If you've got a leftover steak, or a part of one, you might think reheating it is impossible. The good news: You can definitely reheat a steak and preserve its juiciness and overall quality. The bad news: Doing it right isn't a quick process. Here, we'll show you how to get the job done.
Should You Reheat a Steak?
If you have half a steak or less, it might not make sense to try and reheat the whole thing. You might be better off slicing it up and making a steak sandwich out of it, or serving it on a salad, or in a stir-fry. So for this story, we're assuming you have enough of a steak to make reheating it worthwhile—which is up to you to decide.
Reheating Means Recooking
The next thing to keep in mind is that when reheating a steak, you're basically cooking it twice, which makes it difficult (though not impossible) to keep it at the same level of doneness that it was originally. That's because doneness is a function of the internal temperature of the steak—how hot the interior got when it was originally cooked. And achieving a specific level of doneness, whether it's rare, medium-rare, or medium, is about cooking the steak to a specific internal temperature. For rare, that's 120 to 130 F. For medium rare, it's 130 to 135 F. And for medium, 135 to 145 F.
So if you want to reheat a medium-rare steak, and you still want it to be medium-rare, you need to heat it so the internal temperature stays below 130 F.
Use a Thermometer
And you know what? The best way to check the temperature of a steak is with an instant-read thermometer. This might sound like heresy. The idea that poking a steak with a thermometer will cause it to lose juices is widespread. But the fact is, a steak isn't a water balloon. Yes, you'll lose a bit of juice at the point of the puncture. But overcooking causes loss of juice throughout the entire steak. So ultimately, the best way to preserve a steak's juiciness is by not overcooking it, even if that means poking a little hole in it.
So grab an instant-read thermometer and get ready for reheating method #1.
Reheating Method #1: Oven to Stovetop
Take your leftover steak out of the fridge. It's best to let it sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 250 F. A low temperature like this helps ensure that your steak heats slowly, making overcooking less likely.
Place a cooling rack or grill rack on a sheet pan and place your steak on the rack. Heat it in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick the steak is, until its internal temperature, measured with your thermometer, reaches 110 F. Next, transfer it to a hot pan with a bit of oil in it for a quick sear, for 30 to 60 seconds on each side. Boom, you're done.
Reheating Method #2: Sous Vide
Another terrific method of reheating a steak is to use a sous vide cooker. Sous vide is a cooking method that involves sealing a piece of food in plastic (usually using a vacuum sealer) and then immersing it in water that is heated to a specific temperature. The beauty of this method is that if the temperature of the water stays at 130 F (for instance), it is impossible for the food to get any hotter than 130 F, no matter how much time passes. A lot of people cook their steaks this way, and finish by searing it on a pan to give it a crusty brown exterior.
And you can reheat a steak the same way. A sous vide cooker has a thermostat that ensures that the water stays at whatever temperature you select. But you can use a pot of water, a thermometer, and a careful eye. As for vacuum sealing the steak, if you don't have a vacuum sealer, you can seal the steak up in a resealable freezer bag. Just be sure to press out as much air as you can before zipping it.
Heat a big pot of water until it starts to steam. Check it with your thermometer. (Candy and deep-fry thermometers have a clip to attach it to your pot, which is helpful, though not essential.) Once it reads 130 to 135 F, lower the heat to medium-low. Immerse the bag with your steak in it and leave it there. Heating it through might take an hour, depending on how thick the steak is and whether it's a whole steak or a portion thereof.
Once it's heated through, give it a quick sear on a hot pan to recrisp the outside and you're good to go.
There are a couple of other methods worth mentioning, and while they're not the most foolproof, they are quicker.
First, the microwave. It's commonly assumed that reheating a steak in the microwave is a bad idea. And while it is difficult to regulate the temperature, if done properly, using low power and 30 second bursts, it can work just fine. Contrary to popular myth, microwaves don't cook "from the inside out." Microwaves don't penetrate that far. All they do is heat the outer layers of the food by exciting the water molecules in it, and these outer layers conduct heat to the inner layers, just like a grill or an oven.
You can also reheat a steak on the stovetop. Just heat your skillet, add a little bit of oil, then add your room-temperature steak and sear it for a 60 to 90 seconds on each side. Check the temperature with a thermometer! The longer it cooks, the more chance you have of turning a medium-rare steak medium, or a medium steak medium-well.