An overhead image of a serving dish with a whole chicken cut into pieces and garnished with spring onion curls

How To Reheat Food With Steam

Once you’ve learnt how to reheat food with steam, you might never use your microwave again!

Whether you want to reheat a steak, warm up leftover rice or heat up a whole roast chicken, today I’m going to teach you how to reheat food without a microwave, so it’s as fresh as the first time you cooked it. 

How will we achieve this feat of modern cooking? You guessed it: your steam oven. Combi steam or convection steam oven reheating takes freezer meals and leftovers from sad and sorry to something that’s as good as freshly cooked.

It might sound strange but the reheat function is one of my favorite things about these ovens. Reheating with steam preserves moisture, color and nutrients, and (most importantly!) taste and texture.

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sous vide cooked boneless ribeye steak

Why should you stop using a microwave to reheat?

I could give you a list of health reasons to stop using your microwave, but none of them are actually the reason I stopped reheating my food in one. 

The primary reason not to microwave your food when you have the option of a steam oven instead? Food quality. 

The taste and texture of your food when you reheat it using steam is honestly amazing. In almost every case, it tastes as good as new. 

What can you reheat in a steam oven

You can reheat just about any food in a steam oven, by adjusting the settings to suit. The appliance really shines, though, with foods that otherwise dry out when reheated. Think cooked chicken, beef and pork, fish, pasta and bread. Really, though, you name it, you can probably reheat it with combi steam!

A picture of a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs in the foreground and bowls and grated cheese in a ramekin

The one category of foods I wouldn’t reheat with at least a little steam are crispy fried foods. Crumbed chicken and other breaded items really need fast, dry heat to make sure the outsides don’t go soggy. 

A saucepan with fluffy rice and sticky Asian beef ribs garnished with fresh chilli slices and cilantro

How to reheat a single plate of food in your steam oven

For a typical single serve meal (think meat and vegetables, stir fry, pasta or rice), heat the food right in the dish or bowl you’ll eat from. Don’t use plastic, it could melt and no one wants to clean that up from the bottom of their oven! 

Put the dish into a cold oven and use your oven’s reheat program if it has one. If it doesn’t you have two options here. 

The first is to set the oven to 250°F/120°C on a combi steam setting. If your oven requires you to select a steam level or percentage, around 50% (or medium) steam will be fine for most reheating. You’ll have to use common sense to know when your food is warmed through. I generally go for 10 minutes for a regular adult sized meal. Dense foods like soup might take a little longer.

A bowl of green soup with a swirl of cream and a sprinkle of seasoning on a pale wooden surface

The other option, which is great for delicate foods or meats which are cooked to less than well-done, is to heat lower and slower. This is an excellent method for reheating leftover prime rib, for example, or a leftover sous vide cooked steak. For this option, use a temperature of around 175°F/80°C. Some steam ovens will allow you to go this low and still use a combi setting – if yours does, choose this and use 50% (medium) steam. Otherwise use the steam setting, just be aware it will be very moist and you may wish to cover your food loosely to avoid drips. This low and slow reheat obviously takes longer; allow roughly 20 minutes once the oven comes to temperature.

How to reheat a family meal in your steam oven

Want to reheat an entire leftovers meal with multiple components? You can do that too. 

If it’s something with a couple of different components, like a casserole and mash or pasta and sauce, the best way to reheat is put each component into a separate pan. I use my small stainless steel steam trays for this. The different parts of the meal will heat more evenly this way, and you can plate up nicely after heating. Start from cold and set the oven to 250°F/120°C on a combi steam setting. If your oven also requires you to select a steam level or percentage, use 50% (medium) steam.

close up shot of baked macaroni cheese with a serving spoon

To reheat something like a whole frozen lasagne or a pan of enchiladas, make sure the food is thawed first. Reheat using combi steam (50%/medium steam), but at a higher temperature, around 320°F/160°C. The higher temperature will heat faster, but you’ll still get the moisture benefits of combi or convection steam cooking.

