Every form of leftover food may be reheated in much better ways. Here’s how to revive the meal from last night.
A reliable microwave has its uses, such as softening butter, defrosting frozen bread intended for the toaster, or swiftly reheating cold tea. However, there aren’t many applications for them in my kitchen. I love shortcuts, so let me say that upfront before I get too cocky. You need only look at the stack of meal kit boxes in my recycle bin, which are nicely folded. Efficiency in the kitchen must, however, come at the sacrifice of flavor and texture.
The microwave’s reputation as a kitchen essential is partly based on its ability to quickly heat and prepare food, although the outcomes are frequently chewy, overcooked, or unevenly heated. Nearly all of them need the same amount of time and work as the microwave, but there are superior methods for reheating practically every kind of food.
Consider saving your next prepared meal or dish of last night’s supper from being nuked to death and using these superior methods to reheat every sort of leftover if you prefer your wings crispy, your beef tender, and your noodles with bounce.
For additional information on microwaves, see our lists of the five items you should never put inside one as well as the reason why spaghetti sauce constantly blows up in them.
Most food does not reheat well in microwaves. I’ve stated it there
The microwave is the device that is most frequently used to reheat leftovers, but I also believe it to be the worst. Anything that comes out of the microwave, excluding items like soup, plain rice, or mashed potatoes, almost surely has some rubberiness that it didn’t have when it went in.
You protest, “But it’s so much faster!” But is it? Most of the procedures listed below may be completed in about two or three minutes. Furthermore, nasty explosions can happen in microwaves. It certainly isn’t a time saver if you have to clean your microwave after reheating food.
The air fryer cooks food considerably more effectively and almost as quickly as a microwave. Even though installing an air fryer in your kitchen may seem like a large upfront expense, super convection ovens are the greatest first step towards improved leftovers. Additionally, they will eventually reduce your energy costs.
Food type: Noodles, pasta and rice dishes
Best method: Nonstick skillet
This broad group of traditional takeaway cuisines includes Chinese stir-fries, Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean noodles, Indian curries with rice, and pasta meals from Italy. Really, we’re referring to any dish that includes a carbohydrate, like rice or noodles, together with chopped veggies, meat or other protein, and a sauce. The one thing they all have in common is that a nonstick skillet or wok is the best way to reheat them.
Simple fried rice can definitely be nuked without incident, but a microwave has a tendency to overcook spaghetti and noodles and will probably render your chicken, shrimp, or sliced beef rubbery. Simply place everything in a nonstick skillet over medium heat as an alternative. Intermittently toss, and in a few minutes, you’ll have something that tastes almost as amazing as it did the night it originally arrived at your table or door. Additionally, washing nonstick cookware usually takes about 15 seconds.
To produce crispy rice for rice recipes, think about using a cast-iron, stainless-steel, or carbon-steel pan.
Food type: Pizza and flatbread
Best method: Air fryer
I enjoy my air fryer for a number of reasons, but none is more noteworthy than for reheating leftovers. Pizza is utterly destroyed in microwaves, so let’s cross that one out. In my experience, even toaster ovens take too long and wind up drying out the pizza by the time they are heated all the way through.
Depending on how big and thick it is, the fast blast of an air fryer’s super convection will reheat your pizza to the ideal crisp in approximately two minutes at 400 degrees F. Use the basket or grate to avoid burning the bottom of your slice with the hot, flat bottom of the air fryer basket.
I won’t personally reheat leftover pizza in any other way, and I advise against it. And as if you needed another incentive, air fryers consume a lot less energy than large ovens.
Food type: Fried chicken, french fries and other fried food
Best method: Air fryer
Fried meal leftovers have always been among the most challenging to resurrect. Enter the air fryer, which is unlike anything else in the kitchen at bringing back fried chicken, fried dumplings, mozzarella sticks, and even french fries. Similar to pizza, once it has heated through, the outside should be as crispy as it was when the fried item was first cooked.
To avoid burning the surface of thicker pieces of chicken before the middle has a chance to warm through, cook them at a lower temperature for about three minutes, between 325 and 350 degrees F.
Food type: Steak, pork chops, burgers and grilled chicken
Best method: Cast-iron skillet
Steak and pork chops are two examples of meat cuts that might be challenging to revive. There is a way, so don’t be afraid. While it’s not impossible to reheat grilled steak or fish in an air fryer or oven, you’ll probably dry the meat out. Instead, I advise swiftly re-searing it for no longer than a minute on each side in a covered hot cast-iron skillet. The crust should come back to life on the skillet’s heated surface. In order to prevent it from becoming overcooked by the pan heat, keep it covered. Use a nonstick skillet for delicate fish to prevent sticking and crumbling of the meat.
Food type: Braised, roasted or slow-cooked meat
Best method: Covered skillet with cooking liquid broth
Short ribs and other braised foods, including chicken in wine sauce, should be reheated in a manner that closely resembles the original cooking method. Simply gently reheat them for a few minutes in a nonstick or stainless steel covered pan with a few drops of water or chicken stock. The braised or slow-roasted meat will be warmed and revived by the hot liquid, regaining its luscious softness.