* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

How to Reheat Corned Beef – I Test 5 Methods [Pics]

This article was updated on 8th August 2023 for clarity and freshness.

A corned beef sandwich isn’t the same with cold meat. But what’s the best way to reheat your corned beef to keep it moist? A dry sandwich is no good either!

I tested five different ways of reheating corned beef to discover the answer. 

In a rush? The best way to reheat slices of corned beef is wrapped in a damp paper towel in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, or by steaming them for up to 2 minutes. To reheat whole pastrami, wrap it in foil and heat it at 250°F/120°C for up to 90 minutes.

How I tested reheating corned beef

I saved several deli slices of Katz Delicatessen corned beef to test out five ways to reheat it.

I tested:

  • The microwave: This produced the best results.
  • A skillet: Good if you want some crisp.
  • The oven: My least favorite method.
  • Steaming: Really moist meat.
  • A water bath: Good for unopened corned beef.

I tasted the corned beef once I’d reheated it and took notes based on the taste, the moistness, and the texture of the meat. Fresh corned beef is juicy and tender, and I wanted to achieve results as close to freshness as possible.

Reheating corned beef in the microwave

Time: 20-30 seconds

  1. Place slices on a microwave-safe plate, either in a single layer or overlapping.
  2. Cover the slices with a wet paper towel and microwave for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Let cool slightly before eating.

The wet paper towel produces steam, which keeps the meat hydrated. If you don’t want to use a paper towel, another option is to sprinkle water over the corned beef and then cover the plate with plastic wrap or a lid. Make sure to poke holes in the plastic wrap before heating.

Results: I really liked the microwave. It was super quick and easy, and the corned beef was moist with a good texture.

Reheating corned beef by steaming

Time: 30-90 seconds

  1. Set up your steamer and bring the water to a gentle simmer.
  2. Place slices of corned beef into the basket and cover it with a lid.
  3. Simmer for 30-90 seconds.
  4. Remove slices from the steamer basket and enjoy.

If you don’t have a steamer, you can create a makeshift version. 

Use aluminum foil to make an elevated platform in your pan, then place the corned beef on a plate resting on the foil. Fill the bottom of the pan with water, and you have your steamer.

Beyond that, the rest of the steps are the same.

Results: The results of steaming were very similar to the microwave method. Because of the way steaming works, there’s no risk of drying out or overheating the meat this way. However, it does take a bit more time and effort, especially if you’re using a makeshift steamer.

Reheating corned beef in a skillet

Time: 60 seconds

  1. Place a skillet on the stove over low heat.
  2. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water or stock to the skillet and heat until steaming.
  3. Add your corned beef and cover the skillet with a well-fitting lid.
  4. Steam-fry for 60 seconds. If you have a lot of corned beef in the pan, it might take longer.

If you want crispier corned beef, heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat and then fry the corned beef. And if you want to make sure there’s no crispy edges, use extra liquid.

Pro tip: want a super decadent sandwich? Fill the pan with gravy instead of water and dip your corned beef in. YUM.

Results: At first I only used a little bit of water in the experiment to see what happened. The corned beef dried out slightly and crisped around the edges. Personally, I didn’t like the crispy effect, but you might! Adding lots of water avoided the crisping and kept the meat moist.

Reheating corned beef in the oven

Time: 10-15 minutes (including preheating time)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Sprinkle a tablespoon of water or stock over the corned beef and wrap it in aluminum foil, stacking the slices if you need.
  3. Heat for 5-10 minutes until warmed through. The exact time it takes will depend on how many slices you’re reheating.

Note: If you have a whole corned beef, you’ll need to use the oven to reheat it. More on that later on in the article.

Adding water to the foil packet before heating creates steam. This has the same effect as the steaming method or adding a wet paper towel in the microwave, and you get jucier meat at the end.

I recommend stacking no more than 3-4 slices of meat together to keep the heating time down and ensure the middle slices don’t struggle to get warm. You can always make multiple parcels if you need.

Results: Of the methods I tried, the oven was my least favorite way to reheat sliced corned beef. The results weren’t bad and the final texture was similar to microwaving or steaming, but the process took too long (if you have a toaster oven it would be quicker).

