Everyone’s been there. You wake up and remember that you have leftover pizza in the fridge…or on the kitchen counter still in the cardboard box!
I’ve eaten a lot of leftover pizza over the years. When I was younger, I had no problem eating cold pizza. Now, I just don’t find it enjoyable.
There are some types of pizza that are made to be eaten cold. A perfect example is an old-fashioned slice of square bakery pizza with no cheese. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of pizza with lots of that thick, sweet tomato sauce.
That type of pizza is awesome when it’s cold or at room temperature.
But really…who doesn’t love day-old pizza? If I’m in the right place, sometimes I’ll order extra pizza knowing that I’ll be eating it the next day.
Some people think leftover pizza is great when it’s cold and right out of the pizza box. Some people think it’s great when it’s room temperature. I think it’s really great when you reheat it so that it tastes like it just came out of the oven at the pizza shop.
But what is the best method and the best temperature to reheat pizza? Does it require medium heat? Does it need high heat?
Do you need a baking tray, or parchment paper …will an old-fashioned regular oven work?
What is the right way to reheat pizza?
In this article, I’m going to teach you some of the best ways to reheat your leftover slices so that they’re hot, delicious, and fresh!
Table of Contents
Reasons to reheat your leftover pizza
Part of the fun of eating pizza is the steamy, melty, gooey cheese. In order to accomplish that you need it hot. You can also reheat cheese at medium-low heat for a longer period of time to get it right.
Let’s look at the science of cheese for a minute. Cheese is a combination of fat, protein, and water molecules.
Newer cheeses contain more moisture and are therefore softer. An example of a newer, softer cheese would be mozzarella. Think about how wet a fresh mozzarella ball is when you touch it.
Aged cheeses, on the other hand, contain less moisture and are harder. Examples of an older, harder cheese would be pecorino Romano or Parmesan. It’s dry and that’s why it’s a great cheese for grating.
No matter how old a cheese is, the one thing they all have in common is that the flavor of cheese is in the fat.
When cheese is cold, the fats hold onto all of the flavor. When cheese is warmed up, the flavors from the fat loosen up and interact with your taste buds better. As a result, cold pizza will have less flavor than a hot or warm pizza.
Also, the newer the cheese, the less heat is required for melting. The older the cheese, the more heat is required.
This is evident when you make a pizza with both mozzarella and Pecorino Romano. When you take the pizza out of the oven, you will see that the mozzarella is completely melted, but the Pecorino Romano isn’t.
No matter what, hot cheese on a pizza is much better than cold cheese.
No matter what type of pizza you’re eating, a crisp crust makes your pizza so much better. It could be considered the best part to some people.
When a pizza crust is cold, just like bread, it starts to get stale. Eating stale bread or stale pizza crust can be pretty boring.
There is a reason why warming up your pizza will make it better. When bread or pizza crust is cold, the starch molecules in the crust begin to crystalize which causes it to lose most of its nice qualities. Reheating the pizza will release water from the starch crystals improving its texture and flavor.
That’s why toasting day-old bread can make it so much better. The same goes for pizza.
Who doesn’t love a nice warm and crispy pizza crust? I know I do.
Hot and warm foods are easier to digest than cold foods.
Eating cold food tends to be a shock to your digestive system and makes it work harder.
Whatever we eat must be close to our body temperature to have a healthy metabolism. As a result, hot foods get digested better than cold foods.
So reheating your leftover pizza does have some health benefits over eating cold pizza.
Different types of pizza and reheating
This type of pizza from Naples, Italy is known for its softer crust. It’s made in a really hot oven with a really fast cooking time. It’s typical for Neapolitan pizza to be cooked in a 900-degree oven for less than 2 minutes.
When you pick up a slice you’ll understand why in Italy they usually eat it with a knife and fork. Although it’s delicious when hot and right out of the oven, a cold slice of this style of pizza is a soggy mess.
We all know that New York-style pizza has a really thin pizza crust. Out of all the different types of pizza, this thin crust pizza is probably the best one to eat a cold slice. That being said, it’s even better when it’s reheated.
