How to Reheat British Chinese Takeaway (Best Ways for UK)

We all love a good old British Chinese takeaway, and if you’re anything like me, your eyes are bigger than your belly, and you order enough for multiple families. Let’s not let those yummy leftovers go to waste.

In this post, I will show you the best ways to reheat popular Chinese takeaway dishes. I will also give you some general guidelines for heating up different types of Chinese takeaway leftovers that you can apply to any menu item we didn’t mention today. 

Can you reheat Chinese takeaway leftovers?

Chinese takeaway can be reheated the next day as long as you put it in the fridge within two hours of going cold (to prevent potentially harmful bacteria growing on it overnight) and reheat it to a safe temperature (75°C).

You can also reheat your Chinese takeaway for a midnight snack! Just make sure it goes in the fridge within 2 hours of reaching room temperature.

How to Reheat Chinese takeaway in the oven

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Welcome to Chef FAQ

Whenever I’m trying to keep it simple, the oven is my go-to for reheating a Chinese takeaway. You can bung your leftovers in all together at the same time. If your takeaway came in those classic foil trays, you could minimise the washing up with the trick I’m about to tell you below, if it didn’t then transfer the food to oven-safe dishes.

When the foil trays get hot they can get a bit wobbly and hard to handle, so I prefer to add them all on a baking tray, so I can easily pull them from the oven later. I always remove the cardboard lid that comes with the foil tray, just in case it can’t handle the heat. Then we’ll take a single sheet of kitchen foil and stretch it across the entire tray to cover everything up.

Instructions for reheating Chinese food in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C
  2. Place the foil containers on a baking tray and remove the lids. Cover the baking tray and food trays with a single piece of kitchen foil.
  3. Place in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the food is piping hot (internal temperature 75°C)
  4. If you have any items that you would like to be crispy, (spare ribs, chicken/pork balls, spring rolls, chicken wings, etc.), put those on a separate tray and cover with foil. Remove the foil 3-4 minutes before the end to give them their crunch back.

How to Reheat Chinese takeaway in the microwave

Microwaving is the fastest way to reheat Chinese takeaway, but unfortunately, there is a tradeoff in the texture of the food. I will tell you a few tricks to make it as yummy as possible, but it won’t be as good as the other reheating methods.

If you’re going the microwave route to save time, then my honest opinion is it’s better to eat the crispy stuff cold (or air fryer them if you have one). Spring rolls and pork or chicken balls, for example, will all go weird and soggy in the microwave. If you can live with that, stick them in the microwave with the other leftovers using the following instructions.

If your takeaway came in foil trays, you can not put these in the microwave. If it came in something else such as an oyster pail (that’s the fancy name for those cute boxes we see Americans eat their Chinese out of on the TV), then check the container to see if it says ‘microwave-safe’ or has the microwave-safe logo (squiggly lines) on it. If it does, you’re good to go. If not, then err on the safe side and transfer it to something you know is microwave-safe.

If you have a microwaveable container with a lid with an air vent, that’s perfect for this (leave the vent open). If you don’t have one, transfer the Chinese food into a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel. 

Instructions for reheating Chinese food in the microwave:

  1. Transfer the food into microwaveable containers.
  2. Put the Chinese food in the microwave and heat for 60 seconds. 
  3. Remove and stir.
  4. Heat for another 60 seconds.
  5. Remove and if the food is piping hot (75°C) throughout, it is ready.
  6. If not, return to the microwave in 30-second bursts until it reaches temperature.

How to reheat Chinese takeaway in a pan on the hob

A stove is an effective option for reheating your Chinese takeaway without ruining the texture. A wok works best for most Chinese food (surprise, surprise!), but a large frying pan will also do. Add a little oil to the pan to prevent sticking, then stir fry over a low heat until the food is piping hot (75°C).

Instructions for reheating Chinese food on the hob:

  1. Preheat a wok or large frying pan over a low heat
  2. Add half a tablespoon of oil to the pan
  3. When the oil is hot, add the Chinese food
  4. Stir fry for 5-10 minutes until the food is piping hot (75°C)

The above method works well for any oily dish that was stir-fried in the restaurant, such as chow mein, fried rice, and kung pao chicken. Some dishes can be reheated on the stove in the following ways for better results.

Liquid-based food

Anything liquid-based, such as chicken and sweetcorn soup, hot & sour soup, sweet and sour sauce, or curry, can be reheated in a saucepan. Transfer your meal to the saucepan and then heat gently and stir it often until it’s steaming hot (reaches 75°C). Cover with a lid to make the process faster.

Hey, if you’re a curry fan, check out our methods for reheating Indian food.

