How to Reheat Pasta with Cream Sauce

One of the best parts about a plate or bowl of fettucini alfredo is soft but firm noodles swimming in a creamy white sauce. While this sounds fantastic, it can be hard to finish the entire plate with heavy, rich sauce and lots of pasta. Putting the meal in the fridge after you are done doesn’t sound great, especially if you don’t know how to reheat pasta with cream sauce.

Don’t worry though. You can save your pasta and cream sauce for another day. Reheating pasta with cream sauce is entirely possible and we want to help you discover the best ways to reheat our favorite meal.

Slow and low is the best reheating method for a pasta with cream sauce. Most of the appliances needed are in your kitchen, of course. We’ll go over the best ways to keep your pasta firm and your sauce creamy without drying anything out.

Should I separate the pasta from the sauce?

If you happen to have created a pot of sauce that you are putting in the pasta as served, this can be a good idea. Keeping the sauce separate from the pasta can keep the pasta from becoming too soft. 

Pouring reheated sauce over reheated noodles can taste better. Adding sauce to the noodles will also help keep the noodles moist after they are reheated instead of having them sit in the sauce. We would recommend trying both this method and the methods we suggest below to see which one you like better.

Reheating pasta with cream sauce on the stovetop

The stovetop is the choice for many. Most pasta and sauces are initially cooked on the stovetop in a saucepan and a pot of boiling water, though an entire pot of water won’t be necessary.

You can start by grabbing a skillet. Consider adding some water or broth to the pan in a small quantity to make sure the sauce doesn’t gel.

  1. Put the pasta and cream sauce that is to be reheated into the skillet or pan.
  2. Place the pan on the burner. Turn the burner to low or medium heat.

To provide a segue here: If you did separate your pasta from your sauce, you can use a whisk to stir the pasta. Otherwise a whisk might be difficult to use for stirring.

  1. As the pan heats up, begin stirring the pasta and sauce slowly. 
  2. If the cream sauce itself begins evaporating or the pasta looks dry, add more broth, milk, or water. Dry pasta isn’t very good!
  3. Let the pasta and sauce simmer until it’s warm enough for your tastes. Consider tasting to see if you have the right firmness in your pasta.

The stovetops advantage is a slow, controllable heat. Like many other sensitive foods, you’ll want to keep an eye on the amount of heat you are applying. Allowing your pasta or sauce to get too hot can lead to less than satisfactory results.

Stop the heat if your sauce starts to congeal or the pasta is getting softer than you want.

Reheating pasta with cream sauce in the microwave

The microwave is the do-all of the kitchen. It’s a great tool if you want something done quickly and are running late, or if you are the office and don’t have much of a choice.

The microwave also requires a little more planning and a better eye to keep things from moving too quickly.

For this one you’ll want a microwave safe dish and something like broth, water, or milk to keep remoisten the sauce and pasta.

  1. Put the leftover pasta and sauce in the microwave safe dish.
  2. Put the microwave safe dish in the microwave. Consider putting a paper towel over the top, though it’s unlikely to splatter.
  3. While you can decide this, we suggest starting with 50% power. The microwave can make your pasta hot fast, but the tradeoff is overly soft pasta. Most microwaves have a “Power” button that lets you lower the heat.
  4. Regardless of your power setting, start with 30 seconds at a time. 
  5. Once the heating is done, check to see if the pasta and sauce are to your liking.

The microwave is anything but slow, so definitely use the power button your microwave to keep it in check. Heating the pasta up more than once won’t hurt it, and you’ll be able to control how hot it really gets.

The best method – when the pasta and sauce are separate

If you did separate your pasta from your sauce, we have a couple of the best methods available to reheat the sauce.

In a pan

Put a pan on the burner of your stove on low to medium. Pour in some heavy cream. Add your cream sauce and and pasta to the pan once the heavy cream is warmed up. Adding heavy cream will revive both your pasta and sauce

In a bowl

Fill a bowl or pot with warm water. Put the remaining cream sauce in a container in the bowl or pot. Stir the cream sauce as it warms. You could also place the pot on the stovetop over low heat. This method is useful for keeping the sauce from overheating or burning on contact.

Conclusion

After eating a really good dish of pasta with alfredo, you might think it’s really hard to recreate the flavor and texture. Our steps aim to keep the cream sauce creamy with oil and fat together, and the pasta the way most like it – firm and not droopy. People without access to a stove in the office might be best served by the warm bowl method or the microwave.

Keeping an eye on your pasta is key regardless of method. The cream sauce can separate easily, making it less tasty.