Food

The Best Way to Eat Next-Day Pizza

Skillet pizza

One of the best parts of living in New York is having 24/7 access to pizza. I live near a pizza spot that boasts a three-hour wait most nights, so despite my best efforts to buddy up to the owner during off-hours, I’m still usually relegated to takeout. The upside? Pizza for breakfast the next morning. The magic of the fresh-out-of-the-oven piece is often lost the next day, but I recently learned a trick that revives even the soggiest slices…

Reheat with a skillet!

Gone are the days of gloppy, microwaved slices and dried out pies that fall victim to too much heat in the oven. Reheating pizza on the stove, preferably in a non-stick or cast-iron skillet, preserves the flavor without sacrificing the texture. It warms the slice evenly, and takes less than five minutes.

Here’s how it’s done…

Heat a non-stick skillet over low to medium heat. Place cold pizza in the pan, and heat for two minutes, or until the crust is crispy. Cover the slice with a lid for one minute, allowing the cheese to fully melt. If you want to really go for it, add a quick squeeze of lemon to wake up the flavors (Mark Bittman swears by this, too), and devour while watching TV reruns.

What’s your go-to way to eat leftover pizza? In the oven? Straight from the fridge? State your case!

P.S. Trader Joe’s meal hacks, an easy way to make new friends, and pizza math.

(Photo by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo.)

  1. durrell hillis says...

    if you have a steam/convection oven (such as Wolf), just use the reheat cycle which steams and then uses convection to finish.

  2. Tony N says...

    Microwave and a beer. Weekends ONLY!

  3. Kim says...

    Sorry but the air fryer is definitely the best way to reheat a pizza!

  4. Tracy says...

    I’m definitely commenting without even reading to see if someone said this, but Pizza in a toaster oven is the absolute best way to reheat. Sometimes it’s even better than fresh! I believe it’s better than cast iron too! :-P

  5. Megan says...

    Eat it cold with ranch on the side for dipping.

  6. Katie says...

    Years ago I read a hack in Cooks Illustrated that I swear by, though it takes 30 minutes (!). Put the pizza on a cold cookie sheet in a cold oven, turn the oven on to 250 for 30 minutes. You get melty cheese and a crispy crust, too!
    I’m gonna try your trick though, Franny. 27 minutes shorter seems worth a shot!

  7. This is what I used to do, before I got a steam oven. My life has officially changed forever. Old pizza comes out of that steam oven like it was freshly baked! Never going back.

    • Katie says...

      Adrianna, my oven is a steam oven but i don’t know how to use that feature! Tell me your ways.

  8. Julie says...

    Would love a post with winter books from Caroline!!! :) I have Inheritance on hold at the library!

  9. Nina says...

    I always add a tiny bit of water for steam and to make the crust not so dry – it still crisps up with the heat so don’t add too much water…

  10. Tami Biedermann says...

    For me it’s two slices up side down (like a sandwich) in the toaster/grill, sooooo gooood, like a calzone/pizza toasted 😋❤

  11. Carrie Jones says...

    This is what I do! Except I microwave for maybe 20 seconds and then throw it in a hot pan

  12. Hannah says...

    I totally agree with using a pan but we are the “anti non-stick” types and prefer to use our cast iron. The super plus side of cast iron is that there’s usually some great residual flavors from yesterday’s meal like bacon or carmelized onion. 👍🏻

    • Holly says...

      Yessssss!!!! I thought I was the only one who knew about this trick :)

  13. Courtney says...

    My husband puts leftover pizza slices in the toaster. The toaster.

    • LM says...

      Wise man- toaster is the only way to do it!

  14. Lena says...

    Perfect timing! Lunch is in 5 minutes and I have leftover pizza from yesterday in the fridge. Yum yum yum. Thanks!

  15. Kate says...

    I remember COJ including a link to a post that shared a similar method years ago and I have carried that game changing advice with me. I almost prefer pizza the next day now!

  16. Tracey says...

    Two slices, face to face make an excellent office calzone for workplaces with flat plate sandwich grills.

  17. Have you tried reheated pizza in an airfryer? It’s a game changer!

  18. eliot says...

    The best way to eat next-day pizza: straight out of the fridge. Cold pizza is a perfect food.

  19. Melissa says...

    Toaster oven on a tray all the way. Crispy crust and melty cheese, super efficient and quick.