Reheating corned beef in a water bath

Time: 5 minutes

  1. Remove corned beef from the fridge and check the packaging is safe to use in a water bath.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then turn the heat down to low.
  3. Submerge the packaged corned beef in the water and cover the pan with a lid.
  4. Heat for five minutes until meat is warmed through.

An important note about this method: To heat any food in a water bath, the packaging MUST be able to withstand the heat of boiling water. Regular zipper-top plastic bags will not cut it, as they start to soften and break down at temperatures above 195° Fahrenheit (90.6° Celsius).

The food-saver bags used with vacuum sealers are a safe option because they are designed with water-bath heating in mind. And if you’re using Katz Delicatessen corned beef, as I did, the original packaging is safe.

This is actually the method Katz Delicatessen recommends for unopened packages. If you’ve opened your corned beef, they recommend microwaving.

Results: A water bath is a good method if you have the proper packaging and only want warm corned beef. But it’s difficult to tell when the meat is ready without opening the packaging and checking, which can be a hassle.

How to reheat a whole pastrami

You can reheat whole corned beef using a sous vide machine or in the oven.

Oven: Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Pour chicken/beef broth into a roasting pan until it covers the bottom. Place your corned beef on a rack in the pan and cover the pan tightly in aluminum foil. Heat for 60-90 minutes.

Sous vide: Place corned beef in a vacuum-sealed bag and set the sous vide machine to 190°F (87°C). Heat for approximately one hour. The corned beef will be nice and soft when you slice it.

Can you eat cold corned beef?

Usually corned beef is served warm, but if you’d rather not bother with the hassle and eat it cold, feel free! Like most deli meats, eating cold corned beef isn’t harmful, and cold deli meat tastes good in a sandwich.

How to store corned beef

To store leftover corned beef, keep it in a shallow, airtight container. Alternatively, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Store the corned beef in the fridge, where it will last 3-4 days. After a few days, the deli meat will start to dry out.

To tell if your leftover corned beef is still good to eat, trust your nose. Corned beef that has gone bad will have a slightly sour smell. It will also look and feel slimy. 

Can you freeze corned beef?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze corned beef. For sliced corned beef, place a piece of wax paper between each slice before placing it in airtight packaging. For best quality, consume the corned beef within three months.

If you have a whole corned beef and you know you’ll want to keep it for longer than 3 months, freeze it whole rather than slicing it. Bigger portions are less susceptible to freezer burn.

Psst… the parchment paper will stop the slices from sticking together and make it easier to take out individual pieces later on.

To thaw corned beef, take it out of the freezer, keep it in the packaging, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. You can also thaw sliced corned beef by running cold water over the packaging to speed up the process. 

How to reheat frozen corned beef

It’s also possible to reheat frozen corned beef without thawing it first.

If you’ve frozen your corned beef in such a way that you can separate individual slices, you can use whatever reheating method you prefer from above. Just extend the total heating time and check the temperature of the corned beef along the way.

If you froze your corned beef whole or in a stack of slices, your best bet is to reheat it in the oven. Remove the corned beef from any plastic wrapping, sprinkle with water, and rewrap with aluminum foil. Then warm as above until heated through.

How to Reheat Corned Beef [Tested Methods]

A corned beef sandwich just isn’t the same with cold meat. But what’s the best way to reheat your corned beef to keep it moist? A dry sandwich is no good either.
I tested five different ways of reheating corned beef to discover the answer. 
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: corned beef, how to reheat corned beef
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 251kcal


  • Wet paper towel


  • 1 slice corned beef


  • Place slices on a microwave-safe plate, either in a single layer or overlapping.
  • Cover the slices with a very wet paper towel.
  • Microwave on HIGH for 20-30 seconds.
  • Let cool slightly before eating.


This method won’t really work for larger servings, as you’ll have too many overlapping or stacked slices to heat evenly.
The wet paper towel produces steam which heats the meat.
This is a great way to get moist corned beef, as one of the reasons people shy away from microwaving meat is a fear of a dry, tough end product.
If you don’t want to use a paper towel, another option is to sprinkle water over the corned beef and then cover the plate with plastic wrap. Make sure to poke holes in the plastic wrap before heating.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 251kcal

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating