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Can You Put a Pizza Box in Oven? (A Pizza Chef Weighs In)

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As an employee for multiple pizza restaurants, I’ve made an enumerable number of pizzas. I’ve also been lucky enough to have taken home hundreds of free pizzas leftover at the end of the day, given away by the restaurant owners. I like cold pizza, but reheated is better. There’s one thing I learned from day one.

You should not put a pizza box in the oven to reheat your pizza. The cardboard box can catch on fire, especially if the oven is set at a high temperature. Additionally, the cardboard may release unwanted chemicals directly onto your pizza. 

In this article, I’ll be explaining the reasons why it’s a bad idea to put a pizza box into the oven in a bit more detail. I’ll also provide you with some alternative, much more efficient ways to heat up your leftover pizza.

Why Can’t You Put a Pizza Box in the Oven?

Pizza inside a cardboard box in front of a wooden heated pizza oven

You can’t put a pizza box in the oven because it can be hazardous. Cardboard pizza boxes are made for transporting the pie, not for reheating it. If placed in a hot oven, the cardboard box may catch on fire or start releasing chemicals that end up on the pizza’s surface. 

Flammable Materials and Dangerous Chemicals

Most pizza boxes are made of plain cardboard, a flammable material. They’re also often doused with chemicals. These chemicals can be transferred from the pizza box to the pizza itself when heated at high temperatures in the oven

Cardboard has an auto-ignition point of about 450°F (232°C). This level of flammability means that the material can quickly start a kitchen fire if placed into an oven that reaches this temperature. Even if the oven is set to a lower temperature, there’s still a possibility that a cardboard pizza box can catch on fire, which is why I’d urge you to avoid doing so at all costs. 

Most types of food packing, including pizza boxes, contain chemicals, specifically PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). They help make a material grease, stain, and water-resistant; however, they don’t break down naturally and have been linked to cancer and other similarly life-threatening diseases in humans. 

Additionally, most pizza shops will add their own store information and other designs directly onto the pizza boxes to make it easy to see where a pie is from. The printing ink used to add these designs is also not supposed to go into the oven or be heated to high temperatures. In addition to the inked designs, stickers are also sometimes adhered to most pizza boxes, which can also be flammable. 

Pizza Boxes Are Different From Frozen Pizza Discs

A common belief is that it’s ok to place a pizza box into the oven to reheat it since many frozen pizzas come seated on a cardboard disc that is intended to go directly into the oven. However, these frozen pizza discs are not made of the same type of cardboard as a pizza box. 

The frozen pizza discs are made out of cardboard, but they are coated with special chemicals specifically designed to go into a hot oven safely. These discs are essential to the cooking process and are engineered with that process in mind. 

However, even when it comes to frozen pizzas this isn’t always the case. Therefore, when cooking one, always read the directions carefully to see if the manufacturer intended the cardboard disc to go into the oven or not. 

How to Reheat a Pizza Properly? 

The best way to reheat a pizza properly is to warm it up in an oven using a pizza stone, baking sheet, or aluminum foil. Alternatively, if you only need to reheat one or two slices, you can use a microwave, a stovetop, or an airfryer.

For a comprehensive review of these four methods to reheat your pizza, check out this YouTube video from The Spruce Eats: 

Reheat in the Oven

Although the pizza box shouldn’t go into the oven, the equipment is actually an excellent way to reheat the pizza itself. Pizza that’s reheated in the oven is the closest thing you’ll get to a freshly-made pie, with that perfect crust and gooey cheese. 

You can reheat either an entire pizza or just a few slices using your oven. You’ll want to place it onto some kind of tray to ensure the cheese doesn’t melt onto the oven floor and create a mess (and a fire hazard!). Instead, place your pizza onto a: 

  • Sheet of aluminum foil 
  • Baking sheet 
  • Pizza stone 

Preheat the pan, tray, or stone in the oven before placing the pizza on top for an extra-crispy result. Keep in mind that the pre-heating will add a few minutes to your overall cooking time, especially if using a pizza stone, which can take a bit longer to warm up. 

If you’re looking for a pizza stone, I Highly suggest this pizza stone (available on Amazon. It’s able to accommodate both square and round pies, meaning you can use it regardless of the pizza style produced by your local pizza parlor. In addition to reheating pizza, this stone can also be used in baking, as on it you can make perfect cookies, loaves of bread, and calzones. 

To reheat your pizza in the oven, follow the steps outlined below: 

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350°F (176.7°C). 
  2. Preheat your tray, pan, or stone in the oven for a crispier crust. 
  3. When the oven is warm (or your pan is heated), place your tray of pizza into the oven. 
  4. Bake the pizza for approximately ten minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
  5. Keep the pizza in for a few extra minutes if you’re looking for an extra-crispy crust. 
  6. Carefully remove the pizza and let it cool for a minute or two before transferring it to a plate. 

Using a regular-sized oven is an excellent choice if you’re warming up a whole pizza or multiple slices; however, it may not be the best solution for a single piece. You can use a toaster oven to warm up a single slice of pizza, following these same basic directions. The toaster oven will cook your single portion faster, and it should be hot and ready to eat in just three to four minutes. 

