Tips & Tricks

Plated’s Guide to Reheating Everything from Stews to Slices to Seafood

Leftovers don’t need to be something you dread. We show you how to properly reheat popular meals to get the most out of your dinner.

‘Tis the season to gather around and cook feasts with family and friends…and to also enjoy a lot of leftovers. Try as we might to portion everything appropriately for large format family meals, there’s always an additional cousin’s boyfriend, or an in-law that missed their flight; resulting in a slew of filled Tupperware containers and lunch the next day. While often it’s easy to turn to the quick and easy microwave to reheat leftovers, for big groups and more delicate dishes, other appliances can offer better results. Here, a guide to reheating, with some dos and don’ts along the way…

MEAT
Leftover meat can be tricky to reheat and easy to overcook.

  • The easiest (and a favorite) way of eating leftover meat is by not reheating it. Dishes like roast chicken and steak make tasty additions to salads or sandwiches, and the lack of heat intensifies the flavor even more.

If you do choose to reheat grilled or roasted meats, there are two good methods:

  • Wrap in foil and bake gently in a 250 degree oven. Don’t slice the meat until afterward, so it can be as moist as possible.
  • If you’ve got a cast iron pan, fire it up over medium-high with a little vegetable oil and your leftovers. The additional char will add flavor, and ensure that the meat is warm all the way through.

For braised or stewed meat, a microwave or saucepan over the stove works best. Make sure to stir frequently and, if using the stove, keep it on a low temperature.

VEGETABLES
Although it’s more effort, vegetables are always better reheated on the stove or in the oven.

  • If they’re crispy roasted vegetables, return to a 350 degree oven just until they crisp back up.
  • With leftover stewed vegetables, a saucepan on the stove at a medium-low temperature will do the trick.
  • For steamed veggies, return to the steamer briefly so they heat through but don’t overcook.

SOUPS, STEWS, AND SAUCES

  • If you’re reheating just one bowl of soup, a microwave is usually the way to go. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel, and make sure to stir midway through, to avoid the dreaded cold-yet-scalding soup experience.
  • For many servings of soup, reheating slowly and stirring frequently in a saucepan on the stove is the best option.
  • For creamy soups, make sure to watch the saucepan or bowl attentively to avoid burning. If you’re so inclined, these soups can also be heated in a double boiler or crockpot for a more gentle, even reheating process that minimizes the chance of burning.
  • Sauces can be delicate and burn easily. Reheat them over the stove in a saucepan—or better yet in a double boiler at low, consistent temperature.

STARCHES AND GRAINS

  • If your bread has lost its crunch or become over-hardened, the oven is the way to go. At 350 degrees, it shouldn’t take more than 5–10 minutes for that crunchy outside, fluffy inside texture.
  • Pasta and rice are always better warmed in a saucepan on the stove, with a little water added. For pasta already sauced, a microwave will work—just cover with a damp paper towel and stir midway through.
  • For anything crispy or fried, the oven—at 300 to 350 degrees—or a toaster oven is ideal for preventing sogginess and helping to re-crisp.
  • As tempting as it is to put a slice of pizza in the microwave, try a cast iron pan on the stove. Instead of a soggy crust, the heat of the pan will re-crisp it, and the cheese will become perfectly gooey.

SEAFOOD

  • Few things are worse than overcooked seafood, so wouldn’t recommend using the potentially overpowering microwave. Reheat fish and shellfish low and slow in the oven or toaster oven just until heated through.
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