How to Reheat Leftovers in the Microwave
How to Reheat Leftovers in the Microwave
When you want to get dinner on the table — fast — using the microwave is an excellent option. Even faster? Reheating leftovers, using the microwave. As easy as it sounds, though, it can be tricky to get the texture and taste of your food just right when using the microwave. The biggest issue with reheated microwaved food is that, when done wrong, it can turn out unevenly heated and dry. Why does something that, in theory, sounds so easy, have to be so complicated?
So if you're looking for an answer to the question: "How many times should I press '+30 seconds' to reheat last night's meatballs?" you're in the right place. Whether you’re reheating vegetables, proteins, or grains, this post will cover everything you need to know about reheating food in the microwave. Are you ready to eat the best leftovers you’ve ever tasted?!
What’s the best container for reheating food?
The most important trick for reheating food well in the microwave is to make sure it stays moist and doesn’t dry out. Basically, the best way to achieve this is to microwave your leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid that also releases a small amount of steam.
That’s why Anyday was designed this way: with a silicone-rimmed lid that traps steam inside, but vents a small amount to avoid any splatter or explosions. The steam trapped inside the dish keeps your food moist and, therefore, full of flavor. Anyday dishes also reheat more evenly than other containers — because the steam penetrates the entirety of the food in the dish (versus microwaves, which can be concentrated in certain hot spots in your microwave). That means less stirring while you microwave. Because the lid traps so much steam and heat inside the dish, it actually also reheats faster in the microwave than other containers or bowls.
Imagine: instead of only relying on the microwaves (the waves, not the appliance) to vibrate those water molecules in your food — you also get the heat from the steam that the food generates to reheat or cook your food.
Is it safe to microwave plastic containers?
Using plastic containers to reheat food in the microwave can be dangerous, as they are not designed to be food-safe. While most containers are “microwave-safe,” this just means they will not melt. However, they can release potentially harmful chemicals into your food, which can be hazardous to your health. It’s best to use glass or ceramic, and avoid using plastic containers when reheating food in the microwave. Anyday’s bowl is made of glass, and its lid is made of glass, metal, and silicone — all materials that are safe for cooking food in the microwave.
The Complete Set
- Large Deep Dish
- Large Shallow Dish
- Medium Deep Dish
- Medium Shallow Dish
- Small Dish x 2
How to reheat proteins in the microwave
Reheating proteins, such as chicken, beef, or fish, in the microwave can be challenging because they tend to dry out quickly. The key to preserving the moisture and tenderness of the meat or fish is to reheat it in short intervals and to trap as much moisture into the food as possible.
How to reheat proteins with an Anyday dish:
- Place the meat in an Anyday dish and cover it with the lid, making sure to leave the vent open for steam to escape.
- Microwave on full power for 1-2 minutes, or until the food is warmed through. For more delicate proteins like fish or chicken, try using a lower power level to reheat more gently.
How to reheat proteins without Anyday:
- If you can, chop the meat into small, evenly sized pieces so that the meat heats evenly.
- Place the meat in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a lid, plate, or other microwave-safe cover.
- Microwave the meat on full power in short intervals, stirring or flipping it every 30 seconds. This will help to distribute the heat evenly and prevent the meat from drying out.
Note: To ensure that your reheated protein is fully cooked, you can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The USDA recommends that chicken should be heated to 165°F, beef to 145°F, and fish to 145°F.
How to reheat vegetables in the microwave
Reheating vegetables in the microwave can be quick and easy, but it is important to choose the right microwave-safe dish and to avoid over-cooking them.
How to reheat vegetables in an Anyday:
- Add your vegetables an Anyday Shallow dish and cover with the lid. This will help the vegetables to cook evenly and prevent them from getting mushy and overcooked, as the steam will be less concentrated.
- Microwave on full power for 1-2 minutes, or until the veggies are warmed through. Ensure to uncover your reheated veggies immediately after taking the Anyday out of the microwave to avoid overcooking.
- Optional: Use a toaster oven or air fryer to crisp up the reheated veggies! Spread the vegetables out evenly onto the tray, coat with vegetable spray (optional), and bake or air fry on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the desired crispness is achieved.
How to reheat vegetables without an Anyday:
- Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces if necessary and arrange them in a single layer onto a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover the dish with a lid, plate, damp paper towel, or other microwave-safe cover.
- Microwave the vegetables on full power in short intervals, stirring or flipping them every 30 seconds. A smaller volume of veggies will take less time to heat up; larger quantities will take more time.
- Check the vegetables frequently and remove them from the microwave as soon as they are heated through. Over-cooking vegetables in the microwave can cause them to become mushy and lose their flavor.
How to reheat grains in the microwave
Reheating grains, such as rice, pasta, or quinoa, in the microwave is a convenient option, and in our opinion, it’s the easiest kind of food to reheat. We love how leftover grains come out of the microwave almost as tender and perfectly steamed as they did when they were cooked fresh!
How to reheat grains in an Anyday dish:
- Place the grains in an Anyday dish and cover it with the lid, making sure to leave the vent open for steam to escape.
- Microwave on full power for 1-2 minutes, or until the grains are warmed through.
How to reheat grains without an Anyday:
- Place the meat in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a lid, plate, damp paper towel, or other microwave-safe cover.
- If grains feel overly dried out, add a small amount of liquid, such as water or broth. If you have a tight-fitting lid like Anyday’s, you will almost never need to do this step.
- Microwave the grains on high heat in short intervals, stirring or flipping them every 30 seconds.
- If the grains are hard or crunchy after reheating, you can add a small amount liquid and microwave for another 30 seconds.
- Check the grains frequently and remove them from the microwave as soon as they are warmed through.
There’s a theme to reheating food in the microwave: Locking in moisture is the secret to making your leftovers taste good. Luckily, the Anyday dishes are up to the task! As long as you have the Anyday lid, your food will reheat excellently. Just add enough time to get it as hot as you want. For more information on how the microwave works, read our blog post!
About the author
Rachel Johnson (she/her) is the Recipe Manager for Anyday. Her first cookbook, Unicorn Food, was published in 2018 and you can find more of her work in Cooking Light Magazine, Bon Appetit, and other outlets. She enjoys pizza, feminism, and creating joy through food.