How to Reheat Pasta With or Without Sauce

Leftover pasta is a quick and easy meal option and easy to reheat. Wel’ll show you five different methods you can use to reheat your pasta, depending on the equipment you have available and how much time you have to spend.

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Cooking pasta for us sometimes involves hours of cooking in the kitchen and having leftovers in the fridge that need to be reheated easily the next day for lunch for a quick and easy dinner.

My husband and sons feel that one of the best parts of pasta recipes is that they love eating leftover cold pasta right out of the fridge.

I like to reheat leftover pasta instead, such as a fettuccine alfredo for an easy and warm delicious meal of comfort food.

After sitting in the fridge for a day it brings out the flavors in the pasta and sauce making it can be even better than having it the first time, last night or the day before!

Fettucine alfredo in a frying pan.

The 5 best easy ways to reheat pasta

The traditional way to reheat pasta was in the oven which takes the longest time but often involves just placing an oven ready dish in the oven for 20 minutes or longer ensuring that pasta remains moist enough not to dry out.

The good news is that we now have several appliances that can achieve reheating pasta in different ways that take much less time especially for individual or smaller pasta amounts.

The best method for reheating pasta also depends if you have stored your leftover pasta together with its sauce or on its own without the sauce.

  • Microwave: the quickest, easiest method but uneven cooking can result
  • On the stove top: best method with a lot of sauce for best even cooking
  • Air Fryer: another great way once you have your cooking times set
  • Oven: best way to reheat larger leftover casserole, lasagna or baked pasta
  • Boiled: the best way to reheat pasta with no sauce

Can you reheat pasta with sauce?

Yes, and we provide the best ways to reheat pasta with sauce:

  • Microwave
  • On Stove
  • Air Fryer
  • Oven

Can you reheat pasta without sauce?

Yes we provide the two best ways to reheat pasta without sauce:

  • Microwave by steaming it
  • Boiling in water

Reheating pasta in microwave

Leftover pasta with sauce in a white bowl.

The microwave method is also the quickest method!

Reheating pasta with sauce in the microwave

Of course you can just put a microwave-safe dish of pasta in the microwave with a paper towel or a slightly damp paper towel on top to prevent the sauce from splattering around the microwave. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stir and see if it needs a bit more time.

But you can also try this steaming method for better results for reheating pasta.

Microwave your pasta by steaming it with water (with or without sauce)

  • Place the pasta in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Add a little water or drops of water to the pasta, will create steam to help prevent the pasta from drying out.
  • Cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid or microwave safe plastic wrap leaving a small hole allowing the steam to escape
  • Microwave the pasta on high for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the amount of pasta your are reheating and the power of your microwave these times may need to be adjusted for additional time.
  • Stop the microwave every 30 seconds to stir the past to ensure even heating and cooking
  • Once the pasta is heated to your desired level of doneness remove and allow to cool for 1 minute before serving.

If you are in a hurry or reheating a small individual portion of pasta the microwave is the best option or if you do not have a stove, oven or air fryer.

Can you reheat spaghetti in the microwave?

Spaghetti on a plate in the microwave.

Yes! You can reheat spaghetti the quickest way in the microwave using a microwave-safe container, the right way be steaming with the detailed instructions above.

Microwave pasta reheating tips

Smaller or individual portions of pasta are much better to reheat evenly in the microwave over larger portions.

Reheating the pasta in a microwave may cause the texture to become too mushy if you have overcooked the pasta or added too much water.

How to reheat pasta with sauce without microwave

If you do not have access to a microwave we provide 4 easy ways to reheat your pasta in other ways.

How to reheat spaghetti without microwave

Pasta or spaghetti with sauce without microwave:

  • Stove
  • Air Fryer
  • Oven

How to reheat pasta with sauce on the stove

The best 3 ways to reheat pasta on the stove:

  • Simmering
  • Sauté
  • Double Boiler

The best 3 ways to reheat leftover pasta on the stove

Leftover spaghetti in a large saucepan with a spoon.

Reheating pasta on the stove is the best method if your pasta is mixed with sauce or has a lot of extra sauce as you have better temperature control at your fingertips.

Reheating pasta on the stove is a quick and easy method that do not need an oven, air fryer or a microwave for.

1. Reheat pasta with sauce by simmering on the stove

  • Place the pasta in a frying pan or hot skillet
  • Add a bit of water or sauce to help the pasta heat through evenly. If you are reheating a larger amount you will need to add more water or sauce. If your sauce is thick or a rich sauce you may need to add more drops of water.
  • Turn the heat to medium stirring the pasta often to prevent sticking to the pan and even cooking.
  • Cook the pasta for 3 to 6 minutes or until it is heated through.
  • Once the pasta has reached your desired level of doneness turn off the stove and serve immediately topped with parmesan cheese or any other favorite cheese for pasta you prefer!
Leftover reheated spaghetti in a cast iron skillet.

