Why Pan Size Matters When Reheating Food

Size matters. Anyone who tells you otherwise has never had to heat up leftovers. When you want to reheat a casserole, pizza, chicken, or whatever was on the dinner table the previous eve, choosing the appropriate pan size can make all the difference. We all have our favorite pot or pan that we use for everything, but is it always the right kitchen tool for the job?

Reheating food is not rocket science, but using the right-sized pan, skillet, pot, or container allows you to spread your food out evenly, which is key to a good reheat. However, that's not the only reason you need a perfectly sized pan when warming up that lasagna or those chicken enchiladas. When a sheet pan or skillet is too big for the food you are heating up, you might end up burning your leftovers especially if your pan has a hot spot. You could also end up with unintended waste if your pan is too large, as you might feel compelled to heat up more than you need to. So, a pan that's too big can be a problem, but so can a pan that's too small.

A pan that's too small can cause uneven heating

If your cookware is too small, well, that's a whole other story.  When cookware is too small for the food you are heating up, the leftovers become compacted and insulated. The food will simply be too cramped to warm at the same rate and will cause your meal to reheat unevenly. 

Your day-old steak and chicken strips from your fajita lunch are not going to be warmed all the way through, which in turn creates another problem. A smaller pan will take much longer to heat up your leftovers. You would never place batter in a pan that is too small for fear of it running over the side and baking in a misshaped and messy manner, so why warm up leftovers in a pot or pan that is too small? The next time you are heating up food, choose your pan wisely.