  20. I typically stick in the microwave, but warming on a skillet sounds like a way better idea! As I like my crust crispy.

    Danni

  21. Ann says...

    Add good olive oil, too! Love this skillet tip!

  22. Jess says...

    Hands down the best way to eat pizza is to wrap leftover individual slices in foil and keep them in a jacket pocket (ideally in winter) to eat on a chairlift while skiing (mountain peaks at the end of long hikes also acceptable). Everyone is always so impressed- and bringing a spare to share and you’ll always make friends

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      DEFINTELY want to be your friend after reading this!! :)

    • Claire says...

      LOVE this idea.

  23. Kaitlin says...

    I freaking love pizza cold from the fridge. It is by far and away my favourite way to eat leftover pizza. However, a friend of mine expands on the skillet-reheat by making a plain omelette and then putting the pizza slice in the middle, reheating it through, and folding it across the pizza. Pizza omelette! Sounds like the perfect hangover food.

  24. Lauren Vaughn says...

    We discovered this during hurricane Sandy! We had a gas stove and could light it, heating up leftover pizza on a skillet. Sometimes I even prefer it to fresh!

  25. Caitlin says...

    oh man, LUCALI. I still dream about that pizza. I’ve lived in NYC for almost 5 years and I still think it’s the best pizza i’ve ever had, despite the 4 hour wait. Although my friend and I asked our waitress there what Beyonce ordered when she came (because, duh) and we got a very rude look in return. Oh well!

    • Alisa says...

      I, also, dream of the pizza I ate at Lucali’s. If it weren’t for the 3 hour wait, I would have gone back at least once more on my NYC visit.
      When I went, Beyonce wasn’t there, but Ed Sheeran was :)

    • Elena says...

      The Lucali in Miami does not have a four hour wait … the pizza is good, but my favorite thing from there is the artichoke hearts. $40 pizza is over-rated. 😬

  26. Jen says...

    Reheat in my convection toaster and then top with a fried egg. Best breakfast!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      YUM!!!!!

  27. Anna says...

    I also like heating it in the oven- it gets really crispy (and almost better than when it’s fresh from the box!)

  28. From a person who owns a chain of pizzerias, you are 100% correct about the proper way to reheat it. Sometimes we send people with leftovers, and my husband always out yells after them, “Dooooon’t microwave ittttttt!”

  29. Courtney says...

    This is making me laugh so hard! I thought this was just how pizza was always reheated; I didn’t realize it was a “trick”!

  30. Kim says...

    My husband is a serious pizza nerd. He’s been perfecting his dough recipe for two decades. So (of course) we always heat ours on our pizza stones in our oven.

  31. Jame Catlett says...

    Yes!! This works. I sometimes add a couple drops of water to the pan if it feels like it is already a little to dried out.

    • Deborah says...

      Agreed! I cover it after the drops of water are added so the steam can help melt the cheese.

  32. Marina Cerra says...

    Left over pizza and espresso is my favorite breakfast combo! I usually make sure we order enough that I have some left the next day :) I reheat the slices on a grill pan (mine is from ikea), taste better than the night before!

  33. Dienesa says...

    THANK YOU FOR THIS. Also, I am realy enjoying the comments on this post.

  34. This is such a great idea! So easy. I don’t know why I haven’t ever thought to do this!

  35. Heather says...

    This puts me in mind of one of my favorite SNL sketches, Melissa McCarthy applying for a loan to fund a business for eating leftover pizza: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU8prtJUwHk

    Also, just want to appreciate your referring to units of pizza as pies. I grew up in New York and still refer to them as such (i.e., “I’m going to order pizza. How many pies should I get?”) but my Massachusetts friends think it sounds hilarious, so I guess it’s a regionalism. Same thing when I talk about waiting on line (vs. in line) to get a movie ticket or whatever. (“What, are you dialing up your modem to get ONLINE? Hahahahaha”)

    • Rae says...

      Totally hilarious and ridiculous. I had a roommate from NY who referred to them as pies as well…I laughed every time. It sounds old-fashioned and goofy to me, and New Yorkers never sound old-fashioned or goofy. It’s the dissonance that makes it so funny!

    • Sara says...

      Wait, how else would you refer to them?? I grew up in Jersey, right outside NYC, so everyone I know refers to them as pies and I had no idea until this very second that this was a regional thing! I guess other people just say pizzas? Hmm.

  36. valerie says...

