Steak on a barbecue grill

Perfectly Reheat Steak with These Tips

Reheating steak can be tricky and often results in an overcooked, dry, and chewy piece of meat. However, when done properly using the right techniques, reheating steak can yield a tender and flavorful result. With some care and attention, you can revive your leftover steak and have it taste nearly as good as fresh-off-the-grill. Many of us have faced this predicament: We enjoyed a fantastic steak dinner but couldn’t finish the entire portion. With the best intentions, we wrap it up, and save it for later, only to discover that when we try to reheat it, the magic is gone. The once juicy and tender steak has become tough and dry, its flavors muted, and its allure diminished.

Why is reheating steak such a challenge? The conundrum lies in the intricate balance of cooking steak perfectly the first time and then managing to maintain its moisture, texture, and flavor during reheating. It involves understanding heat distribution, cooking times, and the cut of steak you’re working with. With the best tips, it’s possible to savor a leftover steak that is just as juicy, flavorful, and satisfying as it was when you first cooked it.

Let the steak rest before reheating

A tomahawk steak

When you cook a steak, the fibers in the meat tighten up during the cooking process. Resting the steak before grilling allows these fibers to relax again and for the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. If you slice into the steak right after cooking, the juices will pool and you’ll end up with a drier piece of meat. The same logic applies when reheating steak. 

Letting the steak rest and reach room temperature (recommend around 30 minutes after removing from the fridge) before reheating allows the steak to cool down slightly so the fibers can relax again. This also avoids a dramatic shift in temperature when grilling the meat and aiming for a charred exterior. It also helps prevent a still cool interior or having to cook too long over a flame to reach the right internal temperature. A steak that has rested before reheating will reheat much more evenly.

Choose the oven over the microwave

Steak in an oven

Microwaves can create uneven heating and hot spots in the steak, resulting in an overcooked, rubbery, and dry piece of meat. The microwave also does not effectively reheat the steak since the heat is not surrounding the entire portion. The oven, on the other hand, uses ambient heat to slowly and gently reheat the steak to perfection. In the oven, the heat envelops the entire steak, ensuring it is reheated all over and not just in spots. You’ll end up with a steak that is heated through but remains tender and retains more of its juicy goodness.

To reheat the steak in the oven, preheat it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the steak on a wire rack in a pan or rimmed baking sheet so air can circulate all around the meat. Do not cover the steak. Covering traps steam around the steak, making the temperature uneven and causing excess moisture build-up.

Opt for a low temperature during reheating

Steak in a pan

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High temperatures may seem appealing to get your steak piping hot fast, but they can ruin your steak by overcooking it. Reheating at a low, gentle temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit or less is ideal. This temperature is high enough to safely reheat your steak but low enough to prevent it from becoming dried out or rubbery. After cooking a steak, muscle fibers in the meat tighten. Reheating causes these fibers to tighten further, expelling moisture that results in a dry, tough steak.

At lower temperatures, the fibers do not contract as much so less moisture is lost. Your steak remains tender and juicy. Higher reheating temperatures also mean the surface of the steak may become too hot before the center is warmed through. At a lower temperature, the steak has time to gently and evenly reheat all the way to the center without overcooking the surface.

Take advantage of a grill

Steak cooked on a grill

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When it comes to reheating steak, using an oven is a solid option, but let’s not forget about the trusty grill. The intense, direct heat of the grill reheat steak in just a few minutes while imparting a wonderful smoky flavor. The speed and delicious results of grilling make it a perfect choice for reheating when you’re short on time. To start with, you must keep in mind that you’re not grilling the steak raw. This means you don’t need the high temperatures that you’d typically use to sear and cook a fresh steak.

Instead, what you want is a gentle heat that can warm your steak without drying it out. Hence, the grill should be set at a medium to low setting. The grill imparts a wonderful smoky charcoal flavor as it quickly reheats the steak. Brush the steak with oil or melted butter for extra richness, and consider giving it a tangy baste in the last minute of cooking. The quick, high-heat reheating on the grill will reward you with a steak that is sizzling hot and full of flavor.

Flip the steak only once

flipping steak with tongs

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Flipping a steak multiple times can lead to uneven cooking and a less juicy result. Flipping just once allows heat to distribute and penetrate the steak consistently for the most even reheating. After placing the steak in a preheated 300 degrees Fahrenheit oven or on a hot grill, resist the urge to flip it continually to check progress. Leaving one side facing the heat for longer allows it to absorb more energy before flipping. When you do flip, the other side will not have to work as hard to reach the proper internal temperature. The result is more balanced, even heating.