Do you want to use and love your steam oven more?

There are precious few resources to teach us HOW to use a steam oven in everyday cooking. I’m guessing that’s why you’re here! If you love cooking but aren’t making the most of your combi steam oven, you aren’t alone.

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How to reheat steak, chicken and large cuts of meat in your steam oven

As with the directions for a plate of food, you can reheat larger quantities of cooked meat using your steam oven. I recommend low and slow reheat for this, so your meat doesn’t dry out (you can dry food out even with steam!).

platter of cooked lamb with leafy greens, garlic and onion

The temperature you use here (and the time it takes) will depend on the temperature you cooked at the first time around. Whatever you’re reheating, make sure it’s heated fully through, and straight from fridge cold, to avoid food safety issues. Here are some guidelines:

  • Reheating rare or medium rare steak: 130°F/55°C on steam setting (100% humidity)
  • Reheating roasted or steamed chicken: 165°F/73°C on steam setting (100% humidity)
  • Reheating a joint of roasted meat (pork, lamb, beef): 195°F/90°C (100% humidity); if you have a particularly large joint, over 2lb/1kg, I recommend either cutting into smaller pieces or using a higher temperature to ensure even and safe heating.

If you aren’t already reheating with your steam oven, I hope this article helps put your appliance to use in a new way. Reheating nicely is such a game changer, and gives you another reason to love your combi steam oven. 

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10 thoughts on “How To Reheat Food With Steam”

  1. Emily Rhodes

    I’d reheat at a relatively low temperature, perhaps around 250F, with, say, 40-50% steam. I’m not sure how long it’ll take but at a guess I’d give it a half hour or more. Gentle heating will preserve the texture much better than a high heat, high steam blast.

  2. I need to reheat a precooked spiral honey seven pound ham. I have Mielle combo steam convection oven. Ideas?

  3. Emily Rhodes

    It depends on what you’re reheating, and sometimes on the oven you use. One of my previous steam ovens did lead to quite a bit of moisture in the dish, especially with high moisture content foods like veggies, but my current main combi oven doesn’t suffer the same problem. If it’s an issue for you, you can either cover the food loosely (if drips from the top of the oven are causing problems), or use a higher heat and/or less steam. Just beware that too hot and too little steam takes away from the benefits of combi steam reheating!

  4. Emily Rhodes

    It really depends on what you’re reheating, but no, I don’t find most things get very wet at all. If you steam something to reheat it has the potential to get some moisture in the bottom of the dish, but with combi steam at temps above 100C/212F, short-time reheating stints are pretty good. As I mention in the article, I would avoid reheating very crispy crumbed foods with steam, though.

  5. Emily Rhodes

    Sorry you feel frustrated and disappointed by my free content. All my recipes are easily printable via the website, and it’s always an option to print a particular non-recipe post if you refer to the information in it frequently. As a free website, and a mostly one-person, part time operation, I’m sure you can appreciate how labor intensive it is to create, upload and maintain this content, as well as to send regular emails to share extra tips with subscribers. I have a small but expanding range of cookbooks and online resources for purchase, which are great if you prefer printed information! Over the next few months a new cookbook and a new online course for beginner steam oven users will be released. I look forward to your support when they launch!

  6. I wish you would put information like this in print form. I can’t wade through all my emails every time I want to refer to some hints you have given in the past. Very frustrating and disappointing…

  7. i have tried reheating but there is always a puddle of water on the plate or dish… how do i avoid this please.

  8. Emily Rhodes

    Yes, you can definitely reheat pastries and pies, but you’d want to do so at the same or a similar temp as you cooked them at. My recommendation would be something like 180C and a low to medium steam level, so the pastry remains crisp. Because of the higher heat, it’s better to reheat from thawed in this case. Otherwise you run the risk of your pastry drying out before the middle is heated through.

  9. Jenny Stephens

    Hi ,
    Can you reheat pastries., for example a pie?
    Is there a difference in reheating a frozen and thawed pie?

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