Few things are more thrilling than finding leftover mac and cheese tucked away in your fridge to snack on after a long day. However, warming this cheesy comfort food can often prove itself an unnecessarily daunting task. It seems as though the first bite of your leftover mac is never just right. More often than not, you encounter a highly unappetizing mouthful of freezing cold pasta, or you essentially singe your tastebuds with a painfully scalding hot bite of gooey cheese.
However, mastering the perfect temperature for reheating leftovers doesn’t have to be a guessing game, according to TikTok user @howdoesshe. In a recent video posted on her account, she explains that you should completely reconsider the formation in which you microwave your food.
It’s easier than it sounds. This hack requires no special tools or kitchen utensils—all you have to do is avoid placing foods in the center of your dish where the radio frequency microwaves that warm the food have difficulty reaching. Science, am I right?
Unlike a conventional oven, microwave ovens send radio waves across the chamber’s interior. This frequency moves in a wave-like motion, creating troughs and peaks that don’t always uniformly reheat all parts of your food. To counteract the effects of this, @howdoesshe arranges a layer of pasta in a ring around the perimeter of the plate. This method helps avoid patchy and unevenly reheated leftovers by creating more surface area for the microwave to thoroughly (and uniformly) warm the food. This same technique can also apply to other foods like rice, potatoes, or even vegetables.
We put this hack to the test by reheating a generous portion of mac and cheese in the microwave two different ways. First, we microwaved a heaping serving of the cheesy pasta placed in the very center of the plate. As per usual, the center was still close to refrigerator temperature as the exterior cheese started to bubble and burn. Consequently, the pasta underwent a series of 30-second additional microwaving intervals, stirring in between each set, to distribute the heat as best as possible. Not only was this method time-consuming, the mac and cheese leftovers also became extremely dry and tough in certain areas.
Then we tested the TikTok microwaving hack by evenly distributing a thinner layer of mac and cheese in a ring shape on the perimeter of a larger dinner plate to create as much surface area as possible. The result was a much more evenly warmed pasta dish that didn’t require multiple trips back into the microwave to reach an ideal feasting temperature. The mac and cheese was thoroughly warmed up and required minimal fussing to reheat.
Unfortunately, the only true downfall to this genius hack is that it won’t necessarily work for every dish. A dish like a lasagna or a chicken breast might be harder to avoid cold spots when microwaving, as they can’t be spread out as easily as a serving of pasta. However, until the next genius TikTok cooking hack goes viral, perfectly reheated mac and cheese sounds just right.