Reheating Food – FAQs

Reheating Food – FAQs

Key Takeaways

1. Learn proper methods to reheat leftovers, including oven, microwave, and stove techniques.

2. Ensure food reaches 165°F to kill bacteria, safeguarding against foodborne illness.

3. Discover which foods, like spinach and rice, should be avoided when reheating to maintain safety and taste.

4. Get tips on storing leftovers, including fridge and freezer storage, and know when to discard for optimal safety.

What is the proper way to reheat food?

The proper way to reheat food is dependent on if you stored your food properly or not. You cannot leave the leftovers on the kitchen shelf; you need to store it properly in a fridge or freezer to reheat and reuse it later. Bacteria will grow rapidly at room temperature, so we need to avoid putting our food at room temperatures for long.

As for reheating, the method is different for different kinds of foods. But whatever the method is, you need to reach the temperature of 165 degrees F during reheating as this will kill the bacteria and make our food good to eat. The methods are as follows:

Using the oven to reheat food:

You can use an oven to reheat several food items; in fact, it is the most common way of reheating. Food items that you can reheat in your oven are:

  • Pizza
  • Grilled sandwiches
  • Grilled meat­
  • Seafood
  • Baked items
  • Fried food
  • Crusty bread

Preheat the oven, spread your food item on the baking tray with a baking sheet on. Cover your food with an aluminum foil and reheat it thoroughly by setting the oven at 325 degrees F.

Using a microwave to reheat food:

Microwave is the quickest way to reheat food, but you need to make sure to heat them to the best optimal temperature. Reheating food in microwaves might affect the taste of the item a bit, but still, you can use it if you are in a hurry. Food items that you can reheat in your microwave are:

  • Soup
  • Noodles
  • Pasta
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Casserole
  • Stews

Make sure that you have properly thawed these food items if you froze them before. Cover them with a plastic wrap. And give proper time for heating. You should start with 2 minutes in the microwave, then stir and mix it, then again set the timer for 1 minute. Repeat until fully heated. You can use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches the min temperature required.

Using Stove:

You can also reheat your food on the stove with the proper method and proper heating. Make sure that the food reaches the temperature of 165 degrees F during reheating to ensure the killing of the bacteria if present.

These are a few methods by which you can reheat your leftovers instead of wasting them. Just take care of the precautions and enjoy your meal.

You can see this YouTube video for a quick review:

Which one is better to reheat food? Microwave or oven?

This debate is long and confusing. Some are in favor of microwaves and some in the oven, and both have their reasons as both of these have their pros and cons.

Microwave: They say the microwave is very fast and efficient while reheating. Your food will quickly heat up in minutes. But your food will not retain the actual nutritional value and also does not retain the crunch and crust.

Oven: Food heated in the oven will be healthier and contains a nutritional value. The food will also maintain its crust or crunch, but it will take more time and more energy consumption.

So now the choice is yours. Do you want it to be quick or tasty?

Is it bad to reheat food?

It is not bad to reheat food unless you stored that properly before. Reheating will not harm you, but storing at high temperatures or in inappropriate packing will cause harm to our health later on.

So coming to the point that you can reheat food, but the quality will not be the same every time. It is advisable to take the amount you want to eat in one sitting, reheat and eat it all. And when you are reheating, make sure that your food goes up to 165 degrees to kill any harmful bacteria if present and reheat it for the suggested amount of time.

Can you reheat food that has already been reheated?

Experts say that you can reheat food as many times as you want, but each time the quality will decrease.

Ideally, it is said that reheat the amount that you can eat in one go. Start with a small amount. You can reheat more if you want. But if you reheat the food and it is again leftover. The quality will not be the same when you heat it next time.

Also, make sure to reach the optimal 165 degrees F every time you heat your food to be safe.

The reason that reheating more than once is not appreciated is that the more times you reheat the food, the more will be the chance of the bacterial growth that will lead to food poisoning. Bacteria will get more time to multiply when you reheat slowly or insufficiently.

What is the recommended temperature for reheating food?

