Can You Put Cardboard in the Oven? 3 Reasons to Avoid It

Can you put cardboard in the oven?

We’ve all been there. You want to eat a delicious pizza so you put it in the oven and walk away. A few minutes later you realize you forgot to take the cardboard off the bottom. Now you’re wondering, can you put cardboard in the oven?

To be safe, don’t put cardboard in the oven. Cardboard has an ignition point of 427 degrees. Theoretically, if the cardboard stays under this temperature, it won’t ignite. However, there is still a chance it will catch on fire depending on the kind of heating element in your oven.

If the risk of spontaneous combustion isn’t enough for you, there are a few other reasons not to put cardboard in the oven. We’ve also put together a list of alternatives that you CAN put in the oven. Let’s have a look…

Can You Put Cardboard in the Oven?

can you put a take out pizza box in an oven

Pizzas aren’t the only thing that’s packaged in cardboard boxes. Most frozen foods are packaged in a cardboard box as well as a plastic cover of some kind.

Because of this, always make sure you completely remove all packaging from your food before you bake it. Otherwise, you might end up with melted plastic on your food, and nobody wants that.

If you’re ever in doubt, just read the packaging to ensure you’re doing what you need to in order to cook your food safely.

No matter what food you’re trying to make, you should never put cardboard in the oven. Here are 3 reasons why.

1. Threat of Spontaneous Combustion

Can you put cardboard in the oven?

Cardboard can catch on fire if it reaches the very specific temperature of 427 degrees. Most pizzas bake in high temperatures at or above 425 degrees. This two-degree margin is a little too close for comfort.

If you cook your pizza with the cardboard still on it, one of two things will happen. Your pizza will be crisp and delicious and nothing will happen. Or, the cardboard will smoke terribly and possibly even catch on fire ruining your night and your pizza.

The type of oven you have can greatly increase or decrease the potential fire hazard. Older ovens tend to have heating elements that are more exposed to the inside of the oven which increases the risk of fire.

Newer ovens have the heat source covered better and circulate the heat lowering the fire risk. But, just to be on the safe side, don’t do it.

And, while it’s pretty unlikely that your cardboard will catch on fire, the mere possibility of catching something on fire in your house should give you pause.

2. Slows Down Cooking Time

Can you put cardboard in the oven?

Although you may think you’re saving time by leaving the cardboard on your pizza, the exact opposite can be true.

Leaving the cardboard base on the bottom of your pizza, or surrounding your food, can slow down the cooking time and keep the bottom of your pizza from getting nice and crispy.

However, some things are designed to be baked with the cardboard on. For example, some frozen dinners have treated paper dishes that are made to withstand the higher temperatures of the oven.

So, if you’re ever not sure, just check the packaging of what you’re planning to bake. It will tell you if you should bake it with the cardboard still on or not.

With any kind of paper product that is not specifically designed for baking in the oven, do not put it in the oven. Just take the extra time and take it off. The fire department will thank you.

3. Chemical Contamination

Don’t get too freaked out, this one is easily avoidable. All you have to do is not put the cardboard or plastic packaging in the oven with your food.

The cardboard that the pizza sits on is treated with an anti-grease layer that resists grease and steam. These chemicals are harmless unless they are heated and the chemicals get released into toxic fumes.

Weird chemicals in our food are not something anyone wants, and they can also make your food taste weird which is what we’ll talk about next.

4. Makes Your Food Taste Weird

Can you put cardboard in the oven?

Even if your cardboard doesn’t completely catch on fire, it can still smoke and give off fumes. These fumes can leave a bad taste on your food as well as make your oven and kitchen smell.

In addition to cardboard, most frozen foods also include plastic packaging to prevent freezer burn. If you don’t remove the packaging and just throw the whole thing in the oven, then that can really create a nasty smell/taste.

The plastic could even melt into your food making it inedible. But, no worries, it’s easy to avoid. Just take all the packaging off.

The small benefits of leaving the packaging on your food do not outweigh the risks. Unless it’s made to be baked, remove the cardboard and other packaging materials.

What to Use Instead of Cardboard

Can you put cardboard in the oven?

We’ve got a few things you can do to eliminate the need to keep the cardboard on the bottom of your pizza (or other food).

If you’re cooking a store-bought pizza, follow the heating instructions on the packaging.

If you’re reheating takeout pizza in your oven, heating it at 350 degrees on a baking sheet is what most restaurants recommend.

