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Exactly How To Reheat Carbonara – I Try 5 Methods [Pics]

Pasta is notoriously tricky to reheat, so if you’ve found yourself with a big bowl of leftover carbonara that you’re unsure what to do with, you may want to read on.

If you’re on a mission to retain your carbonara’s smooth, creamy texture and cheesy, cured pork flavor while reheating it, I have excellent news.

I’ve investigated no less than five methods to warm this delicious dish to find the best way to prevent compromising its signature taste.

Gone are the days of dry, stodgy leftover carbonara.

Hello fresh, hot, flavorful, creamy carbonara!

I’ve also include tips for storing this dish to retain its maximum reheating potential and, also, other fun ways to use up your leftovers.

A note on my experiment

Carbonara is my party trick. It’s a dish I love to cook up for guests, and inevitably I end up making too much.

Given its rich and filling nature, it’s no surprise that there’s often leftovers.

This is precisely what happened last weekend and what led me to conduct my carbonara reheating experiment.

By trying out five different reheating methods, I’ve finally settled on the ultimate method of reheating my carbonara to bring it back to it’s former glory.

The reheating methods I tested include:

  • Reheating in a bain-marie (great results with the lowest risk of ruined pasta)
  • Reheating on the stove with low heat (also produces excellent results)
  • Reheating in the microwave (convenient but makes the pasta slightly dry)
  • Reheating by frying (crisps up the pasta and cooks the egg)
  • Reheating in the oven (slow but okay for reheating large portions)

In terms of results, it’s a toss-up between the bain-marie method and the stove method for me.

While neither was particularly fast nor convenient, these reheating techniques’ slow and steady pace delivered the most delicious end products.

The microwave method was convenient and delivered a good result, but the pasta was a little bit drier than I would have liked.

Frying the carbonara was effective but delivered a whole new product that was not at all like the original.

Reheating my carbonara in the oven was touch-and-go.

It’s a good idea if you have big portions that need warming, but it’s hard to monitor its progress and therefore easy to overcook it.

Reheating carbonara in a bain-marie

Set up a bain-marie by resting a glass bowl on the rim of a pot on the stove. Add water to the pot, but make sure it doesn’t touch the bowl’s base. While you slowly heat the water on a medium setting, add the carbonara to the bowl, stirring continuously until warm. Serve immediately.

If the pasta seems dry, you can add some moisture by stirring in a small quantity of a liquid, like cream, milk, stock, or water.

When the pasta is loose, and the sauce is warmed through, your meal is ready to be served.

How to reheat carbonara in a bain-marie:

  1. Set up a bain-marie by placing some water in a pot and resting a glass bowl on its rim.
  2. Warm the water on medium heat on the stove.
  3. While the water warms, add your leftover carbonara to the bowl and start to stir it gently.
  4. Stir the pasta continuously until the water is steaming, and then turn down the heat.
  5. If the pasta is dry, add some moisture in the form of milk, cream, stock, or water.
  6. Once your pasta is evenly heated, remove it from the bain-marie and serve.

Overheating your carbonara can result in curdled sauce and soggy noodles.

If you notice the eggs in the sauce start to cook, remove the dish from the heat altogether.

When heating the water in your bain-marie’s base, make sure it doesn’t start to boil, as this will be too hot for your pasta and ruin it.

If you’re using this method to heat up your leftovers, always choose an appropriately-sized bowl.

If not, you run the risk of not being able to stir your pasta or not heating it through thoroughly.

My verdict

This is my favorite reheating technique when it comes to reviving my carbonara.

While setting up the bain-marie is a bit of a shlep, the result is a pasta that tastes almost as good as new.

Using second-hand heat makes it easy to control the temperature of the dish and way harder to overcook the sauce.

While the pasta sauce wasn’t 100% as creamy as when I prepared my carbonara the day before, it was pretty close to tasting as good as new.

Reheating carbonara on the stove (low heat)

Set your stove to very low heat. Place a small amount of butter or oil in a pan and add your leftover carbonara. If the pasta has gone a bit dry in the fridge, add some moisture (milk, cream, stock, or water). While the pasta heats up, toss it continuously. Serve once it’s evenly warm.

If your pasta is still dry after adding the liquid component, steam the pasta for 30 seconds by covering the pan with a lid.

This will help to return moisture to the dish.

How to reheat carbonara on the stove (low heat):

  1. Set your stove to its lowest heat setting.
  2. Add some butter or oil to a pan.
  3. Place your leftover carbonara in the pan.
  4. If the pasta seems dry, return some moisture by adding cream, milk, water, or stock.
  5. As the pasta warms, toss it continuously.
  6. Once evenly warm, serve your carbonara immediately.
  7. Optional: Cover the pan with a lid and steam it for 30 seconds if your pasta still seems dry.

