It’s an inevitability, especially during a busy week, that you’ll simply not have the time, energy or interest to prepare a home-cooked meal. The burnout is real, which is why ordering pizza is always a welcome alternative. Not only do you get to nosh on its cheesy, saucy, carb-heavy goodness, but you’ll likely have leftovers to enjoy for days to come.
But not all leftover pizza is treated equally, leading to gooey, messy atrocities that are mere shells of their former wonderful selves. This isn’t to say cold pizza isn’t delicious on its own (and one of the best unofficial hangover cures), but if you’re looking to reheat a slice or two, there’s too much conflicting literature on what appliance works best. So we decided to put four methods to the ultimate test: the oven, an air fryer, the microwave and a frying pan on the stove.
Here are the results of our experiment:
The worst: Microwaving
It should come as no surprise that microwaving pizza was the worst option on this list. At only 40 seconds on high, our leftover slice turned into a bubbling, limp triangle with soggy crust and excess oil from the cheese and pepperoni. If you prefer this texture, then go for it, but we can imagine that most pizza connoisseurs will crave the crunchy to soft ratio from nights prior.
The just-OK: Baking in the oven
We wrapped our slice in aluminum foil and stuck it in the oven for five minutes at 450 F. While it certainly yielded a crispy outcome, we felt like it simply didn’t stack up to air frying or the stovetop, which actually tasted like brand new pizzas. It’s definitely an upgrade to microwaving, though, so don’t rule it out if the oven is turned on and you’re in a pinch.
The most consistent: Air frying
Is there anything an air fryer can’t do? Apparently not, especially when it comes to reheating pizza. You’ll need to adjust your cooking time and temperature based on your individual model, but our standard Cuisinart cooked up an old slice in five minutes at 350 F. The cheese also melted to perfection and the excess oil ran down the slice’s edges to be captured and accumulated by the shelf underneath the basket.
The beauty of using an air fryer is that many foods have very similar cooking times, so you can also toss in leftover wings, fries and even bacon to re-create an entire feast.
The best: Cooking in a pan on the stovetop
This may be the most labor-intensive of the lot (even though the instructions are easier than tying your shoes), but the pizza outcome was, bar none, the best of the bunch. TODAY Food actually tested this method years ago and it still holds up.
Simply place your slices in a nonstick frying pan (or cast-iron skillet) on medium-low heat for a couple of minutes until the bottom is golden-brown and crispy. Next, place two drops of water into the pan, away from the pizza. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan for a minute. The steam will help to melt the cheese uniformly.
Remove the pizza from the pan and voila: crunchy, chewy, gooey, cooked-to-perfection pizza that will taste like it was just delivered and not resurrected from your refrigerator.