There’s simply nothing like eating fried chicken. It gives you all the juicy, tender meat of your favorite chicken underneath a satisfyingly crisp breading. While you may think your appetite for fried chicken is insatiable, you may sometimes find yourself with leftovers and wondering the best way to reheat fried chicken so it maintains its crispy flavor. Just like there’s an ideal way to reheat pizza, there’s a best way to reheat fried chicken so it’s as crispy as the day it was made.
First, What Not to Do When Reheating Fried Chicken
There are two things you want to keep in mind when figuring out how to reheat fried chicken: maintain the flavor of the fried chicken and make sure the leftovers don’t make you ill. According to Katie Hell, a certified professional in food safety and a senior editor at StateFoodSafety, the safe ways to reheat fried chicken are with the oven, microwave, stove or air fryer. Avoid leaving the food out for too long and make sure to heat it enough so it doesn’t land in the temperature “danger zone” where bacteria can thrive. You also may want to consider how long leftovers last in the fridge when deciding whether your meal is worth it.
“From a food safety perspective, you have to be careful about how you reheat food,” she says. “Food can’t stay in the temperature danger zone (41 to 135°F) longer than four hours. To prevent bacteria from growing to unsafe levels on your fried chicken, reheat it to 165°F.”
Check out our Test Kitchen’s guide to food-safe cooking temperatures.
How to Reheat Fried Chicken in the Oven
There’s no foolproof method to making re-fried chicken taste as good as new, says OMG Hospitality Group chef Daniel England. But using these steps to reheat it in the oven work best.
- Make sure the chicken is at room temperature. Pull it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you reheat it. This will help it cook quickly and evenly.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Use a wire rack on top of a sheet pan so the chicken is raised and won’t get soggy on the bottom.
- Cook chicken for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches around 150°F. Raise the oven temp to 400°F and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes until the chicken reaches 165°F.
- Dip it in your favorite sauce and enjoy. If you have leftover fries to add as a side dish, here’s the best way to reheat french fries to enjoy alongside your fried chicken.
How to Reheat Fried Chicken in the Air Fryer
Put your newest kitchen gadget to work by reheating some leftover fried chicken. Taste of Home’s Test Kitchen experts weighted in with this fool-proof method:
- Take your chicken out of the fridge about 10 minutes before reheating.
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F.
- Give the air fryer basket a quick spritz of cooking spray, then add your fried chicken in a single layer.
- Air fry the chicken for 3 minutes, flip the chicken, then air fry for an additional 3-5 minutes. Continue flipping and air frying until the chicken gets to temperature and has a great crunch.
Editor’s Tip: To prevent pieces from drying out or not getting up to temperature, air fry pieces of fried chicken that have a similar size in the same batch.
By the way, here’s everything you need to know about your air fryer.
How to Reheat Fried Chicken in the Microwave
If you don’t have time for oven cooking, you can safely reheat fried chicken in the microwave, but be warned: the texture will not be the same. “This is definitely not the preferred method, but it’s doable when you need to use the microwave in a pinch,” says Claudia Sidoti, Head Chef at HelloFresh. “If you go this route, be aware that the fried chicken tends to dry out the already soggy skin as it cooks. This will result in a soft, soggy texture that won’t compare to the crisp skin you can achieve when reheated properly.”
- Take your fried chicken out of the refrigerator and allow it to sit out for 10 minutes so it approaches room temperature. This step is required for almost all reheating methods to help the chicken retain moisture.
- Place a paper towel over the plate to help the chicken avoid getting too soggy. The towel will take in some of the moisture.
- Microwave the fried chicken in 30-second intervals until warm. Be careful not to over-microwave or it’ll dry out.
How to Reheat Fried Chicken in a Toaster Oven
Sidoti also says you can reheat your fried chicken in a toaster oven using the following steps.
- Line the baking sheet from your toaster oven with aluminum foil.
- Set toaster oven to 400°F and let it pre-heat for a few minutes. Place a handful of fried chicken pieces on a plate.
- Cover the plate with a paper towel.
- Microwave the fried chicken for 1-2 minutes. Remove the plate from the microwave and place the chicken on the baking sheet.
- Stick the baking sheet in the toaster oven for 2-3 additional minutes.
Bonus: How to Reheat Frozen Fried Chicken
If you’ve frozen your fried chicken, use these steps to get it ready to eat.
- Thaw the frozen leftover fried chicken in the microwave until the temperature reaches 165°F.
- Place the chicken on an oven-safe baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Place the pan in a 350ºF oven on the center rack for about 10 minutes.
Editor’s Tip: Make sure to check on the chicken frequently, as each piece may heat at different speeds. As a general rule, thicker pieces will heat at a slower rate than smaller pieces. If the chicken is crispy on the outside and warm all the way through, it’s done.
There you have it: you’ve mastered the art of enjoying this delicious leftover at its peak.