Temperature is a really important parameter to look for while reheating food as the correct heating temperature will ensure you the killing of the bacteria if present any and make your food more good and safe to eat. Hence, it is must to always check and ensure that while reheating your food reaches the optimal temperature.

FDA recommends that the temperature your food must reach while reheating is 165 degrees F.

To check the internal temperature, you can buy a food thermometer. It is a one-time investment, but you will eat healthy without any doubt every time. So make sure to check the temperature of the food, and when it reaches 165 F, try to keep it there for like 2 minutes, and your food is good to eat.

Can you reheat cooked food?

Reheating cooked food solely depends on is it freeze or not? Or how long did you kept it out at room temperature?

If you have cooked food, you can no longer keep it outside at room temperature after 2 hours. 2 hours is the maximum time that you can give to your food.

If you want to reheat it and use it, you can within these 2 hours.

The second scenario is that you have frozen your food after cooking within 2 hours. Now you can easily reheat it in microwave, stove, or oven.
Ideally, reheat the amount you can eat all at once.

So, yup, you can reheat your cooked food keeping the precautions in mind.

Which foods should I avoid to reheat?

In this world full of hustle and chaos, everyone is preparing their food beforehand to save their time and energy. Our food authorities give us some recommendations for heating like an optimal temperature of 165 F and not keeping the food out for more than two hours.

Despite these precautions, there are some food items that you should avoid reheating as they are not in the best of your health when reheated.

Let’s see the list of items and their reasons for not to reheat them:

  1. Spinach:

This healthy and full of energy vegetables are good to eat but will not be healthy when you eat it after reheating. Spinach is full of nitrates, which is converted to nitrites when reheated, and nitrites are not healthy; in fact, they are carcinogenic.

  • You can steam it if you want to eat it or heat it but cool it quickly and keep it at a lower temperature of 5 degrees C or below to avoid the conversion to nitrites.
  1. Potatoes:

Potatoes are a quick source of food. Many people boil them and store them for later use. If not reheated or stored properly, reheated potato can lead to botulism due to bacterial overgrowth, or it may lead to food poisoning.

  • To reheat it, use a proper method of boiling, storing, and reheating to avoid any risk.

We have a detailed article on this. You can give it a quick review to understand better.

Reheating the potatoes

  1. Chicken:

We all know chicken as a rich protein source, and when you heat it again and again, the structure of the proteins will be altered. This altered protein will give you digestive problems.

  1. Rice:

Rice is a staple food for many countries, and many people store them or freeze them for later use. Well, rice contains a bacteria known as bacillus cereus. The cooking will kill the bacteria, but the spores will remain there and will be toxic for you.

If you reheat your rice and leave it on the table, the spores will grow and will later cause food poisoning

  • What you can do is do not leave it on the table after reheating. Another way to reheat them is to bring the water to boil and put your rice in it. Do not over boil them. You can have rice the same as the fresh ones.
  1. Oil:

Reusing once cooked oil is a very common practice. We have no idea how dangerous it is to do this for your body.

  • Better not to use the used oil again.
  1. Eggs:

Eggs are also used commonly. Well, to freeze an egg, you can’t freeze the egg white part as it will become rubbery and will not feel good to eat. As for reheating, you should avoid it too. Eggs are also a rich source of protein. Better to not reheat them.

  • To use the leftovers, you should chop them and then you can use it in a green salad.

This was the list of few commonly used items that you should avoid reheating due to your health safety.

How to deal with leftover food?

First of all, to deal with leftover is not to throw them. Do not waste your food. There is always a way to store and reuse them, so dealing with leftovers is to keep them.  Storing leftovers are better for us, for the environment and for our pockets too.

Some people purposely cook extra to save it for later use. Some get some leftovers from the dinner table, and some might have it from the restaurant they just came from. So what are the ways to store them?

  • Storing in the fridge:

Within 2 hours of cooking, try to store them as the room temperature promotes bacterial growth. If you plan to eat the leftover the next day, you can store it in the fridge at the coolest place of the fridge in airtight containers or plastic zip bags.

