Leftovers—an effort-free encore to a delicious dinner—are practically as good as it gets when you’re feeling a bit lazy and don’t want to make dinner. Still, as with most sequels, leftovers rarely manage to recapture the magic of the freshly-cooked, original meal. But, it doesn’t have to be that way!
As luck would have it, there are ways to reheat your leftovers so they keep their original quality—and it starts with keeping them far, far away from the microwave. Here are 22 foods you’ve probably been reheating wrong all your life…
1. French fries: Perhaps the most difficult leftover to bring back from the dead, microwaved French fries are a culinary disaster. Instead, put a little olive oil in a non-stick pan, set the heat to low, and toss in the fries. That’ll make them nice and crispy!
2. Fried chicken: Microwaving fried chicken is a surefire way to lose all of the crunch from the skin. Keep your chicken crispy by covering it in foil (shiny side up!) and baking it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Then, bake it uncovered for another 10 minutes.
3. Hard-boiled eggs: To reheat hard-boiled eggs, send ’em back to their maker. No, not the hen… but a pot of boiling water! In just 40 seconds, your cold, peeled eggs will be warm and ready to eat once more.
4. Pasta in tomato sauce: When you scrape leftover pasta from the dinner plate, chances are, it’s covered in sauce that can give the reheated version a weird taste. Have no fear! Just toss it in a pan over medium heat with a splash of water instead.
5. Rice: Microwaving leftover rice turns it into something that’s more like hard kibble than the soft, carb-filled delight you love. To reheat it, place leftovers in a covered baking dish with a bit of water and butter. Cover that with foil and bake it for 15 minutes at 320 degrees.
6. Bread: Nuking leftover bread will make Italian nonnas everywhere shake a rolling pin at you. Avoid their wrath by spritzing it with water, wrapping it in foil, and baking for seven minutes at 400 degrees. Then, unwrap it and cook for another three minutes.
7. Lasagna: No matter how much you love this stacked-and-stuffed pasta dish, you’re bound to have a bit left over. Who can eat a family-sized platter solo, after all? To reheat it, put some fresh sauce and cheese on an individual slice and bake it at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
8. Porridge: When Goldilocks dipped into the bears’ porridge and determined which one was just right, she didn’t know it could be reheated with a little trick. Avoid the microwave in favor of the stove top; just mix it with a splash of milk for moisture.
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9. Quiche: In the event you’re stuck with a ton of leftover quiche, don’t just pop your egg-and-spinach pie into the microwave. Sprinkle a bit of water on the egg, wrap the whole thing in foil, and toss it in the oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees for the best texture.
10. Fish: Avoid being that guy at the office who pops his fish into the microwave and stinks up the whole joint. The best way to enjoy fish the second time around is to give it a new purpose. For instance, flake it and add it into a salad or fish cake.
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11. Steak: Unless you’re already a card-carrying member of Club For Monsters Who Like Well-Done Steaks, microwaving your beef is a surefire way to ruin your meat. Instead, keep your steak juicy by placing thin slices of it in an oiled pan and cook it ’til it’s warm.
12. Mashed potatoes: Want to avoid reheated potatoes that get all crusty? Simmer water in a pan, and then put a bowl of your mashed ‘taters over the hot, steaming water. Add milk, and more butter, and stir as the steam gently reheats the potatoes.
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13. Omelette: Few have bitten into an omelette without consuming the whole thing, but if you ever have some left over, don’t sweat it. Reheat it in a pan and your omelette will be as fresh as the day it was made.
14. Pasta with a cream- or oil-based sauce: If this dish gets too hot, you’ll have a mess on your hands—in other words, a leftovers disaster. Avoid the microwave, which will overheat it, and simply toss it in a pan on medium heat. Don’t forget to add a dash of cream or oil while it cooks!
15. Casserole: Got a fridge stuffed tight with casserole that needs reheating? Put a splash of water on it, cover it with foil, then cook it at 350 degrees. The dish is successfully reheated when the middle is piping hot.
16. Fish and chips: Here’s the ultimate reheat challenge: restoring two different foods to their former selves. It’s as simple as throwing this dish on a baking tray and baking at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
17. Non-sauced noodles: Are you a meal-prepper who makes a massive pot of noodles to start the week? Please don’t microwave them! Just pop a serving of pasta back into boiling water for a mere 40 seconds to reheat the right way.
18. Roasted potatoes: If you place it in the microwave, a roasted potato would be piping hot, but soggy. Keep leftovers crispy by adding a drizzle of oil and re-roasting them at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
19. Stir-fry: Microwaved stir-fry might as well be the lining for the bottom of your trash can. No one likes biting into a soggy, oily memory of dinners long gone. You can reheat it the right way by just recooking it. Throw it back into a pan with hot oil, stir, and fry!
20. Chicken pot pie: Using a microwave on leftover chicken pot pie is the fastest way to ensure you’re eating pure mush, and nobody wants that! Restore your pot pie to all its comfort food glory by baking it at 400 degrees in an oven-safe casserole dish for 20 minutes.
21. Scrambled eggs: There’s a bit of bad news here: leftover scrambled eggs will forever taste bad. Your best bet would be to try and steam them or to add in some fresh meat to pretend like you’re not eating leftovers. (Or, you know… just make new eggs!)
22. Pizza: Were there to be an eighth wonder of the world, it would be pizza. As good hot as it is cold, it’s the ultimate leftover food, but it too should be kept away from the microwave. For a nice slice, place it in a hot, buttered, and covered pan for 30 seconds.
Leftovers can be the gifts that keep on giving, but only if you know how to handle them. Simply put: keep your favorite foods out of the microwave!
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