With this method, it’s paramount that you use the lowest heat setting on your stove, or you risk cooking the eggs in the sauce.

If the eggs do start to cook, remove the pan from the heat immediately.

You will more than likely be dealing with congealed pasta at first. You can rectify this by gently pushing apart the strands in a circular motion as the pan warms up.

Once the pasta is separated, you can start to toss it.

My verdict

The result of this method was a delicious, creamy, warm carbonara.

While heating my pasta in a pan was slightly less effort than setting up a bain-marie, it wasn’t as easy to control its exposure to the stove’s heat (direct heating method).

I had to monitor it closely.

Regardless, I would still recommend both the bain-marie and stove methods for reheating carbonara.

Reheating carbonara in the microwave

Place your leftover carbonara in a microwave-safe bowl, and add a few teaspoons of liquid (milk, cream, water, oil, or stock). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pierced with a few small holes. On low heat, warm the pasta in 20-second increments, stirring at each stop. Once warm, serve immediately.

If your pasta still seems dry as you go, add some more liquid to the bowl, and stir it in.

How to reheat carbonara in the microwave:

  1. Place your leftover carbonara in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add a few teaspoons of a liquid like milk, cream, water, oil, or stock.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pierced with a few small holes.
  4. Set the microwave to low heat (30% power).
  5. Heat the carbonara in 20-second intervals, stirring at each stop.
  6. If still dry, add more liquid.
  7. Once evenly warmed, serve immediately.

With this method, you need to go slowly, or you risk cooking the eggs in the pasta sauce and turning your noodles soggy.

The best way to ensure even heating is to stir the past continuously as you warm it.

My verdict

This method delivered great results in the sense that the pasta was hot and saucy. However, it was drier than the pasta from the stove and bain-marie methods.

It takes almost as long as the stove because of the short intervals between stirring sessions.

Fewer dishes, though!

For convenience’s sake, this is the method I would choose, but only if I was in a hurry or just heating enough carbonara for myself.

Reheating carbonara by frying

Set your stove to medium-high heat. Chop up your leftover carbonara and add it to a pan with some butter or oil. As the pasta fries, move it around in the pan for even heating. Once the pasta has started to brown and the bacon has turned crispy, your fried carbonara is ready to be served.

The result of this method is an exciting twist on traditional carbonara.

How to reheat carbonara by frying:

  1. Set your stove to medium-high heat.
  2. Add some oil or butter to a pan.
  3. Chop up your leftover carbonara and place it in the pan.
  4. As it fries, stir it around.
  5. Fry until the pasta starts to brown and the bacon crisps up.
  6. Remove from the heat and serve.

If you want to take this fried carbonara dish to a new level, you can add some extras like bacon or veggies, depending on your preference.

Cook any additional components in the pan before adding your carbonara.

My verdict

Frying carbonara changes the dish completely, as it cooks the eggs in the pasta sauce and makes the bacon or cured pork deliciously and crispy.

This way, you can really taste the flavor of the meat.

However, for me personally, I found it a bit too greasy.

That said, it’s a great way to revive your leftover carbonara if you’re in a hurry and not in the mood to go slowly.

Reheating carbonara in the oven

Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Spread your leftover carbonara out on a baking tray. Add a few tablespoons of liquid (milk, cream, stock, water, or oil) before covering the tray with foil. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring at the halfway mark. Once hot, serve immediately.

As an optional step, you can remove the foil and sprinkle the carbonara with cheese before baking it for the last 2 minutes.

How to reheat carbonara in the oven:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. On a baking tray, spread out your leftover carbonara evenly.
  3. Add a few measures of a liquid like milk, oil, water, stock, or cream.
  4. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once at the halfway mark.
  5. Once evenly warm and creamy in consistency, serve your pasta immediately.
  6. Optional: Remove the foil cover and sprinkle your pasta with cheese for the last 2 minutes.

Spreading out the pasta as much as possible allows it to heat evenly. Lumping it all in the center of the tray will prevent it from warming through and take much longer.

If your pasta is too congealed to spread out, blast it in the microwave for 5 seconds first, just to loosen it up.

This is also an opportunity for you to stir in some additional liquid moisture.

My verdict

The oven is an effective way of reheating huge portions of leftover carbonara, but it takes a long time and isn’t very convenient.

Furthermore, there is a considerable risk of overcooking your carbonara and unintentionally baking the eggs in the sauce.

It’s more difficult to monitor the heating process.

While the results were tasty, this was the method where I noticed that the eggs had started to cook slightly, detracting from carbonara’s signature texture.

Other ways to use up leftover carbonara

Sometimes I don’t want to eat the same meal two nights in a row, which is why I often look for ways to jazz up my leftovers and turn them into something completely different.

I experimented with two new takes on revitalizing my pasta, and I was super pleased with the results.

