We’ve all been there—hungry at 2 am with nothing to eat but frozen pizza in the freezer. You unwrap the plastic, throw away the paper label, and are left scratching your head over the cardboard circle.
Improper use of cooking equipment can lead to more than mediocre food. The wrong decision can lead to a fire hazard that puts you and your home at risk. Whether you’re cooking something as simple as a frozen pizza or something more complex, it’s best to observe kitchen safety.
So can cardboard go in the oven? Read on to find out and learn other kitchen safety tips.
Can Cardboard Go in The Oven?
The short answer to this question is no. You should never put cardboard and other paper products in the oven. Doing so can lead to a serious fire hazard.
Famously, the author Ray Bradbury named his book Fahrenheit 451 after the combustion point of paper. In reality, paper products (including cardboard) catch fire between 424 and 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
So as long as you’re baking below 424 degrees, it’s safe to put cardboard in the oven, right? In fact, it’s not.
Factors like humidity, paper composition, and the specifics of your oven can all play a role. This means that making an accurate prediction about whether the cardboard will catch fire is impossible.
In short, it’s best to avoid putting cardboard in the oven altogether. Besides, it doesn’t offer any practical benefit.
Then What’s This Cardboard Circle in My Frozen Pizza for?
The fact that frozen pizzas come packaged with cardboard often makes people think it’s meant as a baking tray. However, this was never the manufacturer’s intention at all.
The main purpose behind this packaging material is to keep the pizza protected during shipping. Since most frozen pizza crusts are fragile when dropped or roughly handled, this is meant to keep them intact.
Some people also use them as serving trays or makeshift cutting boards for their frozen pizza after it’s cooked. As long as it doesn’t go inside the oven, using your cardboard circle in this way is considered safe.
Other Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Put Cardboard in the Oven
As you already know, putting cardboard in the oven can create a fire hazard in your home. However, this is not the only reason why it’s not safe to put cardboard in the oven. Take a look at some of these reasons if you need more convincing.
It Can Affect the Taste of Your Food
In the same way that plastic water bottles can change the taste of your beverage, cardboard can leach flavor into foods. While the paper itself may not have a strong flavor, the glue that binds it together certainly does. Cooking it, especially at high heat, can bring these unsavory flavors out.
It Makes for Soggy Food
This is especially true of pizza, which gets its crisp crust from contact with a hot cooking surface. Since cardboard is a poor conductor of heat, it will do almost nothing to get that sought-after texture.
It May Leach Chemicals
Generic cardboard generally doesn’t have any toxic chemicals that can cause serious health problems. However, some packaging materials may be coated in ink or other harmful substances. Heating these up in proximity to your food is never a good idea.
Other Things That Should Stay Out of Your Oven
Cardboard isn’t the only material that should stay away from your oven. To maximize kitchen safety, be sure to avoid these others as well.
Paper Towels and Plates
For the same reasons that cardboard isn’t oven-safe, you should keep other paper products away as well. Even though a paper plate or towel can be perfectly safe for serving hot food, they will catch fire in a hot oven. This applies to wax paper as well.
It’s easy to forget this one, especially if you are reheating leftovers. However, baking plastic can be the most dangerous of all.
The reason for this is because plastics release harmful gases when they are heated. They also melt, ultimately ruining your food and possibly your oven.
Oven mitts are designed to handle hot pans, even at temperatures as high as 500 degrees. However, they can only tolerate the heat for a few seconds. While they won’t catch fire as fast as paper, they run the same risk if left in an oven long enough.
You can use pyrex and other oven-safe glass in the oven without worry. However, most glass cups and dishes are not made for oven use. Trying to heat them to high temperatures will result in them cracking.
Alternatives to Putting Cardboard in the Oven
Luckily, there is a wide range of alternatives to putting cardboard in the oven. If you’re looking for an easy way to cook your next pizza, try one of these.
A Pizza Stone
The best way to get a perfectly crisp crust on your pizza is a pizza stone. Preheating it for a few minutes before cooking will create an authentic pizzeria-style sear during cooking. Plus, you don’t have to worry about any of the downsides of putting cardboard in the oven.
A Baking Sheet
You don’t have to splurge on a pizza stone to get a quality crust on your dinner. Try preheating a baking sheet instead. This works well for pizza crust as well as roast veggies.
Bake Right on the Rack
Sometimes the simplest solution is best. Whether you’re cooking pizza, large vegetables, or pieces of meat, you can place it directly on your rack. This will burn grill marks into your food, creating a bit of extra flavor.
Just don’t forget to put a pan underneath your food to catch any stray drips!
If you’re really stuck on using paper products in the oven, give parchment paper a try. It’s designed specifically for oven use and is both heat resistant and nonstick. Also, it’s especially useful for baked goods like cookies and biscuits.
If you’re just looking to reheat leftovers and want to skip the hassle, there’s nothing wrong with using your microwave oven. Unlike the oven, this appliance is perfectly compatible with cardboard and other paper products.
Proper Pizza Making Technique
Whether you’re making pizza from scratch or are simply reheating a frozen one, you should keep a few tips in mind. Of course, none of them include the use of cardboard!
Cook in a Hot Oven
Part of the reason why it’s never a good idea to cook pizza with cardboard is because of the high temperatures this dish requires. Temperatures of at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit are recommended. This way, you’ll be sure to get a perfectly crispy crust and browned cheese on top.
Don’t Load Up on Toppings
Even with frozen pizzas, adding a few extra olives or mushrooms from the fridge can be tempting. Feel free to express yourself, but be careful not to overdo it.
Putting too many toppings can result in excess moisture content. This means soggy crust and unmelted cheese, which nobody wants on their pizza.
When working with such high heat, it’s always a good idea to cook with caution. The best way to do this is to ensure you have the proper tools.
There are many ways to reheat a pizza without using cardboard, but let me tell you my favorite.
Take a cold slice from the fridge and place it in a cast iron pan over medium/high heat. Then, sprinkle a few drops of water in the pan and cover it with a lid for two minutes. Once you remove it, you’ll have nicely melted cheese and a crispy crust, ready to eat!
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now know the answer to the question, “Can cardboard go in the oven?” Learn more tips for staying safe in the kitchen with these frequently asked questions.
Air fryers are a recent trend in home cooking that offers several unique advantages. However, what most people don't know is that they actually work the same as a convection oven. The only difference is that they're much smaller.
This means that the heating element contained in air fryers and ovens can burn cardboard. So be sure to keep any excess packaging far away!
The same is true of toaster ovens. Most designs include heating elements on the upper or lower surface of the oven. These can be even more dangerous as the cardboard risks coming into contact with them.
Putting aluminum foil on cardboard may seem like a good way to get a crisp crust on your food. However, this doesn’t protect the cardboard from the heat of your oven and still risks a fire hazard.
Instead, try using a baking sheet. This will cook your food more efficiently and is completely safe.
A cardboard pizza box can be a convenient place to store your leftover slices. However, be sure to place them on a baking sheet or pizza stone when reheating them.
A cardboard box can catch fire. Plus, the inks and other chemicals on them may vaporize or leach into your food.
Paper products begin to catch fire at 424 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this does not mean it is safe to put cardboard in the oven at a lower temperature.
The reason is that there is a wide variety of variables that affect the cardboard’s combustion point. These include humidity, the thickness of the material, and the settings on your oven. Trying to factor all of them in is over the head of most material scientists and is definitely not safe to try at home.