Leftovers. They make our days more livable, our lunchtimes more tasty. Without them we’d be making new meals three times a day, and that’s no way to live. But as long as there have been leftovers, there have been people asking important questions about how best to re-heat them for optimum flavor impact. Today, those questions are answered.


We started with an easy one. Pizza is best reheated in the oven. The microwave makes the crust soggy and liquefies the cheese. The oven keeps it all crispy. Another way that works is on the stovetop in a cast iron pan.

Roasted chicken

Reheating in the oven works best, on low heat, around 325 degrees, so it doesn’t dry out. Many sources recommend loosely covering the chicken in aluminum foil. This calls to mind a solid general rule worth mentioning: when in doubt, reheat using the method used to cook the item in the first place. Here are a few other ways to enjoy leftover rotisserie chicken.

Fried chicken

Let the fried chicken get to room temperature, then pop it in the oven at 400 degree on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover the chicken with foil and bake for 12 minutes, then check. Keep going as necessary. 


Go for the microwave, but don’t forget to add a spoonful or two of water to replace the moisture lost overnight in the fridge. This also works for quinoa and most grains.

Soups and stews

On the stovetop, in a pot, is the best way to go. The microwave can take forever re-heating soup and stew, and can leave the bowl scalding but the item inside frosty or unevenly cooked.


For cooked noodles on their own, boil some water and dip the noodles in it for less than a minute. This also works for dumplings.

For leftover pasta mixed with sauce, the microwave works pretty well.

For baked pasta, including lasagna, the microwave is fast but may create hot spots. The oven works but it can take forever. Choose wisely.


Cooks Illustrated suggests the same method for re-heating as for cooking steak in the first place: warm steaks in a low oven first, then sear them quickly in a cast-iron pan and serve.


The microwave works well for casserole, but, like baked pasta, can create hot spots. Split your total time in thirds, and rotate the pan a few times.


Wrap burritos in foil and heat them in the oven, at around 375 degrees.

Mashed potatoes

In the microwave. Stir frequently and rotate your dish.

Sautéed vegetables

I like to sauté vegetables again, on the stovetop, in a cast iron pan. Or zap them in the microwave, if you’re okay with a softer texture.


In a sauce pan, slowly increasing the temperature and stirring often.


Not going to touch this one. Re-heat at your own risk.

Got any food reheating secrets? Spill them in the comments section.

Did you enjoy this post? Stay in the know with more nutrition tips, and exclusive promo offers — join our newsletter.