reheat chinese food

The Ultimate Guide To Reheat Leftover Chinese Food: 3 Easy Ways

From General Tso’s chicken to egg fried rice to chow mein, we all love Chinese food. There’s a lot of varieties of the dishes, everyone certainly has their own favorites.

While some dishes can be pretty simple to cook at home, we all are spoiled by delicious and affordable Chinese takeout.

Perhaps, you are too excited to try new flavors and end up with some leftovers. So, what is the best way to reheat Chinese takeaway?

Well, keep reading because you’ll find the right and best methods of reheating every type of leftover Chinese food!

What Is Chinese Food?

Chinese food encompasses a broad range of dishes originating from China and its diaspora across the world. It offers excellent meal choices for any time of the day.

From appetizers, light meals to fulfilling dinner, we have so much to choose from. No wonder in America and the Western world, it becomes everyone’s favorite takeaway.

The following are some of the most famous American Chinese dishes.

–   Fried rice: cooked rice stir-fried in a wok with vegetables, eggs, chicken, or a combination of everything.

–   Chow mein: stir-fried noodles with vegetables.

–   General Tso’s chicken: deep-fried battered chicken cooked in sweet, spicy sauce.

–   Chop suey: meat and vegetables cooked in a starch-thickened sauce.

–   Potstickers: a type of dumplings filled with vegetables and minced pork, cooked by pan-frying followed by brief steaming on the pan.

–   Egg foo yong: egg omelets prepared with beaten eggs mixed with minced meat and vegetables.

–   Wonton soup: wonton dumplings served in a light broth.

–   Fried wonton: a type of dumpling stuffed with ground meat and then deep-fried.

–   Egg rolls: deep-fried snacks made of a piece of wrapper stuffed with shredded cabbage and minced meat.

–   Cashew chicken: stir-fried chicken with cashew and other vegetables.

–   Orange chicken: deep-fried battered chicken cooked in a thick and sweet orange-flavored sauce.

–   Sesame chicken: similar to orange chicken but cooked in thick, sweet dark sauce and topped with sesame.

–   Beef and broccoli: stir-fried beef cuts and broccoli cooked in thick, dark sauce.

–   Kung pao chicken: stir-fried chicken pieces with vegetables and peanuts.

Is It Safe To Reheat Chinese Food?

One of the most notable causes of food poisoning is leftover takeout food. That said, it is normal to ask if you can reheat Chinese takeaway safely.

To make sure that your leftovers are safe to eat, keep in mind these three aspects.

Proper refrigeration

You should refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours after cooking (or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F). That’s not a lot of time considering the waiting time at the restaurant, your travel (or delivery) to your home, etc.

Suppose you know you can’t finish your meal. In that case, it’s a good idea to transfer some amount to an airtight container and refrigerate it immediately. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Safe thawing

If you choose to freeze leftovers because you can’t finish them the following days, make sure that they are defrosted safely. Don’t leave them at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Good reheating

Suppose you have refrigerated leftovers accordingly. The next step is to reheat them to a safe temperature of 165 °F.

Before reheating, it is essential to ensure that your leftovers are still fresh. That means no off-smell, no slimy texture, or moldy appearance.

Luckily, the reheating part is no rocket science. We only need to know which technique produces the best and desirable results. Regarding the best approach, we’ll guide you below.

The Best Way To Reheat Chinese Food

When it comes to reheating leftovers, we need to know how the food is prepared. Aside from dumplings typically steamed or boiled, Chinese food is commonly prepared by stir-frying, pan-frying, and deep-frying.

The ideal method would be reheating in a wok. But, since not every household has this cooking appliance, your oven and microwave can be an option – depending on the dishes.

Read our article on how to reheat dumplings.

How to Reheat Chinese Food on a Stovetop

Reheating on a stovetop is much better than a microwave. It is particularly great for stir-fried dishes, such as fried rice, noodle, kung pao chicken, etc.

A stir-fried dish typically consists of several components, such as carbs (noodle or rice), protein (meat or chicken), and some vegetables. These components require a different amount of time to reheat.

