The Art of Reheating in a Microwave

Dec 19, 2011

Food dish placed on stack of plates

There are hundreds of culinary creations you can make in a microwave. But let’s face it, for most of us the microwave is all about reheating. That being said, after trying to ingest cardboard pizza, petrified potatoes and soggy croissants, we know there’s a big difference between reheating leftovers and revitalizing them.

Retaining Moisture is Key

Although there are plenty of culinary creations you can make with a microwave, for most of us the microwave is all about reheating. The secret to reviving food in a microwave is moisture. A damp paper towel is an easy way to help foods retain water. Place one over a leftover croissant, burger or burrito, and you'll be surprised at how much better your food tastes.

Revitalizing Pizza and Sandwiches

Of course, how you reheat something depends on what you're eating. For pizza, try running the crust under the kitchen tap, or, using a microwavable dish, lay the pizza on a short stack of paper towels. Will your slice be crispy and crusty? Probably not, but it won't taste like cardboard, either. In fact, sandwiches can benefit for this method as well. A few drops of sprinkled water will make a roll or a slice of bread fluffy rather than soggy.

Invigorating Noodles and Rice

Chinese or Mexican food can be tricky. One tip is to heat the rice separately and add a bit of water before you microwave it. As for a chicken dish—like Kung Pao Chicken or Arroz con Pollo—you'll want to keep an eye on it, stirring every minute or two.

Even coffee can be refreshed in the microwave with water. If it's been sitting at room temperature for a while, it's probably bitter. Add a splash of water to cut the bitterness and pop it in the microwave—just be sure it never comes to a boil.

A good rule of thumb to ensure that you won't overcook leftovers is the "half-and-half" rule: half the power and half the time. Adjust the temperature setting by half; and halfway through cooking, flip, stir, or rearrange your food, so it will cook more evenly.

Containers Matter, Too

Just because your food was delivered in it, doesn't mean it can go in the microwave. Never reheat food in metal or aluminium foil, and recent health studies have advised against heating plastic containers or plastic wrap. However, a glass plate is always a safe bet.

Try these tips and tricks and you'll be surprised at how much better your food—or coffee—tastes.