I’m sharing Alex’s favorite technique for reheating pizza in a skillet because I haven’t seen this precise method mentioned elsewhere. This method produces more of a fried cheesy bread. Plus get tips on the best way to freeze leftover pizza.
Last weekend, I left Costco with an unexpected free pepperoni pizza. A customer called in a pizza order hours earlier and never collected. They gifted me the whole pizza because they couldn’t fulfill my single-slice order (I was the last customer at closing time).
We arrived home with this enormous pizza wondering how to reheat it.
What’s the best way to warm up pizza so it tastes fresh out of the oven? Not soggy like wet bread or dry like a cracker.
Luckily, Alex is no stranger to leftover pizza. He taught me his favorite method for reheating pizza.
Freezing pizza experiment
When I have leftover homemade pizza, there’s no need to freeze it because the leftovers rarely last more than 2 days. I refrigerate leftover homemade pizza in a container closed with an airtight lid. It’s good for 3-4 days according to the FDA.
TIP: Check out this post on how to make homemade pizza better.
However, when we order a whole pie from a pizzeria or take home a box of leftover pizza from an event, freezing the leftover pizza is necessary to avoid wastage. (After eating many slices, the idea of more pizza over the next 2 days is nauseating.)
Fortunately, freezing leftover pizza allows me to enjoy it whenever I want, be it a week or a month later.
Here are 3 conditions I tested to investigate the best way to freeze pizza:
- Pizza wrapped in foil
- Pizza stored in a sealed plastic bag
- Pizza wrapped in foil and sealed in a plastic bag
NOTE: You might notice nowhere in the list is “place the pizza in the freezer in its original cardboard box”. Not only would the giant pizza box not fit in my freezer, but the original box offers terrible protection against freezer burn. Freezer burn happens when food is “not tightly wrapped enabling water molecules to escape and seek a better location”, according to the Library of Congress (yes, it’s a funny source to quote for food info but their article is well explained with links to reputable sources).
My main concerns about freezing pizza are:
- How to avoid freezer burn which dries out the crust
- How to avoid absorbing other flavors in the freezer
- Ease of preparation
Based on my test, I observed that the method of wrapping the pizza in foil and storing it in the sealed plastic bag was the best at protecting the pizza. This method resulted in the least amount of ice crystals on the surface of the pizza.
While wrapping each slice in foil isn’t a big deal when you have 1-3 slices, it’s a pain for 12 slices.
What’s the better way to prepare multiple slices of pizza for freezing?
I put the slices in an airtight sealable plastic bag. However, this method delivered inconsistent results across the different slices of pizza.
Some smaller slices of pizza had as few ice crystals as the slice wrapped in foil and stored in a plastic bag. However, the larger slices of pizza had a lot more ice than the slice wrapped in foil alone.
My takeaway is that the plastic bag only method works when you have a lot of slices of pizza (easy prep). But these tips are helpful to keep your pizza fresher:
- Consume the frozen pizza as soon as possible because the longer the pizza is frozen for, the more freezer burnt it will get
- Reheat the larger slices of pizza first as they seem to collect more ice
- Push as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it
How to reheat pizza in a fry pan
Now you know how to freeze pizza, let’s learn how to reheat it.
I prefer reheating pizza in a skillet because it’s faster than baking it in the oven.
Reheating in the pan is the most effective way at delivering a crispy crust. It’s less cumbersome than getting out the grill or preheating the oven. And it heats the pizza evenly so you don’t end up with both burnt and cold spots.
This method works for both refrigerated pizza and frozen pizza.
NOTE: You don’t need to do anything special with frozen pizza when you reheat it using this method.
Best pan for reheating pizza
I prefer using my thick-bottomed nonstick pan. The thick pan ensures even heating. Although my pan has lost most of its nonstick coating, it’s still slippery enough to easily pick off any errant melted cheese (the cheese oozes grease as it melts, which reduces sticking).
You can use any nonstick pan. Just make sure you move the pizza around for even heating if it’s a thinner pan.
If you use a pan that’s not nonstick, like a cast-iron skillet, be careful about the cheese sticking to it when you flip over the pizza. You may want to add a drop of oil to help prevent the cheese from sticking.
TIP: Check out a related article on how to reheat food without a microwave.
How to reheat pizza
- Frying Pan
- 1 slice (1 ) pizza, frozen or refrigerated
- 1 teaspoon canola oil, optional and useful if your pan isn't nonstick
- Gather the ingredients.
- Place your pizza on the pan. Heat the pan on medium heat.
- When the pizza crust has softened and is beginning to get crispy, flip over the pizza. Depending on how slow your burner is to heat up and how thick your pan is, it might take 3-5 minutes to get to this point (maybe longer if you have multiple slices and they're frozen). I notice the pizza is ready to flip when the pan begins to get oily. It's oily because the fat is melting off the crust as the pizza heats up.
- Allow the pizza toppings to heat up in the hot pan. If you're using a thick pan, turn off the heat as the residual heat will continue warming up the cheese (and we want to avoid the risk of burning your pizza). If you're using a thinner pan or an induction cooktop, heat for 1-2 minutes. The pizza is ready when you see the cheese softens and begins to melt. You can see it in the photo where the cheese begins to ooze.
- Remove from the heat. Cut your pizza into thin strips if desired. Enjoy your reheated pizza!
How to reheat a lot of pizza
My skillet-reheat method is suitable for 1-3 slices of pizza depending on the size of your skillet. However, it’s impractical if you’re reheating a whole pizza. It would take a long time to reheat 1-3 slices at a time until the whole pizza is warmed up.
If you’re reheating more than 4 slices of pizza, I prefer using the oven.
Here is a good overview of how to reheat pizza in the oven according to Cook’s Illustrated.
There are many ideas about how to reheat pizza from the air fryer to the microwave to the toaster oven to the grill.
I’ve heard good things about reheating in a toaster oven because it’s similar to using a regular oven except it gets hot faster and it doesn’t overheat the kitchen.
Be careful with many other methods, especially the microwave and the air fryer. They appear to deliver lackluster results.
CONCLUSION: I recommend sticking to the skillet method for 1-3 slices of pizza and reheating in the oven for half or a whole pizza. If you don’t mind sacrificing your good pizza, feel free to experiment with the other methods. Otherwise, stick to the trustworthy techniques that we know work.