April 25, 2017

Imma be honest here: Fried Chicken is good all the time, every which way. KFC, Popeyes, Church's, Golden Chick—I eat it all. There's a restaurant near us called Babe's, a chain that offers AYCE chicken and sides. 

Mercy, child, this is fine chicken. And they give you leftovers in a plastic bag for you to transfer to your own container and eat at your leisure either 20 minutes after you get home or the next day. 

This article is for you, leftover fried chicken lovers, who know that cold fried chicken is GOOD, but hot fried chicken IS BETTER.

The big question, then, is how to reheat fried chicken so it stays pretty crispy, not soggy, heated through, without drying it out. TO THE TEST KITCHENS!! 

A few notes to keep in mind:

The quality of the fried chicken also affects the outcome, of course. Grocery store fried chicken that has been sitting under heat lamps all day when you bought it may not bounce back in the same crispy way as chicken you fried yourself and stored immediately in the fridge after dinner.  

These steps are best-case scenario, the steps that gave us the best results, but you don't have to have every single tool and utility to make this work. Improvising is key to confidence in the kitchen, and you can learn as you go. 

There are two main ways in which we recommend reheating fried chicken:

  • Warming it up in the oven
  • Reheating fried chicken in the air fryer
  • Reheating fried chicken in the microwave is an acceptable option if you are in a hurry.

We recommend against this option of heating up leftover chicken in the microwave but if you gotta you gotta. We are all in a hurry sometimes, even us. The fried chicken will not be crispy if you reheat it this way but there are a few tips to doing it right.  

If you are in a serious hurry and just need to warm up your fried chicken, the microwave will do the trick. But please keep in mind that you may be a bit disappointed.  

This is why we prefer one of these two methods for bringing that crispy fried chicken back: the oven or air fryer method.

Here is a quick summary of our favorite methods of how to reheat fried chicken:

This is our quick summary of our preferred methods for reheating leftover fried chicken. All other methods are listed below as options as well. (For full instructions, skip down to the step-by-step guide.)

  1. In the air fryer: Set the fried chicken out on the counter for at least 15 minutes. Warm up your air fryer and then place the chicken in the basket. Cook it for about 5 minutes.
  2. In the oven: Set the fried chicken out on the counter for it to come to room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven. Warm up the leftover fried chicken for 15 minutes or until it has reached your desired temperature.

How to reheat fried chicken in the air fryer

Estimated time required: 23 minutes total (This includes 15 minutes for the chicken to come to room temperature.)

Tools required:

  • Air fryer
  • Tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Knife (butter, paring, steak, whatever—just something to split the meat to check that your largest piece is heated through. Even two forks would work.)
  • Plate or platter

Here’s how to reheat fried chicken in the air fryer:

  1. 1
    Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. (Just the pieces that you want to reheat.) Allow the chicken to sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  2. 2
    Preheat the air fryer to 325 degrees for 2 minutes.
  3. 3
    Place the chicken in the air fryer. Be sure to leave plenty of space between each piece of fried chicken. (Do this in rounds if needed.) Do not overcrowd the chicken.
  4. 4
    Reheat the chicken for 3 minutes.
  5. 5
    Pause air fryer.
  6. 6
    Use tongs to flip the chicken and then cook for another 3 minutes.
  7. 7
    Use some tongs to pull out a piece of chicken and place it on the cutting board.
  8. 8
    Cut into the chicken and check to see if it is warmed to your liking.
  9. 9
    If not, using the tongs flip the chicken in the basket.
  10. 10
    Cook the fried chicken for 2 more minutes.

Tips (about this method)

  • Don’t stack the pieces of fried chicken. It is tempting to do this, especially if you have several pieces to heat up. However, stacking the chicken will hinder the air fryer from properly reheating the chicken. It won’t get crispy if you stack it and it will not evenly heat up.
  • Flipping or rotating the chicken halfway through the cooking process can make a real difference in the crispiness.
  • The longer that you can allow the chicken to truly come to room temperature the better the chicken will reheat.
  • Warm up time varies for each type of air fryer but this generally doesn’t take but a couple of minutes or so. Warming it up first will make for a better tasting warmed up fried chicken.

