Ordering a pepperoni pie for dinner is easy but what’s not easy is finding the best way to reheat pizza. It doesn’t matter how good of a cook you are or how much you love to entertain. 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. While a microwave is quick and easy, is it really the best method? Do you need to invest in a home-friendly pizza oven? Not quite. That said, we decided to put four basic home kitchen appliances to the ultimate test: the oven, an air fryer, the microwave and a frying pan on the stove to determine which works the best for reheating a few leftover slices of pizza. Some proved to be perfectly fine methods for reheating pizza but one clearly stood above the rest.
Here are the results of our delicious 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. Next time you want to reheat pizza, skip the microwave.
The just-OK: Baking in the oven
To reheat pizza in the oven, we wrapped our slice in aluminum foil and stuck it on a baking sheet 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 (more to come on those later), which actually tasted like brand new pizzas. It’s definitely an upgrade to microwaving pizza, 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 a day-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. Sure, it’s not the fastest method, but it’s one of the best.
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
Reheating day old pizza on the stovetop 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.com actually tested this method for reheating leftover pizza years ago and it still holds up.
Simply place a few slices in a nonstick frying pan, cast-iron or stainless steel skillet on medium 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.