Reheating Fast Food: Our Definitive Guide

Who’s not been there? You go out and grab a bunch of junk food, but once you get back home, you haven’t been able to eat it all, and there’s enough left for your dinner.

Take a Look ↓↓↓

Sometimes you buy too much because your ryes are bigger than your belly. Or, sometimes you buy something for someone else, and they don’t have it in the end.

Whatever the cases it, you now have loads of leftovers and, why waste it? Its perfectly good right? There’s no way you can eat it right now of course, but why not save it for later? 

If you are wondering if you can set the food aside and reheat it later for a tasty snack, then you can.

However, you may be worried that it would taste rubbery and gross. So, if that happens, is it even worth it? And is there a way that you can do it without it ending up rubbery and gross?

Well, that's why we are here today, to give you all the information you need on how you can store and reheat your fast food leftovers.

How to Reheat a Burger: Reheating McDonald's

Let's start off today by looking at McDonald's, because who doesn’t love McDonald’s right? It is the unbeaten king of fast food.

The familiar golden arches of its sigil are worldwide famous and its food is infamously delicious. But, the big question is, can you reheat McDonald's?

Why, of course you can. McDonald's is actually not too bad when it comes down to reheating. It has those methods that retain its distinctiveness, its flavors, and those silky, crunchy textures you adore it for.

Big Macs and Burgers

Got a big mac? Love that meat and bread combo of deliciousness, but don’t want to see it go to waste? Neither do we. The best tool you can use to reheat any burger, is just a standard kitchen oven.

The steady heat of an oven can ensure all-round even reheating, it won’t scorch the outer layers of your burger, nor will it leave you with a soggy, fat soaked patty either.

We do recommend deconstructing the burger if you can, and heat it in its component parts. We say this because it will provide you with an even nice, and more even, thorough heating that will preserve as much of the original taste as is possible.

  • Prior to heating you should store the burger in an airtight container in the fridge until it is needed for reheating. You should then take it out 10 minutes before you pop it in the oven. Do this to allow it to sit at room temperature for a while.
  • Next you should preheat your oven to 350-degrees.
  • Lay out your disassembled burger on a tray that is lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Remove the salad pieces and sauce as much as you can. You do not want to reheat these. Put them somewhere safe, for after the heating. If you have fresh ones in your fridge, why not cut yourself some fresh pieces to replace them with.
  • Heat your burger patty and buns for around 6-7 minutes once your oven has finished preheating.
  • If it is not quite done to your liking after 7 minutes, you can keep it in for longer, but we recommend checking it every 30 seconds.
  • Once your burger is reheated, rebuild it and enjoy!

If you have a cheeseburger it is the same process, no matter where your burger or your cheeseburger is from. Make sure to follow these steps and your burger will be like-fresh.

How to Reheat McDonald's Fries

Reheating McDonald’s fries is incredibly simple. Not that you would assume so of course. No one likes soggy, or cold fries. Ew.

To reheat these tasty fries, we can definitely say, avoid the recommendations for using a microwave. Because this will result in those soggy fries we know you hate. They will lose their delicious crispiness and crunchiness that we all value in a good and tasty fry.

Instead, to retain these factors, recreate how they were made. Using a fryer, or if you don’t have one, use a pan with oil and medium heat.

It should only really have 3-5 minutes to re-cook these fries. You are only looking to reheat them and give them that crispiness again, you know, the one they had when they came out of the dryer at the McDonald's chain you bought them from.

Do remember to be careful with the hot oil on your stove, it is volatile, and it should be handled carefully.

McNuggets

Mm, McNuggets. These can be reheated in the microwave, they usually end up being a bit rubbery and chewy is not cautious. So, you should use the oven for optimal results.

  • Set the heat to 350 on your oven, placing your nugget on a tray, with plenty of space between them.
  • Cook for 10 minutes and voilà, good as new.

Breakfasts

A McDonald's muffin can just be chucked in the oven on a tray for about 10 minutes at 350-degrees until it is toasty and warm all the way through.

A sausage egg McMuffin, is a whole other thing though. If you are in a rush to get that McMuffin down your throat, then blasting it with the reheat setting is one option, but this can result in soggy bread and a rubbery egg.

If you can, try to use the same reheat method, it may take longer but its worth it.

  • Heat at 350-degrees for about quarter of an hour. Do not forget to deconstruct the muffin first placing every ingredient on a tray with some space around it for better breathing. Once it is hot, reassemble and enjoy.

Hash Browns

Not only are McDonald’s has browns delicious, they are also super easy to reheat.