Flipping too frequently means neither side has enough sustained heat exposure to fully reheat before you flip. The surface may appear brown, but the center is still cold. By continually moving the steak, you make it difficult for heat to penetrate the middle. The steak never has a chance to reheat all the way through, leading to an uneven result. To check if your steak is ready to be flipped, try lifting it up a bit from the grill and see if the steak lifts up without sticking. When your steak reaches this point, it is ready to be flipped.

Tent the steak with aluminum foil

Grilled steak on a foil

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For the most even reheating, consider tenting your grilled steak with aluminum foil. The idea behind tenting a steak with foil is to help it retain its heat and moisture. Reheating a steak can often lead to it losing precious juices and drying out, which is the last thing you want. Aluminum foil, with its ability to trap heat, can be a real game-changer in this regard. But how does it work? When you create a foil tent over your steak, you’re essentially creating a mini oven for your steak. This mini oven traps the heat and circulates it around the steak, promoting even heating. Moreover, any moisture that evaporates from the steak is trapped within the foil tent, condenses, and then drops back onto the steak, preventing it from drying out.

However, tenting a steak too tightly can lead to excess moisture build-up that makes the steak soggy. So crimp the foil securely to the pan around the edges but avoid pressing it directly onto the surface of the steak. Some small gaps around the steak will allow a bit of moisture to release. Be very careful when removing the foil not to burn yourself on the hot steam.

Check on the steak regularly

Steak on a grilled pan

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Reheating a steak is not a set-it-and-forget-it situation. Checking on your steak often allows you to gauge how much longer it needs to reheat and ensure you catch it before it becomes overcooked. After placing the steak in the oven or on the grill to reheat, set a timer to alert you to start checking on it. For most methods, start checking within the first five minutes. Use oven mitts or grips to carefully lift the lid or foil and peek at your steak. You want to check on it frequently without disturbing the heating environment too much.

There are some ways to tell if meat is cooked without cutting it. Look for visual cues that the steak is reheating evenly. It should start to sizzle gently and the center should no longer look cool or raw. If the steak is not reheating as quickly as expected, you have time to adjust the temperature or method. You may need to increase the oven or grill temperature, remove foil tenting, or flip the steak to the other side. Regular checks allow you to make changes to avoid over or undercooking. It’s much harder to save an overcooked steak, so keep a close eye out.

Consider reheating in strips or slices

Slices of steak on tray

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For a quick and easy way to reheat steak without drying it out, consider reheating steak strips or slices instead of a whole steak. Because steak strips and slices have a higher surface area to volume ratio, they reheat faster than larger cuts. This means there is less chance of overcooking the outside before the center is heated through. They are also more flexible, making them easier to add to other ingredients. To make steak strips, partially freeze the steak for easier slicing. Use a sharp knife to cut the steak across the grain into strips ¼ inch thick and to 1 inch wide. Or slice the steak very thinly in addition to Asian-inspired dishes.

After cutting strips or slices, separate them so they do not stick together, then refrigerate until ready to reheat. Steak strips and slices generally do not require the longer reheating times or lower oven temperatures needed for larger cuts. Their smaller size means heat travels to the center faster, allowing for quicker reheating at slightly higher temperatures while still avoiding an overcooked result.

Use a skillet on the stovetop

Cooking steak on skillet

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While there are several methods you can use to reheat your steak, one of the most underrated yet highly effective ways is by using a skillet on the stovetop. Firstly, cooking your steak in a cast iron pan allows you to control the heat source closely. It’s right there in front of you, so you can monitor the process better than if the steak were in an oven or on a grill. This proximity to the heat source and the ability to change the heat level quickly is a definite advantage when reheating steak.

Additionally, a skillet — preferably a heavy-bottomed one like cast iron — provides even heat distribution, which is key to reheating steak without drying it out. The skillet method allows you to quickly reheat the steak while also imparting an appetizing browned crust and enhancing flavor through the Maillard reaction.

Add flavor by reheating your steak with broth or gravy

Meat in a broth

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An easy way to keep your reheated steak flavorful and juicy is to reheat it in broth or gravy. Simmering your steak in a flavorful liquid helps it stay moist while reheating, and also allows it to absorb additional taste from the broth or gravy. To reheat steak in broth, choose a beef, chicken, or vegetable broth. Beef or chicken broth adds a meaty flavor to the steak, while vegetable broth provides a lighter option. Pour some broth into a Dutch oven or saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add your steak and reduce the heat to medium-low.

For extra decadence, consider melting a tablespoon of butter in with the broth or gravy. The butter will add a rich, glossy sauce to coat your steak. You can also add sliced mushrooms, pearl onions, or red wine to boost the flavor.

