Kiss mushy, gluey pasta goodbye with our top tips for how to reheat your noodles.
Grab a fork and pour yourself a glass of wine, because you’ve got the night off. After making a beautiful pasta dinner last night, you deserve a break. The only problem is that day-old pasta doesn’t heat up well, right?
Though pasta makes for a quick, comfort food on busy weeknights (try these delicious pasta dinners!), the leftovers never seem to stand the test of time. To prevent a mushy, gummy mess, place your leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator and try one of these tried-and-true techniques for how to reheat your noodles.
Method #1: Place in boiling water
Start by boiling a large pot of salted water. Place your leftover noodles in a colander and dip into the boiling water. Allow pasta to heat for about 30 seconds before removing from the water. Toss the pasta with your leftover sauce and toppings and serve.
If you don’t have a colander handy, bring your pot of water to a boil and then remove from heat. Place your leftover pasta in the hot water for one to two minutes and serve.
Method #2: Bake in the oven
If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, consider placing your spaghetti in the oven—no boiling or colanders required. Place the pasta in an oven-safe shallow bowl with some leftover pasta sauce and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 350° and cook the pasta for about 20 minutes, until heated through. Need more pasta sauce? Try these homemade recipes.
Method #3: Saute on the stove
I love this method because it’s so fast, and the pasta soaks up the flavor of your sauce. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add your leftover pasta, sauce and some fresh garlic and saute for about two to three minutes, until hot.
Method #4: Microwave with water
If you plan on bringing your leftovers to work or school, the microwave may be your only reheating option. Pack your pasta in a microwave-safe glass bowl or jar. But it’s not as simple as pushing a button. The trick is to toss in a splash of water before heating for one minute. Stir the pasta and continue heating in one-minute increments until warm. Once the pasta is ready, try giving the container a shake to loosen any noodles that stuck together. (Just make sure the lid is tightly sealed first.)
This spinach pierogi casserole can be spiced to your liking. Once you've mastered the recipe, try using other savory pierogi in place of the potato and cheese version. —Susan Skrtich, Hamilton, Ontario
After having the five-cheese ziti at Olive Garden, I tried to make my own version of the al forno dish—and I think I got pretty close. I always double this when I'm making it and freeze the second one for another meal. —Keri Whitney, Castro Valley, California
The whole family will love the fun, cheesy flavor of this ravioli casserole. It's like lasagna—without all the fuss! Timesaving ingredients such as prepared spaghetti sauce and frozen ravioli make it a cinch to fix. Children can help you assemble this one. —Mary Ann Rothert, Austin, Texas
Lasagna is one of my favorites, and this is the recipe I’ve been making since I was a teenager. It’s a tantalizing combo of pasta, meat sauce, cheese and more cheese that really lives up to its name! —Lauren Delaney-Wallace, Glen Carbon, Illinois
Gorgonzola cheese and sweet potatoes add a fun and flavorful twist to classic stuffed shells. Delicious with a sprinkle of Parmesan, the pasta can be topped with leftover gravy, too. —Robin Haas, Cranston, Rhode Island
I'm always in the kitchen making dishes for my family, neighbors or the local fire department to try. My husband is a firefighter in our town, and this chicken spaghetti recipe is a favorite there. —Krista Davis-Keith, New Castle, Indiana
I based this recipe on a dish my husband likes to order when we go out for Italian food. Not only does he love it, my one-year-old daughter does, too. She'll grab a whole ravioli and eat it! —Jennifer Berger, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
I adapted a ziti recipe to remove ingredients my kids did not like, such as ground beef, garlic and onions. The revised pasta al forno was a success not only with my family but at potlucks, too. It's so versatile: You can use jarred sauce, double or triple the recipe, and even freeze it. —Kimberley Pitman, Smyrna, Delaware Field Editor
You could call this a comfort food mashup made in heaven. Jumbo stuffed pasta shells are loaded up with cheeseburger goodness in a dish that will soon become a family favorite. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Pasta al forno is a favorite potluck dish, so I altered some of the ingredients in my traditional recipe to make it lower in calories. Try this healthy pasta recipe with ground beef, too! —Andrea Bolden, Unionville, Tennessee
One night friends on a tight schedule stopped by. I invited them to stay for dinner, so I needed something I could fix in short order. I created these savory roll-ups, featuring a creamy three-cheese filling. They taste like lasagna but bake in a fraction of the time. —Julia Trachsel Victoria, British Columbia
