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How to Reheat Leftovers

Warm up leftovers without ruining the meal. Abt offers the ultimate guide on how to properly reheat leftovers to maintain consistency and taste.
Person using microwave to reheat leftovers

Getting Started

Leftovers are the perfect no-effort meal. From yesterday's greasy pizza slices to wholesome soups, sometimes all you want is to dive into the fridge and grab a quick leftover meal. But all foods are not created equally, and they all don't have the same texture. So how do you reheat leftovers to get them to their original taste or consistency?
Whether you choose to go the quick and easy route and reheat leftovers in a microwave or take the extra effort to maintain texture by warming them up in an oven, here is a breakdown on how to reheat leftovers of various foods.

Grains

Brown rice, white rice, and quinoa — Add a trickle of water and reheat in the microwave to re-steam.
Creamy polenta or grits — Reheat on the stovetop with a splash of water.

Fried Foods

Fried chicken and fried fish — Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bring the fried meats to room temperature. Once the oven reaches temp, you can transition for a few minutes to crisp it up again.
French fries — Reheat in the broiler to crisp up, approximately one to two minutes.
Leftover food in containers

Leftover Meats, Fish and Poultry

Braised meats — Cover in foil and reheat in an oven set to 350 degrees.
Browned ground meat — Microwave and stir every 30 seconds.
Chicken wings — Allow wings to come to room temp, then place them in the oven broiler for one to three minutes to crisp up the skin.
Grilled chicken — Reheat in microwave, flipping midway.
Lamb chops — Preheat a 400-degree oven as lamb comes to room temp. Place lamb in briefly, but not long, or it will dry out!
Meatloaf — Reheat single slices in the microwave or sear sides in a hot, oiled pan. For an entire loaf, cover with foil and reheat in the oven at 350 degrees.
Pork chops — Leave thick slices sitting on top of a 400-degree stove, or reheat in the microwave.
Pulled pork and ribs — Reheat in the microwave or wrap in foil and place in a 350-degree oven.
Roast chicken — Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cover chicken with foil to prevent over-drying.
Sausage — Reheat in the microwave.
Steaks — Cooks Illustrated suggests placing leftover steaks on a wire rack over a baking sheet and placing it in a 250-degree oven until the meat registers 110 degrees.
Fish filletsCooks Illustrated recommends covering fillets with foil to prevent over-drying and placing them in an oven set to 275 degrees. Reheat in the oven for 15 minutes for each inch of meat.
Shellfish — Set the oven to 400 degrees and bring shrimp, clams or scallops to room temp. Remove the shellfish if mixed in with a rice or pasta dish, microwave the rice by itself, and then replace the seafood.

Sandwiches and Breaded Leftovers

Burgers — For burgers, you have to disassemble the toppings, patty, and bun. Once the bread and patty are separated, warm them in a 250-degree oven.
Fried chicken sandwich — Separate the chicken, toppings and bun. Toast the bun and reheat the chicken in a 375-degree oven.
Deli sandwich — Separate and reheat the deli meat at 350 degrees, place the bread in for the last five minutes and then reassemble.

Pizzas and Pasta Dish Leftovers

Pasta — Reheat simple pasta dishes in the microwave. Add a splash of water and cover if it needs to rehydrate a bit.
Baked pasta — Cover tightly with foil and reheat in a warm oven at 375 degrees.
Lasagna — Cover tightly with foil and reheat in a warm oven at 375 degrees.
Pizza — Freeze leftover pizza in a plastic bag to preserve and reheat directly from the freezer in a warm oven set to 425 degrees.
Macaroni and cheese — Reheat leftover mac on the stovetop or in a 375-degree oven with an extra splash of milk to rehydrate.
Gril with reheated bowl of soup in her hands

Soup and Bean-based Leftovers

Creamy soups — Reheat over the stove on a low heat to avoid scalding the milk or cream base.
Stock-based soups — Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop with an extra bit of water, stirring occasionally.
Beans or refried beans — Reheat in the microwave and stir every 30 seconds or so. You could also reheat in a small saucepan over low heat with a splash of water to rehydrate.

Leftover Vegetables

Roasted vegetables and potatoes — Roasted veggies will easily reheat in the microwave, but they'll never be as crisp as when they are first cooked.
Baked potatoFirstforWomen recommends placing the baked potato in a 350-degree oven, directly on the rack beneath the heat source, and re-baking for 20 minutes.
Mashed potatoes — Reheat in the microwave and stir every 30 seconds. Add a splash of water or milk to get that creaminess back.
Sauteed or steamed greens and veggies — Reheat in the microwave, tightly covered, with a splash of water.

Furthermore

Now you know how to reheat leftovers for an on-the-run lunch or busy weekday snack. If you're searching for a new microwave, take a look at Abt's comprehensive Microwave Buying Guide to explore these handy, quick-heating appliances.

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