  • Warm a pan on your stove with some butter, at medium heat.
  • While this is warming up, throw the hash browns into a reheat cycle inside your microwave for half a minute.
  • Once warm, pop them into the pain and cook for 3 minutes on both sides.

Apple Pies

While you can reheat an apple pie using a microwave, it is not recommended. It doesn’t spoil the food, but the way that a microwave heats food, doesn’t mix all that well with apple pies.

It is common for the apple mixture in the center of the pie to be a much higher temperature than the rest of the pie. So you could bite down into an exterior that is just lukewarm, but the inside of the pie may as well be lava. We don’t want you eating lava.

To best avoid this, preheat the oven to just 200-degrees. Then cook the apple pie for around 10-minutes.

Leave it for a few minutes after cooking for it to cool. It will still be hot, and again, no eating apple pie lava. Besides, you’ve already waited this long right, what’s a few more minutes?

Reheating KFC and Any Fried Chicken Products

Most people will agree that when you hear the word,’ chicken’, your brain goes straight to ‘ KFC’. And isn’t it just perfect.

Even if your hometown doesn’t have its own KFC, you can be certain that they’ll have their own version of it for sure.

That is why it is important to know how to reheat your fried chicken. Chicken can be a bit pedantic as a dish, and you want to be cautious.

If you try to reheat crispy fried chicken, like what you will get from a delicious KFC meal, you don’t want it drying out and this is where things get more difficult.

Let’s have a look at some of the methods you can employ here to stop you from having a hard time reheating your chicken deliciousness.

Reheating Food In the Oven

The best method you can employ to reheat your KFC chicken, is to cook it in the oven, preserving the moistness of the bird by tenting it over with foil.

Tenting is basically just to create a little tent out of aluminum foil and place it over the tray that your chicken is placed on. It helps you to retain the moisture and stops skin from drying out, or getting too hot.

  • Preheat your oven to 375-degrees.
  • Take your chicken from the oven, ensuring that your temperatures can equalize.
  • Once your oven is adequately heated, place your chicken on a tray and tent it with foil, keeping it safe.
  • Cook your chicken for about 10 minutes, cook at 300-degrees.
  • Check your chicken every few minutes, if you have multiple pieces, these may cook at different speeds.

Generally, thicker pieces of chicken will take much longer to cook than a thinner piece will. But it is easy to check if they are done, all you need to do is break open a thick piece of chicken and ensure that it is warmed all the way through. If it is, it is ready for dinner time.

In the Microwave Oven

While you can reheat chicken in the microwave, it is not a suitable solution.

If you do have no other choice, you can try your best to make it work, and avoid having soggy and miserable meat as much as you can.

  • First of all, take your chicken from the fridge, allow it to sit at room temperature for a while, we recommend between 5 and 10 minutes. This will allow the temperature to equalize and minimize the amount of moisture loss from the otherwise rather sudden and rapid temperature change.
  • Loosely wrap up your chicken in a paper towel, this will stop the chicken from soaking up any ambient moisture inside the microwave and getting soggy. Do not put foil in the microwave!
  • Reheat your chicken for 30 seconds at each time, checking between sessions. Make sure it is warm but not too hot. Heating it this way gives you the opportunity to hit the sweet sot between tasty food temperature and straight out of a volcano temperatures.

In a Toaster Oven

One of the most fun things about KFC chicken, despite the fact that it is, you know, KFC chicken, is the fact that it can actually be reheated successfully in a toaster oven, of all things.

If you are one of those lucky ducks who owns a toaster oven, it is just as good, if not even better for reheating friend chicken than a regular oven.

A toaster oven is basically a teeny tiny electrically powered oven, it only takes a small amount of food into it, usually used for toast, but it can be used for anything a normal oven can whip up.

Reheating fried chicken in a toaster oven takes a little more work than using a normal oven, but it is much faster, and you will often end up with a fantastic result.

  • Start up by preheating your toaster oven to 400-degrees.
  • You can get the chicken up to a more suitable temperature by microwaving it for one to one and a half minutes.
  • Once the chicken is out of the microwave, place it on the toaster oven baking tray and cook it for two to three minutes.
  • Once it has cooked, let it stand for a few more minutes until it is comfortable to the touch.
  • As a toaster oven will cook a small amount of food better, it is generally fine to cook fried chicken in batches because it reheats it so much faster in toaster often that this method generally yields much better results.

Reheating a Pizza

Unlike some of the previous options, and in fact, many foods in general, it is pretty acceptable to eat leftover pizza while its cold.

