Reheating Leftovers in the Microwave
For those meals that taste better the following day

There’s nothing like the disappointment of taking a sizzling piece of lasagna out of the microwave, only to discover it’s still chilly in the middle. We’re going to share our best tips and microwave hacks for reheating leftovers and avoiding those cold spots! Unfortunately, certain foods like those with breading or that should be crispy, are best left to the oven. Most others are fair game for nuking! This is especially useful if you meal prep or batch cook food earlier in the week.

Use a Flat Dish Instead of a Bowl

Obviously soups or other liquid items should be heated up in a bowl or mug. But your thicker stews and solid items like pasta will benefit from being reheated on a plate. It warms food quicker and more evenly. Be sure to arrange your food in an even layer, instead of a pile in the middle.

Reheating Leftovers: Use a Plate

Use a Microwave Safe Dish

The plastic or Styrofoam takeout containers are not the best choice for reheating your leftover curry. The food should be placed in a microwave-safe bowl or plate, generally made from ceramic or glass. Don't use a dish that doesn’t have a “microwave safe” symbol. You can check if a dish is microwave-safe by doing the following test:

  1. Fill a microwave safe mug with cold water
  2. Place mug in the container you want to test
  3. Microwave for one minute on high
    • If the water is hot, but the testing container cool – then it is safe
    • If the testing container is hot – it is not microwave safe

Reheating Leftovers: Use Microwave Safe Dishes

Pierce Hard-Skinned Foods

Microwaves heat up food quickly (duh!), but they also heat water quickly, which results in steam. If this steam doesn’t have a way to escape, it results in exploding food. Items with a skin, like potatoes or hotdogs, are prone to such explosions. By piercing the skin before putting them in the microwave, it provides a vent for the steam to escape through. It's the same concept as poking holes in the plastic membrane on frozen dinners. A couple jabs with a fork are all that is needed to prevent a huge mess from happening.

Reheating Leftovers: Pierce Items with Skin

Spread Your Food In a Circle

By spreading your food out in a circle around the plate, it makes it easier for the microwaves to heat up the food evenly. The waves that heat your food are considered “short” and it is difficult for them to penetrate a big pile of food and heat it right through. That's why a ring of food around your plate will heat up quicker and more evenly, compared to if it were all placed in the center of your plate.

Reheating Leftovers: Spread Food in a Circle

Cover Your Dish

This helps to retain the moisture in your food and will keep your microwave clean from splatters. If you don’t have a dedicated microwave splatter cover, you can use a piece of damp paper towel, as that also doubles as a source of moisture and a splash guard.

Reheating Leftovers: Cover the Plate

Place Your Dish to One Side of the Spinning Tray

When the dish is placed on the outer edge of the turntable, it will rotate in a wider circle. This creates more variation in heating, which means fewer cold spots in your food.

Reheating Leftovers: Place to One Side of the Tray

Avoid Pre-Programmed Time

Have you ever used the “popcorn” button on your microwave, and ended up with a bag full of burnt pieces? The “reheat” button probably won’t burn your food, but you’ll likely end up with disappointing results either way. The pre-programmed timings and heat levels likely aren’t the right settings for your meal. You’re better off selecting the time and power settings manually.

Reheating Leftovers: Avoid Pre-pre-programmed Settings

Stir Food Half Way Through

Don’t walk away from the microwave while your food is reheating! To ensure the dish is evenly heated throughout, it needs to be stirred – every 30 or 60 seconds, depending how long it needs overall. While other methods help, stirring is the only guarantee for no cold spots.

Reheating Leftovers: Stir Halfway Through

While using the microwave is a huge time saver, ensuring that your food reheats evenly is part art and part science, and may have a learning curve depending on your appliance. If your microwave could use a bit of a tune up, just search for your model number to find all the replacement parts you’ll need. Be sure to follow along with our YouTube Channel so you don’t miss any of the fun.