The Best Ways to Reheat Fried Chicken

If you want all the flavor and crispiness as you had day one, you need to try this method.

fried chicken oilSoonthorn Wongsaita/Shutterstock

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 (and how could it not be?), you may sometimes find yourself with leftovers and wondering the best way to reheat fried chicken so it maintains its crispiness and flavor. Just like there’s an ideal way to reheat these leftovers to maintain their flavor, there’s a best way to reheat fried chicken so it’s safe and satisfying to eat.

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: how to maintain the flavor of the fried chicken and making 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 only safe ways to reheat fried chicken are in the oven or microwave or on the stove. Avoid leaving the food out for too long and making 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 meat lasts in the fridge when deciding whether your leftovers are 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 (41–135 degrees Fahrenheit) longer than four hours. To prevent bacteria from growing to unsafe levels on your fried chicken, reheat it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re not planning to eat it immediately.”

How to reheat fried chicken in the oven

There’s no foolproof method to making refried 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.

  1. Make sure the chicken is room temperature. Pull it out of the fridge about for about 30 minutes before you reheat it. This will help it cook more evenly and a lot quicker.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Use a wire rack on top of a sheet pan so the chicken is raised and won’t get soggy on the bottom.
  4. Cook chicken for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Raise the oven to 400 and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Dip in your favorite sauce and enjoy.

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.”

  1. Take your fried chicken out of the refrigerator and allow it to sit out for ten minutes, so it approaches room temperature. This is done for almost all methods of reheating to prevent chicken from losing moisture during the heating.
  2. Place a paper towel over the plate to help the chicken avoid getting too soggy. The towel will take in some of the moisture.
  3. Microwave the fried chicken in 30-second intervals until warm. Be careful not to over-microwave or it’ll dry out.

For a side dish, try adding these foods even professional chefs cook in the microwave. If you’ve frozen your fried chicken, use these steps to get it ready to eat.

  1. Thaw the frozen leftover fried chicken in the microwave until the temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer.
  2. Follow directions for reheating fried chicken in the oven (as noted above)
  3. Place the chicken on an oven-safe baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  4. Place the pan in the oven on the center rack for about ten minutes.
  5. Make sure to check on the chicken frequently as they may heat at different speeds.
  6. 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, they’re done.

Reheating fried chicken in a toaster oven

Sidoti also says you can reheat your fried chicken in a toaster oven using the following steps.

  1. Line the baking sheet from your toaster oven with aluminum foil.
  2. Set toaster oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and let it pre-heat for a few minutes. Place a handful of fried chicken on a plate.
  3. Cover the plate with a paper towel.
  4. Microwave the fried chicken for about one minute to one minute 45 seconds. Remove the plate from the microwave and place the chicken on the baking sheet.
  5. Stick the baking sheet in the toaster oven for about two to three additional minutes.
  6. Let the chicken stand until just about lukewarm to touch.

There you have it: you’ve mastered the art of enjoying this delicious leftover at its peak.

Erin Kayata
Erin Kayata joined Reader’s Digest as an assistant staff writer in March 2019, coming from the Stamford Advocate where she covered education. Prior to this, she was part of a two-year Hearst fellowship program where she covered crime and education in suburban Connecticut. She graduated from Emerson College and spent part of her undergraduate career writing for the Boston Globe. When she’s not writing articles about useful facts and pop culture, you can find Erin enjoying the local theater scene and working toward her goal of reading 50 books a year.