2. Sauté leftover pasta with sauce on the stove

Sauté leftover pasta like a pasta carbonara on the stove is also an excellent way to reheat pasta with sauce.

  • Place the pasta in a sauce pan or skillet
  • Heat over medium heat adding a bit of olive oil or butter to the pan helping keep things moist and not sticking
  • Stir constantly to help it cook evenly to not overcook sauce
  • Once the pasta is heated through you will notice the sauce becomes smooth or creamy
  • When it reaches your desired level of doneness, serve at once seasoned with salt, pepper or parmesan cheese
Leftover fettucine alfredo in a cast iron skillet.

3. Reheat pasta with sauce in a double boiler is an effective way

Reheating pasta with a cream sauce in a double boiler on the stove is a gentle and often best quality effective way.

  • Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water and heat over a medium heat until it simmers
  • Place the pasta with sauce in the top bowl
  • Add a small amount of water to the pasta to add moisture and prevent the pasta from sticking together
  • Cover the top pot with a lid and place it over the simmering bottom pot
  • Heat for 4-7 minutes stirring often, checking if it is drying out and needs more water or sauce
  • Once the pasta has reached your desired level of doneness remove from heat and serve right away

Reheating pasta in a double boiler will take longer with more prep time but it will help the pasta retain more of its flavor and texture not become mushy or dried out.

How to reheat pasta in the air fryer

Using the air fryer is one of the easiest ways for reheating pasta like a chunk of lasagna, once you have figured out the proper cook times for your air fryer.

Close up image of reheated lasagna.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 350°F
  • Place the pasta in a single layer in air fryer basket. You may use an air fryer-safe silicone basket liner for easier cleanup.
  • If you feel the pasta may be a bit dry you can drizzle some olive or butter on the pasta to help keep it moist.
  • Cook the pasta in the air fryer for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the basket every few minutes can help with even cooking.
  • Check the pasta level of doneness several times until you have discovered the best cooking times for your air fryer with pasta reheating
  • Carefully remove the basket from the air fryer and serve the pasta

Reheating pasta in the air fryer is a great method to use if you do no have a stove, oven or microwave.

Air fryer pasta reheating tips

Air fryer sitting on a countertop.

Reheating pasta in the air fryer is a great option that can give it a crispy texture which is not always the most effective methods, especially with pasta that has a lot of sauce or moist pasta dishes.

Air fryer cooking times will vary depending on your air fryer and the type of pasta or the amount of pasta you are reheating. It is best to start with the shorter cooking time and check the pasta often to avoid overcooking it.

How to reheat pasta with sauce in oven

The oven method used to be the traditional method for the reheating process of pasta. It still a good option especially for pasta using a baking dish, baking tray or even a tricky leftover dish.

Baked ziti in a blue baking dish.

Best way to reheat a large dish casserole, lasagna or pasta bake

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F not a high heat to help cook evenly
  • Using an oven safe dish you may need to add extra pasta sauce or a little bit of water to the dish to prevent the pasta from drying out in the oven.
  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil tightly to prevent heat and steam from escaping
  • Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pasta is heated through by checking the pasta so it is not overcooked or drying out. You can add a bit more water or pasta sauce if you feel you need to when checking it.
  • Remove the foil and you can add a layer of your favourite cheese for melting on pasta on top and then baking for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Also best way to achieve a golden brown top
  • Allow the pasta dish to cool for a few minutes before serving

Using the oven to reheat pasta is best for large pasta dishes and if you do not have an air fryer of microwave and if your stove is cooking other dishes.

Reheating pasta in the oven tips

Cheesy taco pasta in a white baking dish.

Reheating pasta in the oven is a great way for a larger dish to be heated through properly and to get a golden brown top layer of added melted cheese on top.

You can also help to keep a lasagna or a pasta bake moist when reheating in the oven by poking several small holes in the dish and pouring a small amount of milk over it.

How to reheat pasta without sauce by boiling it

Boiling leftover cooked pasta without sauce is one of the best easy methods to enjoy plain pasta reheated for dinner.

How to reheat pasta without sauce without microwave

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil in the stovetop with size of the pot depending on how much pasta you have to boil.
  • Adding the leftover noodles or pasta to the boiling water and stirring it gently to help prevent sticking
  • Boil the pasta for 1 to 2 minutes (not much time) or until it has reached your level of doneness
  • Use a heat-safe colander or metal strainer to remove the hot noodles or pasta from the boiling water
  • Shake off the excess water and serve as desired with your favorite pasta sauce or parmesan cheese
Pasta noodles in boiling water on the stove.

