Paella is a delicious Spanish rice dish that is full of vegetables, seafood, meats, and seasonings. It is traditionally cooked and served in a pan, and the presentation is usually quite beautiful!
Paella is one of those dishes that rewards cooking in bulk. After going through all the effort to prepare and cook paella, it’s easy to realize that you’ve cooked way too much.
But this can be a blessing in disguise, and with a few smart moves, you can turn this into a huge positive. How? By storing and reheating it for your next paella craving.
So you’re probably asking yourself, how do you reheat paella? We recommend reheating paella in one of four ways: in the oven, in a frying pan, in a steamer, or in the microwave.
The best way to reheat paella in a frying pan with some extra liquid is the best way to retain the same texture as when it was originally cooked.
But before we learn how to reheat, we need to know how to store it properly until we are ready to go through the reheating process. So first things first, let’s get into how to store all that extra paella.
The Essential Guide to Reheating Paella
Before we can dive into the reheating part, we have to mention our best storage tips too!
How to Store Cooked Paella
If you end up with leftover paella, then there’s no reason to waste it by throwing it away. Instead, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer for your future paella craving!
Storing cooked paella is simple, here’s how:
- Transfer it from the pan to an airtight container (something like this set from Amazon is perfect), leave the lid off until the paella has cooled, then cover and place in the fridge.
It’s important to let your food cool before placing it in the fridge, especially when dealing with absorbent foods such as rice.
If you put the paella in the fridge while it is still warm, the difference of temperatures between the fridge and the warm paella will cause condensation to occur within the container.
This will give you soggy paella. No one wants that!
Let the moisture escape first by placing it on the countertop. It is much easier to add more water to your paella later if it is too dry than to try and save soggy rice.
As a rule of thumb, paella with seafood in it should only be stored for around 24 hours maximum because seafood has the potential to go bad very fast. The side effects of eating expired seafood are not worth risking.
Paella made with non-seafood foods, like chorizo or chicken, can be stored for several days, potentially up to a week.
As always, make sure you double-check if something is still fresh (give it a good eyeball along with a whiff) before reheating.
How to Reheat Paella
When it comes time to reheat your delicious paella, you have a few choices to make.
There are four possible ways to reheat it. You can use a pan, you can use your oven, you can steam your paella, and you can use your microwave.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dive into the differences, advantages, and disadvantages to each method.
Reheating Paella in a Frying Pan
Choosing to reheat paella in a frying pan is the best option if you want your paella to have the same sort of texture and feel as it was when you originally cooked it.
- Start by taking the paella out of the fridge and let it sit on your countertop for at least half an hour beforehand. This lets it defrost naturally and be ready for cooking.
- Turn on your oven top burner heat to medium.
- Add a dash of olive oil and let it heat for a few seconds.
- Add your paella to the pan. (A Paella pan like this one from Amazon is ideal!)
- Even it out in the pan so it can cook evenly. (We don’t want chunky, half cold, half hot paella.)
- Stir it for several minutes, until it’s reheated and cooked through.
There’s a possibility that the paella might start to cook or fry a little bit more than desired.
However, as long as you keep stirring to avoid any part of the paella touching the bottom of the pan for too long, it should come out perfectly fine and evenly heated.
If it does start to dry out a little or stick to the bottom of the pan, you can add another splash of oil and/or water (but not both at the same time, or it could splatter since water and oil don’t mix well) and give it a solid stir.
Reheating Paella in the Oven
If you choose to reheat paella in the oven, be aware that it’s going to take a bit more time.
However, this will require less effort on your part than using the stovetop method.
The end result should be very close in flavor and texture to when it was initially cooked.
- Use a strong ceramic container (a casserole dish or something equivalent is ideal) and spread the paella evenly in a thin layer.
- Bear in mind, the thinner the layer, the faster it will cook, so don’t spread it too thin to avoid ending up with crunchy paella.
- Add water, around half a cup per two cups of paella. The intent is to add enough water to make it moist without making it soggy.
- Cover the dish in foil and cook for around 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Around the 10-minute mark, so ahead and give it a stir to make sure it cooks evenly.
Reheating Paella in a Steamer
Using a steamer is an excellent option for reheating paella because the end result is generally moist and flavorful. It also reheats pretty quickly.
If you don’t have a steamer, you can check out this cool bamboo steamer which is perfect for reheating rice-based dishes like paella.
If you already have a steamer, all you need to do is put your paella evenly into your steamer and steam for around 8 minutes.
Reheating Paella in the Microwave
Using your microwave to reheat your paella is the least ideal option, but it is still worth mentioning.
If you need to reheat your paella and don’t have the time for the other methods, then you can definitely use your microwave.
Follow this method for the best results possible:
- In a microwave-safe container, add a tiny amount of oil, and either wipe or spray evenly across the bowl.
- Add your paella to the bowl (evenly, of course) and make sure there are no clumps.
- Microwave for 1 minute.
- Check the temperature in the center. If it’s not hot enough, stir, and continue to heat in 30-second increments, stirring each time.
- It’s important to stir in between heating increments because the food in the center will heat more slowly, so, by stirring, you give the paella a chance to heat at a more even rate.
You should avoid using the microwave to reheat seafood paella because it can give it a rubbery texture.
Have you ever over-microwaved frozen shrimp? If you have, you know what we’re talking about. Gross.
However you choose to reheat your paella, you now have all the information you need to safely store, reheat, and serve up a second delicious meal!
Can You Freeze Cooked Paella?
Freezing paella is a great way to keep it in storage for longer. If you don’t plan on eating your leftover paella within a week, then freezing is the way to go.
All you have to do at that point is put it in the freezer. Frozen paella will hold for about a month before having to be thrown away. So make sure you remember when you first cooked it.
One smart thing you can do is to put a label on it, so you know precisely the date they were cooked.
To thaw frozen paella, you’ll want to take it out a day before you plan to eat it. When it comes time to eat it again, take it out of the freezer, transfer it to the fridge, and leave it for about 24 hours.
After 24 hours, your paella will have thawed through enough to be ready to cook using any of the four methods that we described above.
Are There Any Safety Concerns When Reheating Paella?
Yes, there are two safety precautions when reheating paella:
- How long you can safely store it
- If your paella contains seafood
As we mentioned earlier, our recommendation is that seafood paella should only be stored for around 24 hours, and not frozen.
Chicken, chorizo, or other non-seafood dishes should be safe to store in the fridge for around one week or freeze for up to four weeks.
Can I Eat Paella Straight From the Fridge?
While we’ve heard people rave about eating cold paella, we do not recommend doing this.
As with any food that has been left alone for a few days, there is a risk of food poisoning. While it might still be delicious, any bacteria that may have developed while in storage will be destroyed during the reheating process.
Reheating only takes a few minutes and does so much to improve the flavor. The end result is worth it.