  • Storing in the freezer:

To use your leftover later someday, you can easily freeze them. Freezing them will help you store them for a longer period. To freeze your leftover store them in an airtight container or preferably plastic bags. And put them in the freezer. A pro tip here is to put the date tag inside so you can remember how old your leftover is and which one to use first if there are more than one.

  • Using Leftovers:

Now to utilize them, you need to reheat them. For reheating, make sure your internal temperature of the food reaches 165 degrees F. You can get a food thermometer for that. Reaching this temperature will kill the bacteria if present any, and you can have your meal, which is healthy to eat.

You can reheat your food on the stove, in the oven or in the microwave depending on what food you are going to have.


 Should I cool food before refrigerating?

Yes, you should, but the rule is for 2 hours. Leaving it to cool for more than 2 hours will grow the bacteria and make it unhealthy.

The cooling is necessary because the temperature at which the bacteria grows is above 40 degrees F. when you put the hot food in, it will raise the temperature of the things around it, and if they reach this 40 degrees F, there will be the growth of bacteria. So it is advisable to cool your food before refrigerating.

If the amount is more so, you can make small portions so that they can cool up quickly.

 What is 2 hours / 4-hour rule?

The 2 hours 4-hour rule tells us how long we can keep potentially hazardous freshly make food. And is it safe to sell and eat or not?

This rule helps the sellers, but we can use it in our daily routine too. So what is the rule?

The rule says that

After 2 hours, you can either eat it, sell it, or put it in the fridge.

  • Suppose the food item is at room temperature for the past 4 hours. You can either eat it now or sell it, but you cannot put it in the fridge now for later use.
  • After 4 hours, you cannot eat it, and you have to throw it away. It will not be healthy to eat.


  • In another case, if you put it back in the fridge after 2 hours and take it out later, you can use it or sell it within the next two hours. So the total time of the food item out at the room temperature is will be 4 hours. You cannot put it back in the fridge now.


The room temperature, what we also call as the danger zone, is between 5 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius.


 Will reheating food kill bacteria?

We know that there are a lot of bacteria growing on our food, especially at room temperature. To avoid that, people reheat food when they take it out of the fridge or freezer because yes, reheating food will kill the bacteria if the food is heated to a minimum of 75 degrees Celsius. To ensure the killing of the bacteria, you need to check the internal temperature of the food too. You can use a food thermometer for that. The temperature of the core should be 75 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees F., and this temperature should be maintained for at least 2 minutes. The heat will kill the maximum of the disease-causing bacteria as they cannot withstand this high temperature.

Cooking slowly or not reaching the optimal temperature will not kill the bacteria and will lead to food poisoning, so avoid these two things.

Can I eat my leftover food for five days?

When you have leftover food, you usually keep it in the fridge to use it later. It is a common practice. If you plan to use it after a specific time, you freeze it. Otherwise, you only refrigerate it.

FDA suggestion:

FDA recommends to only safe food for up to four days. They say that if you have not eaten it within four days, now is the time to throw it away.

Food Microbiologist Suggestion:

Whereas a food microbiology professor of Cornell University, Randy Worobo, says that your leftover food can last up to a week in the fridge, but that depends on how did you handled them.

Time Check:

The bacteria and harmful pathogens are not visible from naked eyes; therefore, you cannot know how contaminated your feed is. The only estimate you can make is from the time frame. So it’s better to keep a check on your time and eat you’re leftover before it’s too late.

Final thought:

To be on the safe side, eat it within four days. And to add on if your food smells rotten or bad or if they look bad, follow your gut and do not eat it as it will not be fine and you’ll end up with food poisoning.

How long can you keep cooked rice in the fridge?

Cooked rice stays in the fridge for about four to seven days, but it solely depends on the way you stored it. Brown rice will turn bad even faster than white rice.

Storing rice correctly:

To store it quickly, make sure the rice is cool now. If they are still hot, they will form moisture inside the container, which will help in bacterial growth. The container you are using must be airtight to avoid any air contact and to less exposure to bacteria.