    I always end up burning the crust when I try this in the pan method, but PARCHMENT PAPER underneath for a little bit in a 400 degree oven has been a game changer for me – crust gets super crispy and I don’t have to babysit it.

  37. Marisa says...

    This is so timely! As I re-heated some leftover pizza in the microwave last week, I thought to myself, “I need to google a better option.” Presto. Thanks Franny (and my kids thank you too)!

  38. Jenny says...

    I do a slight variation on this. Put the pizza in a cold skillet, put the lid on, turn the heat to medium, then set a timer to 7 minutes. May need to cook a little more or less depending on the thickness of your slice.

    • lisa says...

      This is def how I do it. Start with a cold skillet medium heat only. 7 minutes. Perfect!

  39. Deanne says...

    This is how I reheat deep dish pizza, but for regular thin-crust, I start the slice cheese-side down in a cold pan and turn on the heat to medium. When the cheese starts crackling a bit (just a couple of minutes) I flip it over to crisp up the crust. That way the steam doesn’t soften the crispy crust while I’m heating the cheese, and the cheese gets a little extra browning on it too. I used to be solidly cold-pizza-leftovers-only, but my husband taught me this trick and it’s sooo good!

  40. Anu says...

    Mind. Blown.

  41. Emma says...

    Franny, I hate to be the mom here, but please reconsider saying exactly where you live. You never know who is online. Also, like any mom- feel free to ignore me!
    As for the pizza- totally co-sign this reheating method! I actually flip it cheese side a few seconds to get that delicious crunchy cheese you find sometimes on the best grilled cheeses.

    • T says...

      I just finished “You” on Netflix and I totally get your concerns!

    • Laura says...

      Agreed! I’m not a mom, but I was immediately concerned as well. Perhaps the sentence could read, “I live near a pizza spot…”

    • Joaquina says...

      Aww I think your advice is certainly warranted. There are way too many creeps and online sleuthing methods out there.

    • Himali says...

      Second that! Just about to complete ‘You’. Absolutely get it!
      Love, Himali

  42. Leigh says...

    We had a waiter at a local pizza place recommend putting two pieces together and cooking it in a panini press. Genius

  43. ErikaMC says...

    We don’t refrigerate our leftover pizza and leave it on the counter so it’s room temperature – that’s the best. Though in college when my roommates would refrigerate it I found that warmer it up in the oven was really good.

    • Hilary says...

      As someone overly concerned with food safety, ahhhhhhh!! Room temp for longer than 2 hours is germ city.

      Signed,
      Just recovering from a stomach bug and a total germaphobe

    • KJT says...

      OMG, that is not food safe!
      -signed,
      wife of a food safety expert

    • Rosie says...

      Hi Erikamc, me too! We are a strict no fridge, must leave the pizza out, family. Same with fried chicken! Actually all fried foods. Not once have we gotten sick. And I learned this from a family that was in the beef business and were very particular with everything else regarding food safety!
      And I do use the skillet method for reheating!

    • Kim says...

      That’s a really bad idea.

      “Cooked food sitting at room temperature is in what the USDA calls the “Danger Zone,” which is between 40°F and 140°F. In this range of temperatures, bacteria grows rapidly and the food can become unsafe to eat, so it should only be left out no more than two hours.”

      “I’ve never gotten sick” isn’t a great endorsement.

  44. Jenny says...

    This is the best way! A friend taught me this a few years ago and I love reheated pizza. I will def try the lemon trick thanks!!!

  45. Sasha L says...

    Speaking of pizza: Caesar pizza. Cheese pizza, too with copied romaine and Caesar dressing.b it’s absolutely amazing.

    Also, how is it living above a food place? Can you smell it? Is that just life in the city? When I used to work in a bakery, smelling like cake, cinnamon rolls and cookies was fun for about two days, and then I couldn’t stand it once I got off. It was like bar smell or something. Shower and fresh clothes after every shift.

    • Franny Eremin says...

      Ha! I actually love coming home to the smell — it’s just THAT good. I would eat their sauce with a spoon if they’d let me!

  46. Michelle says...

    I used my air fryer on the weekend and was amazed how quickly it warmed and crisped

  47. Jen H. says...

    Pizza, like fried chicken, is equally good both hot and cold.

    • t says...

      I cannot get behind cold fried chicken or cold pizza. At all.

    • Ashley says...

