3 Easy Ways To Reheat Pasta Leftovers

Pasta is a robust starch that lends itself well to reheating, but if you reheat the wrong way it’s easy enough to dry it out. In this article I’ll share three easy methods to consistently get best results.

Whether you’re reheating a creamy pasta in sauce, or want to use up all that extra spaghetti, we’ll explore time-tested methods that can bring your pasta back to life.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in both my personal and professional life as a cook, it’s that when you make pasta, there will always be leftovers.

3 Never-Fail Methods To Reheat Pasta  

Method 1: Blanch In Hot Water

Cooking pasta

This is my favorite way to reheat the incredible amount of spaghetti I inevitably have left over. It is especially great for any dish where you have the pasta and sauce separated.

First, bring a sockpot of water to a simmer. Boiling water isn’t necessary, but it does need to be hot.

Put the pasta in a colander, and dip it into the pot of hot water for 10-30 seconds. Stir if needed.

If you don’t have a colander, placing roughly a handful of pasta into the water with tongs or a pasta ladle will do the trick.

Lift the pasta out of the pot, draining any excess water.

The pasta will be warm and can be mixed with any sauce you have on hand. The warmth of the pasta will heat up the sauce. 

This also helps stop the cooking process, and can be helpful in preventing your pasta from getting too mushy. Any time you reheat pasta you will be cooking it further. 

I like to take a premade sauce out of the fridge ahead of time to bring it up to, or close to, room temperature. This is so I don’t cool the pasta down too much. A fresh jar of sauce from the pantry works great too.     

Method 2: Heat In Microwave With Water

Hand Holds Handle of Old Microwave Oven at Home

This is the quickest way to reheat leftover pasta.

It works great for mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs with the sauce already mixed in, or even lasagna. 

It is very easy to dry out pasta in a microwave, so we’ll take a couple of precautions to make sure that doesn’t happen.

First, place your leftover pasta in a microwave-safe bowl. 

In the bowl, pour in a little bit of water. Even ¼ cup of water could be too much. The goal is to have just enough water for the pasta dish to absorb without adding too much moisture.

Cover the bowl with a paper towel. This is to prevent splatter, but also aids in using the moisture in the pasta to help steam itself.

If you have long noodles like linguine or spaghetti, forming a circle with them in a bowl and leaving a small hole in the middle for water will reheat the pasta more evenly. 

Alternatively, if you’re worried adding water to your sauced pasta could water it down too much, or if you have a good chunk of lasagna, reheating with a separate cup of water in the microwave will help the microwave act as more of a steamer.

Depending on how much pasta I’m reheating, I usually won’t run the microwave for more than 2 or 2 and a half minutes at a time. This is also helpful for stirring the pasta as it reheats.

Method 3: Reheat On The Stove Top

Woman Cooking Pasta on Electric Stove

For fettuccine or creamy pasta, reheating on the stovetop is my go-to method.

Put the leftover pasta in a pan, and set the stove to medium heat.

Putting the pasta in an already hot pan can risk scorching or burning the sauce and pasta.

I like this method because it heats gradually, and you’re able to finely control how hot you want your pasta to be.

While the pan is heating, add a little bit of water to keep the pasta from drying out. I would recommend adding no more than a teaspoon at a time to keep from making the sauce too watery.

Stir as needed to distribute heat and to prevent noodles from clumping together. 

With a creamy pasta like fettuccine alfredo, I like to add a little bit of milk because it adds moisture and is less likely to change the consistency of the sauce like water can.

When the pasta starts to steam, take the pan off the heat and your pasta should be good as new.

Pro-tip: Any time you reheat pasta, you continue to cook it. Consider initially cooking pasta al dente, which literally means “to the tooth”, and has a small resistance when you bite into it. This is especially handy if you anticipate having leftovers, and will reduce the chance pasta becomes overcooked after reheating.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does cooked pasta last?

Cooked pasta will last 3-5 days in the fridge. If you freeze it, it will last 1-2 months in the freezer.

Can you reheat pasta twice?

Yes, however, pasta can become mushy or hard after repeated heating. Use discretion on how you feel about the pasta’s texture.

About the author

Ryan worked the Twin Cities circuit as a line cook, sous chef, and kitchen manager for over 15 years. Though he doesn’t cook professionally anymore, he loves to share his restaurant expertise with anyone that needs a tip. Once a cook, always a cook.