An understanding of how to reheat pizza is useful knowledge for everyone. Nobody wants to deal with cold, soggy pizza when they’re hungry!
In today’s guide, we will show you exactly how to revive your leftover pizza so that it tastes and feels like it’s freshly-baked.
The Reason Why Your Leftover Pizza Is Spongy and Soft
If you have ever dealt with leftover pizza, then you know that strange feeling as you hold the pizza in your hand.
The crust is no longer tough and crispy. Instead, it feels soft, sponge-like, and disconcertingly moist. The cheese — once golden and glorious — becomes lifeless and unappetizing. And as for the toppings, they always seem to be tough to the touch and taste funny after spending a night in the fridge.
All in all, leftover pizzas aren’t exactly culinary magazine material.
There are many explanations for these degradations.
The problem first starts in the cheese. Most pizzas are topped with low-moisture mozzarella. But don’t let the name fool you — even the low-moisture variant can have a moisture content as high as 52%.
When the pizza is baked for the first time, a good portion of the cheese’s water content is lost. It doesn’t end there though; lots of fat cooks out in the process as well.
But here’s the thing: all that fat and water doesn’t just disappear. They go directly down to the dough, which acts like a sponge and sucks up everything. And the moisture and fat loss isn’t limited to the cheese; the sauce and toppings do much the same thing.
If the pizza is left uneaten, all that water and fat will accumulate and transform the pizza into a soggy mess.
That is why your pizza is so off-putting after you leave it in the fridge overnight.
Speaking of the fridge, though it does protect your leftover pizza from spoiling, it also has some negative effects. The low temperature of the fridge can cause starch in the dough to undergo recrystallization. This process destroys the original crispness of the dough, softening it and giving it the classic “stale leftover pizza” texture.
Is It Possible to Reheat Pizza Back to Its Original Quality?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. You’ll never completely return your leftover pizza back to its original grandeur.
The reason for that is straightforward. The water and fat that leached out of the pizza’s toppings (especially the cheese) will not return. You can’t turn back the clock on those processes, so the quality just won’t be the same.
But on the bright side, if you reheat it the right way, you can bring the quality of your leftover pizza very close to the fresh thing (about 80% or 90%).
The Best Ways to Reheat Pizza
In total, there are four great methods that you can use to resuscitate your leftover pizza: on a pan, in a traditional oven, in a toaster oven, or in an air fryer.
Reheating on a pan is arguably the best method. If done correctly, the crust of your pizza will once again become crispy. The solidified cheese and toppings will melt back to their original consistency, too.
The only issue with this method is that it is rather complicated and requires a bit of kitchen skill. You will have to adjust the temperature and watch the pizza carefully so that it doesn’t burn.
The second method — reheating in a traditional oven — is more hands-off. The quality will be very close to that of a pan-reheated pizza, too. In 10-15 minutes, the reheated pizza can come out of the oven with a fairly well-developed crust, melted cheese, and rewarmed toppings.
However, if you have only a single slice of pizza to reheat, this method isn’t very efficient. It’s just not worth the effort to preheat the entire oven plus a baking tray for one meager slice. This method works best if you have more than half a pizza remaining.
If you have only one slice to reheat, use the toaster oven. You won’t have to spend time heating up the whole oven. Its quality will be comparable to both methods above.
Finally, there’s the air fryer. This method is a little unorthodox, but it works pretty well and the quality of the end product is decent.
But the biggest advantage here is time. With an air fryer, you can reheat your pizza in as quick as five minutes. Don’t dawdle, though. After five minutes, the pizza could burn.
An issue with air fryers (aside from being more likely to burn your pizza) is that the machines are typically quite small. You will only be able to fit one or two slices in at a time.
How to Reheat Pizza on a Pan
For this method, you can either use a cast-iron or a non-stick pan. We recommend the latter, since it’s easier to use.
If you decide to use a cast-iron pan and it’s not very well-seasoned, the crust could burn before the cheese or toppings have the opportunity to warm up.
Step 1: Preheat and Cook
Preheat your pan over medium-low heat for a minute.
Once the pan is all nice and hot, drop your cold pizza slice onto the pan. Cook for approximately 2 minutes until the crust becomes crispy. You can prod at the crust with a spatula or similar utensils to check the firmness.