      I stand behind cold pizza, cold fried chicken AND cold Chinese takeout (specifically lo mein noodles)

  48. Michelle says...

    I used my air fryer on the weekend and was amazed how quickly it warmed and crisped

  49. Becky says...

    My father is from brooklyn. When I was a kid the best place to order from was not pizza hut or dominos but a true pizza parlor down the road from us. The slices were huge and floppy. My father would fold it over. It would puzzle me. It looked like half or less than what was really there! But I get it now. It’s like eating the double amount of awesomeness at one time. So the point is, i need to reheat so i can fold it over when I eat!

  50. Dawn Pearson says...

    I put mine in the toaster oven and “toast” like a piece of bread. Same results!

  51. Maggie Halloran says...

    YES to this life hack. My dad heating up our pizza this way is one of my favorite childhood memories. The first time he taught me this trick I was convinced he was pure genius! His must-do tip, which I still do today: sprinkle some oregano in the pan. It will stick to the bottom of that deliciously crusty pizza and wake up the flavors. Pure magic!

  52. C says...

    The best way to eat leftover pizza is cold, standing at your kitchen counter while still wearing pajamas first thing in the morning after dragging yourself out of bed, shuffling into the kitchen, opening your fridge and going “oooh, pizza!”

    • RLM says...

      Yes. Thank you. There is just something about the sanctity of cold pizza.

    • Kim says...

      Yes!

    • Stacy S says...

      100% yes! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good slice of freshly baked pizza too, but sometimes I crave cold pizza.

    • Ali says...

      I love cold leftover pizza even more than fresh out of the oven pizza. It’s what I missed eating the most while pregnant!

  53. Denise says...

    Cold pizza is gross so I love this idea. I’m definitely trying it next time there’s left over pizza about.

  54. I suddenly smell pizza in my office, but there is none…

  55. Em says...

    Tangentially related… who do I order pizza from in Los Angeles that gets close to that New York slice taste?

    • Alyssa says...

      Jon and Vinnys in Hollywood. It’s the closest thing to NY Pizza I’ve found in LA. Good luck!

    • DC says...

      Tomato Pie in Silver Lake is the best I’ve found here, and Pizza Boy in Glendale is pretty good, too!

    • Em says...

      Yay! Thanks, Alyssa and DC!

    • SK says...

      We recently tried Prime Pizza in Little Tokyo….Closest we’ve found to NYC style (and my husband is a NYC-raised pizza snob) for decent prices. They even have grandma style pie! He suggested his workplace order it for one of their lunches once and everyone went crazy for it!

  56. Becca says...

    Die-hard reheater over here — I actually use this method! If one of the slices is for my boyfriend, I’ll add an egg.

  57. Heather says...

    Pro tip from a mom of four: every Friday I make 3 pizzas and what we don’t eat for dinner goes in the fridge. The next day for lunch I put all the left over slices on a pan and stick it in the oven and set it to preheat. At 325 it’s crispy and gooey and the perfect temperature for my kids. My husband and I like it better at 350. While it’s preheating I slice up fruit and veggies. It’s the prefect quick lunch for a crowd with basically zero prep.

  58. Alex says...

    Toaster oven! Then you don’t have a pan to clean :)

    • Christi says...

      I was going to say the same! If you have a toaster oven, it’s my absolute favorite way to reheat pizza – was such a game-changer from the simultaneously soggy pizza and too-hard crust from microwave attempts!

  59. Caitlin says...

    I’m a fan of cold pizza generally, but when I do want to warm mine up I SWEAR BY placing a cup of water in the microwave with the slice. The water evaporates in the microwave and the moisture gets drawn into the crust so you don’t end up with the dreaded rock-hard or impossibly-chewy crust.

    Works every time!

  60. Kate says...

    Put an egg on it!

  61. Carolyn says...

    20 seconds in the microwave, then 5 minutes in the toaster oven. Not as good as the pan method, but the trade off is no pan to wash!

  62. Marcella says...

    So funny saw Lucali’s on the Munchies Pizza Show on youtube with Frank Pinello! I live in TX but my family’s fave place for pickup is owned by a New Jersey family and very legit. There’s also Grimaldi’s here but ya know… not like the original.