I had ground beef and veggies on hand so I came up with this pizza-flavored casserole. I never expected my family to love it so much. It's a good way to sneak in some extra veggies for the kids. —Jennifer Wise, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
Make this loaded pasta recipe your own, everyone loves it! It's also great made with leftover chicken from the previous night's dinner. You might prefer another hard cheese for the Parmesan…or just go with the cheddar and cornflake crumbs. —Marian Pappas, Lake Stevens, Washington
Kids will line up for this zippy pizza-flavored dish. The recipe makes two casseroles, so you can serve one to your family right away and keep the other in the freezer for another night. —Nancy Scarlett, Graham, North Carolina
When I was living in California, I tasted this rich cheesy pasta dish at a neighborhood Italian restaurant. I got the recipe and made a few changes to it in my own kitchen. I'm happy to share it with you. —Lori Mecca, Grants Pass, Oregon
Even though we're not Italian, this rich, cheesy pasta dish is a "family tradition" for holidays and special occasions. I was delighted the first time I tried this mostaccioli recipe—it has all the flavor of lasagna without the work of layering the ingredients. Try it…I'm sure it'll become one of your family's favorites, too! —Nancy Mundhenke, Kinsley, Kansas
When I invite people to dinner, many have started requesting this pasta bake ahead of time because it's that good. Plus, the manicotti is stuffed before it's cooked, making it even more convenient. —Christy Freeman, Central Point, Oregon
This easy chicken tetrazzini is made with leftover cooked chicken and canned soup. It's the perfect recipe for busy weeknights because it's so easy to assemble. Once you pop the dish in the oven, you'll have time to take care of other things on your to-do list. —Martha Sue Stroud, Clarksville, Texas
My husband had a poor perception of healthy food until he tried this beefy casserole. The combination of pasta, oregano, mushrooms and green peppers makes it a favorite healthy pasta recipe in our house. —Theresa Smith, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Serve this hearty entree with Spanish rice, homemade salsa and tortilla chips. I've also made it without ground beef, and our friends who are vegetarians requested the recipe. —Lucy Shifton, Wichita, Kansas
This cheesy entree is a make-ahead dream. Just assemble it ahead of time and put it in the oven when company arrives. I round out the meal with a tossed salad and warm bread. —Karen Jagger, Columbia City, Indiana
A classic Italian combination is remade into a creamy, family-pleasing spaghetti pie. This recipe was given to me several years ago. My family never grows tired of it. —Ellen Thompson, Springfield, Ohio
It takes a little longer to make baked spaghetti, but the difference in taste, texture and richness is well worth the time. I serve this lasagna-style dish with a tossed green salad and breadsticks for a hearty, healthy meal. —Betty Rabe, Mahtomedi, Minnesota
I love to make this pasta bake whenever I need to bring a dish to pass. Fresh tomatoes add a nice touch that's missing from most other meat, pasta and tomato casseroles. —Karla Johnson, East Helena, Montana
I wanted to make manicotti one day but was out of the noodles. So I came up with this recipe for stuffed shells with Italian sausage. The jumbo shells were much easier to work with. —Lori Daniels, Beverly, West Virginia
This chicken bacon ranch casserole is a dinner that both of my wonderful (but picky!) children will eat. I can easily make it ahead and then bake it right before serving. Sometimes I add 2 cups of cooked veggies, like peas or chopped broccoli, for a complete meal. —Rebekah Schultz, Mantua, New Jersey
These tender manicotti are much easier to stuff than the purchased variety. People are always amazed when I say I make my own noodles. My son fixed this recipe for several of his friends, and they were extremely impressed with his cooking skills. —Sue Ann Bunt, Painted Post, New York
Hot tuna's a hit when you mix it with sizable pasta shells and a cheesy sauce. Dill also complements the fish nicely in this cream comfort food. It's a great change of pace from the traditional tuna casserole. —Connie Staal, Greenbrier, Arkansas
This rich cheesy lasagna has become one of my specialties. It's packed with fresh-tasting vegetables like spinach, carrots, red pepper and broccoli. I'm never afraid to serve the colorful casserole to guests, since it's always a huge success.
—Kimberly Kneisly, Englewood, Ohio
While growing up, I always wanted this meal on my birthday. Mother made the sauce from scratch, but now I use store-bought spaghetti sauce to save time. Replace the ground beef with Italian sausage if you want more spice. —Deb Morrison, Skiatook, Oklahoma
When I take this dish to potlucks, there's never so much as a morsel left! It’s a simple, healthy, hearty supper made with ingredients that are easy to find. Add a salad and a crusty loaf of bread for a quick meal solution. —Anne Taglienti, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.