We Tested 5 Methods for Reheating Steak and Found Our New Go-To Method
Cooking steak at home isn’t difficult, but it is the kind of dish you want to handle with care. And the same goes for any leftovers. If you’re lucky enough to have some extra rib-eye in the fridge, it’s not the sort of thing you just pop in the microwave and eat standing over the sink.
No, that tasty beef requires some TLC. But what is the best way to reheat steak? How do you keep it juicy and flavorful? Is it possible to keep or re-create that just-cooked crust? Determined to find the ultimate approach, we road tested five popular techniques, including microwaving, steaming, searing, and even sous vide. The results may surprise you. Read on for the meaty details.
A Few Notes About Methodology
Steaks: For all our tests, we used boneless rib-eye steaks, cooked to medium-rare, using this stovetop steak recipe. All the steaks were refrigerated whole for 24 hours and removed from the fridge 30 minutes before reheating. (Allowing the steak to sit at room temperature begins the warming process and helps to avoid overcooking when you reheat the steaks — do the same when cooking steaks the first time around, too.) While none of the methods we tested specified this, we recommend seasoning the reheated meat, as leftover food can be a bit flat in the flavor department and almost always benefits from some extra salt and pepper.
Tests: All the tests were run on the same day, back-to-back, using the same oven, stove, and other kitchen equipment. We taste tested each method immediately after reheating.
Timing: Prep times are included for each method but do not include the recommended 30 minutes for the steaks to come to room temperature.
Ratings: Our goal was to find a reheating method that delivers a steak that tastes as close as possible to a freshly cooked one. For our final ratings, we also considered ease and appearance.
Steak Reheating Method: Stovetop Steam
- Reheating time: 10 minutes
- Rating: 3/10
About this method: Men’s Health insists there is only one way to reheat steak: steaming it in a covered pan on the stove. The pan needs to be large and heavy, and placed indirectly over the heat and you need to add just enough water to steam the meat without allowing it to pool underneath. The steaming takes about 10 minutes, or however long it takes for the water to cook off.
Results: Steaming leftover steak did keep it moist — and didn’t overcook it — but the steak tasted more water-logged than juicy. It was also bland, perhaps from the extra water, and lacked any kind of crusty exterior. On the plus side, while the outside turned a bit gray, once we cut into the steak, it was still a lovely pink. Steaming isn’t difficult, but we found it too fussy and time-consuming for the just-OK results.
Steak Reheating Method: Stovetop Sear
- Reheating time: 3 to 5 minutes
- Rating: 4/10
About this method: Aside from the microwave, this method from Delish was the easiest one we tested. You simply warm some oil in a skillet, add the steak, and sear it, flipping every minute, until cooked to your liking.
Results: The straightforwardness of this method makes it immediately appealing, and we do think it’s one of the best ways to reheat sliced steak. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as well when reheating a larger piece of leftover steak. In order to heat the meat all the way though, you need to cook it for so long that it becomes dry and overcooked. With this method you have two options — slightly warm but still medium-rare to medium steak or hot well-done meat — neither of which is ideal.
Steak Reheating Method: Sous Vide with Optional Searing
- Reheating time: 10 to 12 minutes
- Rating: 7/10
About this method: Sous vide sounds complicated, but in this instance it’s relatively simple. The steak goes in a zip-top bag and is submerged in 130°F water until heated through, which takes about 5 minutes. You can dig in right away or quickly sear the steak in a hot pan to revive the crust.
Results: The sous vide option yielded juicy, flavorful meat and although it was a bit gray on the outside, it was a beautiful medium-rare pink on the inside. The only thing missing is the crust, but that can be fixed by quickly searing the steak in a hot pan for about 1 minute per side. The issue here is that not everyone has a sous vide machine. It’s true that you could still use this method without the machine, but that would require monitoring a pot of water very closely with a thermometer to make sure it stays at a steady 130°F. Luckily, we found better ways to revive a steak that don’t require a specific gadget.
Steak Reheating Method: Microwave
- Reheating time: 3 minutes
- Rating: 8/10
About this method: While All Recipes offers several ways to reheat steak, we had to put their microwave option to the test. They recommend placing a damp paper towel on top of the steak, using your microwave’s medium heat setting, and heating the steak in 30-second intervals, while flipping it in between. The total time depends on the size and thickness of the steak, as well as your microwave, but 90 seconds to 2 minutes is a good estimate.
Results: This microwave method was the surprise hit of our showdown. It scored points for speed and ease but also delivered competitive results. The meat remained juicy and full of flavor, plus it actually retained some of its crusty exterior. As a control, we also tested this method without the paper towel and found the meat to be slightly drier, so stick with the paper towel technique.
Steak Reheating Method: Warm in the Oven, Sear on the Stove
- Reheating time: 30 to 35 minutes
- Rating: 10/10
About this method: Cook’s Illustrated reports that one of the best ways to cook steak is also one of the best ways to reheat it. First, the meat is arranged on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and warmed in a 250°F oven until it reaches 110°F, which takes about 30 minutes. Next, the meat gets a quick stovetop sear to bring back the crust.
Results: This two-step method requires a bit more effort and patience, but if you have the time, it was our favorite method. Gently reheating the meat in the oven allows it to warm up without overcooking, while a minute or two in a hot pan gives it the texture of just-cooked steak. This reheating technique also browned the meat rather than turning it gray, which earned this method extra points in the looks department.