Macaroni and cheese is the perfect comfort dish that is even tastier the next day — that’s why we love when we have leftovers! The only problem? All too often the cheesy goodness we love turns into a congealed glob. So we tapped own First for Women test kitchen plus professional chefs to get their best reheating tips that makes the dish taste as delicious as it did the first time. Keep reading to learn how to reheat mac and cheese so you can treat yourself to creamy comfort whenever you want.
What mac and cheese is made of
Mac and cheese is a dish that’s cooked either in the oven or stove using a combination of pasta, cheese, milk, heavy cream and/or butter. Variations of this dish often include a breadcrumb topping or ingredients like bacon or herbs stirred into coated pasta. No matter the preparation, mac and cheese is the quintessential dish to enjoy as a side or main meal.
The #1 secret to creamy reheated mac and cheese
As mac and cheese sits in the fridge, the cheese mixture sets — that turns this once-creamy dish solid. To make your mac and cheese velvety again, First for Women Food Editor Charles Grayauskie suggests combining it with a bit of milk. “Stir in about 2 Tbs. of milk per 1 cup of mac and cheese and reheat,” he says. The milk loosens up the pasta and helps create the creamy sauce as it’s reheating. Heavy cream works well in this case too and adds an extra touch of richness to the mac and cheese. After adding the dairy, you can begin reheating the pasta dish using your preferred method.
For best results: how to reheat mac and cheese in the oven
Chef Claudia Sidoti says the oven is the best method for reheating mac and cheese as it provides an even circulation of heat. Also, you can reheat a whole pan of mac and cheese for a crowd in about 30 minutes. Here, she explains how to reheat macaroni and cheese in the oven in six steps.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- With mac and cheese in a glass oven-proof dish, stir in 2 tbs. of milk per 1 cup of pasta. (Note: Skip this step if you’re reheating mac and cheese with a breadcrumb topping.)
- Cover the mac and cheese with aluminum foil.
- Bake until the mac and cheese is heated through, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese is starting to brown.
For a quick meal: how to reheat mac and cheese in the microwave
If you want to quickly heat up mac and cheese, then the microwave works to provide a speedy side or main. Lazarus Lynch, host of Food Network’s Comfort Nation and Chopped U, shares his method to reheat mac and cheese in the microwave.
- Spoon mac and cheese into a microwave-safe bowl.
- Stir in 2 Tbs. milk per 1 cup of mac and cheese.
- Cover the mac and cheese with plastic wrap and poke a small hole at the top to release excess steam.
- Heat the mac and cheese on medium power for 1 minute for a single 1-cup serving, or 90 seconds for a larger portion.
- Stir. Then heat in 30 to 60-second intervals until it’s heated through.
A mac and cheese recipe worth reheating
Our test kitchen’s Skillet Mac and Cheese cooks the comfort classic in a cast iron skillet before broiling it for a couple of minutes to brown and crisp up the top. Yum!
Skillet Mac ’n’ Cheese
So simple and deliciously creamy with two kinds of cheese, you’ll never go back to the box again.
- 8 oz. elbow macaroni
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
- Active: 25 mins
- Total time: 30 mins
- Yield: 6 servings
- In pot, cook macaroni according to pkg. directions. Reserve ½ cup cooking liquid; drain. Heat broiler. In large cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour, mustard, salt and pepper to blend. Whisk in milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring, until thickened, 1 minute.
- Stir in 1⅔ cups cheddar, fontina and reserved cooking liquid until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in macaroni until coated. Top with remaining cheddar. Broil until browned, 2 minutes.
For tips on reheating your leftover meals, take a look at these guides below: