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So you go to a deli, pizza place, or any number of places that will sell you a 12"+ hot sandwich (e.g. a philly cheeseteak). You eat half and save the other half for another day. When that other day comes, what's the best way to reheat it?

For many other foods, the most common ways are microwave, toaster oven, regular oven and skillet. Unconventional ways I can think of would be steaming and sous vide (though the latter seems excessive for a sandwich).

The goal would be to get the sandwich hot enough to remelt any cheese, but to not render the bread too mushy or too crunchy (toast).

What method or combination of methods would you recommend to reheat a sandwich from the refrigerator? Be sure to specify whether you'd use higher or lower temps or power. If no one method would work well for all sandwiches, could you post guidelines?

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Definitely not steaming or the bread is going to get mushy for sure. I don't even know if the cheese will melt if you steam – Huangism Mar 2 '15 at 19:52

11 Answers 11

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The truth is, there really is no good way to reheat such sandwiches. The bread will have gotten soggy while the sandwich was in the refrigerator, and the densest part (which requires the most energy to get hot) is on the inside.

The option which is probably the least poor is to use the microwave, as more of the energy will be transmitted to the filling directly than with other heating methods. This is still likely to leave the bread kind of mushy and rubbery.

Your best option is to only buy the size of sandwich you want to eat, or to split one with someone.

Note that you mentioned store bought subs. If the sandwiches are homemade, there is a good answer: don't assemble them until you want to eat them.

You can then toast the bread, and heat the filling separately, and then combine them, and thus have a very fine sandwich.

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I would suggest opening the sandwich so the filling is facing up, removing any toppings that you would prefer to remain cold, and sticking it in an oven or toaster oven for a bit. That gets the heat to the center of the sandwich immediately, though you'll want low heat (maybe 250F?) and not to heat it very long or the bread will get too toasted. It won't ever be as good as the day before, but I find that microwave reheating tends to result in poor-quality bread.

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This was my first thought as well, except to avoid toasting/browning/burning the outside of the bread, you might shield it with foil. – Jefromi Sep 3 '13 at 18:09

If you have a sandwich in which the entire sandwich should be heated, there are ways of doing it that I would consider 'least bad' (not necessarily 'best').

I'd heat things up differently based on the bread.

  • If it's currently hard and/or dry : take a brown paper bag that will fit the sandwich, place the sandwich inside, and tightly seal the bag (fold it down, staple, whatever it takes) but try to leave it a bit of air in the bag (ie, tightly sealed but not tightly wrapped). Wet the outside of the bag with water. Place the bagged sandwich inside a low oven. (or toaster oven, if you have one).

    The wet bag will end up steaming the bread some. (it's also a technique to revive stale bread), but will also prevent the bread from burning before the inside has had a chance to warm up.

  • If it's a soggy, or softer bread : I'd be more likely to put it in a sandwich press (or similar, or use the two-cast-iron skillet to try to crisp up the bread), or put it in an oven uncovered. (in my case, toaster oven, directly on the rack). If using the oven and the bread gets too dried out before the middle is heated sufficiently, switch to the paper bag trick.

There are some sandwiches that just won't heat up well -- anything with lettuce or other vegetables that don't take well to heating up. You might be better off using higher heat so that you heat the bread before the insides have been heated, and just forget about warming it through entirely.

I personally don't like microwaving bread -- it'll seem okay for a minute or so, and then it gets really, really chewy. (and not in a good way ... rubbery)

And, it's not technically an answer to the question, but you also have to consider why you want to heat up the sandwich -- if it's a texture thing, or it's just ice cold, that's a valid reason. If it's a flavor thing (chill mutes many flavors), you can often perk a sandwich back up by adding something hot or sour to it. A splash of hot sauce or some hot pickled peppers will often wake it back up without requiring it to be fully reheated.

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The best way is to take the sub apart. Scrape any left over loose condiments (i.e. Mayo, ketchup, mustard, etc.) off of the bread. Turn your toaster oven on to about 250°. Put your bread in it while it's heating up. Then on a separate plate, heat up your sub guts (cheesesteak, fish, etc) for about 1.5 minutes in the microwave. Check your bread to see where it is. Once it has gotten to the desired temp and/or texture. Take it out and reassemble your sub. Add any condiments you like or that was removed back to your sub and enjoy! Note: for a cheesesteak, I would suggest putting a damp napkin on top of it while it's in the microwave.

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+1 for "sub guts". – logophobe Aug 19 '14 at 14:57

Steam it! It won't taste quite the same as fresh, but steamed sandwiches are freaking delicious. You can even revive something that is super stale with steaming. If you've ever had a steamed hot dog bun, that will give you a point of reference for the bread consistency. Ever since I tried this once, I have never put a leftover sandwich into the oven (too toasty) or the microwave (too rubbery). If it gets a little too soggy after steaming for like 10 mins, throw it in the oven at 275 degrees for another 10 mins.

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Instructions for steaming would be great. – Jolenealaska Oct 7 '14 at 4:28

take the top off the sub, put the sub on some aluminum foil, turn your oven on broil, put your sub in the oven for like 3 minutes (just stay close by, you'll smell when it's done depending on how much stuff is on your sub), remove sub from oven, reconstruct, devour.

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For meatball parm I do this:

  1. Cut sandwich filling lengthwise down the center, trying not to cut through bottom bread.
  2. Lay sandwich on baking sheet open, so heat can get at the cut center
  3. Bake at 425 F for about 5-10 minutes.

This method preserves the bread's crispy texture (microwaves turn bread soggy -- great for softening stale bread in a pinch though) and heats the middle decently well.

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The best way I have found and used is put the items in one tin plate put in a small amount of water, cover it with another tin plate, put into an oven or toaster oven, heat it up and, Wa La it is like from your original purchase (All Most) You have Restored it !!

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Steam the bread with a wet papertowel in the microwave, then simply toast it until hot. Came out like new for me, used a philly

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Do you take the filling out before steaming/toasting, or leave it assembled throughout the process? – Erica Mar 2 '15 at 20:02

I wouldn't re-heat it at all, personally, cold is better in my opinion. It's like re-heating pizza, it's impossible to get it anywhere near how it was the night before no matter what you use.

If you have a really amazing sandwich and you really want to try it then separate the bread from the filling 20 minutes ahead of time. Let the bread reheat naturally, nuking it or cooking it in any way is going to make it either rubbery or dry. Once the bread is room temperature nuke the filling alone. Once it's hot put it back in the bread. You could heat the filling up in a pan but that's really overkill.

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Wrap sub in paper towel, microwave on "Defrost setting" for weight of 1/2 lb. Always works for me, the bread stays "reasonably" normal on steak subs

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