Can you reheat food without a microwave? Yes! It’s healthier, safety, easy to do. Use this how-to guide to find out 9 easy ways to reheat food with step-by-step directions on how to do it using appliances and kitchen tools you already have.
One of the biggest questions I get when I tell people that our family has ditched nuking our food is how to warm up food without a microwave. After nearly five years without one in our home, these are my go-to ways to reheat food without a microwave.
Why Get Rid of Your Microwave
Although it can be convenient, I was surprised at how little I missed my microwave once I got rid of it. There are so many reasons to get rid of your microwave and equally so many benefits if you do. Some of the main benefits include:
- It is safer: Microwaves do not reheat food evenly, which causes hot spots. Thanks to these alternative ways to reheating food without a microwave, not only will the food taste better, but it’s safer too as it reheats evenly.
- It’s healthier: When you microwave food, it actually strips your food of nutrients. This means those much-desired vitamins and antioxidants you think your food contains are actually being zapped away by radiation. Yes, microwaves give off radiation which further promotes how unhealthy they are in our homes.
- It’ll free up space: If a healthier home and better tasting, more nutritious food can’t persuade you to get rid of your microwave, how about a better-looking kitchen? It’s no secret that microwaves are not pretty. They are big, bulky appliances that take up counter space, so getting rid can do wonders for decluttering your kitchen.
If it’s the idea of convenience that’s holding you back, these 9 ways to heating food without a microwave will prove it’s actually easier than you think to cope without one.
9 Ways to Reheat Food Without a Microwave
Using the stove is likely the most obvious choice for reheating without a microwave. To warm up leftover food on the stove in a pan or pot add a little water or broth (for soups, stews, beans, pasta sauce, pasta noodles, or rice) and cover with a lid. Use low medium heat (to heat without burning) to create steam to help heat up the food.
For roasted, fried, or baked meat, vegetable dishes, or stir fry, use a fat such as avocado oil, olive oil, or butter instead of water. Add it to the pan and cover with a lid over low to medium heat. The heat will be locked in with the lid, which will help to cook the dish both inside and out. This is one of the best ways to reheat meat without a microwave.
Are you using a new pan? Don’t forget to season your cast iron pan before you start using it; otherwise, you could ruin your meal instead of reheating it.
2. Hot Stone Bowl
Are you looking for another option to cook on the stove? Use a hot stone bowl. I’m obsessed with my Korean stone bowl. I love to make bibimbap at home, which is a layered dish with rice, meat, and vegetables. You cook it over low to medium heat with the lid on top, and it heats the whole dish. It’s like the option above, but you can eat out of the dish, making cleaning up easier.
You can get a Korean hot stone bowl (also called a dolsot) on Amazon or your local Asian grocery store. Spray the inside with cooking spray (I use a coconut or avocado oil cooking spray) to help prevent sticking. Then I add what I want to heat – like rice, pasta, meat, etc.
Put the lid on and heat on low to medium heat. You can stir throughout the reheating process to prevent sticking as well. You could even add a little water to create steam inside the stone bowl. When it’s done, you can simply remove it from the stove, place it on a trivet, and eat from the bowl. It will be very hot, so be sure to use potholders and avoid this option with children. Or scoop out the food into a separate plate or bowl.
This can take about 5-10 minutes, depending on the dish and the volume of food.
3. Double Boiler
A double boiler is another great way to reheat without a microwave as microwaves provide fast, inconsistent, and indirect heat, whereas a double boiler provides the opposite. It provides precise temperature control through even, radiant heat.
This method is ideal for grains such as oatmeal, rice, or pasta. It also works well for reheating vegetables, stewed meat, mashed potatoes, or anything that might get dry in the reheating process where options one and two above won’t work as well.
In a large pot (with high sides), add about ½ to 1 cup of water and a metal trivet. Make sure the food you want to reheat is within a heat-safe container such as a Mason jar or glass food storage container. Place the container on the trivet, then put a lid on top of the pot. Use medium heat to create steam, which will then heat the food.
This method can take around 5-10 minutes, depending on the dish and the volume of food.
4. Double Boiler in an Instant Pot
Another option to steam food to reheat it is with the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. I really like this option as you can walk away and do other things while the food is reheating, you just need one of the most popular instant Pot accessories – a trivet.
Add 1 cup of water to the inner pot, then place a metal trivet on the bottom. Place the food you want to reheat in a heat-safe container, like a glass food storage container or stainless steel bowl. Place the container on the trivet. Put the lid on, and lock the steam vent. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 5 minutes to reheat most food. For vegetables, you might want to do 2-3 minutes.
