How to Safely Reheat Leftovers: Steak, Chicken, Rice, Pizza and More

Reheating leftovers not entirely saves time and money but reduces waste. It is an all-important practice if you prepare foods in bulge. however, if improperly reheated, leftovers can cause food poisoning — which can jeopardize your health. It ’ south estimated that 1 in 6 Americans gets food poisoning annual — and 128,000 of these are hospitalized. In severe cases, food poison can even cause death ( 1 ).

In addition, some reheating methods can make certain leftovers far less appealing to eat. This article provides instructions for safe and tasty reheat of leftovers . share on Pinterest

General Guidelines

When reheating leftovers, proper treatment is key for your health and your meal ’ sulfur taste. here ’ s what to do ( 2, 3, 4 ) :

  • Cool leftovers as quickly as possible (within 2 hours), store in the fridge and eat within 3–4 days.
  • Alternatively, freeze leftovers for 3–4 months. After this point, they are still considered safe to eat — but texture and flavor may be compromised.
  • Frozen leftovers should be properly defrosted before heating by transferring them to your fridge or using the defrost setting on your microwave. Once defrosted, refrigerate and eat within 3–4 days.
  • It is safe to reheat partially defrosted leftovers using a saucepan, microwave or oven. However, reheating will take longer if the food is not completely thawed.
  • Reheat leftovers until steaming hot throughout — they should reach and maintain 165°F (70°C) for two minutes. Stir food while reheating to ensure even heating, especially when using a microwave.
  • Do not reheat leftovers more than once.
  • Do not refreeze leftovers that have already been defrosted.
  • Serve reheated leftovers immediately.

Summary Make certain your leftovers are cool quickly, refrigerated and eaten within a few days or frozen for up to respective months. They should be reheated thoroughly — though not reheated or frozen more than once .

Steak

The most coarse complaints with reheat steak are dried out, rubbery or tasteless meat. however, certain reheating methods retain season and moisture. Keep in judgment that leftover kernel normally tastes better when heated from room temperature — so leave it out of the electric refrigerator for about 10 minutes before reheating .

Option 1: Oven

If you have time to spare, this is the best manner to reheat steak to keep it tender and flavorful .

  1. Set your oven to 250°F (120°C).
  2. Place the steak on a wire rack inside a baking tray. This allows the meat to cook thoroughly on both sides.
  3. Once the oven is preheated, put the steak inside and cook for around 20–30 minutes, checking regularly. Depending on the thickness of the steak, cooking times will vary.
  4. The steak will be ready once warm (100–110°F or 37–43°C) — but not piping hot — at the center.
  5. Serve with gravy or steak sauce. Alternatively, sear each side of the steak in a pan with butter or oil for a crispy texture.

Option 2: Microwave

This is the best option if you ’ ra short on time. Microwaving frequently dries steak out, but this can be prevented with a few simple steps :

  1. Set the steak in a microwavable dish.
  2. Drizzle some steak sauce or meat gravy over the top of the steak and add a few drops of oil or butter.
  3. Cover the microwavable dish.
  4. Cook on medium heat, turning the steak every 30 seconds or so until it’s warm but not too hot. This shouldn’t take longer than a couple of minutes.

Option 3: Pan

This is another rapid way to reheat steak to keep it lusciously tender .

  1. Add some beef broth or gravy to a deep pan.
  2. Heat the broth or gravy until it simmers, but don’t let it boil.
  3. Next, add the meat and let it heat until warm throughout. This should only take a minute or two.

Option 4: Resealable Plastic Bag

This choice is perfect for keeping steak damp and delectable. Though it doesn ’ t take ampere long as the oven, cooking time is slenderly longer than microwaving or pan-fry. It doesn ’ thyroxine work well if you have more than one steak to reheat .

  1. Place the steak in a resealable plastic bag suitable for heating and free from harmful chemicals like BPA.
  2. Add ingredients and seasonings of your choice to the bag, such as garlic and chopped onions.
  3. Ensure all air is pushed out of the bag. Seal tightly.
  4. Place the sealed bag in a saucepan filled with simmering water and heat until the meat is hot. This usually takes 4–8 minutes depending on thickness.
  5. After cooking, you can give the steak a quick sear in the pan if you like.

Summary If you have time, the best way to reheat steak for taste and texture is in the oven. however, microwaving in boom or broth is quicker and can still keep it moist. You may besides cook it in a pan — with or without a resealable plastic bag .

Chicken and Certain Red Meats

Reheating wimp and certain red meats can often lead to dried, tough food. In general, meat is good reheated using the lapp method acting in which it was cooked. It ’ s still potential to reheat chicken and other crimson kernel safely without drying out your meal .

Option 1: Oven

This method takes the most time but is the best option for damp, succulent leftovers .

