In this post, you'll find 3 methods to revive cold, leftover pizza. One is reheating it in an air fryer that will result from soggy pizza to crunch heaven without being dry or chewy. So, determined to find the best way of reheating leftover pizza, I decided to test these methods of bringing pizza back to life. Read on to find pretty good tips that I am more than happy to share with you.
Whenever I get a take-out pizza delivered home, it usually disappears within a matter of minutes. It's no mysterious magic trick; it's just down to the fact that my family and I adore pizza.
There's nothing quite like that wonderful pizza base (thin or deep pan) with its tomato sauce, melted cheese, and limitless toppings. It is completely irresistible. But why doesn't it stay that way forever?
Even though cold pizza leftovers are not as good as the hot, yummy, pancake-shaped gorgeousness arrives at the local take-out door, I can still manage to force it down my neck when I come across any cold remains lurking in the refrigerator the next day.
Feeling somewhat mildly let down each time I finish off a piece of cold pizza, I thought I should try reheating it and turned to my old friend, the microwave—big mistake.
By the time I got the toppings as hot as I wanted, the base was microwaved solid. So, determined to find a decent way of reheating leftover pizza, I decided to do some research and came across this article.
These guys did some great work on bringing cold pizza back to life, but they also came up with some pretty good tips. Tips that I am more than happy to share with you.
Best way to store leftover pizza
On those rare occasions when there was some leftover pizza remaining that needed storing for a rainy day, I used to just throw it back in the pizza box and find room for it somewhere in the refrigerator.
Not a good idea. The fact that air can get to the pizza means that it will dehydrate pretty quickly. It's much more successful in stacking and wrapping it.
How to do it:
- Take a slice of pizza, put it onto a dinner plate, then cover it with cling wrap, foil, or parchment paper.
- Alternatively, you can pop the slices into resealable plastic bags or aluminum foil. Make sure to wrap each slice.
- Once covered, put the next slice on top, cover, and carry on until all the slices and been used up.
- Once it's all stacked, wrap the entire pile tightly in plastic film and refrigerate it.
Sure, it's a lot more hassle than simply throwing the pizza inside its box into the fridge. However, the rewards are in the eating once it's been reheated.
Following this method of wrapping any leftover pizza, it will stay good for up to 3 to 4 days inside the refrigerator, or if you decide to freeze it, it will be okay for up to about two months.
So, remember, ditch the box it came in and wrap and stack. It's so worth it.
Reheating pizza in the air fryer
If you've never come across an air fryer before, they are, in essence, rather like downsized convection ovens.
It is advertised as being able to crisp up food but use a fraction of the oil that you would typically use with a traditional frying process. In other words, it sounds good in terms of reheating pizza to crunch-heaven.
- One of the advantages of using an air fryer rather than a conventional oven is that the air fryer comes to a much quicker temperature.
- Another plus point is that cleaning up afterward is quick and easy.
If you are going to try air frying, here are a few points to bear in mind.
- Thinner pizza bases will reheat more quickly. In other words, the cooking time for thin base pizzas is less than that for thicker based pizzas.
- As a rule of thumb, thinner pieces take around three to four minutes, while any thicker ones need five to six minutes.
- Sometimes individual slices of a pizza vary in thickness. Especially if you are mixing pizza leftovers, it's best to sort them by the base thickness and cook them in batches accordingly.
- If you see that your pizza is beginning to burn before it is adequately warmed through, reduce the heat by about 25°F.
- Once the leftover pizza is warmed through to your liking, take it out of the fryer. If you leave it in, it will continue to cook, dry out, and will get burnt.
The time required to air fry your pizza is between five and six minutes (for thicker slices). My personal rating for this methodology is 9/10. It's on a par with using a conventional oven but a lot faster.
Reheating pizza in an air fryer basket
People are probably more familiar with air fryer baskets rather than air fryer ovens. Air fryers, whether ovens or baskets, are fast and convenient, but not many people own them.
They work on the same principle, but whereas the oven is a built-in unit, the air fryer basket is a stand-alone accessory.
- Start by preheating your air fryer basket to a temperature of 325°F /160°C.
- Place the pizza slices into the basket, making sure that they do not overlap.
- Cook it for about 3 to 4 minutes (for thin sliced pizza) or 5 to 6 minutes (for thicker sliced) and then open the basket to check the pizza's readiness.
- If you think it would benefit from a little more time, try cooking it for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Extra tip: It's all too easy to burn pizza crust in an air fryer basket, so it is preferable to cook it slowly. Reducing the heat by approximately 25°F will mean an increase in cooking time of another minute or two.
My personal rating for this methodology is 8/10. The only reason it's slightly lower than the air fryer oven method is that you have to be a little more careful to ensure the slices don't overlap each other when you put them in an air fryer basket.
Here are some useful tips for reheating your leftover pizzas if you are one of the lucky ones who has an air fryer.
- Temperature stability for air fryers can vary from model to model. It's therefore recommended that you check the food readiness and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- The leftover pizza slices you are warming should be placed directly in the basket or on the tray depending on which type of fryer you're using.