How to reheat fried chicken in the oven

Estimated time required: 30 minutes total (This includes 20 minutes for the chicken to come to room temperature.)

Tools required:

  • Conventional oven
  • An oven-safe rack to lift the chicken, allowing hot air to surround each piece
  • Cooking spray for the rack to assist with cleanup (optional)
  • Aluminum foil or parchment paper (we are fans of these pop-up sheets from Reynolds)
  • Oven-safe baking sheet to set your chicken pieces on
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Knife (butter, paring, steak, whatever—just something to split the meat to check that your largest piece is heated through. Even two forks would work.)
  • Plate or platter

Here’s how to reheat fried chicken in the oven:

  1. 1
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. 2
    Remove the chicken from the container and lay the pieces on a platter and leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Heating cold meat can affect both the crispiness of the outside and the tenderness of the inside, so getting this to room temp is important. It applies to other raw cuts of meat, too, FYI.
  3. 3
    Cover the baking sheet with foil, set aside. Spray the rack, then set the rack on the foil. Place the chicken pieces on the rack, with no sides touching each other.
  4. 4
    Place pan with chicken in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Don't open the door to check on it in the first 10 minutes. Keep in mind that breasts and thighs will take longer to heat through than wings and drums. You don't want the coating to go too dark, so after 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325F if they are getting too brown.
  5. 5
    Use the tongs to pull off a piece onto your cutting board and cut into it. It may not be as juicy as day-one, but it should be hot all the way to the bone.
  6. 6
    Remove the baking rack and use the tongs to transfer all of the chicken to the plate. Let cool for 4 minutes, so you can handle the meat without burning your fingers.

Tips (about this method)

  • Using the rack is important because it allows the hot air to circulate and the chicken will evenly heat.
  • If you are only reheating smaller pieces of chicken then reduce your cooking time and check the chicken after about 6 minutes.

How to reheat fried chicken in a cast iron skillet

Estimated time required: 23 minutes total (This includes 20 minutes for the chicken to come to room temperature.)

Thoughts on refrying fried chicken

Refrying is a good way to ensure you get crispy coating the next day, but sometimes it will come off in the hot oil. (Another reason to make sure your chicken has come to room temp before reheating—coating separates from meat when it's chilled.)

Although any pan will do, it is advisable to use a cast iron skillet since these tend to retain heat better, and cook more evenly than nonstick (for something irregular like chicken pieces, anyway). We love our cast iron, and we haven't yet found any reason to buy an expensive one.

Now, I would like to add a note here that this is not my favorite way to reheat fried chicken. I feel like it comes out greasy this way. However, fried chicken is greasy generally speaking and so this may be the best way to bring that fried chicken back to original form. 

It is worth experimenting with and seeing how you feel about it though.

Tools required:

  • Stovetop
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as canola or peanut oil
  • Wire rack for draining the chicken
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Knife (butter, paring, steak, whatever—just something to split the meat to check that your largest piece is heated through. Even two forks would work.)
  • Baking sheet lined with paper towels

Here’s how to reheat fried chicken in a skillet:

  1. 1
    Set your leftover fried chicken out and allow it to come to room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  2. 2
    While the chicken is coming to room temperature line your baking sheet with paper towels and place the rack on top of it.
  3. 3
    Add a generous amount of cooking oil to your heavy pan and leave it to heat. You only need enough oil so that the bottom of each chicken piece will be submerged.
  4. 4
    When the oil is hot add the chicken and fry it for 2 to 3 minutes. Rotate it every minute.
  5. 5
    Transfer the chicken to the wire rack for draining.
  6. 6
    Cut into the chicken to make sure that it is warmed thoroughly.

Tips (about this method)

  • Make sure you have a wire rack ready since you will need it to drain the oil from the chicken. This step is important for the crispiness of the fried chicken.

How to reheat fried chicken in the microwave

Estimated time required: 22 minutes (This includes 20 minutes to allow the chicken to come to room temperature.)

Tools required:

  • Paper towel
  • Plate
  • Tongs
  • Knife (butter, paring, steak, whatever—just something to split the meat to check that your largest piece is heated through. Even two forks would work.)

