The Ultimate Guide to Reheating What You Batch Cooked

The Ultimate Guide to Reheating What You Batch Cooked

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Kelli Foster
Sep 14, 2018
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Meal prepping is a gift to your future self. Putting in some upfront work rewards you with ready-to-eat food for days (even weeks!) to come. It's a true joy. With the cooking complete, there's only one thing left to do before you can dig in: reheat your food. No matter what you cooked or how you did it, here's your guide to reheating the bounty of your batch cooking.

The Basics

Food should be reheated the same way it was cooked.

As a general rule of thumb, always plan to reheat food in the same way it was cooked. Oven cooking provides a gentle, dry heat from all sides, while the stovetop offers varying levels of very direct heat, ideal for wet or saucy foods. For foods cooked in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, use the stovetop or microwave.

A thin, even layer is best for microwave reheating.

Avoid piling food in the center of the plate, which leads to the food heating unevenly. For the best results, spread food into a thin, even layer across the plate. Or better yet, arrange the food in a ring around around the perimeter of the plate.

Read more: The Wrong Way (and the Right Way!) to Microwave Leftovers

Rice and Grains

A little extra moisture is needed when reheating rice and grains.

Yes, rice and grains can be as fluffy and tender as the first time you cooked them — it just takes a little splash of water (or broth). Whether you reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, this will help to steam and soften the grains.

A wet paper towel helps with microwave reheating.

In addition to mixing the grains with a small splash of water, you'll also want to cover the plate or bowl with a wet paper towel when microwaving. Similar to a lidded pot on the stovetop, the damp towel keeps moisture in, which helps steam the grains.

Try it: The Best Ways to Reheat Leftover Rice

Rice and grains can be reheated straight from the freezer.

Not only do rice and grains freeze very well, but you can also use them straight from the freezer — no need to thaw first. In fact, it's best to skip thawing since it can make grains overly mushy and gummy.

Read more: How To Freeze & Thaw Rice, Quinoa & Other Whole Grains

Casseroles and Eggs

You can reheat casseroles straight from the freezer.

Good news: Reheating that frozen casserole requires no more effort than sliding it into the oven. (Plan on about 90 minutes at 350°F). Keep the casserole covered with foil to prevent it from drying out.

Egg casseroles and frittatas don't have to be reheated.

Not only are these dishes good for all-day eating (even days after they're cooked), but they're also just as good chilled or at room temperature.

Covering egg casseroles helps when reheating.

If you do want to reheat an egg casserole or frittata, the most important thing to remember is that you want to keep them covered. This keeps the eggs soft and moist and prevents them from drying out. When reheating in the oven (our preferred method), cover with foil. If you opt for the microwave, cover the eggs with a damp paper towel.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Meat

The stovetop is best for braised or saucy meats.

Not only are large, tough cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulder a no-brainer for batch cooking, but they also get even better on the second or third day. For these meats (and any others cooked in a sauce), they just need a few minutes warmed in a skillet over low heat.

Try it: A Guide to Freezing Leftover Brisket

The best method for meatballs comes down to the sauce.

Let sauce (or its absence!) be your guide when it comes to reheating meatballs. Since these big-batch superstars are already cooked, you just need to heat them through. When serving with sauce or gravy, reheat in the sauce on the stovetop over low heat until heated through (about 10 minutes).

If you don't plan to serve the meatballs with sauce or gravy, place them on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and cover with foil. Then reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through (about 15 minutes).

Get a recipe: How To Make Meatballs: The Easiest, Simplest Method

Freezer Sandwiches

Thawing in the fridge overnight gives things a head-start.

While you can absolutely reheat big-batch sandwiches straight from the freezer, it's never a bad idea to start thawing them in the fridge a few hours (or up to one day) before you plan to eat them. Partially or fully thawing your freezer sandwiches will reduce the amount of time they need in the oven.

Get inspired: 5 Make-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches to Stock Your Freezer

An oven (regular or toaster) is the best way to reheat freezer sandwiches.

A traditional oven or toaster oven is always your best bet when reheating freezer sandwiches because it guarantees warm interiors and a lightly crisped outside. Set the oven to 325°F, then reheat the sandwich in foil until warmed through, about 20 minutes. Then, open the foil and heat for another few minutes until crisp and browned.

A paper towel is the trick to microwaving egg sandwiches.

To avoiding soggy bread when reheating frozen breakfast sandwiches in the microwave, place a paper towel on the plate before putting down your sandwich. The paper towel will absorb any melting ice crystals and keep the bread from absorbing the moisture.

Read more: 3 Rules for Freezing and Reheating Breakfast Sandwiches

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