How to Reheat Pasta so it’s Better Than Fresh!
Learn how to reheat pasta so it’s as good as new with our simple but effective methods for warming up pasta.
Whether you’re reheating mac and cheese or want to know how to reheat carbonara, reheating cooked pasta from day one is easy with a few simple tips and tricks.
From classic microwave pasta to using boiling water or reheating pasta in the oven, there are plenty of great ways to save those leftovers.
Whether it’s fettuccine covered in sauce or homemade spaghetti carefully prepared using your pasta maker, here’s how to reheat pasta so it’s better than fresh!
Want to make your own homemade pasta, but don't know where to start? Check out our FREE step-by-step guide on how to make homemade pasta:
Can you warm up cooked pasta?
Reheating fettuccine alfredo, plain pasta and any other pasta dish is simple. You can even reheat the pasta you’ve made yourself, by hand. Reheated pasta is a cinch and makes for a convenient and delicious leftover meal. But remember that different types need to be reheated in different types of ways. When you’re dealing with plain leftover pasta, you should only use the stovetop or the microwave. This is because plain pasta isn’t covered with any coatings or sauce, and it will definitely dry out in the oven.
How do I reheat pasta in the microwave?
Never fear, we will get into this in a little more detail. But in short, if you do want to reheat pasta in the microwave, make sure you’ve splashed in a tiny bit of water before you hit the button. And then only heat the pasta for one minute at a time until it’s warm. Remember to use a glass bowl or jar that is microwave-safe when heating.
How do you keep pasta moist when reheating in the microwave?
- Put your cooked pasta in a dish (make sure it’s safe to go into the microwave) and add a little bit of sauce or water. This will make sure that the pasta stays moist while it’s reheating. It’ll also keep it separated.
- Now, cover it up and reheat on medium for one minute at a time, until it’s the right temperature for you.
Let’s get into all the methods in detail.
Learn how to reheat your pasta
Leftover pasta doesn’t need to go in the trash because it’s super-easy to learn how to safely reheat that leftover pasta bake or to reheat alfredo.
While you can get away with leftover microwave spaghetti, it’s good to know which pastas are better suited to oven baking or even for re-boiling in water on the stovetop. Reheating pasta without sauce is done differently from pasta with sauce, so it’s great practice to pick the best methods!
Reheating pasta with no sauce
If you’re cooking dishes where the sauce is prepared separately from the noodles, then it’s good to keep sauce and pasta separate if you’re not going to eat all of it in one sitting. Keep the pasta stored in one container and the sauce in another, then reheat them independently!
Here are the best ways to reheat cooked pasta without the sauce:
Use the same method you would have originally used to cook the pasta in the first instance.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stovetop, and allow your pasta to reheat for no longer than 30 seconds.
- Because you’ve already cooked your pasta through once before, it’s important not to leave it in the boiling water for too long. Overdoing it at this stage can easily cause your pasta to break down and become far too mushy, so be careful. You can make the process easier by placing your pasta into a colander, then dipping the colander into the boiling water. This gives you much more control.
- Reheat your sauce in a separate pan, then combine the two together.
This method works best for longer, thicker kinds of pasta rather than the smaller, thinner variety. It’s the best method for reheating spaghetti noodles without any sauce, for instance.
If you’re short on time or don’t have access to the stovetop (you might be taking your leftover pasta into work for a quick lunch!), then the best way to reheat the leftovers is to put your pasta in microwave, keeping the sauce separate.
While you can simply throw your pasta into the microwave, microwave noodles can quickly dry out.
- We suggest placing your pasta into a microwave-safe bowl or a container, then pouring in water.
- Heat your pasta for one minute, then stir the contents of the container.
- Reheat again for a further minute and stir.
- Keep repeating until your pasta is cooked through, then drain the water.
Bring along a second container, and you can heat your sauce separately before mixing the two together.