Here’s how to reheat fried chicken in the microwave: 

  1. 1
    Remove the fried chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to set out at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. 2
    Place a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Put the piece of chicken on the plate and place it in the microwave.
  3. 3
    Microwave on high for 30 seconds.
  4. 4
    Use the tongs to rotate the piece of fried chicken.
  5. 5
    Microwave on high for 30 more seconds.
  6. 6
    Remove the chicken from and cut into it to see if it heated through and through.
  7. 7
    If not continue reheating the fried chicken in the microwave in 30 second intervals until it is ready to eat.

Tips (about this method)

  • Only reheat one piece of chicken at a time. Reheating more than one will actually extend the reheating time. Note that this tip varies based on the size of the chicken piece. If you are just reheating fried chicken wings then you can reheat two at a time. However, we do advise that you reheat chicken breast and thighs one at a time.
  • Once the chicken is fully reheated remove it from the paper towel. Leaving heated chicken on the paper towel for an extended period of time can actually cause it to become soggy.
  • Try not to overheat the chicken. Overheating it in the microwave will not cause it to become more crispy. It will actually cause it to be more chewy.

What is the best way to reheat fried chicken?

We believe that the best way to reheat fried chicken is in the air fryer. Our second favorite way to reheat fried chicken is in the oven. The first step is to set the chicken out and allow it to come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Then reheat the leftover fried chicken in the air fryer for 5 minutes. 

How to reheat fried chicken without it dry out?

The best way to reheat fried chicken and keep it from drying out is to allow it to come to room temperature before you reheat it. Then add it to a hot air fryer or hot oven and then rotate it during the reheating process. We have discovered that the temperature greatly impacts how the leftover fried chicken turns out though. In this case, you don’t want the oven temperature to high but more on that in the instructions.

How do you reheat Popeyes fried chicken?

The best way to reheat Popeyes fried chicken is to reheat it in the oven. First, you need to set the chicken out and allow it to come to room temperature. Then you need to prep a baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil and placing a rack over that. Then preheat the oven and that oven temperature really impacts the outcome but more on that later. Finally, be sure to flip the chicken in the middle of the reheating process.

How to reheat fried chicken.

How to reheat fried chicken.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken Without Drying It Out

Ingredients

  • Conventional oven
  • An oven-safe rack to lift the chicken, allowing hot air to surround each piece
  • Cooking spray for the rack to assist with cleanup (optional)
  • Aluminum foil or parchment paper (we are fans of these pop-up sheets from Reynolds)
  • Oven-safe baking sheet to set your chicken pieces on
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Knife (butter, paring, steak, whatever—just something to split the meat to check that your largest piece is heated through. Even two forks would work.)
  • Plate or platter

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Remove the chicken from the container and lay the pieces on a platter and leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Heating cold meat can affect both the crispiness of the outside and the tenderness of the inside, so getting this to room temp is important. It applies to other raw cuts of meat, too, FYI.
  3. Cover the baking sheet with foil, set aside. Spray the rack, then set the rack on the foil. Place the chicken pieces on the rack, with no sides touching each other. 
  4. Place pan with chicken in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Don't open the door to check on it in the first 10 minutes. Keep in mind that breasts and thighs will take longer to heat through than wings and drums. You don't want the coating to go too dark, so after 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325F if they are getting too brown. 
  5. Use the tongs to pull off a piece onto your cutting board and cut into it. It may not be as juicy as day-one, but it should be hot all the way to the bone. 
  6. Remove the baking rack and use the tongs to transfer all of the chicken to the plate. Let cool for 4 minutes, so you can handle the meat without burning your fingers. 

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

In Conclusion

Hopefully, these step-by-step guides have answered your questions on how to reheat fried chicken. These methods are our best tips to bring back the tastiness of the chicken even if it has been stored in the fridge for hours.

These methods are super easy and they should not take a very long time. So, the next time you have leftover fried chicken, you can simply reheat it at home and enjoy it like it’s freshly cooked.

About the author

Hi, I am Emily Mathews. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee, where I learned how to cook fabulous local dishes from my Mother. I have 3 children and they enable me to cook from my heart every day. I am also passionately interested in creating globally inspired food with locally grown ingredients.

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