The Best Way To Reheat A Steak Is Not In The Microwave

We've all had those instances when our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and oftentimes those situations make for some great leftover dishes. But the thought of letting some foods become leftovers, like a mouth-watering steak, has left too many of us frantically trying to finish a meal that's too big so it doesn't end up in the fridge. For many, the notion of reheating a steak to perfection is daunting.

The go-to method for some is to reheat most leftover foods in a microwave oven, but there's no better way to ruin a delicate piece of meat than rapidly heating it. Reheating a steak in the microwave will produce exactly what you think it will: a dried-out, sinewy remnant of something once delicious. The enticing umami flavor and juicy texture will disappear when a steak gets to know a microwave too well.

But that delicious steak isn't lost forever. You can still recover most of the glorious flavor from that precious ribeye or New York strip, but you have to forget about putting it in the microwave. That rapid method of cooking is great for some foods, but with something as delicate as a delicious steak, it's worth it to employ a little bit more care. Save the microwave for your next TV dinner. There's a much better way to reheat steak than in a microwave, and it's an obvious solution: Reheat a steak similar to how it was cooked in the first place.

What a microwave does to steak

While microwave ovens can technically reheat a steak, the quality is going to suffer. Because of how the appliance heats, leaving one in a minute too long will make it come out dry and tough. A minute short, and you're likely to run into cold spots throughout the cut, which will be unpleasant, as well as potentially dangerous as you need all parts of it to hit 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It's possible to microwave a steak back to edible, but it's not likely to be desirable.

Microwave ovens generate electromagnetic waves that interact with water molecules in food, which creates heat that transfers throughout. However, these electromagnetic waves aren't always evenly distributed, and that can result in the dish cooking unevenly. Factors such as the density of the food, the water content it has, and even the wattage your microwave puts out can all play a role in things coming out of the microwave dried out or underdone.

A microwave can be a great solution for some foods, but a steak, even a leftover one, deserves to be treated with tender care. Microwave ovens aren't a reliable way to get the most out of your second helping. There's a much better way to reheat a steak, and although it takes more time, you'll avoid running the risk of chewing on a piece of leathery meat. 

Reheating steak to perfection using the oven and skillet method

The proper way to reheat steak is to warm it up slowly, so you preserve its full flavor and juiciness. Start by heating your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and taking the steak out of the refrigerator to sit at room temperature for about an hour. After the steak loses its chill, place it on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and pop that in the preheated oven. You want the steak to reach a temperature of somewhere between 100 and 110 degrees.

While the steak is slowly warming in the oven, heat a small amount of oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat. Once 20 to 30 minutes have gone by, depending on the size of the steak, it should be at the appropriate temperature to transition it to the piping hot skillet for a quick sear. It's already been seared once, so you want to be cautious about only giving the steak a minute or so per side in the skillet.

Because it's been reheated slowly, your once extraordinary fare will retain more of the flavor it originally had. Finishing your leftover steak in the skillet gives you a nice crust on both sides, leaving you with the impression that it was cooked for the first time. Keep this technique for reheating steak in mind the next time you're out at your favorite steakhouse, and never fear taking home a doggy bag again.