The recipes I tried were:

  • Making a carbonara frittata
  • Making a leftover carbonara bake

Making a carbonara frittata

If you can’t quite get your carbonara back to its silken texture, creating a frittata is an excellent alternative for using your leftovers (and produces an equally delicious result).

Plus, it doesn’t entail as much close monitoring – once it’s baking, you can pretty much let it go until it’s ready.

To make a leftover carbonara frittata, first warm some butter or oil in a frying pan.

Add your leftover pasta to the pan and spread it out.

If your carbonara is lacking in sauciness, you can add a beaten egg or two to the mix, as well as other tasty inclusions like additional cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic.

Cook the frittata in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes (or until it starts to turn crisp at the edges).

Then, finish it up under the grill. Once it starts to brown, flip it out onto a plate and enjoy.

Tip: Microwave your carbonara for a few seconds to loosen it up before adding it to the pan. This way, it won’t be congealed in the pan, and you can add extra eggs and cheese far more easily.

Making a leftover carbonara bake

When it comes to making a casserole with leftover pasta, your options are nearly endless. And the fact that carbonara contains eggs binds it all together in a manner that is nothing short of delicious.

So, start by selecting a casserole dish, greasing it, and filling it with your leftover pasta. To make a bake, you may need to add additional liquid, in which case I recommend eggs mixed with cream.

At this point, you can also add additional meat and veggies if you feel like it before seasoning the mixture richly with salt, pepper, garlic, and any herbs or spices you see fit.

Finally, top the whole lot off with a slathering of grated cheese.

Bake your casserole, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. If it is not warm enough or the liquid has not solidified, return the bake to the oven for a further 10 to 15 minutes.

Finish it off under the grill, uncovered, for two or so minutes, to crisp up your cheese, and then serve immediately.

Tip: Covering your carbonara bake with foil while it’s cooking locks in moisture and prevents your pasta from drying out.

How to store carbonara

To store carbonara, allow it to cool to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight container and place it in the fridge. Carbonara will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Unfortunately, the pasta itself will become soggy or mushy as time progresses.

You must let the carbonara cool before storing it, or else condensation will build on the walls of the container and ruin the texture.

Can you freeze carbonara?

To freeze carbonara, allow it to cool to room temperature. Then, transfer it to a freezer bag, and remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing it tightly. In the freezer, carbonara will last for up to a month.

To remove excess air, suck it out with a straw or press down on the bag while you close it.

Alternatively, use a vacuum sealer if you have one.

How to freeze carbonara:

  1. Cool your carbonara to room temperature.
  2. Transfer your leftovers to a freezer bag.
  3. Remove the excess air from the bag and seal it firmly.
  4. Thaw and consume your carbonara within a month.

Carbonara is not known to freeze well, and a loss of taste and flavor is unavoidable.

This is because the pasta turns soggy, and the sauce changes in texture upon freezing.

How to thaw and reheat carbonara:

The best way to thaw frozen carbonara is to leave it in the fridge to defrost overnight before reheating it using any of the methods listed above.

Alternatively, you can defrost it by resting the freezer bag in a warm water bath until the pasta loosens and is ready for reheating.

If you’re in a hurry, you can reheat carbonara straight from frozen.

You can do this by warming it on a very low heat in the microwave in 20-second intervals.

How long does carbonara last?

If you want to know how long you can safely store your carbonara, you can use the following guidelines:

Room temperature: Carbonara shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Anything longer, and the meal will start to perish and become a possible hot zone for bacteria.

Refrigerated: You can keep leftover carbonara in the fridge for up to 4 days. However, the pasta will become increasingly mushy over time.

Frozen: If you are freezing your leftover carbonara, it will taste best if reheated within one month or less.

The Best Way To Reheat Carbonara

Need to revive your leftover carbonara? Here's the best way to reheat it.
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Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 person
Calories 191 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion carbonara
  • 1 portion milk cream, stock and water also work.

Instructions
 

  • Set up a bain-marie by placing some water in a pot and resting a glass bowl on its rim.
  • Warm the water on medium heat on the stove.
  • While the water warms, add your leftover carbonara to the bowl and start to stir it gently.
  • Stir the pasta continuously until the water is steaming, and then turn down the heat.
  • If the pasta is dry, add some moisture in the form of milk, cream, stock, or water.
  • Once your pasta is evenly heated, remove it from the bain-marie and serve.

Notes

Overheating your carbonara can result in curdled sauce and soggy noodles.
If you notice the eggs in the sauce start to cook, remove the dish from the heat altogether.
When heating the water in your bain-marie’s base, make sure it doesn’t start to boil, as this will be too hot for your pasta and ruin it.
If you’re using this method to heat up your leftovers, always choose an appropriately sized bowl.
If not, you run the risk of not being able to stir your pasta or not heating it through thoroughly.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 191kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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