This method allows you to separate the ingredients and reheat them individually. When reheated separately, you can make sure each component heats up perfectly instead of under-or overcooked.

Here is our detailed instruction.

1. Optional: Separate the ingredients and place them in separate containers. If you skip this step, you can reheat the dish as a whole.

2. In a large pan or wok, add some oil and heat up.

3. Once the oil is hot, add the dish/ ingredients, and reheat over medium to high heat. Add a splash of water, if necessary. Feel free to add extra sauce or seasoning to boost the flavors (especially when water is added).

4. Stir well for a few minutes until everything is sizzling hot. Make sure the bottom part is not burnt.

5. Serve immediately.

If you separate the components, put them back together after each element is reheated. Mix well, and serve.

How To Reheat Chinese Food In An Oven

Reheating in an oven is excellent for fried dishes, such as fried wonton, egg rolls, spring rolls, or chicken wings. It is perfect to crisp up the exterior and heats up the interior evenly.

Here is how to reheat in the oven. You can reheat both refrigerated and frozen leftovers.

1. Set your oven to 325 to 350 °F.

2. Place the leftovers in an oven-safe dish.

3. Cover with aluminum foil.

4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until thoroughly heated to the center. To reheat frozen leftovers, simply add the baking time.

How To Reheat Chinese Food in a Microwave

Reheating in a microwave is the fastest and most convenient option, mainly to deal with a small portion of leftovers. But, it doesn’t always work well for every dish.

This approach won’t be your best bet if you desire crispy wonton and breaded chicken (like in orange chicken or General Tso’s chicken). But, it is pretty decent to reheat noodles, rice, and other dishes that don’t rely on their crispy texture.

Here is the right way to warm up leftover Chinese takeout in a microwave.

1. Place the dish in a microwave. It is best to reheat one portion at a time, so it reheats evenly.

2. Break any clumps with a fork or chopstick. Add a splash of water if the dish looks dry. Cover with a damp paper towel.

3. Microwave for 1 to 3 minutes over medium power.

4. After reheating time is complete, check if the dish is warmed up thoroughly to the center. If not, continue microwaving with short intervals of 15 to 30 seconds.


Can you heat up Chinese takeaway containers?

Typical Chinese takeout containers with metal handles are not microwave-safe. It is the metal handles that have a potential fire hazard. If you still want to reheat leftovers in their original container, make sure to remove the metal handles.

If the containers are made of styrofoam, these materials are never meant to go into the microwave. To be on the safe side, only microwave materials are explicitly labeled as ‘microwave-safe.’

Can you reheat the Chinese takeaway twice?

Technically, you can. But, to maintain safety and quality, it is recommended to reheat only once.

The food’s desirable texture and flavors decrease each time it is reheated. Additionally, when the leftover is left out for too long at room temperature after reheating and serving, the risk of getting food poisoning also increases.

How do you store and eat leftover Chinese food?

Like any other leftovers, they should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated within 2 hours, so they are safe to eat. If appropriately refrigerated, leftover Chinese takeout can last for up to 3 to 4 days, just like any other leftovers.

Can I freeze my leftover Chinese food?

Yes. To freeze, portion out the dish, place in a freezer suitable container, seal tightly and freeze for up to 2 to 3 months to enjoy its maximum flavors.

How can you tell that Chinese food has gone bad?

You can quickly examine it from the visual, smell, and taste. If the leftover has smelled unpleasant, looks slimy and moldy, it should be discarded. At this point, don’t even try to taste it. If you’ve just put it in your mouth, you know it’s spoiled when the taste is somewhat different and terrible.

In A Nutshell

We all agree that Chinese food is the ultimate comfort food. No matter which dishes you have, everything is delicious. When it comes to leftovers, the most ideal reheating method would be in a wok. But, you can also reheat them in an oven or microwave.

Check our ultimate guide above on which way you should choose your leftover takeout, so it stays delicious!

*image by jag_cz/depositphotos

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