Do You Thaw Frozen Pizza Before Cooking It?

Published Categorized as Cooking Tips
Cooked frozen pizzaresnick_joshua1 /Depositphotos

To thaw or not to thaw? That is the question! When in doubt, this post will help you figure out the answer.

Hectic weeknight? Good thing there’s frozen pizza in the freezer because that’s what we’re having for dinner with the family tonight! But do you have to defrost the pizzas before you put them in the oven?

Whichever way you look at it, it’s a good question. After all, many foods need to be thawed out to cook evenly. One can’t help but wonder if the same is true for pizza.

There’s no need to thaw frozen pizza before cooking it. Because these pies are thin, they can go straight from the freezer to the oven. As long as you preheat the oven long enough, you don’t have to worry about the middle not cooking through by the time the crust is brown.

So let’s talk about frozen pizza cooking techniques—and how to make sure your pies turn out tasting amazing.

Do You Defrost Frozen Pizza Before Cooking?

Generally speaking, you don’t have to defrost frozen pizza before cooking it. Almost all frozen pizzas are designed with the same cooking method in mind, and that cooking method is as follows:

Step 1: Set your oven to the temperature recommended in the instructions on the package and let it preheat for a good 10-15 minutes.

Step 2: Take the pizza out of the freezer, remove it from the box and dispose of the inner packaging. Place the pizza on a baking tray or a crisper pan and put it in the hot oven.

Step 3: Bake it for the cooking time in the instructions or until the cheese has melted and the crust has turned golden brown. It’s okay to peek through the window during that time, but don’t open the oven door as it will cause the temperature inside it to drop.

Step 4: Remove the ready pizza from the oven and let it rest for 3-4 minutes before slicing it and serving it on the table.

Frozen pizzas are a convenience food. So it’s important for them to be quick and easy to make, and manufacturers don’t expect everyone to have a microwave or be willing to thaw the pizza in the fridge for hours on end.

Just follow the steps below, and your pizza will turn out crispy and delicious every single time!

Related: How to Make Frozen Pizza Taste Better

However, it is always worth reading the box before you do this. Some manufacturers *do* recommend thawing their pizza before you cook it. If this is the case, it should say so on the box. Note that the pizza should still be perfectly safe to eat if you don’t do this, but it may not have the same mouthfeel.

Defer to the manufacturer’s instructions whenever you are cooking pizza, as this should give you the best results in terms of both taste and texture. (And yet, all frozen pizzas should be safe to cook from frozen.)

Why Don’t You Need to Thaw Frozen Pizza?

In most cases, you actually shouldn’t try to thaw frozen pizza, because this means that there will be a lot of water in your pizza when you come to cook it.

When pizza freezes, water is pulled out of the air and into the food in the form of ice, and this water will then defrost and make the pizza soggy if you leave the pizza to thaw on the counter. (Plus, it’s unsafe to thaw foods on the counter for longer than 1-2 hours, as it encourages bacterial growth.)

There is some disagreement about this, and it may vary from brand to brand. In some instances, it is possible that thawing could result in better-tasting pizza. But on the whole, not thawing is the better choice.

How Do You Thaw Frozen Pizza?

If you do want to thaw your pizza, it needs to be done properly. Otherwise, you could be exposing yourself to the risk of a bad stomach ache or worse, food poisoning. This is particularly true if your pizza contains meat, but even vegetarian and vegan pizzas need to be treated with care if you are going to defrost them.

Most foods need to be stored below 40°F (4°C) to slow the spread of bacteria. If you leave your pizza on the counter to thaw, you risk bacteria spreading through it. This can happen in as little as 2 hours, or 1 hour at above 90°F (32°C), and it will make it unsafe to eat.

Even if you then cook the pizza, if the bacteria have been in the food for long enough, they will leave toxins that could make you sick. Cooking does not remove these toxins, so it is important not to leave pizzas out.

You must therefore thaw pizzas in the fridge if you want to defrost them. Remove the packaging and place them on a plate or a tray in the freezer, and then leave them for a few hours. They will gradually defrost, and you can then cook them in the oven. Note that it may take several hours for them to have thawed.

What If You Don’t Thaw a Pizza When You Ought To?

If you don’t bother to thaw a pizza that says you should thaw it, you may need to adjust the cooking time if you want a properly cooked pizza. There is a risk that the center will still be frozen or chilled by the time the outside is done, and this isn’t particularly pleasant.

You can counteract this issue by slightly decreasing the oven’s heat and increasing the cooking time. This will mean that there is more time for the heat to be transferred to the center of the pizza, but the outside should not get burnt while this is happening.

You may find that the resulting pizza doesn’t taste quite as good as you hoped, but it should still be perfectly edible. However, do make sure that it is cooked through to the center so that it is enjoyable and there is no risk of bacteria lingering here. This is particularly important if it is a meat pizza.

Conclusion

You don’t have to defrost frozen pizza, although some brands recommend that you do so and it may result in more enjoyable pizza. If you are going to thaw a pizza, place it in the fridge to avoid the spread of bacteria.

By Jim Stonos

When Jim isn't in the kitchen, he is usually spending time with family and friends, and working with the HCW editorial team to answer the questions he used to ask himself back when he was learning the ropes of cooking.