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How to Reheat Thanksgiving Leftovers in Microwave

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Do you have loads of Thanksgiving leftovers that need to be reheated quickly? From stuffing to turkey and ham, all leftovers are delicious, filling, and nutritious to consume within the next few days. 

Whether you are serving as it is or transforming into new dish, microwaving is a safe and easy way to reheat leftovers to revive the original taste.

How do you reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in microwave? Place the food in a microwavable dish and spread out in an even layer if possible.

Cover with a slightly damp paper towel or sprinkle with water, stock, or gravy to prevent from drying and enhance the flavor. Otherwise, cover with a vented microwave-safe lid or loose plastic wrap to let the steam escape. 

The steam trapped underneath the lid will help to destroy harmful bacteria and ensure uniform heating.

Microwave on medium heat for 30 to 60 second intervals based on the food quantity and type. Stir well in-between each interval for even heating.

Heat until the food reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius as measured with a food thermometer to ensure it is safe to consume. 

Microwaving method is considered the fastest and most effective method of reheating Thanksgiving leftovers. 

However, for any frozen turkey or gravy, it is recommended to defrost prior to reheat. This will help to keep the food moist, taste as close to original, even heat and reduce cooking time. 

Reheating can be done using different methods depending on the preferences and available time including microwaving, oven, and stovetop. However, this does not mean one method makes it taste better than the other. 

If time is limited, microwave is quick and effective to reheat any leftovers. 

In this article, we are going to take time and review each Thanksgiving dish to cover the best way to reheat in the microwave. Answered below are frequently asked question including microwave tips to revive foods so they taste fresh once again.

Can you reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in a microwave?

Yes, you can reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in a microwave. In fact, it is quite a convenient ways to reheat single or double portions in a short amount of time without overcooking. 

However, some leftovers should not be reheated in a microwave more than once. This will not only create harmful bacteria growth, but also alter the taste or texture of the food such as stuffing, turkey or ham.

Is it safe to reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in a microwave?

Yes, it is safe to reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in a microwave. But the amount of food and reheating time may determine the safety of the reheating process. 

Turkey meat with bones are not suggested for microwaving. The bone will react as a shield to prevent the meat from warming through very easily. 

So, if there is a leftover turkey leg or breast bones, debone completely to reheat in the microwave more efficiently. 

On the other hand, small pieces are convenient and safe to handle when microwaving. To ensure the safety of this process, always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature for any meat-based dish to reach a safe temperature before consuming.

Heating leftovers to an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended by the USDA to avoid under heated food that can cause food poisoning.

How long does it take to reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in a microwave

The reheat time for Thanksgiving leftovers varies depending on the wattage of microwave, type of dish and the amount being reheated. Typically, precooked food is reheated in 30 to 60 second increments with frequent stirring for a total of 3 to 5 minutes.

Microwave ovens with a high wattage take less time compared to appliances with lower wattage. For instance, a 1300 watt microwave will take three minutes to reheat turkey leftovers, while 700 watts would take a minimum of five minutes. 

On the other hand, large chunks, take longer to reheat compared to thin sliced or small cubes. Furthermore, dense leftovers will take more time in contrast to foods that needs a little bit of steaming.

The USDA recommends that all perishable foods be reheated to an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order for the leftovers to be safe to consume. 

Here are microwave reheating times frames for individual portions of Thanksgiving dishes:

  • Cranberry sauce: 30 seconds
  • Brussel sprouts: 30 to 60 seconds
  • Gravy: 1 minute
  • Green bean casserole: 1 minute for single serving or 90 seconds for a larger portion with 30 to 60 seconds intervals
  • Ham: 3 minutes for 8 to 16 ounces, 4 to 5 minutes for 1 to 2 pounds or until safe internal temperature is reached.
  • Mac and cheese: 1 minute for a single serving with additional 30 seconds to reheat fully.
  • Mashed potatoes: 60 seconds
  • Meatloaf: 1 to 2 minutes or until safe internal temperature is reached.
  • Stuffing: 2 to 3 minutes
  • Turkey: 2 minutes with 30 seconds intervals or until safe internal temperature is reached.