If they have gone bad:

Your rice may go bad even before four days. You can tell that your rice is not good to eat with the help of certain things. You can look for:

  • Smell: if your rice smells odd and a little sour, it means that you need to throw them out, and they are not good to eat.
  • Texture: if your rice has become dry or tough or crumbly, you better not eat it. It indicated that your rice is in the fridge for long, and now is the time to throw them instead of eating them.
  • And if your rice is slimy more than they should be, it means that you put the hot container in, and there was moisture. We know that moisture leads to bacterial growth so better not to eat it.

So take care of everything before eating rice you just took out of the fridge. As health matters more.

Can we reheat Chinese takeaway?

So you went to the Chinese restaurant, and you have some leftovers that you don’t want to throw away.  You want to take them home for later use, so the answer is yes, you can take them home, but make sure to put them in the fridge as soon as you can.

Pack them properly before storing them.

How long can we keep?

We can keep our Chinese leftover for 2 to 3 days, but make sure that you have not left it at room temperature for long before storing.

Reheating temperature:

The temperature to reheat your Chinese leftover is a minimum of 82 degrees C.

What foods should not be microwaved?

There are several foods that you should not microwave for their reasons. The list is as follows:

  1. EGGS: It is strictly said that whatever you want to do with a whole hard-boiled egg you can do, but the one thing you should never do is to microwave them. They say that the egg will explode after being microwaved due to the steam that built-in.
  2. PROCESSED MEAT: The processed meat has a lot of preservatives that are already dangerous to health, but their dangerous level increases by every time you microwave them. So better not to microwave them. Some studies suggest that it will also increase the cholesterol level.
  3. TOMATO PASTA SAUCE: When you have your pasta left from last night, and you wanted to eat it, you put in your tomato sauce in the microwave to heat it. The steam will built-in, and when it tries to evaporate, the sauce will start bubbling, and you will end up in a disaster.
  4. FROZEN MEAT: You should never put your frozen meat in the microwave to cook. It is highly risky. Even if you put it on the defrost setting. Some areas will become defrosted while some are not leaving a high chance for bacteria to grow.
  5. VEGETABLES: It is said that vegetables usually lost their nutrients when you heat it in a microwave. We usually take vegetables for nutrients, right? So what is the use of them without it? Better not to use a microwave for heating.

Can we eat cold scrambled eggs?

In the list of foods that should not be reheated, eggs are included. So if you have some scrambled eggs that you left in the fridge last night and you wanted to eat now. The best is to eat the scrambled eggs cold. You can put them in the vegetable salad or pair them up within a sandwich. But eating a cold scrambled egg is fine.

Can you reheat KFC?

Yes, you can reheat KFC chicken, and they claim it. They even tell you a way to reheat your KFC chicken when some are leftover from your dinner last night.

You can reheat your chicken in the microwave, too, with a paper towel to absorb moisture for 2 to 3 minutes.

The best way to reheat your Kentucky fried chicken is in the oven.

  • Preheat your oven to 177 degrees Celsius.
  • Place your chicken on the baking tray lined with the foil.
  • Place the baking tray on the top rack in the oven.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes to make it crispier again.

This is the proper recommended way to reheat your KFC chicken.

Can we refreeze reheated food?

You reheated your food, but some of it is still leftover, and you don’t want to waste it, so yes, you can refreeze once reheated food but make it sure that the quality will not be the same every time you freeze and reheat it. One thing else that you need to keep in mind is to freeze your leftover within 2 hours of reheating it the first time.

Still, it is advisable to reheat the amount that you want to eat in one sitting. As not only will the taste differ, the quality will also be affected, and the risk of bacterial growth on the food will also increase.

How do you reheat meat?

Reheating meat can be done by several methods, either in the microwave or on the stove or in the oven. You need to keep some points in mind first:

Now, to reheat, the best way to prevent your meat from drying is to use either an oven or a toasting oven.

  • Use aluminum foil while heating to retain moisture and keeping them moist.
  • Do not set the temperature too high.

What is the best way to reheat French fries?

