By Chef Alli on May 26, 2021
Is there any family in America who doesn’t enjoy pizza night? I doubt it.
No matter which way you slice it, there are lots of pizza night choices, from takeout to homemade pizza.
Here are some of my tips for taking pizza night with the family to new heights:
1. You Need a Crispy Crust
Sometimes we get so focused on pizza toppings, we fail to remember how important the crust is.
For an over-the-top pizza experience, the bottom crust should be crispy and golden brown to enhance all those yummy ingredients on top.
2. Try Garlic Butter
Melt some butter, stirring in a bit of granulated garlic. Using a pastry brush, slather some of the garlic butter around the outer edge of the crust, then bake as usual. The crust will be extra crispy and flavorful.
Or use the garlic butter as a dipping sauce for leftover crusts. My family likes this option.
3. Use Your Lower Oven Rack
Because a crispy, golden-brown bottom crust is an essential, be sure to give your pizza adequate baking time on the lower oven rack.
I prefer to start my pizza baking in the lower third of the oven for half of the baking time, then I like to move it to the center oven rack to finish.
4. Preheat Your Pizza Pan
No matter what pizza pan you’re using, be sure it’s preheated before the pizza ever hits the pan.
When pizza touches a hot surface, it forces the bottom crust to proof a bit, giving the pizza a super crispy texture.
Using a nicely preheated cooking surface for pizza also helps it cook evenly and quickly, another pizza plus.
5. Try a Pizza Peel
If you’re cooking multiple pizzas on one or two pizza stones, a pizza peel makes the oven-to-counter transfer much quicker and easier.
Transferring pizzas to and from the oven via pizza peel ensures the hot stone is never removed from the oven.
And since the pizza stone stays nestled in the oven as you make transfers with the peel, the stone continues to stay hot for additional pizzas.
6. Seat Warmers Are for Pizza, Too
This tip is courtesy of my husband. To keep carry out pizza warm during the drive home, turn on the seat warmer and place your pizza there. The seat warmer will help keep your pizza toasty as you travel. A draped bath towel over the top also makes a great insulator.
7. Buckle Your Pizza Up
In the event of a sudden stop or swerve as you’re traveling home with a pizza, prevent disaster by securing the seatbelt around the pizza boxes. This travel tactic also works for slow cookers and large casserole dishes.
8. Put Your Pizza in the Cooler
Transporting carry-out pizza to feed a big group of friends? Use your cooler!
Many people don’t realize that insulated coolers keep foods hot like they keep foods cold.
If your cooler isn’t wide enough for the pizza boxes, turn your cooler on its side, opening the lid so it’s laying down flat.
Slide the pizza boxes in, stacking them on top of one another. Then, flip the lid up and secure it tightly, and leave the cooler on its side. It’s the perfect traveling hot box.
9. Try Pizza with Greens
I’ve heard that if pizza is topped with mixed greens or your favorite salad, you can eat all you want with zero guilt!
Toss your favorite greens with a tangy vinaigrette dressing; place the dressed greens on top of a hot pizza and dig in. Gooey cheese, charred crust and the acidic tang from the dressing is a match made in heaven.
10. Cook Pizza for One
Not everyone enjoys leftover pizza. If you’re cooking for one or two, slice the pizza before cooking, and toss what you don’t want into the freezer for later.
To make it easy, let the uncovered frozen pizza rest on the counter for 10 or 15 minutes, then slice what you’d like to eat with a pizza cutter.
11. Put Your Pizza in the Air Fryer
Pizza that is re-heated in the microwave is usually soggy and disappointing, right?
If you like leftover pizza, invest in an air fryer!
The best air fryers for reheating pizza have a rack instead of a basket. Lay out several slices, and you’ll have crispy pizza in minutes.
12. Cheese Pizza is Customizable
Can’t get your clan to agree on pizza toppings? Let basic cheese pizza save you.
Using cheese pizza as a base, everyone can customize their own slices. Everybody’s happy, it’s super easy and the problem is solved.
While the pizza is baking, cook all the meat and veggie toppings in a skillet. Pepperoni, Italian sausage crumbles, pineapple, olives, bell peppers, mushrooms and red onions are all good choices.
When the cheese pizza comes out of the oven, everyone can pile on their favorite toppings.
Here’s to many happy pizzeria moments at home!