How to Reheat Mac and Cheese

published Nov 22, 2023
How to Reheat Mac and Cheese Recipe

Everything you need to know about reheating mac and cheese in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in the oven.

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A large baking dish full of mac and cheese with a spoon inserted.
Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Having some leftover mac and cheese in the refrigerator is never a bad thing. Cheesy, comforting, noodle-y goodness is just waiting for you to enjoy it again. But what’s the best way to reheat it? As the mac and cheese sits in the fridge, it can lose some of its creaminess, and you have to be careful that you don’t overheat the sauce, which will cause it to separate and leave behind an oily, grainy texture. Here are three ways you can reheat mac and cheese to get it as close to its original state as possible.

Quick Overview

How to Reheat Mac and Cheese

There are three ways that you can reheat mac and cheese. For an individual serving or small amounts, use the microwave or stovetop. For larger amounts of frozen mac and cheese, use the oven or toaster oven. For all methods, to keep the mac and cheese from drying out, stir 1 tablespoon milk into each 1 cup mac and cheese before reheating.

Before you reheat mac and cheese, you want to make sure it’s stored properly. Store leftovers in an airtight container to keep it from drying out or absorbing other smells in the refrigerator. If you have a big batch you don’t think you’ll eat up quickly, stash some of it in the freezer for longer-term storage.

When you’re ready to reheat mac and cheese, there are two general rules of thumb that apply to all the reheating methods.

  1. Reheat it the way you initially cooked it. If you cooked it on the stovetop, use it for reheating. For oven-baked mac and cheese, put it back in the oven.
  2. Add some milk. Add some moisture into the mac and cheese to get some of the sauciness back. Use 1 tablespoon milk for every 1 cup mac and cheese.

Method 1: Microwave

The microwave is best for reheating single or small servings of mac and cheese.

  • Stir the milk into the mac and cheese, then spread it out in an even layer in a shallow, microwave-safe bowl. A flatter, thinner layer is better when microwaving leftovers.
  • Cover with a microwave-safe plate or damp paper towel and microwave on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir and continue to microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until warmed through.
  • Stir in a little bit of butter and shredded cheese if you want to get a little more creaminess.

Method 2: Stovetop

I personally find the best to reheat mac and cheese is to do it on the stovetop. Reheating on the stovetop is best for one to a few servings.

  • Break up any big clumps of mac and cheese and place in a saucepan. Stir in the milk.
  • Cook over medium or medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. (You can keep it covered for the first few minutes if you have a few servings in the saucepan to get it warmer faster.)
  • Stir in a little bit of butter and shredded cheese if you want to get a little more creaminess.

Method 3: Oven or Toaster Oven

The oven or toaster oven is best for reheating large batches of mac and cheese or the baked versions with a crispy topping.

  • If your mac and cheese doesn’t have a crispy topping, place it in a baking dish, break up any clumps, and stir in the milk. If your mac and cheese has a crispy topping, place it directly in the baking dish and just drizzle the milk down the sides of the baking dish. (Although if you can reserve the crispy topping separately, that would be even better!)
  • Cover the baking dish with an oven-safe lid or aluminum foil.
  • Bake in a 350ºF oven or toaster oven until warmed through, checking after 20 minutes. If you want a crispy top, uncover (sprinkle with crispy topping if reserved separately), and bake for 10 minutes more.
  • Stir in a little bit of butter and shredded cheese if you want to get a little more creaminess.

How to Reheat Frozen Mac and Cheese

If you have frozen mac and cheese, you can thaw it in the refrigerator and then use any of the three methods above for reheating. If you don’t have time to thaw, you can reheat it from frozen in the oven or toaster oven instead.

  • Transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish and drizzle the milk down the sides of the baking dish. Cover with an oven-safe lid or aluminum foil.
  • Bake in a 350ºF oven or toaster oven until warmed through, checking after 40 minutes. If you want a crispy top, uncover (sprinkle with crispy topping if reserved separately or some more cheese if you want), and bake for 10 minutes more.
  • Stir in a little bit of butter and shredded cheese if you want to get a little more creaminess.

No matter which method you choose to use, as long as you don’t overheat the mac and cheese, you can be enjoying cheesy goodness that’s pretty darn close to what it tasted like when it was freshly made.

How to Reheat Mac and Cheese Recipe

Everything you need to know about reheating mac and cheese in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in the oven.

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Prepared mac and cheese

  • 1 tablespoon

    milk for every 1 cup mac and cheese

  • 1 tablespoon

    shredded cheese for every 1 cup mac and cheese (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon

    butter for every 1 cup mac and cheese (optional)

Instructions

Option 1: Microwave

  1. Stir the milk into the mac and cheese, then spread it out in an even layer in a shallow, microwave-safe bowl. A flatter, thinner layer is better when microwaving leftovers.

  2. Cover with a microwave-safe plate or damp paper towel and microwave on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir and continue to microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until warmed through.

  3. Stir in shredded cheese and butter if you want to get a little more creaminess.

Option 2: Stovetop

  1. Break up any big clumps of mac and cheese and place in a saucepan. Stir in the milk.

  2. Cook over medium or medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. (You can keep it covered for the first few minutes if you have a few servings in the saucepan.)

  3. Stir in shredded cheese and butter if you want to get a little more creaminess.

Option 3: Oven or Toaster Oven

  1. If your mac and cheese doesn’t have a crispy topping, place it in a baking dish, break up any clumps, and stir then milk into the mac and cheese. If your mac and cheese has a crispy topping, place it directly in the baking dish and just drizzle the milk down the sides of the baking dish. (Although if you can reserve the crispy topping separately, that would be even better!)

  2. Cover the baking dish with an oven-safe lid or aluminum foil.

  3. Bake in a 350ºF oven or toaster oven until warmed through, checking after 20 minutes (or 40 minutes if frozen). If you want a crispy top, uncover, (sprinkle with crispy topping if reserved separately or shredded cheese if you want), and bake for 10 minutes more. Stir in shredded cheese and butter if you want to get a little more creaminess.