  63. Candace says...

    And now all I want for my mid-morning snack at my desk is some (non-existent) day-old, cold pizza from the fridge. That would really hit the spot right now! Brilliant re-heat tip, though :)

  64. Himali says...

    Cold, straight out of the fridge please! This is true especially for the run-of-a-mill brands like Domino’s, PizzaHut, Papa John’s. It must be eaten heated if its artisan.. am I a snob?
    Love,Himali

  65. Alison says...

    Will not be able to stop thinking about pizza until I acquire some now..

  66. Cold, cold, cold.
    Or room temperature, but that’s a maybe!

    • Lindsay says...

      AGREED! Cold pizza may be better than fresh, out of the oven za!

  67. Erin Ward says...

    Bonus: When the crust is crispy, add a few drops of water to the side of the pan before putting the lid on, the steam helps hydrate the cheese and make it gooey again. 😍

  68. KimW says...

    Will eat cold but heated is my favorite. Gooey cheese is a must.
    Living in Chicago where pizza is more like lasagna the oven is still going to be my go too…bit thick for stovetop IMO. The lid idea though is genius & should work. Will definitely try the lemon too

    That said I’m lucky to visit New York every summer for a couple of weeks & will definitely try with my favorite style of pizza in the world. Sorry Chicago.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, chicago deep dish is THE BEST!!!! #ginosforever

    • cgw says...

      My husband loves deep dish. I will eat it, because: pizza. But prefer thin crust as the ratio of filling to crust is correct. Deep dish not only has too much filling : crust, but eat a slice (if you can finish it) and I’m full. I don’t get to enjoy seconds right on the spot!

    • Katy says...

      A week or so after my first was born, a Gino’s East deep dish pizza was delivered to my door…to my door in Washington, DC! I used to live in Chicago, but had moved to DC. So my dear friend, still living in Chicago, knew this I could use some Chicago deep dish. So she arranged a special delivery, from Chicago to DC, to welcome my little one. I was the happiest momma on the block thanks to her!! #ginosforever

    • Annie says...

      I live in Chicago, but will argue against deep dish any day! Thin crust all the way! This is how we reheat pizza around here these days :) : https://www.instagram.com/p/BstqgjXhOuI/

    • Emily says...

      But have you tried Pequods????? #Chicagostyleforever

    • Hillary says...

      Pequod’s! Yes!!!! Best deep dish in the city.

  69. Amy says...

    But can we all talk about how the person who comes up with the perfect way to reheat french fries will likely become a billionaire, given a Nobel Prize and idolized like the god that they are?

    • Liz says...

      Haven’t tried it yet, but cooking genius julia turshen suggests putting leftover fries in your waffle iron! I feel like that has to be good.

    • Maeve says...

      OMG. YES.

    • Robin says...

      Indeed. Such a short life they have… sniff.

    • Shannon says...

      Two words- air fryer! It is a GAME CHANGER

    • Shannon says...

      Two words- air fryer! It is a game changer!

    • Jennifer Miller says...

      I toss in a little avocado oil add some salt & pepper (sometimes garlic powder) and put on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet on 350 for 5ish minutes? (just keep an eye)

    • Emily says...

      ACTUALLY!!!!!! THIS IS ALSO THE BEST WAY TO HEAT FRENCH FRIES!!!! Swear by it. (Really the best way to reheat everything…)

  70. Elisabeth says...

    What is “leftover pizza?”

    • Maclean Nash says...

      Baaahahahahah!

    • Sasha L says...

      😂

    • Isa says...

      Hahaha :)

    • Jane Cosner says...

      Excellent observation. I too would like to know what exactly that is!

    • Dienesa says...

      Hahahahaha

  71. Sarah says...

    Eat cold until crustline. Then microwave the crust in a paper towel for 10 seconds.

  72. Kara says...

    Pretty sure the best way is to just stuff it in my face directly out of the fridge. Who has time to dirty a skillet when cold leftover pizza is the whole reason I order it in the first place?

    • Betsy says...

      This, definitely this! Thanks for the good laugh!

  73. Hannah says...

    Yes, this is definitely the best way to reheat pizza. Now PLEASE share tips on the best time to go to Lucali’s. Was there probably 8 years ago and it was amazing but haven’t been back because of the line… the line!! All. the. time.

  74. jr says...

    cold out of the fridge with hot sauce (preferably frank’s) on it!

  75. TS says...

    The best way to eat pizza the next day is right out of the fridge, cold. Everyone knows this.

    • Jill says...

      HAHAHAHAHA!!! So. So. True.