- It's safest to use tongs when removing pizza slices from air fryer baskets.
- Cold pizza bases hold their texture well. It means that you don't have to use any air fryer accessories (such as air fryer baking mats).
- Be careful not to cook your pizza on the highest heat. If you do, it will dry out quickly and may get burnt.
- Don't cram too much pizza in at a time. If you do, the slices could stick together and won't be satisfactorily heated in the middle.
- It is best to reheat your leftover pizza on a medium temperature as this will ensure both the base and the toppings are heated through properly.
Frequently asked questions
Here is a collection of frequently asked questions in relation to reheating pizza in air fryer devices.
How long to reheat pizza in the air fryer?
Answer: The answer to this is dependent on two things; the temperature you set your oven or basket at and the type of pizza, i.e., whether it is a thick or thin crust.
I prefer to reheat my pizza leftovers for four to five minutes. If you're not sure, it's best to take the pizza out after 3 to 4 minutes and test it. If it's not to your liking, put it back in for a further 1 to 2 minutes and try again.
Can you reheat frozen pizza in the air fryer?
Answer: There is no problem with reheating a frozen pizza in an air fryer device, providing it was cooked properly in the first place. You should only freeze pizza for a maximum of three months. After this time, it may not be safe to eat when heated.
Can I use oil?
Answer: The whole idea of using an air fryer is not to have to cook with oil. If you are afraid that your pizza is going to stick, you can spray a little oil on the tray or basket. If you like your base nice and crispy, you can always give it a light spray with olive oil before cooking.
If you must microwave it - here's how
Having said that microwaving leftover pizza doesn't give you the best results, you must admit it's by far the fastest method and will get you by if you don't want to eat your pizza cold.
Depending on how much pizza you're putting in the microwave, I would recommend it needs no more than 45 to 60 seconds at the most.
How to do it:
- What most people do is to put a glass of water in a microwave-safe glass, standing next to the pizza inside the microwave.
- You then heat it for approximately 45 seconds. The one good thing is that this method stops the pizza from dehydrating.
How does microwave reheat pizza?
As you probably know, microwaves work by turning the water content of foodstuffs into steam. The bad thing about using this method is that you're going to end up with a warm but soggy piece of leftover pizza.
The glass of water microwave method is the brainchild of Allie Koestler of Spoon University.
The theory is that the microwaves will spend most of their energy heating up the water and not over-dehydrating the pizza.
Sounds fine in theory, but when I tried it out, it didn't work. I ended up with a glass of tepid water and a lukewarm, soggy pizza. Not very yummy.
" I guess the only thing that might work is to start heating your pizza this way, but then, to get a crispy crust, you would have to finish it off somehow - using the skillet method."
This methodology results in a soggy pizza, particularly if under microwaved. The crispy, crunchy pizza almost to the level of being inedible if over microwaved. The time required is approximately 45 seconds. This method scores a lowly 2/10.
Reheating pizza in the oven
Reheating leftover pizza in the oven is one of the best ways of revitalizing old, cold, pizza. I have to admit that given my impatience to re-sample the delights of a once-delicious pizza, I usually throw it into the oven even before it has had time to warm up. Warming it gently in this way works for me every time.
In my recent research into reheating pizza, I came across this article also promotes reheating pizza in the oven, albeit with a couple of additional provisos.
Here's how to do it.
- Put the leftover pizza into a cold oven, which has had the pre-heated temperature set to 275°F.
- Rather than just placing the pizza in uncovered, place the cold pizza on a baking tray with a rim and covering the tray with aluminum foil folded around the edges of the rim.
- Place the baking tray on the lowermost rack in the oven. It's then left to sit there for between 25 and 30 minutes.
How does it work?
This method is effective because, as with bread that has been stored for a day, the pizza crust hardens. Not because it has dehydrated, but rather because its starches have undergone a process known as retrogradation.
This process sees the molecules of starch crystallizing and absorbing moisture, thus making the pizza crust stiff and dry.
If you wrap your leftover pizza well enough, retrogradation is temporarily reversed when you heat it to a minimum of 140°F.
This is the temperature at which the starch will break down, and as it does, it releases any trapped moisture, thus making the crust softer.
The result: By putting the leftover pizza into a cold oven and letting it heat up slowly, it allows sufficient time to release the trapped moisture. At the same time, the sealing of the baking tray serves to stop the pizza from drying out too much as it reheats.
Placing the baking tray in the lowest position possible in the oven encourages the pizza slices to become heated from the underside, which helps ensure that the toppings don't shrivel or dry up.
This is an excellent way of reheating pizza and rewards you for the extra time it takes with excellent texture throughout.
The crust remains crunchy without dehydrating, and the cheese is fully melted and lush. The time required is approximately 25 minutes, and this methodology scores 9/10.
Reheating pizza in a cast-iron skillet
According to the testing I carried out, reheating your leftover pizza in a cast-iron skillet gives you better results than doing the microwave method.
I have tried it myself, and I can vouch for it. You end up with a lovely crispy base and a perfectly melted cheese topping.
