You may have some leftover pizza in your refrigerator but don’t want another cold crusty pizza slice if you can wait just a bit.
This time with a little patience, you’d like to restore your pizza’s flavor to what it tasted like when it was a freshly baked pie, at least as much as possible. So how to reheat pizza? Which way to reheat pizza works best?
There are several popular methods used for reheating pizza, some more well-known than others and some that are just not good.
We’ll explore five methods to reheat pizza and let you know what we found out in doing it because knowing how to reheat pizza can save your taste buds from the very muted flavor of cold pizza.
Microwaving cold pizza might be the easiest path to take since it’s fast and almost effortless.
It seems to make sense to use a microwave to reheat pizza since that’s one of a microwave’s basic jobs.
Some like reheating pizza in the microwave with a glass of water or with a microwave-safe mug placed inside the microwave to give the microwave something else to do besides sucking the taste out of your slice of pizza.
Microwaves work by exciting the water, sugar, and fat molecules in food to heat them up, but standard microwaves don’t work well with dense objects like pizza crust, the microwaves don’t go that deep. The water molecules in the crust get “steamed” as they heat up and, depending on how long you heat them, leave your crust soggy, your cheese broken and generally unsatisfying result.
If you keep heating with the microwave, the water heated to steam evaporates and you’re left with the fry remnants of what was.
Some swear that adding a damp paper towel on top of the pizza or under it on a plate will help to fix this problem and you might try it if a microwave is your only option. Try microwave heating in short bursts, until your slice of pizza is just warm enough for you, because the longer you microwave, the worse it gets.
Our microwave reheating pizza experience was not good even with a glass of water thrown in. The pizza was a mush up of hot-cold soft-hard textured pizza that would have been better left cold.
Bottom line: microwave pizza should not be your first choice, read on.
Air fryers are theoretically designed to crisp and should also work well to reheat leftover pizza.
An air fryer uses heated air to crisp food instead of oil and so an air fryer is considered to be a healthier cooking way of crisping food.
One issue with air fryers though is their small size. Some are too small to fit even one slice of pizza, and definitely tough to fit two. Another issue may be that the crisp that the air fryer brings to your pizza may not be where you want it. Instead of just a crisp crust, you may end up with a crisp slice of pizza.
Our air fryer tightly fit a slice of pizza inside it. We liked how it came out but its taste was.
Our verdict: As a way to reheat pizza, an air fryer will work, but if you can use some of the other methods that we describe below, use them instead.
A lot of pizza connoisseurs swear this skillet method. They take a nonstick pan or cast iron skillet to reheat your cold pizza directly in the pan or skillet.
This skillet method may or may not be one that would come to mind, but it’s definitely straightforward with a little bit of technique required in the end.
Another advantage of this method is that you don’t have to heat up your entire oven, just turn on a burner.
Start with one or two slices of cold pizza in your nonstick pan or cast iron pan on medium low heat, and heat your pizza until the crust is showing signs of smoke and is starting to warm. You’ll notice that the cheese and other toppings aren’t heating up in the same way as the bottom crust that is directly in the pan.
This is where the technique comes into play, you’ll need a lid or cover of some kind for your pan and a small amount of water (two drops).
Add the water to your pan and cover your pan with a pan lid or pot lid to trap your burner’s heat in the pan to heat the top of your pizza and remelt the cheese and cover until the cheese is melted.
Many consider this to be the best way to reheat pizza since it’s mostly simple and the pizza is mostly brought back to its original glory.
But others don’t want to have to master the extra step of covering the pan after adding a few drops of water.
We liked it and it worked well for us but it may not be your favorite method. If that’s you, keep reading to check out our other methods.
Our verdict: A hot pan (with a lid) is a great way to reheat pizza if you’re willing to take a small extra step.
Toaster ovens should also be a natural when thinking about how to reheat pizza. It’s basically a small oven, it’s simple to use and doesn’t require you to heat up your main oven.
The problem with this method depends on the size of your toaster oven. Some are too small to fit even the skinniest pizza slices inside them. Others are larger. Like the air fryer, you’ll be lucky to fit a single slice of pizza in most toaster ovens.
But with these size issues in mind, many consider the toaster oven to be the best way to reheat pizza. Starting with a cold slice, a toaster oven will heat evenly and in its relatively small space will do its job pretty quickly.
Our experience was really good, the slice was crispy where we wanted it to be and the toppings were evenly warmed, the cheese was melted and we liked it.
Our verdict: Toaster ovens work well to reheat pizza, but as long as your pizza slice fits inside!
Using your main oven for reheating leftover pizza is very simple, very straightforward, and may even have been the first method that comes to mind for many.
Many also consider just putting pizza in the oven to be the best way to reheat a slice of pizza or even an entire pizza. You have enough room with a typically sized 30-inch main oven.
That’s also the downside to this method. You’re firing up a cold oven to heat maybe one slice of pizza. Some might think it’s a waste of energy and others may just not want to have a hot oven contributing to the heat of a hot day.
But this method definitely works.
In addition to your oven, use a baking sheet, preferably a rimmed baking sheet to keep any melting toppings in the baking tray or baking sheet and not on the bottom of your oven. You can also use aluminum foil to keep your sheet pan or baking sheet clean.
Then put your pizza slice, sliced or whole pie (again you should have the room) with your aluminum foil covered tray on the middle rack of your oven and start the oven on medium low heat up to medium heat.
Reheat or bake your pizza in the oven until you can it starts to give off that same aroma it had when you picked it up freshly made from your favorite pizzeria.
Then, you can use your oven to make your pizza crispy but not too crispy by moving (careful to use oven mits on the hot tray or sheet) it to the highest oven rack and turning up the heat to between medium high and broil, depending on your oven and how crispy you want your pizza to be. It would only take a few minutes. One way to tell is to watch the cheese. When the cheese on your pizza is melted as you like it to be then it should probably come out.
You might want to use a paper towel to sop up any grease from the cheese, or not, your choice.
For many reheating pizza in the oven is the best way to restore a perfectly crispy crust to pizza since you have a lot of control with an oven with room inside, hot air surrounding your pizza, and can adjust how long you want to spend to reheat your pizza. Shorter time for a softer crust for example.
We loved using the oven to reheat pizza, it came out perfectly heated and crispy in the right places including the crust.
Our verdict: Using your oven to reheat pizza is a great method if you don’t mind turning on your main oven for what might just be one slice of pizza.
It all depends on your available appliances and how motivated you are in trying to restore your pizza to its original cheesy goodness.
If you’re willing to put in a small amount of effort, the oven method or the pan method works great and between the two, the pan method uses a lot less energy and heat in your kitchen.
Toaster ovens also work well but it’s going to be tough to fit more than one slice inside. If that’s all you want and it fits, then this may be the best method, super easy, and hardly any energy is required by you or your appliance.
Air fry is okay too, but the same issue arises with size and you may even have to jam your slice in to make it fit.
Finally, if all you have to reheat is a microwave, then go ahead and use it, but use it on manual mode and try it for a short time, 30 seconds, then see if it’s warm enough, if not another 15 seconds. Basically, keep your microwave heating time as short as possible!
Sabrina is our head writer and expert researcher. She spends countless hours of research on each topic or product she writes about. She also tests products and recipes when she can and is known as a kitchen appliance junkie who is always trying new gadgets. Plus, she's a fairly decent cook above all else!