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How To Reheat Carbonara – I Try 6 Methods [Pics]

This article was updated on 31/07/2023 for clarity and to incorporate new insights.

If you’re on a mission to retain your carbonara’s smooth, rich texture while reheating it, I have excellent news. I’ve personally tried and tested six methods of reheating carbonara to find out which ones give you fresh, hot, and creamy carbonara!

In a rush? Here’e the short answer:

The best way to reheat carbonara is in a ban marie. Rest a bowl of carbonara over a saucepan filled with water. Bring the water to a gentle simmer, stirring the carbonara as the water heats. The steam will gently warm the carbonara. Add a tablespoon of milk or stock to the pasta if it’s too dry.

I’ve also included tips for storing your carbonara to keep it as fresh as possible.

See Also: How To Reheat Fettuccine Alfredo

How I tested reheating carbonara

These are the carbonara reheating methods I tested:

  • In a bain-marie: Great results.
  • On the stove with low heat: Also great results.
  • In the microwave: Convenient, but mushy pasta.
  • By frying: A different take, but tasty.
  • In the oven: Too slow.
  • Making a frittata: Good for switching things up.

Carbonara reheating tips


The carbonara with congeal in the fridge and get stuck together. If you want to separate the strands before reheating, microwave them for 5 seconds. Or put them in a sandwich bag and submerge the bag in warm water. Then gently push the strands apart with your hands.

The main issue with reheating carbonara is cooking the eggs. If you notice this starting to happen, remove the carbonara from the heat immediately and let it cool down before resuming the reheating process.

Related: What To Serve With Carbonara

The best way to reheat carbonara (in a bain-marie)

Time: 8-10 minutes
Rating:
9/10

  1. Set up a bain-marie by placing some water in a pot and resting a bowl on its rim.
  2. Warm the water on medium heat on the stove, turning the heat down if it starts to boil.
  3. While the water warms, add your leftover carbonara to the bowl and start to stir it gently.
  4. Continue to stir the pasta until the sauce is lose and hot (around 8 minutes for one portion).
  5. If the pasta is dry, add some moisture in the form of milk, cream, stock, or water.

A bain-marie uses second hand head to warm the pasta, which means it’s nice and gentle and there’s very little risk of the sauce splitting or curdling.

Pro tip: always choose an appropriately-sized bowl. If the bowl is too small, it will be much harder to stir the pasta effectively and this will lead to uneven heating.

Results: This was my favorite reheating technique because the pasta tasted almost as good as new. It was a bit slow, but the results were worth it.

How to reheat carbonara on the stove

Time: 5 minutes
Rating:
8/10

  1. Set your stove to its lowest heat setting and add a small amount butter or oil to a heavy-bottom pan.
  2. Place your leftover carbonara in the pan and separate the strands by gently pushing them apart in a circular motion.
  3. Mix in 1-2 tablespoons of cream, milk, water, or stock to add moisture.
  4. Continue to warm the pasta until it’s hot all the way through, tossing it continuously as it heats.
  5. Optional: cover the pan with a lid and steam it for 30 seconds if your pasta is extra dry.

To avoid breaking all the strands trying to stir the pasta, very carefully push the strands in a circular motion.This (along with the gentle heat) will allow the strands to separate, and then you can start tossing the pasta instead of stirring.

Psst… If you want to give your carbonara a flavor boost, consider frying some garlic or bacon in the pan first.

Results: The end result was a delicious, creamy, and hot carbonara. But it was quite hard to control how hot the pan got (compared to using a ban marie), so there’s slightly more risk of overcooking your carbonara.

How to reheat carbonara in the microwave

Time: 5 minutes
Rating:
8/10

  1. Place your leftover carbonara in a microwave-safe bowl and add a tablespoon of a liquid like milk, cream, water, or stock.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and pierce it with a few small holes.
  3. Set the microwave to low heat (50% power) and heat the carbonara in 20-second intervals, stirring at each stop.
  4. If you think it seems dry, add more liquid.
  5. Once evenly warmed, serve immediately.