You made some fries yesterday, but shockingly some were leftover. You put them in the fridge, and now you want to reheat them to eat it, but you don’t want soggy fries. I know everyone likes them crispier. There is a way that you can make them crispier while reheating. Let’s see how:

  • Using the stove is the best way to reheat them.
  • Use your skillet, and spread a thin layer of oil on it.
  • Now spread your fries in such a way that no fries overlaps each other.
  • If they are more, reheat them in portions.
  • Cook them as it is until they are properly heated, then toss and turn them so that they can become crispier.

You can enjoy your last day fries like this, the same as fresh and crispier.

Will hot food damage the fridge?

It is a myth that says hot food will damage your refrigerator. In actuality, the reality is a bit different.

When you put really hot food in the fridge, it will increase the temperature of the food items around it. And if the reaches the temperature of 40 degrees F, the bacteria will start growing, so it is said to avoid putting hot food in the fridge.

But in another scenario, you can also not leave your food out of the fridge for more than 2 hours. So after cooking, if you want to refrigerate it, divide it into smaller portions, so it cools down quickly and then put it in the fridge within 2 hours of time frame.

So the myth that hot food damages the fridge is not right, but the reality is that hot food can spoil the food items around it.

Is it okay to eat cold food from the fridge?

The first and the most important thing to see if you are eating your food directly out of the fridge is whether it was fully cooked before or not.

You can eat fully cooked food right out of the fridge, but uncooked or partially cooked food has a high probability of bacteria on it. You will end up sick while consuming uncooked cold food.

The second thing is if you eat cold food regularly as a habit, it will upset your stomach as our digestion works well in a warmer environment. Eating lots of cold food items will lead to a stomach ache or bloating.

How to avoid food poisoning?

Several bacteria can cause food poisoning. You can have stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, or other Gastric problems. To avoid all of them we can take some preventive measures.

  • Wash your hands properly before handling food.
  • Be extra careful with raw meat. Wash hand every time after touching raw meat. Keep is separate from vegetables and other stuff. Place it in the lower portion of the fridge.
  • Cook food thoroughly to kill any bacteria present
  • Do not leave the food at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Set the fridge thermostat below 5 degrees C
  • If you put leftovers in the fridge, use them within 3 to 4 days.
  • Use airtight containers or zip-lock plastic bags to store the food.
  • Do not eat uncooked or half-cooked meals directly from the fridge.
  • Make sure the food reaches 165 degrees F for 2 minutes while you are reheating it.

By keeping these things in mind and handling your food with care will help you avoid food poisoning.

Why does reheating in the microwave make things soggy?

Every food item has water molecules in it. When you heat them in the microwave the water molecules will turn into the steam. The surrounding environment is cool, so the water molecules will again condense on the food item, making it soggy even if the food was crispier.

It is usually recommended to place a paper towel on the food item so the moisture will be absorbed by that and making the food less soggy.

Why does the food taste saltier after reheating?

Well, there are a few different assumptions regarding this scenario.

Some say that reheating will cause evaporation of the water molecules making the remaining saltier. While some say that if you are eating food with a thicker consistency, you might have eaten the less salty part while the more salty part is left behind for the next day.

Can you reheat food in a convection oven?

Yes, reheating can also be done in a convection oven, but you have to be careful about the temperature as the convection oven id faster than a regular normal oven. The second thing to keep in mind is to cover the food while reheating.

Is a toaster better or a microwave is better to reheat food?

It all depends on what kind of food you are reheating.

If you are reheating liquid-based foods like you are heating last night’s soup or sauces or casserole, they are good to reheat in the microwave.

Whereas if you are reheating baked items, like pizza or bread, they are better reheated in a toaster oven.

What are the final tips for reheating?

  • Store your leftover within 2 hours.
  • If stored in the fridge, use them within 2 to 3 days
  • Reheat properly up to 165 degrees F
  • If you want to maintain the taste, reheat them only once.
  • Reheat the food that you want to eat in one sitting.
  • Make your food piping hot.
  • Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  • Please don’t use the slow cooker as it will promote bacterial growth.