Reheat in the Microwave

Slice of pizza on a plate in the microwave oven

If you need to reheat pizza slices quickly, using the microwave will get the job done. However, microwave-reheated pizza may have a soggy texture with a hardened crust. 

Microwaves are able to reheat almost any type of food within minutes. They work differently from regular ovens, heating the food by rapidly moving its water molecules. While this can work well with items that have a consistent moisture level, it can result in an uneven cook for foods like pizza, which comprises ingredients of different textures and consistencies.

To avoid this problem, try adding an additional source of moisture into the microwave when reheating your pizza. This extra moisture will absorb some of the microwave’s, meaning the pizza can heat up more evenly across its entire surface. Always check to ensure that the plate and mug are microwave-safe before using them. 

To reheat your pizza in the microwave, follow the below steps: 

  1. Place the slice of pizza onto a microwave-safe plate. 
  2. Fill a microwave-safe cup or mug up with water. 
  3. Place both the plate and the mug into the microwave side-by-side. 
  4. Heat the microwave on high for 30-45 seconds. 
  5. Stop the microwave early if the cheese has fully melted. 
  6. Carefully remove the plate and mug from the microwave, taking extra care as they may still be hot. 

If you still want your reheated pizza slice to have a crispy crust, try taking it out of the microwave early and finishing the process on the stovetop (more on stovetop reheating below). This extra step will help get your pizza warmed up quickly but will reduce the chances of ending up with a soggy slice of pie. 

Microwaving your pizza leftovers isn’t the best way to achieve fresh pizza-shop quality, but it is one of the fastest and most straightforward ways to warm them up. It’s also a solution that works best with one to two slices of pizza; however, an entire pie is unlikely to fit into the microwave. 

Microwaves also avoid the need to turn on your oven, which can be vital if you’re trying to keep your kitchen cool on hot days. 

Reheat on the Stovetop

Reheating pizza on the stovetop is an excellent solution if you only have one or two slices you want to avoid turning on the oven for. Stovetop pizza will retain the crust’s crispness while thoroughly heating the pie and its toppings. 

You can use different kinds of pans to reheat pizza on the stovetop. Most people will already have a stainless steel skillet in their kitchen, making it a popular and easy choice. 

However, if you have a cast-iron skillet, this can be a better alternative to ensure a warm and toasty slice with perfectly melted cheese and a crisp crust. You’ll want to allow a little extra time if using a cast-iron pan as it will take slightly longer to heat up than its stainless steel cousin. 

If you’re looking for a cast-iron skillet, I highly recommend this cast iron skillet (available on Amazon). It includes a lid, which you’ll need to achieve the perfect stovetop slice. This skillet is both oven and grill-safe and can be used for: 

  • Frying 
  • Baking 
  • Grilling 
  • Broiling 
  • Braising 
  • Sautéing 

To reheat your pizza on the stove, follow these steps: 

  1. Start by heating the pan of choice over medium heat. 
  2. Once warm, add your pizza slices and cook uncovered for one to two minutes. 
  3. Move the pizza slices to the side and add a few drops of water directly to the pan; avoid getting the water on the pizza itself. 
  4. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for a few more minutes. 
  5. Once the cheese is melted, and the pizza slices are heated all the way through, carefully remove them from the pan. 

Reheat in the Air Fryer

Air fryer with an open door on a countertop

You can use your air fryer to reheat one or two slices of pizza quickly and without having to turn on your oven. The pizza will come out of the air frying basket with a crisp crust and perfectly melted cheese. 

Your air fryer will probably only have room for one to two slices of pizza. Follow the steps below to get perfect reheated pizza using your air fryer: 

  1. Start heating your air fryer to about 325°F (162.8°C) for a thin slice and 350°F (176.7°C) for a thicker slice. 
  2. If using a basket liner, place the liner into the air fryer basket. 
  3. Add your pizza slices to the basket. Make sure your slices do not overlap, as this can cause the pizza to reheat unevenly. 
  4. Place the basket into the air fryer and cook for three to four minutes. 
  5. Pull the basket out to see if the pizza has been wholly reheated. 
  6. If it’s not quite done, place the basket back into the air fryer and continue cooking for one to two minutes more. 

Since air fryers cook food quickly, keep a close eye during the cooking process, especially if heating pizza made with an exceptionally thin crust. Air fryers are designed to be opened occasionally during the cooking process, so you won’t lose any heat when checking on your food. 

If you are reheating large slices of pizza or want to make more than one slice at a time, you’ll probably have better success with a larger-sized air fryer, like this air fryer. The larger basket is perfect for pizza slices and can be easily cleaned using the top rack of your dishwasher. It also has a sleek look and an easy-to-read LED screen so you can easily keep an eye on the temperature and cooking time. 

Conclusion

Leftover pizza makes for an excellent, quick dinner choice. When reheating your pizza, you should not place the cardboard box it came with into the oven. The oven’s high temperatures can create a fire hazard and release toxic chemicals that will land on the pizza. 

Instead, reheat your pizza: 

  • In the oven
  • In the microwave
  • On the stovetop
  • Using an air fryer

For more, check out The 6 Cheapest Pizza Chains (With Price Chart).

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