We all know that, as a method for transporting pizza, cardboard boxes just suck. If your pie’s got to travel for more than 20 minutes to reach its destination, then you’re likely to find out just how soggy those slices can get. When you place a hot pizza in a closed box, the steam creates moisture that gets trapped inside, resulting in wet, disappointing slices. But there’s a little tip I learned as a pizzamaker that’ll help ensure the structural integrity of your pie—it all comes down to how you order it.
Whenever you order a pizza for pickup or delivery, and you know it’ll be traveling for 20 minutes or longer before you eat it, specify that you want the pizza uncut.
As soon as the slicer hits your pizza, that pie is on borrowed time. All of the delicious sauce and cheese on top of a pizza contains moisture, and when the pizza is sliced, that moisture sinks down into the cuts and seeps underneath the bottom crust. The oil and sauce beneath the pizza will turn the once crisp bottom into a floppy mess. Couple that with the steam generated by the hot pie in transit and it’s pretty much game over.
By ordering the pizza uncut, you can remove at least one of the factors that contributes to sogginess. Some fast food pizza chains allow you to order uncut pies via their mobile apps or online; I’ve noticed Domino’s and Papa Johns both offer this option. Otherwise, you can request for the pizza to arrive uncut in the special instructions box of the online order form, or if you’re old fashioned like me, you can make this request by ordering over the phone.
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While you wait for your pizza to arrive, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or have someone at home do it for you before you get back from picking it up). Assuming the pizza is at least somewhat tepid once it’s in your kitchen, simply toss the whole thing into the oven—still uncut—and let it heat up for a few minutes, until you see the cheese bubbling. Remove from the oven immediately, and do not walk away, as it’ll be ready as soon as it cools down just slightly. This approach will crisp up your pizza like a charm. From there, you can slice it yourself and enjoy.
Depending on your oven, you might want to tweak that temperature a bit, but all you’re aiming to do is let that steamy moisture bake off while reheating the toppings.
There are some potential drawbacks to this method, however, which mostly depend on the style of pizza you’ve ordered. Most pizzas will fare just fine with this reheating method, but any pizzas that involve a naturally soft and bready crust, such as Neapolitan-style, tend to get a little crispier in the reheating process, which you might not want.
We celebrate Neapolitan-style pizzas for their suppleness; they’re also the pizzas that travel the worst, since they’re typically topped with a thin tomato sauce (which is very wet) and fresh mozzarella (also very wet). But most delivery pizzas from the largest chains, when ordered uncut, spring back to life pretty quickly with a brief blast of heat.
Ordering a pizza for delivery shouldn’t mean you’re resigning yourself to an inferior product. With the above tips, you’ll be enjoying a fresh pizza straight out of the oven—it’s just that, in this case, the oven happens to be your own.