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We tried waffle-ironing leftover pizza — here's what happened

Whatever you do, don't use deep-dish pizza.
/ Source: TODAY

One of the many benefits of living at my mom's house during a pandemic — besides often being provided with dinner at no extra cost — is easy access to lavish cooking amenities like blenders and waffle irons.

It’s this proximity to the latter that led to me being willingly assigned to try waffle-ironing leftover pizza with great aplomb.

Why, you ask? Because Lifehacker food editor Claire Lower, who runs the site's "Will It Waffle?" series, told us to.

First, I began with leftover frozen pizza — a thick-crust Costco brand. I put one piece on the iron face-up and then another face-down, directly on top — panini-style. I immediately realized that this would a) work better with thinner pizza and b) the likelihood of even heat distribution seemed slim.

Before and after waffling the frozen pizza.
Before and after waffling the frozen pizza.Samantha Kubota / TODAY

The pizza sort of slid to make the lid of the waffle iron close further, and then I also pressed down on it to more evenly distribute the heat.

The result was a smooshed pizza with a crispy crust. Honestly, it was edible, but the side that was farthest from the fulcrum wasn’t quite as warm as I’d wanted. I also could’ve flipped the pizza around and done a round two, but who has time for that?

The frozen pizza squished together nicely to make a little pizza waffle sandwich.
The frozen pizza squished together nicely to make a little pizza waffle sandwich.Samantha Kubota / TODAY

Overall, it worked well enough that I would consider doing it again.

Next, I decided to see if this would work on deep-dish pizza. Since I am currently in my hometown of Chicago, I happened to have some in my refrigerator.

I Googled this to see if it had been done, and after about 10 seconds of searching, determined it had not. But fear not, dear reader: I tried it, for science!

It didn’t work.

For starters, deep-dish pizza is ... deep. We’re talking 2+ inches deep. So layering two pieces the way I did with the frozen pizza was not an option. I sort of figured the cheese would crust up, plus there was a layer of tomato sauce on top (as is custom for many deep-dish places) guarding the cheese, but alas, the majority of the top cheese ended up on the waffle iron. Whoops.

The deep-dish pizza, before and after
The deep-dish pizza, before and afterSamantha Kubota / TODAY

The crust was really good, though, and it did heat more evenly due to the fact it was flatter and evenly distributed. So, you know, win some, lose some. Maybe spraying the waffle iron with cooking spray or using some sort of parchment paper on the top of the deep-dish would prevent this.

So, in summary, I’m not entirely sure my waffle iron will recover from the deep-dish, but the waffled regular pizza was pretty decent! The thinner the pizza crust, the better it will waffle-panini. That said, if you’re looking for pizza leftover uses besides just eating it as is, I’d definitely try putting it in scrambled eggs — it sounds weird, but it’s so good!