Here are 6 alternatives to cardboard you could consider using for baking or reheating your food:

how to reheat leftover pizza in an oven

The best way to replace the cardboard under your pizza is to bake it on a cookie sheet. The metal will heat up to evenly cook and crisp the bottom of the pizza.

This is also a great option for any other frozen food. From pre-made casseroles to chicken nuggets, the cookie sheet is a fantastic baking solution.

Just put your pizza or other food on the cookie sheet and slide them both into the oven together. No threat of fire and nice crispy food. It’s a win-win.

2. Casserole Dish/Baking Pan

can you put pyrex in an oven

If you don’t have a flat cookie sheet, the next best thing is to put it in a casserole dish or baking pan.

You may not have a glass baking dish big enough to fit your whole pizza in it but these are also good for baking other types of frozen food.

If you have premade casseroles, the dish they come in can sometimes be fairly flimsy and the contents might bubble out. It would be a good idea to put it in a baking dish in case it breaks or drips. No one wants food to drip into the bottom of the oven.

3. Aluminum Foil

can you bake pizza right on the rack

If you’ve got some aluminum foil and nothing else to put your pizza on, then you can cover the oven rack in tin foil.

Before you preheat your oven, take out the oven rack and cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil. You could even just cover the middle part if you don’t want to waste the foil.

This is a great cheap alternative to cookie sheets and casserole dishes. It helps bake it evenly and prevents stuff from dripping into your oven.

4. Pizza Block/Pizza Stone

Can you put cardboard in an oven

If you eat a lot of pizza, a pizza block might be a worthy addition to your kitchen. My family started doing homemade pizza on Friday nights and this pizza stone was a game changer. Don’t pay attention to how dirty our oven is…

These are specially made ceramic sheets that you put directly onto your oven rack to bake your pizza on. They prevent cheese from dripping into your oven and give you a crispier crust.

It heats the pizza evenly, but it weighs a ton! Once it’s in the oven, it’s not coming back out unless you need it to. But you can put anything directly on it with no problem.

They can also be used to bake other frozen foods. You can put a frozen casserole on it or even some delicious burritos. Whatever food you like, a pizza block will help make it crispy.

Other than being extremely heavy, another downside of pizza stones is they take a while to heat up. They will preheat with the oven but, just like a cast iron skillet, they take longer to heat and will hold their temperature for much longer than the oven itself.

5. Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is another thing that is cheap and easy to use. You can put your pizza on a piece of parchment paper and then put it on the rack.

However, parchment paper isn’t very durable, and at higher heats the edges could curl. But, at the temperature you’re baking the pizza at, it should be just fine.

A great way to use parchment paper is to pair it with a baking sheet, the baking sheet will keep the crust crispy and the parchment paper will keep any melted cheese from getting on the baking sheet.

No melted cheese equals easy clean up, it’s a win win.

6. Directly on the Rack

Some things can be baked directly onto the rack.

If you’re making a pizza, you can take the cardboard off the bottom and place the pizza right on the rack. Or, if your food comes with an oven-safe container, then you can usually put it directly on the rack.

This won’t give you a crispy crust like some of the other alternatives, but putting food directly on the rack is a good approach if you have no other alternative

The downside to this approach is you do run the risk of cheese and toppings dripping into the bottom of your oven.

Altogether, if you’re tempted to leave the cardboard on the bottom of your pizza (or other food), use these alternatives instead. Avoiding the cardboard will reduce your risk of fire, and will probably also make your food cook better.

Is it OK to Put a Pizza Box in the Oven?

You should generally avoid putting pizza boxes, cardboard, and other paper products in the oven. There is a chance the box or cardboard will catch on fire. If you’re cooking a frozen pizza, you should also remove all plastic packaging, because the plastic could melt to your pizza making it inedible.

Is it OK to Cook Pizza on Cardboard?

You should generally avoid cooking pizza on cardboard. The cardboard could catch on fire from the heat of the oven and it could release toxic chemicals that make your pizza taste weird. Leaving the cardboard on the bottom of the pizza can also increase the cooking time.

What Temperature Does Cardboard Burn At?

Cardboard ignites at around 427 degrees Fahrenheit (219 degrees Celsius). But, before it reaches that ignition temperature, cardboard can smoke and smolder. For example, if you try to bake a pizza in the oven with cardboard on the bottom, it could ruin your pizza and your oven, or it could even start a fire.


Leslie has lived in tons of different places that were all in different states of repair. She has experience remodeling and replacing just about everything in a home including the roof. When she's not working on a project, Leslie blogs about home improvement tips to pass on her knowledge to others.

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