  1. Set your oven to 250°F (120°C).
  2. Add meat to a baking tray, followed by a dash of oil or butter. Cover with aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out.
  3. This method usually takes at least 10–15 minutes. However, the length of time will depend on the type and amount of meat.
  4. Remember to check that the meat is reheated thoroughly before serving.

Option 2: Microwave

Reheating kernel in a microwave is surely the quickest choice. however, reheating anything more than a copulate of minutes normally results in dry food .

  1. Place the meat in a microwavable dish.
  2. Add a small amount of water, sauce or oil to the meat and cover with a microwave-safe lid.
  3. Microwave on medium heat for as long as necessary for the food to be evenly and thoroughly cooked.

Option 3: Pan

Although it ’ s a less popular choice, wimp and other meats can surely be reheated on the stovetop. You should keep the heat abject to avoid overcooking. If you don ’ t have a microwave or are short on time, this is a good method .

  1. Add some oil or butter to the pan.
  2. Place the meat in the pan, cover and heat on a medium-low setting.
  3. Turn the meat over halfway through to ensure it’s cooked evenly.

This method acting normally takes around 5 minutes but depends on the type and sum of meat .

Summary Chicken and certain red meats are beneficial reheated with the same equipment in which they were cooked. While the oven retains the most moisture, the microwave is quickest. pan-fry is besides a relatively quick choice .

Fish

fish can be reheated similarly to kernel. however, the thickness of the fillet has a big impact on overall relish. Fatter cuts of pisces — such as steaks of pink-orange — will retain texture and flavor better than thinner ones .

Option 1: Microwave

This is a good option if you are short-change on fourth dimension and the pisces international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate breaded or battered. Keep in heed that this choice normally results in a fishy smell in your kitchen .

  1. Sprinkle water or oil on the fish before placing it in a microwavable dish.
  2. Cover the dish and heat on low to medium power for 20–30 seconds at a time, checking regularly until the fish is done but not overcooked.
  3. Flip the filet over regularly to ensure even heating.

Option 2: Oven

This is a good choice for retaining moisture and taste. however, it does require more time .

  1. Set your oven to 250°F (120°C).
  2. Unless the fish is breaded or battered, wrap it in foil and place on a baking tray.
  3. Cook for 15–20 minutes or until the center is steaming hot.

Option 3: Pan

Sautéed, grilled and baked fish reheat well when heated or steamed in a pan. To heat :

  1. Add oil or butter to a pan.
  2. Place on medium-low heat. Add the fish.
  3. Cover the pan with a lid and check every few minutes, turning regularly.

To steamer :

  1. Wrap the fish loosely in foil.
  2. Place in a steamer or rack over boiling water in a covered pan.
  3. Steam for around 4–5 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked.

Summary pisces reheats estimable in the oven, particularly if it ’ south breaded or battered. Sautéed, grilled and baked pisces reheats well in a pan. Microwaving, on the other handwriting, is flying — but makes breaded or battered fish doughy .

Rice

Rice — specially reheated rice — carries a gamble of food poisoning if not handled or reheated correctly. Uncooked rice may contain spores of the Bacillus cereus bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. These spores are amazingly heat-resistant and frequently exist cook.

While it is safe to reheat rice, never do so if it has been left out at board temperature for an extend period. It ’ south best to serve rice arsenic soon as it ’ south been cooked, then cool it within one hour and refrigerate it for no more than a few days before reheat. Below are some estimable options for reheating rice .

Option 1: Microwave

If you are short on time, this is the quickest and most convenient way to reheat rice .

  1. Add the rice to a microwavable dish alongside a sprinkle of water.
  2. If the rice is stuck together, break it up with a fork.
  3. Cover the dish with a suitable lid or wet paper towel and cook on high heat until hot throughout. This usually takes 1–2 minutes per portion.

Option 2: Pan-Steam

This option requires a snatch more time than microwaving but is hush rapid .

  1. Add the rice and a splash of water to a saucepan.
  2. If the rice is stuck together, break it up with a fork.
  3. Cover the pan with a suitable lid and cook on low heat.
  4. Stir the rice regularly until hot.

Option 3: Oven

Although it takes more time, reheating rice in the oven is another full option if a microwave international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine handy .

  1. Put the rice in an oven-safe dish alongside some water.
  2. Adding butter or oil can prevent sticking and boost flavor.
  3. Break up the rice with a fork if it’s stuck together.
  4. Cover with a suitable lid or aluminum foil.
  5. Cook at 300°F (150°C) until hot — usually 15–20 minutes.

Summary Rice should be cooled cursorily once cooked and refrigerated no more than a few days before reheating. While the best way to reheat rice is in the microwave, the oven or stovetop are besides good options .

Pizza

besides much, reheating pizza results in a boggy, bum mess. here ’ s how to safely reheat pizza so it ’ s calm delicious and crisp .

