Frozen pizza is the ultimate convenience food for an easy pizza fix. To make frozen pizza better, many wonder if you should thaw your frozen pizza or keep it frozen.
There’s no need to thaw your frozen pizza first as they are usually made to be baked from frozen to melt the cheese and brown the crust at the same time. It’s best to cook them this way unless the manufacturer recommends that you thaw them first.
If your pizza has already thawed then you should cook it as soon as possible, but you will need to shorten the time it spends in the oven. The manufacturer’s instructions may have timings.
In this guide, I weighed up the benefits of thawing pizza and whether you should use a pizza stone.
Cooking Pizza When Frozen Vs Thawed
A lot of design goes into frozen foods by food scientists who try to get the cooked product the best they can be at home. Frozen pizza is manufactured as a convenience food that is intended to be cooked straight from the freezer.
If you need any convincing, you will often see the words ‘For the best results, cook from frozen’ on the packet which pretty much speaks for itself.
It is possible to thaw a pizza and cook it on a hot pizza stone, but in my experience, the base comes out too crispy before the cheese and toppings have had time to brown fully.
My best steps are these:
Step 1 – Preheat your oven to the correct temperature by reading the instructions on the packet.
Step 2 – Place the unpackaged pizza on the oven rack or a cookie sheet – the specific pizza brand should advise the best option of the two as some brands can fall between the rack when it thaws.
Step 3 – Once the oven is at the desired temperature, put the pizza in and cook for the time recommended. Check that the crust has turned golden brown and the cheese is nicely melted.
Sometimes life happens and your pizza gets thawed out, so now what do you do?
What Happens If Your Frozen Pizza Thawed
The important thing is not to stick it back in the freezer. It’s usually never a good idea to re-freeze food that’s thawed out completely.
To understand what happens to a frozen pizza when it thaws, it helps to know a little about the manufacturing process. When the pizza is first put in the freezer at the factory, it absorbs moisture from the air as it freezes which forms ice crystals.
As it defrosts this ice will melt and make the pizza dough soggy, and the last thing anyone wants is a soggy pizza.
All is not lost though as there are a few things you can do with your thawed pizza, which is covered below.
When To Discard A Thawed Pizza
As long as the pizza hasn’t been left to thaw out on a warm countertop for too long, then it will likely still be safe to eat.
The USDA Food Safety guidelines recommend that perishable goods should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Basically, once the food begins to thaw and reaches a temperature of 40 °F, then any bacteria that could already be on the pizza can begin to rapidly multiply.
If you think that cooking it at a high temperature will make it safe, just remember that this will kill the bacteria, but some bacteria (such as staphylococcus and Bacillus cereusso) produce toxins that can still make you sick.
If you’re not sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry and just throw the pizza away.
However, if it’s only been out for a short while and has thawed just a little, then you can either put it in the fridge to continue defrosting or cook it straight away.
How To Cook A Frozen Pizza That Thawed Out
Check the box first to see if there are any instructions from the manufacturer on how to cook the pizza if it has thawed out as that’s the safest option.
Usually, thawed pizza should be cooked on a baking sheet otherwise the dough can fall through the oven rack as it has lost its structure.
If there are no instructions, then cook the pizza for around 5 minutes less than the ‘cook from frozen’ times. A good indication that it’s ready is that the cheese will be fully melted and the crust should be a light golden brown color.
Cooking Thawed Pizza At A High Temperature
As frozen pizzas are not particularly well known for their quality and flavor, it’s worth mentioning methods for improving the finished product by thawing them first and cooking them at a very high temperature.
The idea behind this is based on the way pizzas are cooked at a restaurant using fresh dough.
Pizzerias typically have their commercial ovens set at around 700-900 degrees Fahrenheit (380-500C) and this is part of the reason their pizzas taste so good.
Most ovens in use in home kitchens don’t go nearly as high, but if you set it to the maximum bake setting with a pizza stone and place your thawed product in the hot oven for 5 to 8 minutes, then you can get some great results.
Use a pizza stone or something similar if possible, but if you don’t have one of those, go straight on the oven rack.
Watch it like a hawk as it can go from lightly cooked to burnt very quickly at these sorts of temperatures. I find it can create a nice pizza but the crust does end up a little crispy for my liking.
How Long Will Defrosted Pizza Last In The Fridge?
If you defrost a pizza in the fridge it will last for 2-3 days before it starts to spoil.
However, it’s probably best to cook it as soon as possible once you’ve let it thaw, so just to be on the safe side you should use it within 24 hours. As always, following the manufacturer’s guidelines on this is always the better option.
Keep in mind that the frozen dough will go soggy once the water crystals melt on the surface. This makes it floppy and less manageable and may be hard to move around.
That rounds up my guide on whether you should thaw a frozen pizza before cooking.
Remember that frozen pizzas are made for convenience and are usually not as good or flavorful as fresh pizzas made at home. Ultimately the best way to cook them is always according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cooking from frozen on the oven rack produces optimal results usually.
However, if you’ve let yours thaw or are just feeling a little adventurous, try cooking it at a very high temperature for 5-8 minutes on a pizza stone, you may like the result.