting new field research and settled on the following methods: toaster oven, conventional oven, skillet, BBQ (grill), microwave, and iron.
3. About the scoring criteria
Each reheating method was scored on the pizza’s flavor, texture, mouthfeel, and appearance. The time requirement and difficulty level of each method was also taken into account.
We hope this study will improve the quality of reheated pizza. The toaster oven and conventional oven were both excellent choices, as was the skillet. The other three methods were either too much work or simply didn’t produce good pizza.
It is worth mentioning that the everyday toaster, used for sliced bread, also received some positive reviews online. For the simplest type of pizza with minimal toppings, it could work? But for anything like the pizza we tested, it would have got messy, so we decided not to try it.
Have we missed something on this list? What is your favorite way to revive cold pizza? Let us know in the comments below.