Our Six Favorite Leftovers that Reheat Well on the Stove

Humans have been using a stovetop in some form or another for literally thousands of years. It seems we have always and will always find a way to create a heated surface on which to place a pot or a pan to sauté, boil, fry, or simmer foods to delicious results.  

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But what about when we need to reheat our favorite foods? Sometimes, with the right foods, the stovetop is just the best way to go.  

What Is a Traditional Stovetop and How Does It Work?   

The first stovetop like the one we use today was created out of brick and tile all the way back in 1490 in France. The modern stovetop goes as far back as the 1790s, even before the oven. 

What Is a Traditional Stovetop and How Does It Work  

The stovetop is simply the most convenient way to get food on the table for your family. Using either electricity or gas, heat is generated and directed toward the surface of a large box-like appliance, and we can place pots, pans, and even tea kettles of various sizes on it with all sorts of ingredients inside.  

It truly is a marvel.  

Why Are Stovetops so Commonplace in Kitchens?   

It’s not hard to see why the stovetop is a must-have in nearly every kitchen. You can boil water, fry chicken, saute vegetables, simmer stews, or even just heat up tortillas, all on the stovetop.  

A great argument can be made for why we humans probably do without air fryers, microwaves, and even ovens. But you’ll be hard-pressed to win an argument in favor of getting rid of the kitchen range.  

It’s just too handy and serves too many purposes for anyone who wants to be able to prepare and heat food.  

Why Is a Stovetop Good for Reheating Leftovers?   

Unlike the oven, the stovetop can be super quick for reheating leftovers and still provide crispy, warm, moist results. And unlike the microwave, the stovetop is unlikely to turn your leftovers into something resembling a brick. 

Sure, you could use your air fryer, but what about foods like noodles or fried rice? The stovetop is simply a big winner when it comes to several foods you’re looking to reheat, and while it might be a little messier than another appliance because you’ll have to use and clean a pan or a pot, the results are worth it. Well worth it. 

Our Six Favorite Foods to Reheat on a Stovetop  

Look, not all foods are going to be reheated to their best status on the stovetop. But the ones that are, really do come in as good as, and sometimes even better than, the first time.  

Chinese Food 

Chinese food is a mixed bag. You’ve got noodles and rice, meat with veggies and sauces.  

You don’t want to put these foods in the microwave because they will either turn out hard or rubbery or they will lose flavor and texture. The oven is too complicated, and the air fryer is impossible.  

You’ll just have to pull out your pots and pans and get to work. Fortunately, the work pays off in spades and you end up with Chinese food that tastes like it was just delivered. 


Look, grits are difficult to make the first time. Like risotto, they take tender love and care, close attention, endless stirring, and the perfect mix of ingredients. The last thing you want to do with grits you love is destroy them by throwing them in the microwave or overcooking them in the oven.  

No, they deserve to go right back on the stovetop for a few minutes and return to their original delight.  

Ramen Noodles 

This one is a no brainer, right? If you love your ramen noodles, they need to be reheated on the stovetop 

It is the easiest way to keep an eye on them while they heat up in their broth again without turning them into mush in the microwave, which is quite easy to have happen accidentally. For such a delicate dish, you want this one constantly at your fingertips for adjustments and quick removals.  


Gravy is a delightful addition to so many foods. Whoever thought of adding butter and flour to broth to pump up the flavor of a dish is a genius and definitely should go down in history. It was probably a mom just trying to get her picky kids to eat their plain mashed potatoes!  

Well, obviously the stovetop is the only place to reheat gravy. You can keep an eye on it to prevent lumps, clumps, and bumps, and you can add a bit more broth to thin it out if necessary.  

Heat it to perfection and pour over your favorite meal! 


And speaking of gravy, why not add some meatloaf? Meatloaf is a tried-and-true, never-let-you-down comfort food, and it goes great with gravy, so you can put two pans on the stove and make these two side by side because meatloaf is best reheated on the stovetop 

Why? The oven will dry out this already close-to-the-brink meat, and the microwave will turn it to rubber. But you can add a little oil to a pan and flash fry a slice of meatloaf to perfection, ready for the gravy to be poured on top! 


For those not in the know, tamales are typically prepared on the stovetop, so if you have leftover tamales you’re dying to reheat, the stovetop is the place to go. Tamales are steamed, and that is exactly how they should be reheated.  


A large pot of boiling water with a steamer is your ticket to tamales that taste like you just got them from the sweet lady pushing her cart past your colonial house in Mexico calling out her wares, “tamales!”  

What do you think? What foods are good to reheat on the stove? Do you have some tips and tricks to share for reheating food on the stove? Let me know in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.   

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