You Should Never Reheat Chinese Food In The Microwave. Here's Why

Chinese food is sort of like pizza: There's nothing more indulgent than digging into it when it's steamy and fresh. Then the next day it can still be pretty tasty, even when you eat it cold. But reheating Chinese food the wrong way — namely by throwing your leftovers in the microwave — can destroy the entire experience.

We're not exaggerating here. There are several reasons you should skip the microwave when it comes to reheating your Chinese takeout, no matter how convenient it might seem. First, your takeout container may not be microwave-safe, according to LiveScience. Unless it has been explicitly labeled safe for the microwave, there is no way to know if your plastic container is perfectly fine or possibly leaching out harmful chemicals into your food — plus there is always the risk that it will melt. And that little metal handle on the side of your favorite Chinese restaurant's cute, paper to-go carton? That's a potential fire hazard, so please keep it far, far away from the inside of your microwave (via Today).

We've established that microwaving Chinese takeout in its to-go container is dicey, but there's more to this leftover etiquette than just safety: Reheating Chinese food in the microwave simply makes it taste bad. Who wants to eat overcooked noodles, soggy egg rolls, or rock-hard rice? 

Opt for the stovetop

Luckily for us, reheating takeout isn't exactly rocket science. Instead of dumping everything into the microwave, go for the stovetop method. If you heat your General Tso's chicken or shrimp lo mein in a pan or wok with some oil, you can save the texture of the dish. Feel free to add soy sauce or any other ingredients you like to amp up bland flavors.

Tasting Table says you're also welcome to separate the ingredients from one another and reheat each individually. This will get your food the closest as possible to how it was when you ate it fresh, but can feel like a lot of time and energy spent on reheating leftovers. If your pan and oil are both sizzling hot (But not smoking! That means your oil might burn.) it will better ensure that your leftovers will emerge crispy, not soggy (via The Kitchn).

Reheat Chinese food in the oven for crispy fried foods

It is also possible to reheat Chinese food in the oven. This method can prevent your leftovers from becoming dry and overcooked, and help you avoid chewy meat and soggy breading. Marvelous Chef suggests going low and slow, setting your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The outlet says that even though this method takes the longest of them all (since you have to preheat your oven), it is one of the best choices for fried foods, as it gives them the opportunity to crisp back up.

For best results reheating Chinese food in the oven, Recipe Maker recommends placing any foods like rice or noodles in an oven-safe container and covering with foil, uncovering for the last few minutes to allow everything to get crispy. For foods like egg rolls, spring rolls, or chicken wings, they say you can skip the container and simply wrap the foods in foil, placing them directly on the racks. FoodsGuy says this method will likely take 10 to 12 minutes to cook.

There are a variety of ways to repurpose leftover rice

If you're stuck with a container of plain white rice that became cold, hard, and bland overnight, you've got a world of options, according to Bon Appétit. You can gently reheat your rice in a covered saucepan with a little bit of water to eat it plain or repurpose the ingredient into a dessert by simmering it with milk until you've got the base for a soft rice pudding. Create your own Chinese dish by using leftover rice in fried rice (it's actually better for this than fresh rice!) or make congee, a savory Chinese rice porridge.

If you absolutely must reheat the rice via your trusty microwave, Bon Appétit suggests draping a wet towel over the bowl: This will create steam, eliminating the usual dry rice you'd get from a microwave oven. Taste of Home co-signs the stove-top and fried rice methods, and recommends adding a tablespoon of broth or water to your microwaved rice for more moisture. With all of these Chinese food reheating methods, but especially when it comes to any involving rice, be sure your food reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit before you eat it, which is the temperature the USDA recommends for avoiding food poisoning.