When your favorite food comes in recipes designed to serve eight to 10 people, you can expect to be reheating lasagna for several days after the feast. Use these tricks to keep your leftovers from drying out or making you sick.
Lasagna Heating Instructions
The noodles in your lasagna are delicate components. Place the lasagna in an oven-safe container and cover it tightly with aluminum foil or an oven-safe lid to help keep it from drying out, then slide it into a preheated oven.
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Recommendations for reheating temperature range from 350 to 400 degrees and 20 to 40 minutes of heating time or more, depending on the serving size. As the University of Utah explains, the key is to follow the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) recommendation for safely reheating leftovers: They should reach an internal temperature of 165 F — best measured using a food thermometer.
If you made the lasagna yourself, save some of the sauce you used between the noodle layers, and add it to the dish before reheating the lasagna. That'll help keep your food moist.
Do you have a convection oven? If the answer is yes, many experts recommend setting your temperature 25 F lower than for a conventional oven — so, 325 F to 375 F. Pay close attention the first few times you reheat food in your convection oven, because as the University of Kentucky notes, it will cook up to 25 percent more quickly than in a conventional oven.
Read more: 5 of the Best Low-Carb Lasagna Recipes
How Long Do Leftovers Last?
Has that lasagna been in your refrigerator for a week? For food safety, the USDA FSIS recommends that you keep leftovers in the refrigerator for only three to four days — and as noted at FoodSafety.gov, you don't need to let the leftovers cool to room temperature before you put them in the fridge. If you need to store lasagna longer, parcel it out into reasonable serving sizes and freeze it instead.
Frozen leftovers can last for three to four months, and if you thaw them out in the refrigerator, you have the option of reheating just a portion of the leftovers and refreezing the rest. If you thaw frozen lasagna in cold water or in the microwave, however, the USDA FSIS says that any remaining leftovers must be reheated to a food-safe temperature — at least 165 F throughout — before being refrozen.
You can put frozen lasagna straight into the oven to reheat, as long as it's in an oven-safe container — but you should carefully check that it's reheated all the way through. Be aware that your results probably won't be as good as if you'd thawed the lasagna first.
Read more: Rotisserie Chicken Lasagna (Family-Style)
Leftovers and Food Safety
But wait — if you really want to enjoy your leftovers without any risk of foodborne illness, proper preparation begins before the party's entirely over. As the USDA FSIS explains, bacteria grow rapidly in the so-called "danger zone" between 40 and 140 F — also known as room temperature.
That means that for optimal food safety, your leftover lasagna should be either kept hot at 140 F or higher, or refrigerated within two hours of falling below that temperature.
If you really want a gold star for your food-safety efforts, divide leftover lasagna into smaller portions before you put it away. That helps it cool to a food-safe temperature more quickly, but also comes in handy because you can reheat reasonable serving sizes instead of recooking an entire tray of lasagna at once.
Finally, make sure your leftovers are stored in a tightly sealed package to preserve both flavor and moisture.