While carrying out my research, I came across an interesting cast iron skillet method with a small twist. I found it on the Food 52 website and thought I would share it with you.
How to do it:
- Put your slice of leftover pizza onto your cast-iron skillet on medium to low heat with the pan uncovered - always assuming your skillet has been properly seasoned.
- Leave it until the crust starts to crisp. The tell-tale sign is the cheese giving off a glistening grease as it begins to melt.
- As soon as you spot this, put a few drops of water into the skillet avoiding the pizza itself. Then turn the heat down low and cover the skillet with a lid for one minute only, after which the steam from the boiling water will have melted the cheese.
Note: According to the stove you are using, it can take quite a while to get a thick cast-iron skillet to the right temperature. It can be frustrating if you're straining at the leash to get your teeth into that pizza.
The other thing to watch out for is that your skillet has been seasoned correctly. If you're not sure how to do this, here is a handy little article that reveals all.
- It's essential to use a seasoned skillet because if you don't, you could very well end up with a burnt pizza crust. Even laying a thin sheen of oil on the skillet won't help, as it will result in the too crispy base before the cheese melts.
- Bear in mind that the types of skillets on the market and the various stoves can result in a wide range of preferred temperature settings. A little trial and error may be needed.
Using a cast-iron skillet will give you the best result possible because it distributes heat evenly when the whole crust is in contact with the skillet.
Cast-iron skillets warm up quickly in one or two minutes, and your leftover pizza will take no longer than two minutes to heat through to give you a lush topping and a crispy base.
Adding a few drops of water is a sizzling idea (in all senses of the word) as it results in gooey cheese heaven. This is my second favorite method and gest a 9/10. But I've saved the best until last.
Reheating in a cast-iron skillet (no water)
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better - it just did. This is the ultimate reheating method. It uses a skillet again - but this time without water!
This option worked well or me using my beloved, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, but I guess any old skillet with a suitable lid will work just as well.
This waterless reheating option is simple, but exercising a little patience is the key. If you follow these instructions to the letter, your pizza will have a crispy crust, a soft, gooey, cheese topping, and to all intents and purposes, it will be as good as when it was delivered.
- Put a couple of cold pizza slices, crust side down, into a cold, dry skillet. Place the skillet lid firmly in position.
- Put the stove burner on a low setting.
- Set your timer to eight minutes.
- Wait. No peeking. None, whatsoever!
That's all there is to it, no oiling the skillet or drops of water needed - no flipping - nada. Just leave it as it is, with the lid in place all the time.
I know the temptation to sneak a peek will be killing you - but don't, and after eight minutes - glory, glory, hallelujah.
Why does it work? the secret is the low temperature and keeping that lid in place throughout.
Eight minutes might be too long. All stoves are different. You might need a little trial and error to get it to spot on.
So, wait for five minutes and take a quick look. Yes, I know I said you mustn't peek, but it's worth a slightly less fantastic pizza once only, just to get it right for the future.
Reheating frozen leftover pizza
You can use this last skillet method for reheating leftover pizza from your freezer too.
First, you need to allow the pizza to defrost on the kitchen working surface for a minimum of one hour. Once the agonizing wait is over, simply follow the same procedure noted above.
The key to a proper, top quality, reheated pizza is staring with everything cold, setting the stove burner to low, and keeping that darned lid in place.
How long does leftover pizza last in the refrigerator?
You need to make sure that you don't allow too much bacteria to grow on leftover pizza, so you should put it into your refrigerator or freezer within two hours of purchase. But make sure you wrap it properly.
Here's what to do:
- Wrap the pizza slices tightly in plastic film or heavy-duty aluminum foil (I use both). Alternatively, you can put them into a shallow, airtight container.
- This will keep the pizza in good condition for up to three to four days if properly stored.
- To extend your leftover pizza's shelf life even longer, whack it into the freezer. Use the same wrapping methods, or use heavy-duty freezer bags or freezer wrap.
- When wrapped as described above, frozen pizza will maintain its best quality for up to two months. You can keep it frozen for longer, but the quality will deteriorate slightly. If kept at a continuous 0°F, it can be eaten safely, indefinitely.
How long does pizza last in the freezer
If you defrost frozen leftover pizza, you can keep it in your refrigerator for another
If you defrost frozen leftover pizza, you can keep it in your refrigerator for another three to four days.
However, if it has been defrosted in a microwave or cold water, you should eat it immediately.
How long can pizza last at room temperature?
You should not eat pizza that has been sat at room temperature for more than two hours. The reason is that bacteria proliferate at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F - the average for room temperatures. Eating it after two hours could be dangerous and even deadly.
Remember, pizza is a perishable foodstuff.
Some foodstuffs are considered to be non-perishable. Unfortunately, not pizza. If it is left too long before you eat it, it could make you ill. Who wants to wait that long anyway?
But seriously, E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus are just some of the bacteria that can appear when pizza is left out too long, and if you eat contaminated pizza and you have a weak immune system, you could get seriously ill.
Signs that your leftover pizza has gone bad
If your leftover pizza doesn't smell right, it should be thrown away. Same too goes for when you see mold appear - don't eat it - chuck it out.