People in Chicago love their deep dish pizza. It has a thick, rich and buttery crust. It’s then loaded with cheese, tomato sauce and other toppings like sausage, pepperoni and peppers.
In my opinion, the buttery crust on a Chicago deep dish pizza isn’t made to eat cold. The fats in the dough need to be heated to make it easy to eat and release the flavors.
Warm it up and your Chicago deep dish pizza leftovers will be great the next day.
Roman pizza al taglio is actually made for the purpose of reheating it. All over Rome you will see pizza shops with big, beautiful rectangular trays of pizza in glass cases. They are topped with loads of beautiful toppings like mortadella, prosciutto, eggplant, and arugula.
When you order a slice of Roman pizza, they will cut you off a piece with scissors, weigh it, and heat it up in an oven. Roman pizza is typically cooked in an electric oven.
The first time I tried Roman pizza I was blown away by how crunchy it was on the outside, but still soft and airy on the inside. The amazing thing is that it’s so light and airy that you don’t feel stuffed and bloated like you normally would after eating pizza. I would even go as far as saying it’s so light and airy you can eat an extra slice.
If you ever go to Rome, you’ll see people walking around the streets eating slices of Roman pizza bianca.
The first place in Rome I ever tried Roman pizza was probably Roscioli near Campo dei Fiori. The best place I ever tried was at a place called Pizzarium in Rome near the Vatican, owned by “The Michelangelo of Pizza”, Gabriele Bonci.
He’s the guy who taught us how to make real authentic Roman pizza. He explained to us that Roman pizza is supposed to be reheated.
Roman pizza is usually made from a dough that is fermented for 72 hours. It is also made with really high hydration. That means the water to flour ratio is really high.
The dough is then spread in a baking pan and cooked at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s then cut into slices, which are reheated and topped with the most beautiful vegetables and meats or stuffed with sliced mortadella when someone orders it.
When it gets reheated, the bottom of the crust becomes nice and crispy and the soft airy inside gets a new life.
Ways to reheat your leftover pizza
There are many different ways to reheat your leftover pizza. How much pizza you have can determine how you will reheat your leftover pizza.
Some of these methods are better than others. Most of them call for a hot surface and a little bit of time.
The following methods of reheating leftover pizza are not the only ways to do it. I chose the ones that I believe are the easiest and most accessible to most people. The last thing I’m trying to do is be a leftover pizza reheating know-it-all.
I want this information to be valuable to the college student living in the dorm room without a full kitchen, as well as the well-versed pizza expert with access to the fanciest pizza-making equipment.
So whether you’re someone who is happy popping a slice in the microwave or you’d rather preheat the oven knowing you’re about to bring a beautiful pizza pie back to life, you will appreciate a reheated slice of leftover pizza.
Reheating pizza in a toaster oven is easy. They are usually on the smaller side so you can’t fit more than one or two pizza slices in an electric toaster oven.
I’ve had a lot of experience with electric toaster ovens in my life. I can remember heating up squares of frozen pizza when I was a kid.
I’d sit and wait for that electric heating element to heat up and get that bright orange glow. That’s when I knew the cheese on the frozen pizza would start to sweat and the smell of it would soon fill the air.
Heating up leftover pizza in an electric toaster oven is very easy. The only thing you really need to do is place your slice of pizza inside the toaster oven. You can place it directly on the wire rack, on the little metal tray that usually comes with the toaster oven, or on a sheet of aluminum foil.
Here’s a little trick…spray a little water on top of the pizza slice before you heat it in the toaster oven. That little bit of moisture will help make the cheese nice and melted.
I like using the aluminum foil so the cheese does drip down to the bottom of the toaster oven and burn.
Heat it until the pizza is warm, the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy.
A toaster oven usually cooks at a lower temperature compared to a conventional oven so it will probably take 5 to 8 minutes.
