Do you want to know how to heat up kebab meat so it tastes the same as when you bought it? We tried all the methods so that you won’t have to.
Kebab meat tastes its best the moment you buy it from a food truck, kebab shop, or grocery store. From that moment on, you should store it properly—not forgetting that it will slowly but surely decline in quality until you eat it.
There’s a difference between reheating kebab meat so you can eat it now and keeping kebab meat warm (or, as chefs and caterers say, holding it) so you can eat it later, and that difference is in the amount of time the meat can stay out of the fridge or freezer.
If you reheat kebab meat, you must eat, refrigerate or freeze it within 2 hours (1 hour if the outside temperature is 90°F/32°C and above), or it will become unsafe to eat. To hold the meat for 3 to 4 hours, you should keep it warm in the oven.
No matter what brought you here, we thank you for stopping by and invite you to read on: This guide will cover the best techniques for reheating and holding kebabs.
How to Reheat Kebab Meat
Generally speaking, there are three ways to reheat kebab meat: in the oven, on the stovetop, and in the microwave. Each method has its pros and cons, and this guide will walk you through the steps and specifics so you can choose the one that’s best for you.
In the Oven
Preheat the oven to a temperature of 350°F (about 180°C) for 15 minutes. You want the air in the oven to be hot and the walls to radiate heat when you put the kebab meat in.
For a juicy kebab, wrap the meat in aluminum foil before putting it in the oven. The foil will catch the steam from the slices of meat and keep the moisture inside. For a crispy kebab, spread the meat evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet, and don’t wrap it.
Bake the kebab for 30 minutes. The meat is ready to eat when it’s steaming and feels too hot to touch. Serve and eat, and don’t forget to store any leftovers in the refrigerator promptly.
When to use this method: Reheating kebab meat in the oven is the easiest way to get the job done, provided you have the time to do it right. It works well when you want to do a few chores around the house, but also when you need to reheat a large amount of meat.
On the Stovetop
Get a cast iron skillet or non-stick frying pan from your kitchen cabinet. Add a dollop of cooking oil in it and spread it all over the cooking surface using a paper towel or makeup remover pad.
Heat the pan over medium heat. (This begs the question: What does medium heat mean, exactly? While the answer differs from stove to stove, my stove top has nine heat settings, so I used the fifth.)
Add the kebab meat to the pan. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, turning the meat slices about every 30 seconds. For a juicy kebab, cover the pan with a lid. Omit the lid for a crispy, slightly crunchy, somewhat browned kebab.
When to use this method: It takes less time to reheat kebab meat on the stovetop than it does to do so in the oven. This method is suitable for small amounts of meat and for when you want to toast bread in the kebab meat’s juices in the pan.
In the Microwave
Place the kebab meat in a microwave-safe plate or bowl. It’s very important that you don’t microwave it in the disposable aluminum dish you probably bought it in. (Although technically, you can use aluminum in the microwave, that doesn’t mean that you should.)
Drizzle the kebab meat with a tiny amount of water, then cover the plate with a microwaveable plastic lid (or drape a damp paper towel over it). The lid will hold the moisture and protect the inside of the microwave oven from splatters.
Microwave for 60 seconds until the kebab meat is steaming hot. If more time is needed, repeat in 30-second intervals until the sliced meat is ready to serve and eat.
When to use this method: Kebab meat is warmed up fastest in the microwave, so use this method when you’re feeling tired and/or short on time. But microwave reheating comes at a price: The meat isn’t as juicy and flavorful as when you’ve reheated it in the oven or on the stove. And if you keep it in the microwave for too long, it will come out stiff and rubbery.
How to Keep Kebab Meat Warm
If you have guests, put your kebab meat in the refrigerator or keep it warm in the oven, but never leave it in the temperature range of 40°F to 140°F (4.4°C to 60°C) for more than 1 to 2 hours.
To keep kebab meat warm:
Preheat your oven to 250°F (about 120°C) for 15 minutes. Drizzle the kebab meat with a bit of water or watery sauce, wrap it in aluminum foil, and place it on a baking tray on the middle rack of the oven.
The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska recommends using a meat thermometer to ensure that the inner temperature of the meat is at least 140°F (60°C) lest it gets overgrown with pathogens and causes food poisoning.
According to an article in Restaurant Business magazine, food can be held for a maximum of 2 to 4 hours without losing quality to the extent that it shouldn’t be served.
Note: This timeline refers to food held in chafing trays in a buffet or restaurant kitchen—not in the oven in your home kitchen, where the temperature fluctuates and the storage conditions are far from ideal. So the shorter you hold the kebab meat for, the less risky it will be to eat.