Option 1: Oven

again, this method acting takes the most time. however, you are guaranteed a hot and crisp leftover pizza .

  1. Set your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Line a baking tray with foil and place it in the oven for a few minutes to heat it up.
  3. Carefully place the pizza on the hot baking tray.
  4. Bake for around 10 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Option 2: Pan

This method acting is slenderly quicker than the oven. If you get it right field, you should silent end up with a crisp base and melted tall mallow top .

  1. Place a non-stick pan on medium heat.
  2. Put the leftover pizza in the pan and heat it for around two minutes.
  3. Add a few drops of water to the bottom of the pan — not on the pizza itself.
  4. Put the lid on and heat the pizza for 2–3 more minutes until the cheese is melted and the bottom crispy.

Option 3: Microwave

Though this is the quickest and most convenient method acting for reheating pizza, your leftover slit normally ends up sloppy and rubbery. If you do choose this route, here are some tips to slightly improve the end result .

  1. Place a paper towel between the pizza and the plate.
  2. Heat on medium power for around one minute.

Summary Leftover pizza is best reheated in the oven or a pan to ensure a crisp base and melted airfoil. Microwaving is the quickest choice — but often results in a inert meal .

Roasted Vegetables

By far the best equipment for reheating roast vegetables is the top broiler or grill in your oven. This way, the veggies retain their delightful season and texture .

Broil or Grill

  1. Turn the top broiler or grill on medium-high for a few minutes to warm it up.
  2. Lay leftover vegetables on a baking sheet in a baking tray. There’s no need for oil.
  3. Place the baking tray under the grill for 1–3 minutes before turning the vegetables over and repeating for another 1–3 minutes.

Summary To keep leftover roasted vegetables crispy and tasty, heat them under a grill or top broiler. Turn them halfway through for even cooking .

Casseroles and Single-Pot Dishes

Casseroles and one-pot meals — such as sautéed, stir-fried or steam veggies — are easy to make and are great for batch cook. They are easily to reheat, besides .

Option 1: Microwave

This is a agile and easy way to heat up your leftover casserole or one-pot dish .

  1. Place the food in a microwavable dish, spreading out in an even layer if possible.
  2. Cover with a slightly damp paper towel or sprinkle with water to prevent drying.
  3. Heat as appropriate. You may want to microwave individual dishes separately because different foods cook at different rates. For example, meat takes longer to reheat than vegetables.
  4. Make sure you regularly stir your dish for even heating.

Option 2: Oven

This option is best for casseroles but not then great for anything stir-fried, sautéed or steamed .

  1. Heat the oven to 200–250°F (90–120°C).
  2. Place the leftovers in an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil to maintain moisture.
  3. Reheating time will vary depending on the leftovers.

Option 3: Pan

Pan cooking works good for stir-fried or sautéed vegetables .

  1. Add oil to a pan.
  2. Use low to medium heat to avoid overcooking.
  3. Add the leftovers and stir frequently.

Summary Casseroles and one-pot dishes are comfortable to make and reheat. While microwaving is quick and commodious, the oven works best for casseroles and pans for stir-fried or sautéed vegetables .

Microwaving May Be the Best Way to Retain Nutrients

cook and reheating food can improve digestibility, increase the handiness of certain antioxidants and kill potentially harmful bacteria ( 5, 6 ). however, the downside is that alimentary loss is a separate of every reheat method. Methods that expose foods to liquid and/or high levels of heat for long periods tend to result in a greater passing of nutrients. Because microwaving normally involves less liquid and shorter cooking times, meaning less exposure to heat, it is considered the best reheat method acting for retaining nutrients ( 7, 8 ). For exercise, oven cooking ’ south drawn-out duration may result in a greater loss of nutrients than microwave. Microwaving still depletes some nutrients, specially certain vitamins such as B and C. In fact, around 20–30 % of vitamin C from fleeceable vegetables is lost during microwave ( 9 ). however, this is much less than other cooking methods, such as boiling — which can result in up to a 95 % loss of vitamin C depending on the cook time and character of vegetable ( 10 ). In addition, microwave is the best method acting for retaining antioxidant activeness in several different foods ( 11 ) .

Summary All reheating methods consequence in some nutrient passing. however, agile cook times and reduce vulnerability to liquid means that microwave is the best method for food memory .

The Bottom Line

Leftovers are condom and commodious when you handle them properly. You may eat a set of leftovers if you regularly engage in meal prepping or batch cook. Ensuring leftovers are cool cursorily, stored correctly and reheated thoroughly means that you can enjoy them without concern of becoming nauseated.

by and large, leftovers taste best when reheated in the lapp manner in which they were cooked. Though microwave retains the most nutrients, it may not always be the best reheat method acting. With these tips, you can safely enjoy a irregular round of any delectable meal .