Reheating steak is a risky business. If you prefer your cuts of tender beef on the rare to medium-rare side, the wrong method could leave you eating what is most assuredly a first cousin to shoe leather. And while that may be tempting to folks who like beef well done, fans of a more tender, juicy steak can’t stomach the thought of ruining last night’s ribeye.
I tried four different methods for reheating steak that I found described on various sites and in YouTube videos. I put them to the test with four six-ounce rib eyes I cooked just for this occasion. Each steak was beautifully medium-rare before I placed them in the microwave and and then refrigerated them overnight. Two of the four worked brilliantly, and two not so much.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
Watch: How to Cook Restaurant-Worthy Steak
Method #1: Oven + Sear
If you’re an in-home steak cooker (i.e. not using an outdoor grill), you’re likely familiar with the steak-cooking method that requires you to gently warm steak in the oven before searing it in a hot pan for the perfect crust. If so, you’ll just repeat that process but this time with a steak that’s already cooked.
To start, preheat your oven to 250°F. This low temp promises a gentle warming period that won’t zap the meat of its juices. Place the steaks on a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. The wire rack allows free flow of warm air around the steak, and the rimmed baking sheet catches any juices that drip. Heat the steak for 30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 110°F. For a one-inch steak, that’s about 25 minutes. Remove the steaks from the oven.
Heat a cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over high heat. Add a bit of oil to the pan, and swirl to coat. When the oil is starting to smoke, place each steak in the pan. Sear about 60 seconds on each side, or until a thermometer reads 125° to 130°F for medium rare; 140° to 145° for medium. Remove the steaks from the pan, and let rest five minutes. Then enjoy and marvel at how juicy you managed to make day-old steak be.
NOTE: You won’t go as high on the steak-cooking temperature scale as you would if you were cooking the beef the first time. Because the steak is already cooked, you just want to warm it. If you go over that lower temp window, you’ll begin cooking the steak more.
Method #2 Gentle Reheat in the Microwave
I know, I know. You’re seeing the word microwave and thinking there’s no way a good steak will ever find new life in there, but this will work. Plus, it’s much faster if you don’t have time to dedicate to the effective but somewhat tedious oven method above.
Place the steaks you want to reheat in a deep microwave-safe dish, such as a glass baking dish. Then, empty all those delicious steak juices you saved into the dish. (You did save the steak juices, right? Do that from now on.) Cover the dish with plastic wrap, and place it in the microwave.
Set your microwave’s power to half, or 50%. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, flipping every 30 seconds. You can use a thermometer to tell when the steak is nearing perfectly warm (125 to 130°F), and you can stop the cooking early if your steak warms up faster. Some microwaves are more powerful, so cooking times will vary.
The crust isn’t as crisp this way, but the flavor is still there. If you desperately need that brown and shiny sear, you could add a second searing process with a skillet and a bit of oil: sear it over high heat for 60 seconds or so on each side. However, think you’ll find this is a perfectly acceptable option without the second sear, especially when you don’t have a lot of time to spare.
The Methods That Didn’t Work
The third method I tried was reheating a steak in a skillet with just a bit of oil. I used a medium heat, and flipped about every minute for 6 to 7 minutes. The steak did warm through, but it wasn’t as juicy as the other methods, and the crust managed to become very chewy, not crisp.
Finally, I tried cooking a steak in a skillet with warmed beef broth. For this method, I poured about 1/3 cup beef broth into a nonstick skillet that was warming over medium-high heat. When the broth was nearing a simmer, I put the steak in and turned the temp to medium and covered the skillet. I cooked 2 minutes on each side, flipping every minute.
The steak did warm through, and it was juicy. Steam from the broth likely helped keep the beef from losing its moisture, and it may have even added some. However, the steak lost a lot of its flavor with this process. I suspect sitting the steak’s crust in the broth let some of that scrumptious crust flavor leach out. This wasn’t a terrible way to get a juicy steak. It just was an excellent way to get a steak that lacked a lot of flavor.
If I was serving the steak cooked in broth with a juicy mushroom gravy or pan sauce, this might be an acceptable method, but if you’re not planning on that addendum to the menu, it’s better to stick with the oven method or—and I can’t believe I’m saying it—the microwave method.
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