How to Reheat a Stir Fry

Stir fry in plastic tub

Stir-frying is a cooking technique traditionally used in China to produce quick and healthy meals.

It involves frying a combination of meat/fish, vegetables, and rice/noodles in oil before coating it all in a flavourful sauce.

This way of cooking has since spread all over the globe, and stir fry has become a popular dish in other Asian countries and the West.

Although the dish is often bought as a takeaway, it is also a great way to use up excess food at home or as a speedy weekday dinner.

Because stir fry is so easy to bulk up, it is common for people to have leftovers after their meal. These can be reheated and eaten another day so that no food goes to waste.

However, it’s crucial to heat stir-fry leftovers properly so they still taste great and are safe to consume. Luckily, we have three ways in which this can be done.

Read on to learn how to reheat stir fry safely so it can be enjoyed another day.

You can reheat stir fry in three ways: on the hob, in the microwave, or in the oven. Each of these methods has its pros and cons, as detailed below.

We also give you step-by-step instructions for each process to ensure you reheat your stir fry safely.


Reheating Stir Fry on the Hob

Stir fry in pan

Reheating stir fry on the hob isn’t the most convenient method on this list, but it is the one that guarantees the best results.

This is because the process mimics how the stir fry was originally made and gives you complete control of the heat distribution while warming the food.

Heating the stir fry in a carbon steel wok will work best, but any pan with a flat base will also work well with the following instructions:

  1. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan until it is hot
  2. Add your leftover stir fry and stir to coat it in the hot oil
  3. Continue stirring the food regularly to evenly distribute the heat throughout the ingredients and to prevent sticking
  4. After a minute or two, remove the pan from the heat


Reheating Stir Fry in the Microwave

Stir fry in microwave

The fastest and most convenient way of reheating stir fry is by putting it in the microwave.

This is an excellent option for those that are limited on time and wish to heat their leftovers with minimal washing up.

However, the microwaving can cause the vegetables to become mushy.

To reheat your stir fry in the microwave, you will need to:

  1. Transfer your stir fry to a large microwaveable container.
  2. Cover the top of the container with a damp paper towel.
  3. Heat the leftovers for a minute at a time until it reaches your desired temperature.
  4. After every minute of cooking, make sure to stir the food so that the heat is evenly distributed, and add a little water if needed to prevent drying out.


Reheating Stir Fry in the Oven

The last way to reheat stir fry is in the oven. We don’t recommend this way of reheating as it is the most time-consuming option on this list and tends to dry out your food.

However, it can still leave you with an enjoyable meal when done carefully and is ideal for those who don’t have access to a hob or microwave.

For the best results, follow the below steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Evenly spread out your stir fry in a shallow oven-proof dish.
  3. Drizzle a tablespoon of water over the food.
  4. Cover the top of your dish with aluminium foil.
  5. Place the dish in the oven for up to 10 minutes.
  6. Halfway through cooking, check whether the stir fry has reached your desired temperature, and add more liquid if needed.


Top Tips for Reheating Stir Fry

No matter which of the above methods you choose, you will be left with a nice meal that is filling and safe to eat. However, there are a few things you can do to improve the reheating process:

  • Cut any large chunks of meat or veg into smaller pieces before reheating. This helps to distribute heat evenly throughout the stir fry and ensures everything cooks at the same rate.
  • Regularly check on your stir fry and add water throughout the reheating process to ensure it doesn’t dry out. This is especially important when using a microwave or oven.
  • Always reheat the stir fry until it’s piping hot, especially if reheating rice or prawns. Both these foods are particularly known for spoiling and making people sick if not adequately reheated.
  • Only ever reheat a stir fry once. Cooking the dish more than this will cause the vegetables to become soggy and increase the chance of bacteria growth.
  • If you want to add more sauce to your stir fry, only do so after reheating. Coating your food in extra sauce beforehand will increase the chances of the vegetables becoming mushy.

Stir fried squid in plastic tubs

How Long Is Leftover Stir Fry Good?

As long as your store your leftover stir fry properly, it can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days and still be safe to eat.

You can also freeze stir fry for up to 3 months, but thoroughly defrost the food before reheating it using one of the above methods.

The most important thing to remember is to store the food in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze it within 2 hours of cooking (1 hour if it contains rice).

If your stir fry is left at room temperature for longer than this, the chances of bacterial growth significantly increase, and the food needs to be discarded.