The Secret To Making Reheated Mac And Cheese Taste Fresh

For centuries, macaroni and cheese has been a favorite in the culinary world. Rustic versions of this dish date back to the Roman Empire, and few can deny the appeal of fresh pasta noodles smothered in a savory dairy sauce. However, the opposite often holds true for reheated mac and cheese, as improper methods can result in a mushy, unappealing mess. Yet, this doesn't have to spell the end for your leftovers; a tablespoon of milk can revive the dish's taste and texture.

Pasta dishes are notoriously difficult to reheat, as noodles can become overcooked under direct heat, or dry out in a microwave. Mac and cheese noodles are no exception, and if you've made a homemade cheese sauce, you must also be careful not to break its emulsion. Adding a tablespoon of milk for every cup of leftovers should suffice to maintain the dish's moisture, making it taste nearly as good as when it was fresh. When reheating, avoid stirring too much, as excessive stirring is a common mistake that ruins mac and cheese's texture. A gentle swivel with a spoon should be enough to evenly distribute the milk through the leftovers.

Use the oven when reheating mac and cheese

Once you've mixed some milk into your mac and cheese, you need to decide how you're going to reheat those leftovers. The three primary methods involve using a microwave, stovetop, or oven, but the latter is preferable for several reasons.

While microwaves and stovetops heat leftovers more quickly, they can't provide the crispy exterior an oven can. A crust can add needed textural contrast to your mac and cheese, and help mask any mushiness from reheating the noodles. The moderate, indirect heat will warm your food without burning it. As an added bonus, the oven also allows you to revive a large batch at once, as you can fit many cheesy noodles on a single rack.

To reheat mac and cheese in the oven, begin by preheating it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven preheats, mix in a tablespoon of milk, then cover it with tin foil. For a crust, remove the foil about 10 minutes before serving, or leave it on to keep the dish creamy.

Elevating the flavors of leftover mac and cheese

Although adding milk helps maintain the texture of leftover mac and cheese, it's not the only way to enhance the dish. Toppings are one of two things that can upgrade your meal, especially if you're crisping the noodles in the oven. Sprinkling extra cheese on top can revive the existing flavors, and you should feel free to experiment with fancy varieties like Gouda. Crunchy, savory toppings like bacon bits or spicy vegetable additions like jalapeƱo slices can also enhance the dish.

You're not limited to just toppings, either; stir-ins are another excellent way to enrich the dish. Canned tuna adds protein, while roasted broccoli brings in a welcome color contrast. However, remember that some ingredients don't mesh well with mac and cheese. Crumbly cheeses, excessive amounts of liquor, and sweets typically clash with the dish's flavors and textures, so it's best to stick with savory additions that complement the sauce and noodles.