Stir-fries are delicious and convenient meals enjoyed out of a take-out box as you walk to work or as a fridge cleaner in the comfort of your home.
Chefs and home cooks can salvage any leftover vegetables, meats, rice, noodles, and more by combining them into a tasty stir fry, reducing food waste and saving money. Cooking at home also allows you to prepare the dish adequately for your health needs.
One of the best parts about having leftover stir-fry is that you will have one more chance to reheat it without losing much of its flavor or texture. Reheating stir-fry leftovers on a stovetop, oven, or microwave can be a simple process but may require you to keep an eye on it.
The quality of your stir-fry leftovers will start deteriorating every time you reheat it, so make sure you are only reheating the amount you plan to eat once. Fresh stir-fry is always the best, but the leftovers still have a lot of potential for flavor.
Read along to learn more about the different ways that you can reheat your stir-fry leftovers for another appetizing meal.
Reheating Stir Fry in Stovetop
Using the stovetop to reheat your leftover stir-fry will give you the best results, and the difference is noticeable compared to other reheating methods. The combination of high heat, pan, and oil will also resemble the cooking process used to make the dish.
You will have more control to distribute heat evenly for all the ingredients in the pan, allowing you to keep the vegetables crunchy without overcooking the meat.
The ideal pan to reheat your stir-fry in a stovetop will be one that can fit all your ingredients without crowding them.
Woks and cast iron pans are great options because they can retain high heat for long periods, but any other regular pan with a flat bottom should also work.
Cooking at a high heat means that you will need to use an oil with a high smoking point, like canola, avocado, and peanut oil.
Start by heating a teaspoon of oil in the pan. Add in your leftover stir-fry when the oil heats up, making sure that the oil covers all the ingredients, leaving room for everything to move around.
You can distribute heat evenly throughout the pan by stirring it frequently. Move the stir fry around constantly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
You are only reheating the food, so it should be ready to serve after a minute or two of cooking and frequent stirring on a stovetop with high heat.
Reheating Stir-Fry in Oven
Reheating dishes with sauteed or steamed ingredients, like stir-fry, in the oven is not usually recommended because its components may dry out unpleasantly. That is also the most time-consuming method for reheating your stir-fry.
You may learn some tricks along the way that can help you reconstitute your leftover stir-fry to make it more palatable. A good tip is to sprinkle about a tablespoon of water over the food before you put it in the oven to prevent it from drying.
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While your oven is preheating, spread your leftover stir-fry evenly in a shallow oven-safe container to allow everything in it to cook equally.
Then, cover the container with aluminum foil and create an airtight seal by folding its edges around the container.
Place the container covered with foil inside the oven on the rack closer to the heat source.
Your leftover stir-fry should be ready to serve in about 10 minutes, but feel free to check on it while it reheats to see if it’s drying out and needs more liquid.
Reheating Stir-Fry in Microwave
The fastest way to reheat your stir-fry leftovers is undoubtedly by using a microwave, but that’s about the only advantage there is to it. Your stir-fry will lose most of its nutrients and could also come out soggy or mushy from a microwave’s intense heat.
However, it can fill you up, save you some time and money, and prevent you from wasting food unnecessarily.
Evenly spread out your leftover stir-fry in a microwave-safe container and cover it with a damp paper towel, which will create some steam while the food is heating.
Microwave your stir-fry in one-minute intervals to prevent overcooking until all the components are hot.
Microwaved dishes can sometimes come out cold in some areas and hot in others, so make sure to stir your stir-fry during those intervals to get everything hot.
You can also add some liquid, like a tablespoon of water, during intervals if you notice that your food is drying up quicker than it is heating.
Tips For Reheating Stir-Fry
Adding small amounts of liquids, such as water and broths, can help to prevent your stir-fry from drying up, especially if reheating in a microwave or oven. Check your food during the reheating process and add water accordingly.
Meats are a typical ingredient in a stir fry, and their pieces can sometimes be chunkier than everything else. Cut big pieces of meat into similar sizes to reheat all the ingredients evenly and quickly.
If you have time and ability, you can also reheat all the ingredients separately. That will give you more control of the cooking process for each ingredient.
Stir-fries are best at their first serving, so you might as well eat as much of those fresh, crunchy veggies as you can. Before reheating the leftover stir-fry, chop some additional fresh vegetables to add to the mix.
Cook those freshly chopped vegetables first in a pan, then add the leftover stir-fry toward the end to prevent overcooking.
Pros and Cons
These are the advantages and disadvantages of reheating your leftover stir-fry.
- Delicious when properly reheated.
- Easy and quick to reheat.
- Saves you money.
- Reduces unnecessary food waste.
- Easy to overcook.
- Ingredients may reheat unevenly.
Here are some common questions about reheating stir-fry.
How long can you refrigerate stir-fry leftovers?
Stir-fry can be refrigerated for 2 or 3 days before it starts getting mushy.
Can you eat stir-fry cold?
This depends on if it was initially cooked and refrigerated properly. It is recommended for most foods to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating.
If cooking and refrigeration were taken care of, then you should be able to eat your stir-fry cold, and some people actually enjoy it better cold.
Can I make a stir-fry in advance?
Yes. You should be able to prep the meat and chop most of the vegetables to cook hours later or the next day without issues. Make sure to store and refrigerate everything.
Learning how to properly reheat your stir-fry is like unlocking an additional meal. Add your own twist and experiment with all the reheating methods to see what works best for you.