This Microwave Trick Makes Evenly Reheating Leftovers Easy

There's pure comfort in knowing you have a stash of leftovers in your fridge and freezer. From last week's Kung Pao chicken to Sunday's meaty lasagna, leftovers can become your best friend on a busy weeknight. But one false move with the microwave and, in less than two minutes, that beautiful meal could be soggy, parched, or downright unfitting for consumption.

The Kitchn explains that your microwave uses radio waves to heat food, electromagnetic frequencies that actually don't travel that far. That's why when you reheat a bowl of pasta, it's piping hot around the edges and cold in the middle. Spread the food out, ideally with an open section in the middle (like a donut), and the food will reheat evenly.

Taste of Home agrees and suggests creating a "ring" with leftovers like rice and pasta to prevent cold spots and to promote even heat distribution. To make doubly sure your leftover starches don't dry out, Simply Better Living suggests adding one tablespoon of oil to pasta and one tablespoon of water to rice.

And as simple as microwave reheating may be, you can't just push "start" and walk away. For the best results, Food Network recommends reheating food in 30- to 60-second intervals, stirring your liquids (sauces, soups), and rotating/flipping your solids (meats, vegetables) after every beep. Eat This Not That that asserts when reheating chunks of chicken, seafood, beef, and vegetables, it's best to place a wet paper towel over top to prevent moisture-loss.

In some cases, the microwave should be your last resort for reheating

If you've ever tried reheating pizza in the microwave, you're no stranger to a soggy slice with a jaw-breaker crust. This happens because, as The Spruce Eats explains, the microwave cooks food from the inside out. When the water molecules evaporate from the sauce, they essentially steam the pizza. On the other hand, the crust is already low moisture, so the microwave just sucks it dry, leaving you with a virtually indestructible, inedible crust. The site suggests using your oven or a skillet for reheated pizza nirvana.

If you're still hankering for a microwave quick fix for reheating things like pizza and foods that are intended to be crispy (such as French fries and egg rolls), All Recipes states that leaving the microwave door open during your stirring/rotating intervals allows steam to escape and helps prevent soggy food.

And then there's the issue of food safety. Last night's comforting chicken noodle soup shouldn't be the cause of tomorrow's gastric rumbling. Healthline recommends heating all food until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees for two minutes. The site also asserts that reheated leftovers should be served immediately, not reheated or refrozen. BBC Good Food adds that rice can contain a heat-resistant strain of bacteria, so it's essential to make sure it's piping hot before serving.