6 Foods You Shouldn't Reheat In The Microwave

Read this before you press the 'START' button.

For most people, a microwave oven is as essential in a kitchen as a stand mixer or a food processor. And while it is a handy thing to have when you need to reheat soup, steam vegetables, or even bake a mug cake in minutes, not everything should be heated in a microwave. Read on to find out what to avoid.

Emily Nabors Hall's Cheeseburger Pizza
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Reheating Eggs

Boiled eggs can become hazardous when reheated in the microwave, giving you a nasty surprise when they burst under extreme pressure. Reheat boiled eggs in hot water instead. Bring water to a boil on the stove or in a kettle. Remove from heat and place the eggs in the water for a couple of minutes until they are warm.

Leftover scrambled eggs, frittatas, and omelets will turn rubbery when reheated in the microwave. Your best bet is to gently reheat egg dishes in the oven on low heat (300˚F) until warmed through. Cover the dish with foil or a lid to preserve moisture.

Reheating Pasta

Leftover pasta tends to absorb moisture and dry out in the refrigerator. And microwaving it will only make it even drier. Creamy pastas are even more of a challenge, as the oil or fat tends to separate when reheated in the microwave.

Reheat cooked pasta on the stovetop, adding a bit of moisture depending on the dish. For a tomato-based pasta, add 2 tablespoons of water per serving to the pan (and a tablespoon of oil, if desired) and use tongs to toss the pasta around in the pan so that the water coats the noodles as evenly as possible. Use cream or dairy instead for a cream-based pasta, or oil for an oil-based pasta. Place the leftover pasta in a stockpot or skillet over medium. Continue cooking until the pasta is hot, stirring frequently.

Reheating Casseroles

Using the oven can be impractical if you're heating an individual portion. But most casseroles, especially ones containing pasta or a breadcrumb or cracker topping, are best reheated in a 350˚F oven, not the microwave. Make sure to place the dish on the countertop while the oven preheats; glass or ceramic dishes can shatter if placed in the oven directly from the refrigerator. Shield the top with aluminum foil to keep the casserole from drying out or overbrowning (you can remove the foil for the last few minutes to re-crisp any topping). Heat until hot and bubbly, checking the center to make certain it is hot too. Leftovers should be reheated until they reach 165˚F, according to the USDA.

Reheating Pizza

While some people prefer their leftover pizza cold, others like to warm it up. If you're in the latter camp, you've probably been reheating pizza in the microwave your whole life. Sure, the microwave is the fastest way to a steaming hot slice, but it can also make the crust flabby and overly chewy and the toppings downright soggy. There are two better options for bringing your slice back to life with a nice, crisp crust:

  • Reheat pizza slices on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven heated to 375˚F until warmed through. Many cooks swear by heating the baking sheet first while the oven preheats, then adding the pizza. This will help crisp up your crust without overcooking the toppings.
  • Use a cast-iron or non-stick skillet on the cooktop. Place the pizza in the pan, cover with a lid or foil, and warm over medium-low heat. Peek under the crust every two minutes or so to make sure the crust isn't browning too fast, and turn the heat down if necessary while the cheese finishes melting.

Reheating Fried Food

Like pizza, the microwave will destroy the crisp and crunchy texture of fried foods like chicken nuggets, French fries, and fried fish. For best results, reheat fried foods in a low oven (300˚F to 320˚F) until warmed through. If you have a wire rack, place it on a baking sheet and arrange the food on top so it can reheat on all sides.

Reheating Really Old Leftovers

We've all done it: reheated that week-old dinner and just hoped for the best. But refrigerated leftovers more than three or four days old should be thrown out, according to the USDA. Frozen dishes will remain safe indefinitely, but eventually dry out and lose flavor.

Microwaved food tends to have hot and cold spots, but you can take steps to reheat your food safely. Cover your food to trap steam and use a rotating microwave plate to help food reheat evenly. Allow the food to rest briefly before checking the temperature, and cook a bit longer if needed.

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