Reheating pizza in a microwave oven is probably the quickest and easiest way, but won’t get you the best results. It’s almost impossible to get a nice crispy crust reheating pizza in a microwave.
Your slices of pizza may become soft and rubbery if you reheat them in the microwave. It will get hot, the cheese will melt and it’s fast. However, the crust, which is such an important part of good pizza, will get destroyed.
If you are looking for a fast way to get the job done and don’t really care if you get those fresh out of the pizza shop characteristics, a microwave will work just fine.
Put your slice of pizza on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a paper towel. Heat it up for a minute or two and it should be ready to eat.
First off, an air fryer doesn’t fry anything. An air fryer is basically a small convection oven. It takes the hot air and circulates it around the food making it crispy on the outside without actually frying it in oil.
It’s a great way to make your leftover pizza taste hot and crispy in a short amount of time.
A small convection oven might seem like a peculiar choice for reheating pizza, but it’s actually one of the best options. This is an effective method for reheating your pizza leftovers because it’s easy and quick.
Keep in mind that an air fryer is probably only big enough to hold two slices of leftover pizza so if you’re trying to reheat anything more, do it in a couple batches or try another method.
A frying pan is an easy way to heat up a single slice if you don’t have much time. It’s seems like a weird way to reheat leftover pizza. I heard about it once and couldn’t believe it.
I had to give it a shot. The first time I tried it I was impressed.
Here’s how you do it. Turn your stove’s top on medium-high heat. Put a large frying pan on the burner. Feel free to use a non-stick frying pan.
I like to add a little bit of olive oil to the pan. It gives a little flavor and creates some crispiness to the bottom of the slice. You can also use cooking spray instead of olive oil if you prefer.
When the pan has a nice hot surface, add your slice of pizza. Put in a few drops of water and cover with a lid or piece of tin foil.
After a couple of minutes, the steam from a little water will create nice melted cheese on the top of the slice.
Before you know it, your slice of pizza will have a nice crisp undercarriage and beautifully melted cheese on top.
The best way to reheat pizza is a conventional oven. This is a home oven that everyone has. It can be either electric or gas.
A conventional oven has enough room to reheat one slice of pizza or an entire pie if you had to.
With a conventional oven, you really don’t need much equipment to reheat leftover pizza.
If you have a pizza stone, that’s great, but you don’t need one. A baking sheet on the oven rack will work just fine.
If you don’t have a baking sheet, you can just put a piece of aluminum foil on the oven rack. It will prevent the melted cheese from dripping to the bottom of the oven and burning.
This is so easy. Preheat your oven. You want high temperatures. The optimal oven temp to reheat pizza is 400 degrees in my opinion. If you want to set the temperature lower, that’s fine. Just leave the leftover pizza slices in a little bit longer.
Make sure your baking pan is also being preheated. This will help you get a crunchy crust.
When you have a hot oven, place your cold slices of pizza on the sheet pan. After approximately 4-6 minutes, using an oven mitt, remove the hot tray from the oven.
Check to see if the pizza is heated through. You want the bottom crust to be crunchy and golden brown. The cheese should be melted also.
Reheat your leftover pizza the way you like it. If you like your pizza well done, leave it in the oven a little longer until the cheese starts to bubble and turns brown on top.
Reheating pizza: FAQs
Q: How should I store my leftover pizza?
A: Put the slices on a plate, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to reheat it.
Q: How long can I keep leftover pizza in my fridge?
A: You should reheat and eat your leftover pizza within a couple days of buying it. If you know you aren’t going to eat it within a couple days, a great way to store it is in the freezer.
Q: What is the best type of baking tray to reheat pizza on?
A: When I was in Rome, making pizza with Gabriele Bonci, he advised that the best option is a pizza pan made from blue steel. It holds the heat really well. Sometimes these pans are hard to find, but if you can get your hands on one you will love it.
Q: What else can I do with my leftover pizza?
A: Feel free to add some new toppings to your leftover pizza slices to change things up. If you have a leftover cheese pizza, add some caramelized onion and sausage to the cold slice before you put it in the oven.