Pizza is an all-time favorite, and nothing can beat the taste of a fresh, hot, and gooey pizza straight out of the oven. However, if you have some leftover pizza in the fridge, a cold hard soggy slice hardly sounds appealing.
The easiest and quickest way to reheat leftover pizza is probably by sliding the entire cardboard box into the oven. However, the question is, “is it safe to put a cardboard pizza box into the oven?” In this guide, we’ll give you all the answers you want about heating pizza in its box.
Is It Safe to Put the Pizza Box In the Oven?
Pizza boxes are designed to be inexpensive, lightweight for easy transportation and to keep the pizza warm. The box that your pizza comes in is typically made from thin corrugated cardboard where the layers of compressed cardboard are glued together and the box may have parchment paper lining the bottom.
The pizza boxes are usually decorated with colorful designs using inks, dyes, decals, and stickers. They may have chemical and other coatings and all these things make pizza boxes highly inflammable. At temperatures of around 400°F, there is a high risk of the materials of the pizza box catching fire, which can easily turn into a fire hazard.
When you heat the pizza along with the cardboard box, the anti-grease layer and the chemicals in the box also get heated up and disintegrate. The chemicals in the inks, plastic, and glues may melt and leach into the pizza, completely altering and ruining the taste and the pizza may even start smelling like a cardboard box.
And, when you ingest all these chemicals along with the pizza, it can be quite harmful to your health. Also, the cardboard used to make the pizza boxes is most likely to be recycled, using several chemicals and when superheated, they can become toxic and release harmful gasses. The chemicals used for printing on the cardboard boxes can also off-gas and release harmful fumes.
How to Heat Your Pizza Safely with the Box?
So, you might be wondering how to reheat your leftover pizza the best. If you insist on cooking the pizza in its box, even though it may not be the ideal way, you may put the pizza in the oven with the door closed and heat it there at a very low temperature.
To begin, preheat your oven at 240°F to 350°F for 5 to 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to between 170°F and 200°F and put the pizza and its box in the oven.
Check the pizza often throughout the approximately 10-15 minutes it will be in the oven. Remove it from the oven and serve it after the cheese starts to bubble and the edges begin to brown.
Even though the inks and chemicals may still contaminate the pizza even at low temperatures, this approach could still be the most effective if you need to reheat the pizza in the cardboard box. When employing this technique, just make sure the cardboard is free of any metal or plastic pins.
Is It Safe to Wrap the Cardboard Box in Foil and Put It In the Oven?
Often people ask whether it is safe to wrap the cardboard box in aluminum foil and then put it into the oven to reheat the pizza. Well, this method is as unsafe as heating a bare cardboard box in the oven because although the aluminum foil is not flammable itself, it will not prevent the box from burning.
In fact, it can be even more dangerous putting the box wrapped in foil into the oven because the cardboard will start smoking at high temperatures and can result in a blaze.
Can You Heat Frozen Pizzas in Cardboards in the Oven?
Even the cardboard used for packaging frozen pizzas contain chemicals, inks, etc. The cardboard essentially protects the pizza and prevents it from getting damaged. It also helps you to move the pizza on and off the cooking rack.
The cardboard in which frozen pizzas are packed has the same limitations as the boxes in which pizza is delivered and so, it is not a good idea to heat frozen pizzas in the cardboard boxes too.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Put a Pizza Box In the Oven
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t heat pizza along with the cardboard box in the oven:
Putting the pizza in the cardboard box can cause it to cook unevenly because of irregular heating and the pizza may end up being undercooked or overcooked. And, since you will not be able to see the pizza when it is cooking, it may end up getting burned.
Can Be a Fire Hazard
Pizza boxes contain plastic, metal, grease, and other flammable materials. Аt high temperatures, they can catch fire, causing injuries and even damage your property.
Alters the Taste
The cardboard containing the pizza has chemicals and inks that, when heated, can seep into the pizza and alter its taste, causing it to taste bitter or metallic.
Maybe a Health Hazard
When exposed to high temperatures, the chemicals in the pizza box can melt and leach into the pizza, and ingesting these chemicals can cause health problems and even cancer in the long run.
Safer Alternatives for Heating Pizza
If you want to reheat your pizza, here are some other better and safer alternatives to heating the pizza in the oven along with the cardboard box:
Directly on the Rack
If you want to keep the pizza warm until later, then you can simply place the pizza on the oven rack directly and turn on the oven, with a setting to a low temperature to keep the pizza warm.
Whether baking a fresh pizza or simply reheating one, using a baking sheet or a cookie sheet is a good option. A baking or cookie sheet can withstand the oven’s high temperatures and allows uniform distribution of heat across the surface.
Spraying the sheet with some cooking spray or oil before placing the pizza on it can prevent the pizza from sticking.
Aluminum foil is a good option to heat your pizza. Whatever the oven temperature is, aluminum foil is not flammable and so is a much safer option than heating the pizza in the cardboard box. Further, the aluminum foil traps and retains heat for a longer time and so using this method to heat the pizza keeps the pizza hot for over 3 hours.
To heat pizza in aluminum foil, preheat the oven for around 10 minutes to 400°F. Then, remove the pizza from the cardboard box and place it on the aluminum foil. Arrange the slices, so there is sufficient space between them and wrap the foil. Set the aluminum foil on the oven rack and heat.
The benefits of the aluminum foil method are that foil is easily accessible and cheap. The only drawback of this method is that it may cause your pizza to dry out; however, this will not alter the taste of the pizza.
Related: Parchment Paper Vs Foil: Which Is Better?
A pizza stone is a flat slab of stone or ceramic that is a perfect way to heat your pizza. The pizza stone absorbs the heat and transfers it to the pizza, heating it uniformly. Simply place the stone in the oven and preheat at 200°F for around 30 minutes. The pizza stone retains heat for a long time and so it is recommended to place the pizza on the stone in the oven with the heat turned off.
The porosity of the pizza stone ensures that the pizza is uniformly heated without turning soggy. This method is very safe and better than using aluminum foil because not only does the pizza stone require less heat compared to the foil, but it can also be reused many times compared to the aluminum foil.
However, the disadvantages of a pizza stone are that it is more expensive and takes a lot longer to get heated up than aluminum foil. Further, since the pizza stone is made of stone or ceramic, it is prone to breakage.
In conclusion, cardboard pizza boxes are designed to transport the pizza to your home and keep it warm for a short time. However, if the pizza has become cold and requires reheating, it is highly recommended not to put the pizza box in the oven because of all the drawbacks that we have discussed earlier.
There are plenty of other methods of heating the pizza, including using a pizza stone, aluminum foil, baking sheet, skillet, microwave, casserole, or air fryer. All these methods are safer, better, and healthier than heating pizza in its cardboard box.
Further Reading: How to Build Your Own Pizza Oven