Crispy food

Chinese food with a crispy edge, such as spring rolls, sesame prawn toast, or chicken/pork balls, is best shallowed fried. Preheat a tablespoon of your preferred oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add your crispy Chinese food to the pan and fry until they’re piping hot throughout.

Solid & dry food

Anything that’s pretty solid, like spare ribs, salt and pepper prawns, or egg foo young, is best reheated in a small frying pan. Add a little oil to the pan and preheat on a low heat. Add the food to the pan and then cover until piping hot. 

How to reheat Chinese takeaway in an air fryer

I usually prefer the air fryer to the oven for reheating food as it doesn’t take as long to preheat, and the cooking time is faster thanks to the airflow. 

However, the big downside is the capacity. The air fryer is probably too small if you’re reheating multiple dishes. If you’re reheating a Chinese takeaway for one or two people, the air fryer is a pretty good choice. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a dual zone air fryer, like the Ninja Foodi, you could crisp up your pork balls and spring rolls in one drawer whilst gently warming up your chop suey and special fried rice in the other drawer.

We’re going to use the same principles as reheating in the oven. Remove the cardboard lid from the foil tray, then tightly cover the tray with kitchen foil. If your Chinese takeaway didn’t come in foil trays, or you transferred it to Tupperware for storage, move it to an ovenproof dish and cover it with foil.

Place the tray or dish in the air fryer and heat at 150°C. Do not overcrowd the air fryer; it needs space for the air to circulate. Heat for around 10 minutes or until the food is piping hot throughout. Remove and stir halfway through. If the food has a crunchy edge (pork balls, spring roll, etc.), then remove the foil cover for the remaining time.

Instructions for reheating Chinese food in the air fryer:

  1. Remove cardboard lid and replace with foil (or transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover)
  2. Add to the air fryer (do not overcrowd)
  3. Heat for 5 minutes at 150°C
  4. Remove and stir (leave off foil or lid for the remainder of time if it’s supposed to be crispy)
  5. Return to the air fryer and heat for a further 5 minutes or until the food is piping hot throughout (75°C).

Microwave tip: If you’re only reheating something hefty like ribs, pork or chicken balls, or chicken wings, you can nuke them for 30 seconds in the microwave first (don’t put the foil tray in the microwave, though!), then air fry uncovered on 180°C

Related: UK’s most underrated Chinese food

Related: 7 Spiciest Chinese Takeaway Foods

The best way to reheat Chinese takeaway

The best way to reheat Chinese takeaway is to reheat the dishes separately using the best method for each particular food. It takes a little more time and creates more washing up, but it’s worth it. You won’t have any dried up noodles, rubbery meat, or hard bits where soft bits should be.

Below, I have listed which method I would use to heat up various popular British Chinese takeaway foods.

Chinese food that’s best reheated in a saucepan on the hob

  • Chicken & Mushroom Soup
  • Chicken & Noodle Soup
  • Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup
  • Hot & Sour Soup
  • Wonton Soup
  • Curry (any kind)

Chinese food that’s best reheated on the hob (stir-fried)

  • Egg fried rice
  • Singapore fried rice
  • Special fried rice
  • Chow mein
  • Lo mein
  • Singapore noodles
  • Beansprouts

Chinese food that’s best reheated on the hob (shallow fried)

  • Crispy Wonton
  • Chicken satay
  • Sesame prawn toast

Chinese food that’s best reheated in the oven

  • Crispy duck
  • Spare ribs (any kind)
  • Yuk Sung
  • Crispy shredded chicken
  • King Prawns (any kind)
  • Crispy seaweed
  • Prawn crackers
  • Boiled rice
  • Bamboo shoots and water chestnuts
  • Chicken in Garlic & Chilli Sauce (or beef, duck, etc.)
  • Beef Cantonese style (or any other meat)
  • Beef with cashew nuts (or any other meat)
  • Beef with ginger and spring onions (or any other meat)
  • Beef with black bean sauce (or any other meat)
  • Kung pao chicken (or any other meat)
  • Beef and mushrooms (or any other meat)
  • Egg foo yung
  • Pork Peking sauce (or any other meat)
  • beef with Szechuan sauce (or any other meat)
  • Sweet & sour Cantonese style (any meat)
  • Crispy shredded beef 
  • Duck hoisin sauce

Chinese food that’s best reheated in the microwave

  • Pancakes (for crispy duck)
  • Sweet & sour sauce (for pork/chicken balls)

Chinese food that’s best reheated in the air fryer

  • Deep-fried squid

Chinese food that’s best reheated microwave then air fryer

  • Chicken wings (any kind)
  • Spring rolls
  • Chicken/Pork balls

I hope the tips I’ve shared with you today will make you enjoy the leftovers from your next Chinese takeaway even more than usual!

You should check out my posts about reheating fish and chip shop leftovers and reheating doner kebabs if you liked this post.