- A hot oven with a pizza stone or baking steel is the best way to revive leftover slices.
- The skillet is another expert-approved technique that crisps back up the crust and re-melts the cheese.
- The microwave should be a last resort — it’ll get slices hot, but they’ll likely remain soggy.
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Pizza is typically made up of a few simple, but delicious ingredients: a soft, yet sturdy dough base, a tangy, sweet sauce, and gooey cheese with a plethora of optional toppings. One could argue that eating a fresh slice is akin to true paradise; however, opening up the fridge the next day to find pizza languishing in a takeout box can send all of us reeling.
The next question we all reasonably ask ourselves is: What’s the best way to revive a slice of pizza? For those who aren’t on the cold pizza bandwagon, there are ways to bring soggy slices back to their original crisp, bubbling selves.
How to store leftover pizza
Unless you’ve got an extra roomy fridge, it’s likely you’ll need to ditch the giant box and find another way to store leftover slices. Recipe developer and food editor Sara Tane recommends using foil, which can also come in handy during the reheating process. “I always wrap my leftover pizza in tinfoil, as the box takes up too much room in the fridge. I usually lightly unwrap the foil around the pizza and put it right into a hot oven. And the best part, it saves time on clean up!”
Quick tip: Leftover pizza should be kept for no more than 48 hours.
Method 1: Oven and pizza stone
As much as Caroline Schiff, executive pastry chef at New York City’s Gage and Tollner and head chef of Slow Up, loves a classic cold pizza moment, she enjoys restoring a leftover slice to its once former glory even more.
“When reheating pizza — whether it’s pizza I made or takeout — I think about a classic New York City slice in the case. It’s been sitting at room temperature and all you see them do is slide it in the oven. If I do it at home, I replicate their method,” she says.
Similar to a loaf of bread that has hardened in the fridge, the starches in cooked pizza quickly seize up when exposed to cold temperatures. For reheating, an oven works best is because it allows the pizza to gradually warm up, whereas a microwave uses a quick blast.
“Because an oven at home heats from the bottom and the top, it slowly heats the pizza from the inside out,” says Gabe Barker, owner and Neapolitan-style pizza maker of Pizzeria Mercato. “If your pizza dough has bread flour in it, it tends to get a little chewy once it’s cold, but the oven helps gently soften the starches in it, which retains a lot of the quality and character of the pizza.”
How to reheat pizza in an oven
- Preheat the oven. Turn the oven on to 500 degrees F — or as hot as it can get. Add a baking steel or pizza stone to the rack while it preheats. Don’t have either of these? You can use a baking sheet instead.
- Slide the pizza in. Once the oven has preheated, put the slices directly on to the hot steel or stone and bake for three to four minutes, or until the crust has lightly crisped on the sides and the cheese has melted.
- Enjoy as is — or add new toppings. To give reheated slices more flavor, Schiff will add a bit of fresh basil, chili flakes, and fresh Parm as soon as they come out of the oven.
Method 2: Air fryer
For many home cooks, the air fryer has become a popular go-to reheating device. Since it’s essentially a mini convection oven, it also warms pizza up slowly to avoid the dreaded soggy crust. Air fryers take less time to preheat than a traditional oven, but they’re also smaller, so it’s an ideal option if you’re in more of a hurry and only looking to reheat one or two slices at a time. Set the air fryer to 350 degrees F, place pizza in the basket in a single layer, and cook for three to four minutes.
Method 3: Nonstick skillet
Generally reserved for omelets and scrambled eggs, a nonstick skillet is another good alternative to the oven. Keep it on medium heat and cook until the edges of the cut crust turn golden brown, about two to three minutes. Then add a 1/2 teaspoon of water to the pan and cover it with a lid for 30 seconds to a minute, or until the cheese has melted once again. The trapped water quickly turns to steam, helping re-melt the cheese and bring the pizza back to life.
Avoid the microwave if you can
Experts have strong feelings about using the microwave for reheating pizza. “Never microwave,” says Schiff. “That’s not to insult microwaves, but it’s not going to do the dough any favors in terms of texture. You’re guaranteed a soggy slice of pizza if you use it.” Of course, when an oven or skillet isn’t around, the microwave is a fast, easy way to get your pie piping hot. If you’re inclined to go this route, be sure to microwave in 20 second intervals to prevent the pizza from moving into Sog Central.
Popping leftover pizza into the oven on a pizza stone (or toasty sheet tray) for a few minutes is the best way to resuscitate your once lifeless slice, but you can also use the microwave in a pinch — just make sure to reheat it in short bursts.
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