How to reheat pasta with sauce
Learning how to reheat spaghetti that’s already mixed with the sauce or how to reheat alfredo that’s already been cooked and smothered in a rich, creamy coating of sauce is a little more difficult than reheating sauce-free pasta.
For starters, you can’t simply throw the pasta into boiling water again.
You need to apply low heat to the leftovers to ensure that the sauce and the pasta both cook through evenly. You don’t want the sauce burnt and the pasta cold by applying too high a heat, too quickly!
Here are the best ways to reheat leftover pasta with all the sauce:
The best way to reheat lasagna and other rich, thick pasta dishes such as macaroni and cheese is to oven-bake the leftovers. Dishes such as lasagna, pasta bake, or mac and cheese are often cooked in the oven the first time around, so if you originally oven-baked the dish, it’s going to be a safe bet to reheat that dish in the oven!
The best way to reheat pasta in oven is to:
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
- Transfer your leftovers to a baking dish (you can use the same baking dish you used the first time around), and cover the dish with tin foil to stop the top from burning.
- You’ll need to leave the pasta baking in the oven for around 20 minutes, but keep checking it to ensure it doesn’t overcook.
- You can freshen up the dish by adding more cheese or a few extra herbs and spices to the top of the dish before browning it for the last five minutes.
- Remove from the oven when it’s piping hot all the way through and allow to cool before serving.
Pasta dishes that only have a light coating of sauce or that have been cooked in a ragu (such as spaghetti bolognese or carbonara) are best reheated gently on the stovetop.
- Transfer your pasta and sauce to a large skillet or pan after heating up a light drizzle of oil.
- Keep the heat low and lightly saute the leftovers in the pan.
- Keep stirring the leftovers to ensure they don’t stick or start to burn. It could take up to 5 minutes to heat through; just keep the heat medium or low and slow cook the pasta and the sauce for the best results.
- You can add some extra herbs and spices to give your pasta a fresher taste. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper, or perhaps some extra garlic.
- Once cooked, move your reheated pasta to a bowl and garnish with some fresh parmesan.
The final method for reheating pasta coated in a sauce is, of course, the microwave. We only recommend using this method if you’re particularly short on time or don’t have access to the oven or the stovetop. Microwaving pasta and sauce can quickly leave your leftovers dried out and not tasting quite so fresh.
- Place your leftovers in a microwave-safe container or bowl, then put them in the microwave.
- Reheat the pasta and sauce for one minute at a time, stirring well, until they are cooked through.
- If you’re light on the sauce, you might want to add a dash of water to the pasta to stop it from drying out.
- Once microwaved, leave to stand before serving.
Can you reheat pasta that's been in the fridge?
Most pasta can be reheated from day one, even if it’s been in the fridge. But make sure that you refrigerate the pasta within 2 hours of it being cooked. If it’s been cooked with fish, try and put it in the fridge within one hour.
How long does leftover pasta last?
Leftover pasta that’s already been cooked through once can last for several days before it starts to spoil, but the lifespan of the pasta depends on how it’s been cooked and prepared, and how it’s been stored.
All leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, in resealable containers or ziplock bags. This keeps the leftovers fresher for longer. If you’ve prepared dried or homemade pasta, then it can last for up to 4 days, but no longer than 5 days. If you’ve purchased fresh pasta from the store, it often has a shorter lifespan, and you shouldn’t keep it in the fridge for longer than 2 or 3 days.
Baked dishes such as lasagna or mac and cheese can be safely kept for up to 5 days, as can most pasta dishes that have already been cooked in their sauce.
You can freeze your leftovers, and they’ll keep for several months. Defrost them thoroughly, then reheat using the methods above.
Now you know how to reheat pasta!
With our quick and effective tips and tricks, you can reheat lasagnas, carbonara, spaghetti bolognese, fettuccine alfredo, mac and cheese, and all your favorite pasta bakes and pasta dishes!
Microwave, stovetop, or oven bake; you can easily reheat your leftover pasta, so it’s better than fresh! Why not bookmark our pasta reheating guide for later?
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