The microwave is all about convenience, but that doesn’t mean you can just bung the carbonara in at full power at hope for the best! That would be a guaranteed disaster.

You need to go slowly so you don’t get overcooked eggs and stodgy pasta. I used 50% power in my test, but if your microwave doesn’t have that option simply reduce the heating intervals to 10 seconds.

Results: The microwave delivered good results in the sense that the pasta was hot and saucy. But the pasta was chewier than the stove and bain-marie methods, and it’s not as fast as you’d expect because you need to use such short heating intervals.

How to reheat carbonara by frying

Time: 3-4 minutes
Rating:
6/10

  1. Set your stove to medium-high heat and add splash of oil or butter to a pan.
  2. Separate your leftover carbonara (roughly or gently it doesn’t matter) and place it in the hot pan.
  3. Fry the pasta, stirring continuously until it starts to brown and the bacon crisps up.
  4. Remove from the heat and serve.

Frying carbonara changes the dish completely (in a good way!). The eggs will cook and the bacon bits will get deliciously crispy. If you want to take this fried carbonara dish to a new level, fry some extras like bacon or veggies in the pan before adding the pasta.

Or go for extra seasoning like garlic or chili.

This method works best when you don’t have too much pasta, so the pan isn’t overcrowded and everything can crisp up nicely.

Results: Frying is quick and easy, and you don’t have to worry about being gentle. The carbonara is tasty, but it wasn’t anything like the original dish and come people might find it too greasy.

How to reheat carbonara in the oven

Time: 5-7 minutes
Rating:
5/10

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Spread out your leftover carbonara evenly in a baking tray, adding 1-2 tablespoons of a liquid like milk, water, stock, or cream.
  3. Cover the carbonara with foil and bake it for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once at the halfway mark.
  4. Optional: remove the foil cover and sprinkle your pasta with cheese for the last 2 minutes of heating time.

Spreading out the pasta as much as possible allows it to heat evenly. Lumping it all in the center of the tray will result in a luke-warm middle and overcooked outsides!

Results: The oven is an effective way of reheating big portions of leftover carbonara. But it takes a long time and isn’t very convenient. There’s also quite a big risk that you’ll unintentionally baking the eggs in the sauce because it’s more difficult to monitor the heating process.

How to make a leftover carbonara frittata

If you aren’t feeling another bowl of carbonara, or your carbonara is already overcooked and past the point of saving you can turn it into a frittata.

  1. Mix your leftover carbonara with one or two eggs per portion.
  2. Add any extras you want like cheese, seasoning, or vegetables.
  3. Warm some butter or oil on medium-high heat in a frying pan.
  4. Add your leftover carbonara and egg mixture to the pan and spread it out.
  5. Cook the frittata for 5 minutes on one side, or until the edges start to crisp, then flip it over.

Carbonara frittata is delicious for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I love it with tomato sauce.

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.

Over time, the pasta will absorb the sauce causing it to become soggy and mushy. So the sooner you can eat your leftovers, the better!

It’s very important to let the carbonara cool before storing it. if the pasta is hot when you put it in an airtight container, you’ll get condensation build up and soggy pasta. Yuk.

Can you freeze carbonara?

Lots of sources online will tell you that you can freeze carbonara, and while this is technically true, I wouldn’t recommend it. Carbonara doesn’t do well in the freezer. The cooked pasta will become mushy, and the egg based sauce is very likely to split upon reheating.

Basically, it will be incredibly unappetizing!

If you still want to freeze it, place a portion in a freezer safe bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before freezing. Use within a month and thaw in the fridge before reheating.

The Best Way To Reheat Carbonara [Tested Methods]

Need to revive your leftover carbonara? Here's the best way to reheat it.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: carbonara, reheat carbonara
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 191kcal

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: 100g | Calories: 191kcal

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