You can also use an air fryer

Steak in air fryer

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If you own an air fryer, you can use it to quickly and easily reheat steak. Air fryers circulate hot air around the steak to reheat it using convection, resulting in steak that is heated through while also becoming crispy on the outside. An air fryer can reheat steak in just a few minutes, all while giving it a texture that mimics grilling. One of the main benefits of using an air fryer to reheat steak is its speed. Compared to the oven, it can warm your steak in a fraction of the time. Plus, the air circulation technology ensures that the steak is reheated evenly, reducing the risk of hot and cold spots.

That said, every air fryer is unique, so you might need to tweak the time or temperature based on your particular model. Just remember the golden rule of reheating steak: Less is more. It’s better to underheat and need to add a little more time than to overheat and end up with a dry, overcooked steak.

Season or marinate the steak before reheating

seasoning a steak

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Seasoning or marinating helps ensure your reheated steak tastes as good as when you first cooked it. Bringing out the flavor of reheated steak will make all the effort to reheat it properly worthwhile. Before reheating your steak, consider sprinkling it generously on both sides with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, or your favorite spices like garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Rub the spices into the surface of the steak to allow the flavors to penetrate as it reheats. The heat will activate the spices and enrich the steak’s taste.

If you’re using a marinade, place the steak in a shallow dish, pour the marinade over, and make sure it’s thoroughly coated. If time allows, let the steak sit for a while to absorb the flavors. However, some marinades may burn if exposed to direct or intense heat during reheating and certain spices can become bitter if overheated. So exercise caution based on your reheating method. You may need to remove excess marinade from the steak before placing it in a very hot oven or grill, and foil tenting or flipping the steak during reheating helps minimize spice bitterness.

Avoid reheating multiple times

Steak cooked with butter

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Reheating leftovers more than once can lead to food-borne illness due to bacterial growth and also causes the steak to become dry and tough. For safety and quality, only reheat steak once, and be sure to reheat it thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to safety concerns, reheating steak multiple times causes it to become dry and tough. Each reheating cycle exposes the steak to more heat, moisture loss, and oxidation which degrade texture, aroma, and flavor. Once the steak is reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, its quality begins to decline quickly.

Reheating again only exacerbates moisture loss and the breakdown of proteins, resulting in an unappetizing final product. If you can’t finish your steak in one go but don’t want to risk reheating it multiple times consider cutting it into portions before you start. That way, you can heat up only what you plan to eat at a time. When you’re ready to eat the remaining steak, reheat it following one of the methods we’ve discussed, then enjoy it right away.

Use a meat thermometer for more control

Checking steak temperature

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The only way to know for sure your reheated steak has reached a safe internal temperature is with a meat thermometer. Using a thermometer is the best method to avoid over or under-reheating steak. It eliminates guesswork and ensures your steak is properly reheated to kill any harmful bacteria before eating. The safe internal temperature for reheated steak is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, most disease-causing bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella are destroyed. For best results, remove the steak from the oven or heat source once it reaches 163 degrees Fahrenheit. It will continue to slightly increase in temperature once removed due to carryover cooking. The final temperature upon resting should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

If using a thermometer with a probe meant to stay in during cooking, find one specifically designed for high-temperature use to avoid melting. Otherwise, check on your steak during reheating by periodically removing it from the oven or grill and inserting the probe into the thickest portion of the cut. Be extremely careful when doing so, as steam and surfaces will be extremely hot. Replace the steak and continue reheating until the proper 165 degrees Fahrenheit temperature is reached.

Reheat your steak using the sous vide method

steak using sous-vide

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“Sous vide” is French for “under vacuum,” a cooking technique where food is sealed in a plastic bag and cooked in a water bath at a precise temperature. This technique has long been favored by chefs for its ability to cook food uniformly, and it’s a fantastic method for reheating steak. It is a gentle reheating method that uses hot water to heat your steak to an exact internal temperature. It is one of the most precise ways to reheat steak while maintaining moisture and texture. Sous vide reheating helps ensure your steak is thoroughly heated through without becoming overdone.

Sous vide reheating steak results in even heating and precise control of doneness. It helps ensure your steak is thoroughly heated to a safe temperature while still preserving moisture, texture, and tenderness. The resealable bag creates a barrier against moisture loss. Sous vide heating is one of the gentlest ways to reheat steak. However, special equipment like an immersion circulator and vacuum sealer is required for sous vide. The reheating time can also be longer compared to other high-heat methods. For quick or small-scale reheating, sous vide may be less practical. But for high volume or commercial needs, immersion circulators can rapidly reheat steak to exacting temperatures and with ideal results.

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