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Can You Put Cardboard in the Oven? (And What to Do Instead)

Can You Put Cardboard in the Oven? (And What to Do Instead)

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In our house, pizza is a favorite Friday night meal for our family. It’s relatively cheap, incredibly convenient, and requires very little cleanup. I really don’t even need to mention the best part about pizza, which is that it’s simply delicious.

While takeout pizza shouldn’t require any heating in the oven, the same can’t be said for store-bought pizza. While we typically opt for take out, pizza purchased at the store usually costs less and is just so easy to whip up on a lazy evening.

As you’ve probably noticed, store-bought pizza almost always comes on a piece of cardboard. Many people, including us, use this cardboard to support the pizza as we put it in the oven, and some even use it to take it out and support the pizza while cutting it.

Surprising, others leave their pizza right on the cardboard while it bakes in the oven. Is this safe, and is it actually recommended? In this article, let’s find out whether or not you should bake your pizza on cardboard in the oven.

Is It Safe to Put Cardboard in the Oven?

While their are many claims of doing so, it is not safe to put cardboard in the oven. Cardboard is combustible, so it can potentially catch fire when heated to high temperatures for extended periods of time.

So, if cardboard shouldn’t be put in the oven, why are there so many claims of people safely doing it without issue? Well, there’s one good reason for this.

If you happen to put your pizza in the oven directly on a piece of cardboard, it’s not going to be in direct contact with a heating element. As the temperature rises in the oven, so does the risk for ignition.

However, it’s not going to catch fire as quickly as putting a piece of cardboard on an open flame.

Just keep in mind that for all the claims of people safely putting cardboard in the oven, you’ll find their counterparts that had a kitchen full of smoke and a few that even started a fire.

Again, while it might have turned out okay for some people, it is not recommended to put cardboard in your oven.

Even if it was safe from a fire-safety standpoint, there’s another point to consider. Many cardboard bases that ship with store-bought pizzas have an anti-grease layer on the top.

This layer is bound to contain some chemicals that you’re not going to want to have leaching into your pizza when it’s heated.

What Is the Purpose of the Cardboard Base in Pizza Packaging?

Frozen Margherita Pizza on Cardboard

If the cardboard that comes with a store-bought pizza isn’t safe to put in the oven, what’s its purpose? This one is pretty easy. It’s all about support.

When a pizza is shipped to the store, then purchased and brought home by you, it’s likely to get jostled around and experience some temperature fluctuations. The cardboard base simply helps to keep the crust and ingredients in place during its trip.

Once you get the pizza home, you might find it useful for supporting your pizza as you slide it into the oven or onto a cooking surface, such as a pizza stone.

Many people find yet another use for the cardboard by pulling the pizza out of the oven with it, then using it as a base to support a pizza cutter while cutting slices as well.

What to Use for Baking in the Oven Instead of Cardboard

Homemade pizza in oven on a pizza pan

While we’ve determined that it’s not a good idea to bake your pizza directly on the cardboard base that it came with, there are some better options to consider.

1 – Directly on the Rack

An option that’s often recommended on the pizza packaging itself is to simply bake your pizza directly on an oven rack. By baking your pizza on an oven rack, you’re allowing for better heating from the bottom, which should result in a crispier crust.

The main drawback with baking directly on the oven rack is that you’ll likely end up with some grease and possibly even some toppings falling off into your oven.

2 – On a Pizza Stone

As the name implies, a pizza stone provides an ideal surface for baking pizzas. Pizza stones are typically made of ceramic or stone and are known for providing an even heating surface and usually produce pizzas with a crispy crust.

The crispy crust is a result of the porous surface of the baking stone, which helps to remove some of the moisture from the bottom of the pizza dough.

3 – On a Pizza Pan

Another solid option for baking a pizza is to use a pizza pan. There are several styles of pans that are considered pizza pans, and each has different benefits and drawbacks. Most, but not all, pizza pans are round, which is ideal for a typical store-bought pizza.

If you get a pizza pan with a perforated bottom plate, your pizza crust should come out crispier, as it will get more direct heating from the bottom of the oven.

The perforated bottom also allows your pizza to bake more quickly, but does allow for some grease to potentially drip through, like when baking directly on the oven rack.

4 – On a Cookie Sheet

If you don’t want to spend the money on a pizza stone or pizza pan, you likely have something that will provide similar results, and that’s a cookie sheet. A cookie sheet provides a nice flat base for your pizza and should produce similar results to a pizza pan.

Just be aware that you likely won’t get quite as crispy of a crust with a cookie sheet as you would with a pizza stone or pizza pan.

5 – On Aluminum Foil

As I mentioned in another article, there are some potential safety concerns to consider when cooking with aluminum foil. However, for most of us, foil provides an easy and readily available option to use in place of the other methods mentioned above.

One of the biggest benefits of using aluminum foil is that you don’t have to clean it. After you’re done, simply crumple it up and throw it away.

Foil does come with a downside though, which is that it doesn’t provide much support, especially when it comes time to slice the pizza after it’s done.

How to Reheat Pizza Without Using the Cardboard

Fresh baked pizza

If your reason for wanting to heat your pizza right on the cardboard in your oven is that you want to warm up your leftovers from last night, there are better ways to get the job done. Let’s take a look at just a few of these options below.

1 – In the Oven

If you have the time, one of the best methods for reheating pizza is to put it back in the oven (using any of the methods mentioned above). The key to reheating pizza in the oven is to preheat it first, as this will help to produce a crispier crust.

When reheating in the oven, you can experiment with temperatures from 350 – 425 F with a baking time of about 5 minutes.

2 – On the Grill

If the weather is appropriate (or you’re one of those people that likes to grill in the winter), a fun way to reheat your pizza is to put it on the grill. The same basic steps should be followed as mentioned above when reheating in your oven. The results should be similar as well.

3 – In a Toaster Oven

If you don’t have an oven, or simply don’t want to bother heating the one you do have for one or two slices, a more convenient option is to reheat your pizza in a toaster oven.

Just like with the oven and grill reheating methods, simply preheat your toaster oven, then place a slice or two in there for a few minutes, until the cheese begins to melt.

4 – On the Stove

Another option for reheating your pizza is to heat it in a skillet on your stove. When using this method, make sure to heat that skillet first. Also, make sure to cover the pan to keep the heat in. Just cook until the cheese starts bubbling.

5 – In the Microwave

The microwave should be a last resort, but you can’t deny its convenience. When microwaving pizza, the crust will likely turn out a bit chewier than you’d like.

One simple trick to help with this is to put a piece of paper towel underneath your pizza, which will help to absorb some of the moisture. Also, make sure to lower the temperature of the microwave to between low and medium.

Your pizza should turn out fine, but don’t expect results as good as the other methods mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

Although it might be tempting (and even seem convenient) to use your pizza box to bake your pizza, it’s simply not safe to put cardboard in the oven. At temperatures above 400 F for prolonged periods, cardboard can potentially catch fire.

Instead of baking or reheating your pizza on cardboard, opt for a safer alternative, such as a pizza stone or even baking directly on the oven rack. Not only can you rest assured that you won’t start a fire, but your pizza is likely to turn out better as well.

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