Pizza has long been one of man’s best friends. Crispy, cheesy, melty, meaty — it’s a winning proposition all around. One of the beauties of pizza is how well it makes multiple meals. The ginormous 20-inch NY-style pepperoni pizza above (from the stupendous Fat Sully’s here in Denver) provided 5 delicious meals over the course of 4 days. How many other foods can do that for ya?
The real problem (if you can really call it a problem) is figuring out the best way to eat it after Day 1. There are of course those that believe that reheating pizza in any fashion constitutes true sacrilege — that one should always eat their leftovers cold. Certainly, cold pizza can be a delicious and easy option.
But sometimes you want something warm in your belly and wish to bring back the original flavors and get the hot grease flowing again. How should you go about doing so? Do you pop it in the microwave? Throw it on the grill? Luckily for you, we decided to test out the best ways to reheat your pizza. Our findings may surprise you (as they did me), and may in fact lead to a slice of pie that was even better than the original.
In the name of science!
How to Store Your Left Over Pizza
Your method of reheating is not the only factor in play as to how it will taste the next day(s); how you store your pizza in the fridge also matters. Most folks (including myself, before this article) just throw the box in the fridge and leave it at that. While acceptable, I learned that the best way to store pizza is to line a plate/tupperware with paper towels, then put on a layer of pizza, then cover with paper towels again, then wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap. This ensures ultimate freshness.
Method #1 — Microwave
Before writing this article, throwing the 'za in the microwave was my go-to method of reheating. It's by far the fastest and most convenient method, and it's all I ever really knew. So that's where I started in this experiment. Now, due to some preliminary research, I knew this wasn't going to be the best method, so I made some adjustments that I knew would make it better. If you're like me, you always just threw it in the microwave on full power for 30 or so seconds, and came away with a sort of wet, rubbery mess. But it was still pizza, and ultimately, still tasty. Any combination of cheese and meat and bread is going to be good, even if not excellent.
After some asking around, though, I discovered there was a better microwave method. First, keep the paper towel between the plate and the pizza. That will absorb some of the moisture. Then, change your microwave settings to be about 50% power. Instead of 30 seconds, go for a minute. A slow warm up is always better than an instant nuking when it comes to pizza.
The result: Even with improvements to the methodology, the pizza still came out sort of wet and rubbery. Especially when the pizza was really good to start with, microwaving it just doesn't do it justice. The crust on the end of my slice was so rubbery that I had to really yank on it with my teeth to eat it. The pizza was certainly still edible, but this method is not recommended unless you really only have a minute to reheat it and be on your way. If you must microwave it (say, at the office), have a paper towel handy and lower the microwave power.
Method #2 — Oven
Next up was the oven. I had seen a tip in a random forum (yes -- there are forums regarding the best ways to reheat pizza) from a man who swore to high heaven to cook the pizza for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. I followed suit, letting the oven preheat all the way before putting it directly on the rack.
The result: The 'za was warm, crispy, every bit as delicious as Day 1. In fact, it tasted almost exactly the same. For my money, I would have given it either a couple more minutes or a slightly higher temperature, but you can't go wrong with the oven. No rubber here, folks.
Method #3 — Grill
I was pretty excited about trying the grill. My wife makes a mean grilled pizza, so reheating some pie on the grill seemed quite natural. I set it to medium-high and let it warm up for a few minutes. I threw it right on the grate, no oil or anything, and let it cook for 6 minutes or so. I lifted the pizza to make sure the crust looked good (which it did), and made sure the cheese was bubbly on top (it was), and pulled it off to enjoy.
The result: Boy was this method a winner! The cheese was melty, but not rubbery. The pepperoni was crisp. The bottom crust had some awesome grill marks and the perfect amount of char. And the end crust was crunchy and delicious. On a nice day, this method is probably your best bet. The only downside is that while possible to do in poor weather (we are men, after all), it's not the most convenient or pleasant.
Method #4 — Skillet (The Best Way!)
I chose to do the skillet last because I had read in a few places that this was the best way to reheat pizza. I first put the skillet on the stovetop and let it preheat over medium for a few minutes. I threw the 'za on and then covered the pan -- this is a crucial step. Without covering it, you risk the toppings and cheese not being quite done/hot enough. If your skillet doesn't have a lid, throw some foil over it. Let it cook for 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.
The result: Mamma mia! Delizioso! The skillet pizza was, perhaps, even better than the original. The crust was even crispier, and the pepperoni too. It wasn't too much different from the grill in terms of taste, but for some reason it seemed a little better. Maybe the ingredients melded together in some magical way that wasn't present on the grill. We may never know. This method will also be far more convenient than the grill for most people. If you can, this is the way to reheat your pizza. To each their own, of course, but the skillet won out in my book.