Tips for reheating Thanksgiving leftovers in a microwave

Not every dish leftover from Thanksgiving dinner can be reheated the same way. Some may require longer timing at low heat, where as other dishes need short intervals with high bursts of heat. 

To reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in a quickly and easily, here are useful microwave tips for you to consider to save the flavor and enjoy the meal.

  • Use a microwave safe container, preferably glass and ceramic instead of plastic.
  • Cover the bowl using a wet paper towel or plastic wrap. A microwave cover will help in maintaining the texture and the moisture of the leftover, along with reduced heating time. 
  • Use medium heat to aid in even distribution of heat to all parts of the leftovers, especially mashed potatoes.
  • Stir continuously for dishes like mashed potatoes, green peas and vegetables. Additionally, flip the ham or sliced turkey at every interval for even doneness.
  • Add a spoonful of water, stock, or gravy to prevent the leftovers from being crunchy or rubbery due to dryness. Butter and olive oil are also good fats that moisten the food and prevent toughness.
  • Avoid reheating food more than once. This is because heating and cooling respectively increases bacteria growth and the risk of food borne illness.
  • Reheat food in a single portion. Avoid reheating too much food at one time.
  • Since leftovers are highly perishable, freezing it may be an excellent option to prevent them from going bad too quickly.
  • Do not refreeze after reheating as this may lead to rapid growth of bacteria.
  • Always defrost frozen leftovers before beginning the reheating process.

Best way to reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in a microwave

Besides the general ways of heating food in a microwave, leftovers are sensitive and require a technique to have excellent results. 

The following procedure can be used; place the leftovers in a microwaveable container and cover it using a vented lid or wet paper towel. 

Place it in the microwave and moderate the heat according to the instructions for each dish, reheat for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then stir or turn it depending on the type of dish. 

Butter the leftover or splash with water or stock to avoid it from completely drying, adding a flavor since the taste may be altered due to the continuous heating.

Every dish requires different heat setting and reheating time to fully and safely get the job done. 

Adjusting the power of microwave is crucial to avoid the dish becoming overcooked, soggy, and chewy. Once the food is destroyed, it is impossible to recover. 

Also, remember to defrost any frozen leftovers prior to reheat for best result.

How to reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in microwave

Reheating Thanksgiving Leftovers in Microwave: Conclusion

Thanksgiving leftovers are a quick fulfilling meal to enjoy at any time of the day. Also, it can be transformed into sandwich, salad, or breakfast of your choice.

Using microwave is the fastest and easiest way to reheat leftovers without overcooking or altering the original taste. 

To avoid the leftovers from going bad, reheat only a reasonable amount that will be consumed at once. Reheating then freezing the leftovers may lead to the growth of bacteria which may affect the digestion process, or completely deteriorate the original texture of the dish. 

In order to reheat Thanksgiving leftovers in the microwave, place the food on a microwave-safe dish and add a tablespoon of water, stock, or gravy of your choice to moisturize and enhance the flavor. Butter and olive oil also work well for increased healthy fats.

Stir well and position the ingredients in a single layer for even heat. Cover the dish with a lid, damp paper towel, or plastic wrap to trap steam to heat quickly.

Review the microwaving time based on the dish and apply the power setting and timing accordingly. Stir well at every intervals to speed up the process.

Nuke for 30 second intervals until the food is safe to consume temperature of 74℃ or 165℉ is reached, or desired temperature to serve. 

Once the leftovers are fully reheated, let it sit in closed microwave for a minute before serving to allow the carryover cooking to finish heating the dish.

There it is, the best tips for reheating Thanksgiving leftover dishes in the microwave. Simply follow these steps and microwave tips for perfect results every time.