Pasta is a versatile and tasty meal that can easily be prepared in large batches and refrigerated or frozen for quick reheating later. However, the trick is properly reheating the pasta so that it returns to a pleasant, edible texture. Follow these simple steps for reheating pasta whether it has sauce or is plain.
Reheating Pasta on the Stovetop
One of the fastest and most effective ways to reheat pasta is on the stovetop.
- Add a couple tablespoons of water or sauce to a skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Add the refrigerated pasta and toss continuously for 2-3 minutes until heated through. The small amount of liquid will help hydrate the pasta as it reheats.
- For added flavor and moisture, mix in extra sauce, oil, herbs, butter or cheese once the pasta is hot.
Reheating Pasta in the Microwave
The microwave provides a quick method for reheating pasta.
- Place the pasta in a microwave-safe dish and add a splash of water or sauce.
- Microwave on High in 30 second intervals, stirring between sessions, until the pasta is hot, about 2-3 minutes.
- Take care not to overcook the pasta, as it can quickly become dried out or mushy in the microwave.
Reheating Pasta in the Oven
Using the oven is useful for reheating pasta bakes or larger batches of pasta.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer pasta to an oven-safe baking dish.
- Cover loosely with foil and bake for 10-15 minutes until warmed through, stirring halfway.
- Uncover at the end to crisp up the top layer if desired.
Reheating Pasta with Slow Cooker
A slow cooker can be used to gently reheat pasta, especially pasta dishes with sauces or creamy pastas like macaroni and cheese.
- Transfer pasta to the slow cooker ceramic insert. Add a few tablespoons of water or sauce to help moisten.
- Cook on High for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until pasta is hot and tender.
- If the pasta seems dry during cooking, add more liquid as needed.
- For best results, reheat pasta within 3-5 days of cooking. The texture tends to deteriorate over time.
- Undercook the pasta slightly when boiling originally so it doesn’t get mushy when reheated.
- Add extra sauce, butter, oils or cheese to help revive the pasta.
- Don’t microwave pasta for too long or it can overcook and turn gummy. Use short intervals.
Here are some recipe ideas for leftover pasta dishes:
- 3 cups cooked pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 cup diced veggies (tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, etc.)
- 8 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (basil, parsley)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
- Add diced veggies and cooked pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
- Pour in beaten eggs and cook, lifting edges to allow uncooked egg to reach bottom of pan.
- When eggs are almost set, top with cheese and fresh herbs.
- Finish cooking for 2-3 more minutes until frittata is set.
- Slice and serve.
- 2 cups cooked pasta, chilled
- 1 cup diced vegetables (cucumbers, peppers, carrots)
- 1/2 cup shredded chicken (optional)
- 1/4 cup feta or mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup Italian dressing
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (basil, parsley, oregano)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, mix together the cooked, chilled pasta, vegetables, chicken (if using), and cheese.
- Pour over the Italian dressing and stir until coated evenly.
- Stir in fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper.
- Chill for 30 minutes before serving.
- 2 cups cooked pasta
- 1 cup pasta sauce
- 1 cup diced veggies
- 1 cup shredded chicken or cooked Italian sausage
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a greased baking dish, spread a layer of pasta sauce on the bottom.
- Add a layer of cooked pasta, followed by diced veggies.
- Top with shredded chicken or sausage, followed by more sauce.
- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.
- Bake for 20 minutes until hot and cheese is melted.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Common Questions About Reheating Pasta
How do you reheat pasta so it’s not sticky?
- Toss the pasta with a little oil or sauce before reheating to prevent it from getting sticky. Stir continuously if reheating on the stovetop. Microwave in short intervals and stir in between to prevent sticking.
What is the best way to reheat pasta with sauce?
- Pasta with sauce often reheats best in the oven or slow cooker to prevent the sauce from separating or scorching. Cover to retain moisture and stir a few times while reheating. Adding a splash of water can also help loosen the sauce.
Can you reheat pasta in the microwave?
- Yes, you can reheat pasta in the microwave but do so in short intervals, such as 30 seconds at a time. This prevents overcooking. Stir between sessions and add a small amount of liquid to help moisten it.
How do you fix mushy reheated pasta?
- If pasta turns mushy from reheating, stir in extra sauce, cheese or oil to help coat it and improve the texture. Undercook the pasta slightly next time before refrigerating or freezing. Do not reheat pasta for longer than 2-3 minutes to avoid mushiness.
How long does leftover pasta last in the fridge?
- Cooked pasta will keep 3-5 days refrigerated in an airtight container. Toss with a little oil to prevent sticking. Freeze for longer storage. Refrigerate leftover sauce separately.
Can you reheat pasta without drying it out?
- Yes, use a moist reheating method like the oven or slow cooker. Cover to retain moisture and add extra sauce or a splash of water if needed. Microwave in short intervals and stir frequently. Do not overcook.
Here are some specific product recommendations for reheating pasta:
- Panasonic NN-SN67HS – 1250W microwave with Inverter Technology for even heating
- Toshiba EM131A5C-BS – 1100W microwave with mute function and eco mode
- Breville BOV845BSS Smart Oven Pro – 1800W convection oven with air fryer function
- Oster TSSTTVDGXL-SHP – Digital convection oven with adjustable temperature settings
- Crock-Pot SCCPVC605-S – 6 quart programmable slow cooker with digital timer
- Hamilton Beach 33675 – 6 quart slow cooker with temperature probe
- All-Clad Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Saute Pan – 3 quart pan with aluminum core for even heating
- Cuisinart 719-18 Chef’s Classic Stainless 2-Quart Saucepan with Cover – stainless steel pot ideal for reheating pasta
For best results, look for microwaves with inverter technology, convection ovens, programmable slow cookers, and stainless steel pots and pans with either copper or aluminum cores for efficient, even heating when reheating pasta.
Reheating pasta enables you to enjoy your favorite pasta meals throughout the week. Follow these simple methods for pasta that tastes freshly cooked.