Step 2: Steam the Pizza
This step is particularly important. By introducing a small amount of water into the pan and covering it up, you can turn it into a steamer. The water will ensure that the topside of the pizza gets warmed as well.
Add ½ teaspoon of water (about two or three drops) into the pan. Make sure to drop it as far away from the pizza as possible. You want steam, but you also want to avoid wet pizza crust.
Cover the pan with a lid or a large plate. Allow it to cook for 1 minute.
Peek at the pizza to see if the cheese has melted. If it hasn’t, continue to cook until it does.
Step 3: Serve
No need to cool down. The pizza will be at a good temperature and can be served immediately.
The pan is a very common method of reheating food. It’s preferred among skilled cooks, too, since you will be able to flexibly adjust temperature and add additional ingredients if necessary.
How to Reheat Pizza in a Conventional Oven
Step 1: Preheat the Oven and the Tray
Place an empty baking tray into the oven and bake it at 500°F for 10 to 15 minutes until it reaches temperature.
You can line the tray with aluminum foil to catch the drippings.
Step 2: Bake the Pizza
Take the hot tray out of the oven with a pair of oven mitts. Place your pizza on top, then reslot the tray back into the oven’s middle rack.
Bake the pizza at 500°F for around 10 minutes.
The combined heat from the hot tray and the oven will cook the top and the bottom of the pizza evenly.
Step 3: Cool and Serve
The pizza will be quite hot when you take it out, so give it a few minutes to cool down.
A conventional oven is the go-to reheating tool for many different recipes. You can reheat leftover fries this way with great results.
Vegetables like corn on the cob can be rewarmed effectively with a conventional oven, too.
How to Reheat Pizza in a Toaster Oven
A toaster oven is smaller than a conventional oven. The steps to reheat are simpler and don’t take quite as long. Thus, this is the better method to use if you have only one or two slices of pizza to reheat.
Step 1: Preheat the Oven
Preheat the oven to 350°F. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 2: Bake
Place a sheet of foil on the oven’s rack and put your pizza slice on top. The foil will ensure that the pizza’s bottom is well-heated and crispy.
Bake for 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese melts.
Step 3: Cool and Serve
Give the pizza a minute or two to cool down before serving.
Technically, whatever you can reheat in a conventional oven, you can also reheat in a toaster oven. The temperature and timing are going to be different, of course, but the procedure is similar.
We have shown how to reheat chicken wings with a toaster oven before.
How to Reheat Pizza in an Air Fryer
The most important thing to note while reheating with an air fryer is time. The reheating process will be quick (4-5 minutes). However, you have to be very careful. Even spending one or two extra minutes inside the air fryer could mean a burnt pizza.
There’s no need to preheat the air fryer. Put the pizza straight into the cold cooking chamber. You can line the rack with foil beforehand to simplify cleaning.
Shut the lid and reheat at 400°F for 5 minutes.
Since different air fryers may have different heating rates and power outputs, you can experiment a bit. Test temperatures from 350°F to 400°F and adjust cooking time between 5 and 8 minutes (depending on the temperature). See which one works best for you.
The name “air fryer” may be a bit misleading. It can be used for purposes other than frying, including reheating food. And, as we have seen with pizzas, it can fulfill this function quite well.
At HealthyRecipes101, we have already written quite a few reheating guides that include the air fryer. For example, you can find out how to reheat salmon with an air fryer here.
The dishes that will benefit most from an air fryer are fried ones, such as fried chicken. Here is how you can reheat fried chicken using the air fryer.
That’s all the critical details on how to reheat pizza!
All you really need to worry about is temperature and ensuring that the crust doesn’t burn. Other than that, reheating and giving a pizza back most of its former glory is quite simple.
If you’re down for some extra reading, we have some great reheating guides for more adventures in leftovers.
- How to Reheat Rice: rice is an interesting food to reheat. It’s one of the very few foods out there that is best reheated using a microwave. But there are several other methods, too, which we wrote about in meticulous detail in this guide.
- How to Reheat Mashed Potatoes: a side of mashed potatoes can definitely give your meal an upgrade. Aside from being very filling, its creaminess also complements pizza really well. You can find out all of the ways to reheat mashed potatoes within this article.
- How to Reheat Crab Legs: seafood tends to be difficult to reheat because of safety issues. But, as long as they’re stored correctly, crab legs can be quickly and safely reheated. This guide can show you how.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.