Anyone who has lived through their late teens and twenties has probably woken a little hungover and just bee-lined for their half open box of pizza leftovers the next day, to fill the void.

However, reheating a pizza is incredibly simple, and it makes the whole experience so much better. Imagine that cold slice in the box, instead of being cold, being deliciously hot, the cheese nice and warm, the toppings steamy, and the smell of that delicious pizza base.

You don’t need to make your own pizza to experience the deliciousness in your own home either, you can use your leftovers to relive a fresh and crispy cooked pizza.

In the Skillet/ Pan

You may not have considered doing so, but a great method for reheating your pizza is using a pan or a skillet.

This method is the best if you are only reheating a couple of slices because you will get the result of a nice and crispy slice pretty quickly.

  • Start off by heating your non-stick pan or skillet to 450 degrees for one to two minutes.
  • Reduce your temperature to medium after this and then add in your pizza.
  • Cook your pizza for just a couple of minutes and then serve it straight from the pan.
  • If you like melted gooey cheese on your pizza then you can make this by covering the skillet or pan. Doing so allows it to stream up on the inside which helps to melt the cheese that sits on top of the pizza.

In the Oven

The oven is probably better if you have more leftovers, perhaps half a pizza, if you want to return your pizza to its former glory.

  • Bring the oven to 45 degrees and preheat it.
  • Prepare a flat baking tray, or a cookie sheet, whichever is better, and line it with foil.
  • Place your slicing on the sheet or tray, then proceed to cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Check the pizza. There is a sure sign that it is ready to be removed from the oven, this is when the cheese starts to bubble. You can remove it prior to or after this depending on your preference.

There is another method, which is perfect for reheating pizza, it has already been vindicated by science, however there are a few issues with this.

First of all, it takes a griddle with a cover, or a skillet with a cover, these are tools that may not be available to everyone. It also can take upwards of half an hour. However, you will end up with a delicious result.

  • To start, place your pizza slices on your griddle or skillet before you turn the heat on. This will prevent the slices from drying out as they cook.
  • Turn up the heat to around 200-degrees.
  • Cover the slices and leave them for about half an hour.
  • Once done, be careful as there will be a shocking amount of steam beneath the cover.

There are several reasons that many people enjoy and promote this method.

  • The fact that the pizza is reheated from cold rather than just popped into a hot skillet prevents burning the outside and the crust becoming dry and hard.
  • There is a process called retrogradation, which is the scientific term for staling. This is the reason you should keep your temperature below 200-degrees. This temperature is below the boiling point of water, this prevents the water from leaving the dough as it evaporates, thus keeping the dough moist and flavorful.
  • What water does evaporate stays within the cover you places on top, this then works to moisten the cheese and the toppings. A little water also helps the crust stay crusty too.

With all this put together, we would be surprised if you didn’t try this, at least once.

In the Microwave Oven

There is no law to say you shouldn’t reheat your pizza in the microwave, although there should be.

While microwaving a pizza may be fast, but the way that a pizza dough is composed means that the end result would be a rather chewy mess.

Dry and Crusty Pizzas- Fix It

If you left your pizza a bit too long there may be something that you can do to fix it. If you have a mister bottle, give it a quick spritz of water across the top of the pizza, this is all you need to do to revitalize it.

Do not worry about hitting the crust, a light dusting of water across the crust will help it ‘re-crisp’ when you pop it back in the oven.

Reheat Fried Fish: Reheating British-styled Fish and Chips

Reheating fish and chips can be done easy enough if you do it right. Because it is such a simple dish you can follow instructions and have a near good-as-new fish and chip dish from your leftovers the day after.

If you have ever made an attempt at doing this before, you may well have ended up with an almost mushy, soggy and sale pile of sorry excuses of fries.

This is due to the excess moisture, so bear in mind that there is excess moisture where when you choose how to reheat your chips.

This is one reason you should avoid the oven, and the microwave oven too. These two are pretty evil when it comes to reheating this meal. There are still enough ways that you can reheat this fried fish. But we will let you choose your favorite.

In a Fryer

The best way you can reheat your chips is to use a fryer, or if you do not have one then a deep pan with a small amount of oil in it.

You need to bring this to high heat, and whilst it heats up, spend some time drying off your chips, so they have as little moisture on them as possible.

A kitchen towel is a good way to do this, or you would drain then down for a few minutes and then leave them to air for a bit after.

Once the oil is hot enough, place your chips into the oil and cook them for two to three minutes, moving and turning them occasionally so that they do not clump or stuck together.