Boiling water to reheat pasta tips

Boiling leftover plain pasta or fresh pasta can make it become mushy if overcooked.

It is a good idea not to rinse the pasta with cold water or warm water when draining it as the starchy coating on the pasta helps the sauce or cheese stick better to the pasta, giving it a much better flavor and texture.

You can add a small amount of salt, butter or olive oil to the boiling water helping to enhance the flavor of a fresh batch of pasta or leftover pasta.

For better results adding salt to the boiling hot water also raises the boiling temperature of the water slightly which can help to cook pasta more evenly. It also helps prevent the pasta from sticking together.

How to reheat spaghetti sauce

The best ways to reheat leftover spaghetti sauce is in the microwave or stove top.

  • Place pasta sauce in a microwave-safe dish, or in stove saucepan you may need to add water to thin out a thicker sauce
  • Cover with a microwave-safe lid or if using stove method the lid of the saucepan
  • Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or heat over a medium-low heat on stove for 3 – 5 minutes
  • Once the sauce is heated through remove and stir it well before serving
Pasta sauce in a cast iron skillet.

You can also reheat pasta or spaghetti sauce In the oven

  • Heat oven to 350°F
  • Place pasta sauce in an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil
  • Cook for 20-30 minutes stirring a couple of times if too thick add water
  • Serve at once over pasta

Avoid overheating the pasta sauce as this will cause it to break down and become oily. Stir often and check for level of doneness.

Best way to reheat pasta with a cream sauce

For best results the best way to reheat a creamy pasta with a cream sauce or heavy cream, is to do it slowly and gently in a stainless steel skillet or non-stick saucepan, to avoid curdling the sauce.

  • Using not much heat or a low heat on the stove, reheat the pasta in a saucepan adding a splash of milk or cream to the sauce to help it reheat evenly and prevent curdling.
  • Give a good stir of the pasta, frequently add more milk or cream as needed
  • Once the pasta is heated through serve at once and enjoy.

Please see also the double boiler instructions with the stove method of reheating pasta above for another excellent way professional chefs often use for reheating pasta with cream sauce.

Can you reheat meatballs with your pasta?

Pasta sauce with meatballs in a saucepan with a spoon.

Yes you can reheat meatballs or a meat sauce with your pasta and the best method is on the stove as you can control the temperature quickly.

Best way to reheat pasta with meat sauce

  • Place the pasta and meatballs in a saucepan or frying pan over low heat
  • Add a splash of water or sauce to the pasta
  • Stir often to ensure meatballs are heated through
  • Once you have reached your desired level of doneness serve at once

It is best to heat pasta and meatballs thoroughly using a thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165°F for safe eating.

Frequently Asked Questions and Tips for Reheating Pasta

Is it safe to reheat pasta?

Yes as long as it is stored properly in the fridge for no longer then 5 days.

How long does leftover pasta last in the fridge?

If stored properly in the fridge using an airtight container or dish or it can be sealed tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, not parchment paper however.

Pasta is best to be eaten within 3 to 4 days but it can last for up to 5 days.

Tips on storing leftover pasta

If you know you are going to have leftover pasta it is a great idea to keep some leftover pasta water to help reheat the pasta the next day!

You can also cook extra pasta to repurpose for making a pasta salad the next day.

You can also double up on the pasta sauce for use the next day in the leftovers.

Of course with any perishable food, pasta is best to be not left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours!

Can you freeze leftover pasta?

Yes you can freeze leftover pasta allowing it first to cool to room temperature.

Place the pasta in an airtight freezer safe container or wrapped in individual pieces placed in resealable freezer bags.

Freezing pasta will allow it to last for up to 2 to 3 months.

You are not able to freeze pasta or perishable food a second time, courtesy of food scientists for our food safety.

How to thaw frozen pasta

You can thaw frozen pasta overnight in the fridge or use the microwave on its defrost setting, also using it at 50 percent power.

How to reheat frozen pasta

You can reheat frozen pasta in the microwave. Cover the pasta with a damp paper towel to prevent splatters cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and stir the pasta and repeat for 1 to 2 minutes until heated through.

Reheat frozen past on the stove by adding water to prevent it from drying it. Stir until heated through.

Reheat frozen pasta in the oven at 350°F in an oven-safe dish covered with aluminum foil for a longer period of 30 to 40 minutes or until it is heated through.

Let’s wrap it up!

Reheating pasta doesn’t have to be a hassle, and with the right techniques, you can enjoy your leftovers just as much as you did the first time around.

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