Sorry, but you're reheating your leftovers all wrong
They may not be fresh when you do it right, but they'll taste like it
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
There is nothing like waking up in the morning and realizing you have leftover pizza from the night before. Or getting home from work and pulling out that leftover casserole you made the night before. Or fiending for that extra fast food you ordered and stashed away in the fridge hours ago.
But there’s always one question that accompanies leftovers: How do I reheat it?
Heat a steak too long and you get shoe leather. Undercook a pizza and you get lukewarm mush. Do anything except the perfect procedure on fish and it is absolutely inedible.
From microwaves to McDonalds, here is how you should be reheating your leftovers.
How to reheat pizza
Best method: Stovetop
Of course, you can always put a slice in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes, but it never comes out like it did when it was fresh.
According to many, though, cooking it in a cast-iron skillet (preferred) or a non-stick pan on the stove is as close as you can get to pie perfection.
Simply put it in a pan on medium-low heat for two minutes or until the bottom is a little crispy then turn it to low, drop a couple drops of water in and cover it for a minute or two. Your pizza should come out good as new.
Writer’s note: Just eat it cold.
How to reheat chicken
Best method: Oven
There are obviously many different variants of chicken, but we’re talking just a chicken breast or tenderloin that needs to be reheated. Nobody wants lukewarm chicken, but if you cook it too long, you’ll be chewing dry bird for days.
The best way to do it seems to be by wrapping it in foil (with a little opening for steam) and putting it in the oven. You can even include a little bit of water or broth to moisten it, but it’s not totally necessary. Bring the oven up to at least 350 degrees and cook until the temperature is 165 degrees (will vary with the size of the chicken).
To have even better success, it’s recommended to let your chicken reach room temperature before putting it in the oven.
How to reheat fast food burgers
Best method: Oven
This method will work for any burgers, but we’ve all looked skeptically at that leftover McDonalds wondering if we can eat it again. Thankfully, we can waste not.
The way to pull of this trick is to separate the burger, buns and condiments. Obviously, cold condiments should be taken off (even cheese) and left in the fridge or run under cold water for a quick shock and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 and place your burgers in either on a wire rack or aluminum foil on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little bit of water if you want. Then, depending on the size of the patties, cook for 5-10 minutes and flip halfway through.
Obviously, feel free to throw the buns in the oven as well for a small amount of time while cooking the patties, then reassemble when it’s all said and done. You can even add toppings or new cheese as well. And like chicken, burgers cook faster and better at room temperature, so consider letting them sit out for a bit before reheating.
How to reheat steak
Best method: Oven/skillet
This may be one of the tougher meats to reheat, as there are lots of different ways to do so but this method has proven to be the best.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and put the steak on a wire rack in the middle of the oven over a baking sheet or pan. Cook the steak until it’s 110 degrees on the inside (depends on size of the steak) and take it out of the oven. Then, heat some oil in a skillet on high and sear the meat for a minute to a minute and a half on each side. Let it rest for a few minutes, then dig in.
And again, for the best results, cook the meat at room temperature.
How to reheat fish
Best method: Microwave OR Oven
There’s no real winner here, as both microwaves and ovens will get the job done depending on the situation (whether you want to stink up your work kitchen or not). One thing to keep in mind, though, is the size of the fish. Thicker cuts will keep flavor better and be easier to heat, while thinner fish may not. Either way, here are two ways to do the trick.
Put the fish on a plate with a little bit of water on the bottom or put a tiny bit of butter on top. Microwave the fish at lower power (30-40 percent) and cook in 30-second intervals until it’s heated through. Make sure to flip the fish at some point, too.
Cover the fish in foil on a baking dish or wire rack (or leave uncovered if it’s breaded) and cook in the oven at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
How to reheat pasta
Best method: Stove OR Microwave
The methods for pasta vary mostly based on whether it’s plain pasta or not. Of course, the oven can be used as well, especially for large amounts, but for a quick reheat of leftovers, the stove or microwave is better.
For plain pasta, simply bring a pot of water to a boil (add salt if you like) and cook the pasta for 1-2 minutes until hot.
If there’s no sauce, add a little oil to the pasta but if there is sauce, skip the step. Stir the pasta thoroughly and cover either with a lid or plastic wrap depending on your container. Make sure to leave the lid unsecured though with a corner uncovered, or leave a corner open with the plastic wrap so it can vent.
Microwave the pasta on low for one minute then stir and repeat until it reaches your desired temperature.
How to reheat french fries
Best method: Stove
Like pizza, a cast-iron skillet is your best bet here, though any pan will do fine. Put in a little oil, heat it to medium-high and toss the fries in until they’re golden-brown. Feel free to season them during the process as well.
Get Reviewed email alerts.
Sign up for our newsletter to get real advice from real experts.