The doorbell chimes and a hot, cheesy pizza lands in your hands—one of life’s simple pleasures. My love for pizza delivery runs deep. When I was growing up, my Italian parents weren’t much for eating out. Restaurants were reserved for special occasions as my mom, a fantastic cook, cooked dinner every night. However, there was an exception: On Friday nights, if my mom had a tiring week at work, my sister and I could convince her to order pizza. Along with an icy Coke, it was the highlight of my week.
The only thing better than Friday night was Saturday afternoon. That’s when I remember there were a few left over slices. But after a night in the fridge, the pizza transforms into something far from the original. While quick, microwaved pizza is a no-go—rubbery crust and uneven cheese melt are a nonstarter. So I researched how to heat the perfect slice, testing tried-and-true techniques from professionals and turning to TikTok trends for some innovation. Out of the four methods I tried, there was one clear winner.
I headed to F&F Pizzeria to find out how some genuine Pizza Heads, Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo, reheat pizza. For the Franks, the toaster oven is the method of choice and a convenient way to get the job done. It’s just a few buttons, a tray perfectly sized for one slice, and a nice little window to stare through while your cheese begins to bubble before your hungry eyes.
No fanfare: Turn on the toaster oven to 325°; set on the bake function. Throw a cold slice on that little tray and it’ll wake up with a uniform melted cheese and a crispy crust. The crust is a touch crisper than the original, but I’m not mad at it. That extra crunch when you bite into the rim can be pretty satisfying.
Moving on, I tried my mother’s method. We didn’t have a toaster oven growing up, so she would turn on the oven to heat up the extra slices. I upgraded her method based on a few tips from Falcinelli and Castronovo. The oven is a fine choice but, again, low and slow: 325° on the heat, and unlike my mother, they advised me to place the slices on a wire rack. I was intrigued. Would the airflow under the slice make a difference? It sure did, creating an almost identical result to the toaster oven. The slice was expertly heated, and I believe the wire rack helped preserve the bottom crust. A few cons: The oven takes much longer to preheat than the toaster, and heating the big old oven seemed a bit wasteful for one slice. But if you’re reheating more than one slice, this method is ideal. (If you’re concerned about cheese melting and falling onto the oven floor, place a tray on the rack below the pizza. But baking it directly on the wire rack is key to a crispy crust.)
Next I tested a method I’ve heard many pizzaiolos swear by: the cast-iron skillet. The skillet is heated, the slice is placed in, and then a few drops of water are carefully drizzled around the slice before covering. This method has some drawbacks: There is more room for error, and many people don’t own a cast-iron skillet. If you do, add the pizza slice to a dry, hot pan, and carefully add water—figure a scant 1 tsp.—just to create some steam. Make sure the water doesn’t hit the slice; if it does, the pizza will stick, and you’ll be scraping the crust off the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan, then cook until the pizza is melted. The final result is excellent when executed just right, but for the average pizza eater, this method requires a bit of practice and effort.
Finally, I resorted to TikTok for any wacky ways to heat up my slice. Its suggestion: the waffle iron. This method only works if you have two slices. (Please do not try this with one, as it will be an awful, impossible-to-clean mess.) Heat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Sandwich two slices, cheese side in. Reheat until crisp on the outside and melty on the inside, and a pizza panini is born. I have mixed feelings about the results. It did, indeed, heat the pizza slices—but it felt like a different meal. Part pizza, part sandwich, ultimately, I was no longer eating a slice. So this could not be declared the winner.
The good news is that every method here works. You will get a nice, hot pizza slice with minimum effort and in less than 10 minutes.
The verdict: I have to give it to the trusty toaster oven. Small and efficient, the toaster oven heated my slice in less than five minutes. I didn’t need to use fancy equipment, and the margin for error was almost zero. While nothing will ever match the feeling or sentiment of a steaming hot pie with a cold beer or soda after a long week, there is something to say for that reheated Saturday slice. If done right, it just hits differently.