5 Tips on What to Do with Tough Steak Leftovers – Easy Softening

Reheating tough steak leftovers can be tricky, but simmering in liquid, marinating, or using vinegar can help, along with slow reheating methods like in the oven or stovetop.

How To Make Leftover Steak Tender Again

Have you ever made so much steak for dinner that you have leftovers? What happens when you toss those leftovers in the microwave to warm up?

Chances are it dries out and is no longer tender. If you want to have leftover steak, several different options are available to enjoy tender steak for the second night of dining. 

Here are some tips on how to make leftover steak tender again: 

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How do you tenderize leftover steak? 

You can place overcooked steak leftovers in a frying pan with a few cups of liquid, such as chicken broth, beef stock, or water. Only use enough liquid to cover about half of the meat. Simmer the meat and broth until it is tender again. 

Vinegar and lemon juice can also help tenderize the meat, add moisture, tenderize it, and make it tasty. 

How do you reheat tough steak to make it tender? 

The biggest mistake made when reheating steak is being in a hurry. Heating up steak quickly can dry it out and make it tough.

The key to reheating tough steak to make it tender is letting it warm up slowly. Reheating steak in an oven is one way to ensure the leftover meat is tender and flavorful, just like it was the night before. 

Leftover steak can also be reheated in a microwave and on the stovetop and still be tender. 

How to reheat leftover steak in an oven

Reheating leftover steak in an oven takes time to ensure the steak comes out tender, juicy, and flavorful. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place leftover meat on a wire rack, set in a baking dish, and place in the oven. Reheat the steaks until they have an internal temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, approximately 20 minutes. 

Next, heat a skillet with a small amount of oil or butter, remove the steaks from the oven, and place them on the heated pan. Sear each side of the steaks until browned, which should only take about one minute on each side. 

How to reheat leftover steak on a stovetop

Reheating steak on the stovetop is the second-best method for keeping leftover steak juicy, tender, and flavorful.

If you know you plan to reheat the steak on the stovetop, cut and slice the steak and save any leftover juices before putting it in the fridge. When ready to reheat, remove the steak from the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature. 

Bring a pot of water to low heat of approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Place leftover steak in an airtight freezer bag and immerse the bag in the water.

Cook until the meat is warmed through, which should be approximately five minutes. Next, sear the meat in a warmed skillet with a small amount of butter or oil. 

Can I use sous vide to reheat leftover steak? 

Sous vide is another great way to reheat leftover steak while keeping it tender and juicy. If you can vacuum seal the leftovers, this might be your best option to reheat the steak. 

To use this method, submerge the vacuum-sealed leftovers in warm water until it is thoroughly reheated and ready to eat. To help with tenderness, add a pat of butter inside the vacuum-sealed bag with the steak. 

How to reheat leftover steak in a microwave

Though reheating leftover steak in an oven is the best way to ensure it is tender, moist, and flavorful, it is still possible to reheat the meat in a microwave.

Though not the ideal method for reheating steak, it is a time-saving technique that can result in a tender steak when done correctly. 

When planning on reheating your leftover steak, save the juices from the night before. Place the steak in a deep, microwave-safe dish and drizzle the leftover steak juices over the meat.

Cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid. Set the microwave on low to medium power and heat 30-seconds at a time until it reaches the desired temperature. 

How to reheat leftover steak in an air fryer

Using an air fryer is another method to reheat leftover steak and maintain its tenderness. Before reheating:

  1. Set the steak out to warm up to room temperature.
  2. Reheat the air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the steak in the basket.
  3. Check the meat every two minutes (reheating time varies on the steak’s size and thickness) until thoroughly reheated from 110 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Can you reheat leftover steak in a slow cooker? 

The United States Department of Agriculture does not recommend reheating leftover steak in a slow cooker.

However, once leftovers are reheated in a microwave, oven, or stove, they can be placed in a slow cooker to keep them hot for serving. 

How do you soften tough steak? 

Steak becomes tough when overcooked, but do not let this bother you because there are several ways to help soften up tough steak.

The first method is to marinate the steak overnight in beef broth or other flavored marinades. Then, chop up the meat for wraps, casseroles, or shepherd’s pie. 

Another alternative is to put the tough steak in a frying pan with a few cups of water or beef broth.

Meat should be covered about halfway and not fully immersed in the liquid. Adding lemon juice and vinegar can also help add moisture back into the meat, making it tender again. 

What can I do with leftover steak that is tough?

There is no need to toss out a leftover steak that is tough because there are many creative ways you can use the leftovers for meals the following day.

Slice or cut up the meat and use it in a stir-fry or toss it in a fresh salad. Leftover steak works well in a stew or casserole.

The marinades, sauces, and juices from the additional ingredients in stews, salads, stir-fry, etc., help tenderize the meat making it taste fresh and less tough. 

Philly cheesesteak sandwiches

Philly Cheesesteak

Slicing up leftover steak and using it in a Philly cheesesteak sandwich is another delicious way to use tough leftover steak.

You need a hoagie roll, slices of provolone cheese, sliced onion, and green peppers. Cook the meat, cheese, and vegetables together, then place on the hoagie roll with your favorite condiments and enjoy. 

Steak quesadillas


Steak quesadillas make a great meal and work perfectly with leftover steak. Plus, having the meat precooked makes this meal quick and easy.

First, cut the steak into narrow strips and season with chili pepper and a dash of red cayenne pepper; then dice up a quarter of an onion and jalapeno. 

Add oil or butter to a frying pan and heat over medium-low heat. Place a flour tortilla in the pan, then add shredded cheese, steak strips, onion, and jalapeno. Place the second tortilla on top and press down to help everything stick together. 

Turn the quesadilla over, adding more butter or oil to the pan, if needed. Continue flipping the quesadilla every few minutes until both sides are browned and crispy.

Remove it from the pan, cut into quarters, and serve with lettuce, salsa, and sour cream. 

Salad with steak

Salad with Steak

Another way to use leftover steak that is tough is to create a fresh salad with some steak. Fill a bowl with arugula and spinach, top with strips of leftover steak, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and chunks of avocado. Use balsamic vinegar as the dressing, which will help make the steak tender again. 

Depending upon your preference for vegetables, you can mix up the type of lettuce and toppings. You can also use a dressing of your choice.

When you have all ingredients in the bowl, cover and shake to ensure the dressing and moisture from the dressing and vegetables. 

How to store leftover steak to keep it tender

How leftover steak is stored makes all the difference in how tender and flavorful it remains. Wrapping the steak and storing it in the fridge properly can help preserve the steak without drying it out or making it too tough to eat. 

The best way to store leftover steak is using a vacuum sealer, which helps keep the juices locked in the meat and the air out.

However, not everyone has one of these machines. If you do not have access to a vacuum sealer, wrap the leftover steak in freezer paper.

Wrap each piece individually and tightly, then place them in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Place the steaks in the freezer bag in a single layer and lay it on a flat surface. Remove as much air as possible before sealing the bag. 

Once sealed, lay the steak flat on a shelf in the fridge with plenty of space around it, so it can keep cold. Placing the steak on the bottom shelf helps prevent any juices from seeping out and getting on other foods. 

How long is leftover steak safe to keep in the refrigerator? 

It is possible to use the sight and smell test to decide if your leftover steaks are safe to eat; however, this test cannot always be trusted because most foods appear fine, but they are not always safe to eat. 

It is best not to store your leftover steaks in the fridge for more than three days. Any longer could result in them losing tenderness and possibly turning bad.

If it will be more than three days, it is best to store the steak in the freezer. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, you can store leftover steak for three to six months in the freezer. 

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