Once done serve them straight away to get the best results. Yummy!

In the Oven

Using your own oven is the easiest way to reheat battered fish, however it does take a little while to do.

But once you have set it up, this method will take no monitoring, so that you can get on with prepping the rest of your meal.

  • First of all, preheat your oven to 350-degrees.
  • Take your fish out of the fridge and leave it to air, then come to room temperature for a few minutes as the oven heats up.
  • Place your fish central on a baking tray, you can use foil, it is totally fine and will not affect the end result.
  • Let it cook for about 10 minutes, check it every minute after that until the batter is crispy and the fish is hot and cooked all the way through.
  • If you have a food thermometer, and internal temperature of 145-degrees means that it is good and ready to serve.
  • When it is taken out of the oven, this fish will be hot, so let it cool for a while before you serve it.

Reheating Fried Fish

Using a skillet to reheat your fried fish words much faster than if you use an oven, however it does require more attention.

Not only that but it is also exposed to the air, so you may end up with a bit of a fishy kitchen. That could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you feel about the smell of fish.

  • Bring your stove up to a high heat.
  • Take your fish from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for a few minutes before you cook.
  • Add some oil and then add the fish.
  • Cook this for two to three minutes. Turn your fish every 30 seconds to a minute and try to cook both sides equally.
  • Similarly, if you have a food thermometer, an internal temperature of 145-degrees should be what you are looking for.
  • Once it is cooked, let it cool for a few minutes before you serve.

Reheating Taco Bell

Isn’t Taco Bell amazing? If you have leftovers from Taco Bell, you will want to reheat it, you do not want to let that deliciousness go to waste!

You are probably looking to reheat a couple of things; tacos and burritos. Luckily, there are some fantastic ways to reheat both of them and preserve the flavor and texture you seek.

Reheating Tacos

If you have soft tacos then you can use this method, it is significantly simpler to do than others.

  • Preheat your oven to 375-degrees.
  • Remove salad and the toppings from the tacos and store them to one side.
  • Leaving the tacos in their foil, place them on a baking tray and keep at least a fingers' width of space between them.
  • Cook them directly in their wrappers for ten to fifteen minutes, or until they are hot in the center.
  • Serve directly, adding toppings and salad as you so desire.

Reheating Burritos

Burritos are simple, wholesome and most importantly delicious. However, they are easy to store and reheat as well.

You can leave them chilled for a few days and then when you are ready to munch away at your burrito, there's not all that much you have to do.

  • Preheat your oven to 225 degrees.
  • Remove them from the fridge, wrap in foil and place them straight into the oven.
  • Cook them for around half an hour. Do not worry, they do not need any attention once they’re in, you can check them occasionally if you want, but it is not necessary.
  • When they are ready to be taken out, ensure they are cooked through. Using a food thermometer you can seek out an internal temperature of 165-degrees.
  • Serve once cool enough for consumption.

That is all that is needed. Mexican cuisine is super simple to reheat and cook. So, feel free to treat yourself every now and again.

Reheating Subway/ Sub Sandwiches

Sometimes we buy way more food than our stomachs can take. You eat half and save the other half for later. But then by the time your stomach has got rid of the first half, the second half just isn't what it was before.

There is no perfect way to reheat a sub. The reason being that, unlike all the previous options, the structure is completely different from other fast food types.

When you store it, the contents of the sub will soak into the bread, this will make it soggy. Even if the filling is a pretty dry one, there will be residual moisture, and this will make the bread soggy and doughy, which will spoil the whole experience of a sub.

You cannot really reheat a sub either, any significant amount of heat will start to cook the bread further and essentially morphing it into a whole different meal.

If you are hankering for the same experience you can do one of two things. The first is simply go back to the store and buy it again. The other is to have a stock of subs in your house and to simply transfer to filling over to fresh bread. However, even if you do this, it will still be rather dissatisfying because the filling will have lost some freshness.

When it comes to sandwiches, you are just better off eating it all in one go.

Can you eat fast food cold? 

Many people eat fast food cold, there are some that even taste better cold. However, for the majority of fast food leftovers, it is not something we recommend all the time.

Pizza is generally find eaten cold because of the method it is cooked in, meat in this way tends to be cured, which reduces the risk of food poisoning.

However, if your dish contains; beef, chicken, or fish, then it is not recommended eating it cold, especially when heating it up does not take very long.

Try out some of these methods and reheat your fast food before you eat it, your taste buds and your stomach will be grateful you did. 

Follow Us
Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
Follow Us
Latest posts by Cassie Marshall (see all)