To make leftover pizza taste almost as good as it did when the pie was fresh, you'll need to reheat it. You can choose the oven, stovetop, or microwave to warm up cold pizza, but it will likely depend on how much pizza you have left over and how quickly you want to eat. There is a solution for every scenario, though some methods produce better results than others.
Reheat Pizza in the Oven
The oven is the best way to reheat day-old pizza. It will taste almost exactly as it did the night before: warm with a perfectly crispy crust, gooey cheese, and sizzling pepperoni. The downside is that it will warm up your kitchen (which you may want to avoid during the summer), and it takes longer to cook than the stovetop or microwave method.
It can also be inefficient to heat an entire oven for a single slice of pizza. The efficiency increases with the more slices you have to heat up, however. If you want to reheat half a pizza or more at one time, the oven is the best option.
Follow these steps to reheat pizza in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Place the pizza on a piece of foil and put it directly on the rack for even heating on the top and bottom. Alternatively, preheat a sheet pan as the oven heats up for a crisp crust. Add the pizza to the hot pan.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until warmed through and the cheese is melted. If you'd like your pizza crispier, bake for longer.
If you like a softer crust, add the pizza to an unheated sheet pan and place in the preheated oven. You can also use a pizza stone, but they take a long time to heat up, and the wait may not be worth it for just a few slices.
Reheat Pizza on the Stovetop
Reheating pizza in a skillet on the stovetop is a great method, especially if you only have a slice or two and don't want to preheat the oven. Doing it this way retains the crispiness of the bottom crust while melting the cheese and heating the toppings all the way through.
There is a trick to reheating pizza in a skillet. By adding a little water to the pan, then covering it, you're creating a steamer that will ensure the toppings get hot, too.
- Heat the skillet over medium heat.
- Add the pizza slices and cook for a couple of minutes, uncovered.
- On the side of the pan (not on the pizza), add a few drops of water.
- Immediately cover the pan with a lid and cook the pizza for a few more minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the pizza is heated through.
A cast-iron skillet is wonderful for this, but it takes a long time to heat up. A stainless steel skillet is perfectly fine, too.
Reheat Pizza in the Microwave
For most people, reheating food usually means zapping it in the microwave for a minute or two. After all, it's quick, easy, and doesn't heat up your entire kitchen. While it's true that this method will indeed reheat any food, microwave pizza's soggy toppings and tough crust leave something to be desired.
What makes pizza crust tough? Flour (the primary ingredient in pizza crust) consists of protein (called gluten) and starch. Starch is comprised of a pair of sugar molecules. Microwaving the pizza causes those sugar molecules to melt when it reaches 212 F. This is why your microwaved pizza initially felt so soft and fluffy, but when it cools, those sugar molecules recrystallize and harden, causing the crust to become chewy at first and then hard and brittle.
This effect varies depending on how long you heat it for and what power setting you use. Since the melting point of the sugar molecule is 212 F, your goal is to heat the pizza without it reaching that temperature. Try following these steps:
- Place the pizza on a plate.
- Set your microwave to 30 or 40 percent power.
- Heat the pizza for 45 seconds. Check and repeat as necessary.
The bottom crust won't get crispy, but since cheese melts at around 120 F, your pizza will warm up, the cheese will be gooey, and the crust won't become brittle.
Note that you can also heat pizza partially in the microwave and then finish it in a toaster oven for a crisp crust. This is an excellent technique for dorms and office kitchens when you don't have access to an oven or stovetop.