When it’s done, do a quick release to vent the steam. Then, remove the lid and check the food to make sure it’s reheated thoroughly. Remember it will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before it starts cooking, so add that to your total.
New to pressure cooking? Check out my instant Pot tips and tricks as this useful appliance can save you SO much time in the kitchen.
This works best for foods like rice, quinoa, pasta, and vegetables without a sauce. It is one of the best ways to reheat food as cooking with steam helps to conserve the fiber, texture and flavor of food. The steam helps add moisture, where a microwave can often dry out food. Steaming is also one of the best methods to preserve nutrients, such as vitamin B & C which are easily damaged by the microwaving process.
Add about 1 cup of water to a large pot. Place the food in a stainless steel basket or even a small colander with fine mesh. Be sure the basket or colander can fit into the pot, and a lid can go on top. On low-medium heat, the water will boil, and the steam will heat food. You could also add a metal trivet to the bottom of the pot, and place a stainless steel basket or a bamboo steamer basket (used in Asian dim sum).
It takes about 3-5 minutes with this method or longer, depending on the volume of food. Vegetables will heat faster, so check on them so it doesn’t overcook.
6. Bake in the Toaster Oven
One of the easiest ways to reheating leftovers is with a toaster oven. This is great for reheating pizza, casseroles, burgers (just separate the bun and the patties), French fries, fried foods, quiche or anything with a crust, grilled meat, etc. It cooks faster than an oven which ideal if you have hungry little ones or you’re in a rush.
Place the food on a tray that fits the toaster oven. Set the temperature lower, around 300-350 degrees, on bake for about 3-5 minutes. Casseroles will take longer. Test if the food is ready at that time or adjust as needed. For added crispy deliciousness set to broil for an additional minute or two.
7. Broil in the Oven
Like the toaster oven, this works best for foods like pizza, French fries, grilled meat, and casserole dishes. Foods like pasta dishes or rice will dry out in the oven without some liquid, so use other methods for those.
Set the oven for a high heat like 400-425 degrees or broil. When the oven is ready, put the food on a baking sheet and place it on the top tray of the oven. Heat for 3-5 minutes, and then check to see if it’s done. You may need to turn over the food to crisp on both sides.
For casseroles, cover the dish and place it in the oven on a lower setting, like 375-400 degrees. Covering the dish will help the heat to cook the dish inside and out. It may take longer, closer to 15-20 minutes, to reheat, depending on the size of the casserole dish and the volume of the food.
8. Air Fryer
The air fryer is a great way to reheat food like pizza, fried foods, steak, BBQ ribs, chicken nuggets, chicken wings, baked potatoes, quiche with a crust, and foods similar to a toaster oven or the oven on broil. The air fryer helps the food stay crispy on the outside while cooked thoroughly on the inside.
First, pre-heat your air fryer at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. Spray the air fryer basket with a cooking spray (I like avocado or coconut oil). Place food in the air fryer basket, and then put the basket in the air fryer. Change the temperature to 350 degrees, and reheat food for 3-4 minutes. Test food to see if it’s done or add another 1-2 minutes as needed.
If needed, place parchment paper on the bottom of the basket before putting the food on top for things like pizza, BBQ ribs, or anything that can get messy.
9. Portable Food Warmer
Wondering how to heat up food on the go? Or how to warm up food without a microwave oven in a hotel? Consider a portable food warmer or crockpot. Portable food warmers are an ideal option for reheating foods without a microwave as they can reheat fresh, or frozen meals evenly and without burning or bad odors.
There are various styles depending on how you wish to reheat on the go. Many of them require an outlet or car charger to reheat food. Inside the portable warmer is a heating element that can reheat foods in a heat-safe container. Some styles even come with the container for extra convenience.
A few of my favorite portable food warmers include:
- Crock Pot – Dishwasher safe removable food container with inner lid holds up to 20 ounces of your favorite foods. Learn more & purchase here.
- Aotto Portable Food Oven – This personal portable oven is perfect for leftovers, prepared meals, and frozen foods. It is a heated lunch box design with a carrying handle, perfect for the office, travel, school dorms, hotels and more. Learn more and purchase here.
- Travelisimo Electric Lunch Box – This electric lunch box includes two different plugs for dual use. Use 110v for heated lunch box meals at the office and the 12v/24v adapter for a portable microwave function, ideal for reheating on the go on car and truck rides. Learn more and purchase here.
Hopefully now you realize with so many ways to reheat food without a microwave oven there is no reason for this bulky appliance to be taking up valuable counter space any longer. After my experience of getting rid, I haven’t looked back as for me the pros definitely outweigh the cons and I’m confident they will for you too.
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- 4 Ways to Reheat Food in the Instant Pot
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