Heat food in a flash

How to reheat food.

Step 1.

Make dinner.

Step 2.

Eat most of dinner.

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Step 3.

Put remaining dinner in fridge.

Step 4. (next day)

Remove leftovers and contemplate reheating.  Tin foil or no tin foil?  Microwave or oven?  210° or 350°?   1/2 hour or hour?   Throw the leftovers back in the fridge, stick a box of Cheerios and a jug of milk on the dinner table and call it a day.  Cheerios are pretty good anyway.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Reheating food properly is the key to good leftovers, or a successful dinner party.  I can’t speak from experience on the dinner party thing.  For me a dinner party is when my boyfriend and I wear sombreros on Taco Night.  But if you were to have a dinner party where you actually invited guests, cooking in advance and being able to reheat various things is important.  To make your life easier you can cook a few things in advance, and then reheat them using the fancy method I’m about to tell you about.  It is the very same fancy method used in restaurants all around the world.

Except in that restaurant a few blocks away from my house where whatever I order is ice cold.   I’ve boycotted that place all winter because of it.  You hear that, Dairy Queen?  Shape up.

The trick is to reheat your food in a flash.

Flashing your food is heating it very quickly in a very hot oven.

To flash food, heat it in a 450° oven for 2-10 minutes depending on the food.

The benefit to flashing food is that it heats it quickly, without cooking it.

For this to work the food has to be room temperature or slightly warmer (not straight out of the fridge).  It also has to be relatively thin and not dense.  In other words, you can heat up slices of chicken, turkey or roast beef this way but not an entire chicken, turkey or roast.  Got it?

If the food you’re heating is something you worry about drying out (poultry, pasta, roast)  cover it with tinfoil.

To flash foods, just put them on a baking sheet or in a casserole …

Stick them in an oven preheated to 450° for 2 – 10 minutes, depending on the size/density of the item. You’ll get a feel for it.


Remove your food and eat it up!  Oh.  And if you’re doing that dinner party thing, offer some to your guests, I guess.

The antojito I reheated turned out perfectly. Crisp on the outside and hot and gooey on the inside. I’ve never tried to reheat french fries this way so I thought I’d give it a shot.  In the name of blog science. ( I normally reheat french fries by sticking them in the deep fryer for a couple of minutes. )

The fries didn’t turn out great. They were edible. But not great.  Like the Mother’s Day breakfast your 10 year old made.

Or the Cheerios I had for dinner last night.

18 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    so much better than that microwave method. THANKS Karen!!!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Genius — can’t wait to try this on pizza. I usually resort to broiling, which burns the cheese and dries out the crust. Meh.

    • Karen says:

      Jennifer – Another great way to heat up pizza, is to put it in a hot non stick pan for a few minutes so the crust gets crisp. Then throw a lid on it so the cheese melts for another minute. Comes out perfectly! ~ karen

    • susie says:

      Jennifer, the way to reheat pizza is to put it in a cast iron skillet, covered, for the amount of time it takes to melt the cheese without burning the crust. Medium-low with a lid is how I get it done. You get crunch AND goo, which is what we all want.

      You can thank Ted from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” for that tip.

  3. Amie says:

    Pizza is much better reheated in the oven!

  4. Angela says:

    YES! I managed to stay up late enough to get a fresh post 🙂 I’m way over here on the west coast so by the time I get my daily dose of your fabulous blog it seems everyone has moved on. This is a great tip, thank you. And thank you for this blog, your humor often makes my day 🙂 You are my hero Karen!

  5. mbb. says:

    great tip! and so useful!

  6. Christina says:

    You should never stop posting about your clever food preparation, storage, and reheating ideas. I’m hoping that if you continue to barrage me with these concepts I may eventually break-down and stop being such a wuss about saving & eating leftovers as well as cooking in general.

    Remember how I had never seen mason jars for sale anywhere? That very same day I wandered around World Market and sure enough, there were some mason jars. But sadly they did not have any of the shoulder-less variety. Harumph.

  7. Theresa says:

    Had no idea! very useful tip as we depend on leftovers around here to survive the week.

  8. Stephanie says:

    My go-to supper is oatmeal. If I eat cheerios, I’m just hungry an hour later. Ha! Thanks for the flash heating tip.

  9. Sabrina says:

    The best way to heat fries in the oven is to use the broiler! Toss them around every few minutes. They’ll usually get soggy looking before they get crispy, but put them in one layer, and shake the pan around often and they’ll be great!

    • Karen says:

      Sabrina – Thanks for the tip! (I’m still recommending the deep fryer as the *best* method to reheat a fry (taught to me by the owner of a diner … or as he likes to call it “greasy spoon”) However, the broiler comes in a close second! ~ karen

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