Microwaves make warming food up in a hurry very easy, but they don’t always give you the best results if you want the food to seem freshly cooked. While microwaves have their advantages, some foods like pizza are better off warmed up in a different manner. There’s nothing wrong with using the microwave if you just want a warm slice, but be aware of the pitfalls.
There’s Too Much Moisture in the Microwave
Warmed-up pizza from the microwave tends to be soggy. The crust is limp, and you don’t get that nice, solid “mouth-feel” that you would with a non-soggy crust. This is because microwave heat concentrates on water, rather than on solid food particles.
There’s Still Water in That Pizza
Both microwave and regular ovens provide heat to cook the food you put in them, but the microwave oven specifically focuses on the water in the food. The pizza you put in the oven might look dry, but there are water molecules throughout the slice. The water heats up, cooking the food. But the water also evaporates if it becomes hotter than the boiling point for your altitude.
The Pizza Gets a Steam Bath
Evaporated water, of course, is steam. Microwave ovens are sealed nice and tight so microwave radiation doesn’t leak out — but that also means steam can’t leak out, either. So, the steam hangs out right next to the food, making it soggy.
Parchment Won’t Provide Protection
You’ll no doubt hear of solutions like placing the pizza on a sheet of parchment paper. Yet this doesn’t protect the pizza from steam. Parchment paper is moisture-resistant and won’t absorb all the extra water — it might absorb some, but not all of it.
The Stovetop Is a Solution
Pizza is better off being reheated either in a skillet or on a griddle, covered, and at a medium-low setting — the exact temperature or setting will depend on your stove. Keeping the temperature below the boiling point prevents all of the water in the food from boiling and forming steam. You’ll still get some, but the lid or cover on the griddle won’t be airtight, allowing better circulation.
Food Safety Rules Still Hold
Do remember that water boils at lower temperatures as your elevation increases. This means that if you’re doing this in a town that’s at 3,000 or 4,000 feet, you’ll be reheating the pizza at a lower temperature. That can lead to food safety issues, so be sure you’re cooking long enough to get the pizza to over 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, you will need to check it with a food thermometer.
Regular Ovens Are an Option
Note that using a regular oven can be a little better than using a microwave. The pizza won’t be soggy, but it will be cooked more, so it will be drier. However, it often turns out too dry for people’s tastes.
Microwave Speed Can Be an Issue
Microwaves pose two more problems when it comes to reheating pizza. One is the time it takes — microwaves are much faster than skillets or regular ovens, and that means the food won’t be warmer than 165 degrees for very long. It will start to cool as soon as you take it out of the microwave, and the Chicago Tribune advises letting the pizza sit in the steamy microwave for at least two minutes after the timer goes off.
Reheating Vegetable Toppings Can Be Alarming
Another issue is that certain foods can spark in the microwave. Vegetables that contain a lot of minerals, like the bell peppers you so often have as a pizza topping, act like they’re dotted with metal. The sparks, or arcing, can be scary, but your pizza will be OK. You just don’t want the sparks to happen too often because they can damage your microwave.
Microwaves Aren’t the Worst for Pizza, but You Can Do Better
So microwave away if you don’t mind how the crust will turn out. And, of course, eat the slice cold if you prefer. But if you want pizza that’s a little more like what you brought home from a pizzeria, look to kitchen tools other than the microwave.