How To Reheat Leftover Fried Chicken

When you just want to savor that crispy crust one more time.

When it comes to outdoor picnics and church potlucks (a.k.a. dinner-on-the-grounds), cold fried chicken is the center of the food universe, surrounded by potato salads, dozens of deviled eggs, and a plethora of fruit cobblers. Unless you live next door and can deliver a platter of sizzling fried chicken to the food table, there is simply no other way to serve it other than cold. Leftover fried chicken is also good cut up and mixed with salad greens for a quick and easy main dish. Cold chicken, just like cold pizza, can really hit the spot.

Sometimes, though, you just want another bite of hot, crispy, and juicy fried chicken. Have you ever tried to reheat cold fried chicken? Here is a tested method that will make leftover fried chicken taste like it just came out of the deep fryer, plus other methods for reheating chicken in a pinch.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in an Oven

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, take your fried chicken out of the refrigerator and let it sit for about 10 minutes to half an hour. Taking the chill off helps the chicken reheat evenly all the way through and prevents it from losing too much moisture.

Next, set a wire cake rack inside a baking sheet and arrange the chicken on the rack. This will allow hot air to circulate on all sides of the chicken, even underneath. If you don't have a wire rack, just use a foil-lined baking sheet.

Place the tray in the center of your preheated oven and allow it to cook for approximately 15-20 minutes. The ideal cook time will vary depending on the type and size of your chicken cuts. To prevent your chicken from drying out, check it after 10 minutes for legs and thighs, and after 15 minutes for breasts. When the chicken has reached your desired level of crispness, remove it from the oven.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in the Microwave

Reheating in the microwave can be tricky since it reheats unevenly and can often leave fried foods soggy. At best, the texture will not be the same. If you are in a hurry and want to give it a try, take your chicken out of the refrigerator and let it sit so it approaches room temperature. Place a paper towel over the plate to help the chicken avoid getting too soggy; the towel will absorb some of the moisture. Microwave the fried chicken in 30-second intervals until warm, flipping it intermittently. Be careful not to overdo it or the chicken will dry out.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in an Air Fryer

Not everyone owns an air fryer, but those who do can re-crisp their chicken beautifully without adding any oil. Allow your chicken to sit out at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes first, just like with the other methods. Then arrange the chicken in a single layer on the bed of the air fryer. Set the heat to 375°F and cook for two to three minutes, then flip the chicken and cook another two to three minutes. (Only reheat the chicken you plan to eat, as reheating it more than once can cause the chicken to dry out.)

Fried Chicken Tacos with Buttermilk-Jalapeño Sauce
Iain Bagwell; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Other Ways to Use Leftover Fried Chicken

A cold or reheated drumstick makes for a delicious lunch, but there are plenty of other ways to give leftover fried chicken a new life in a sandwich, soup, or dip. If those last few pieces of fried chicken aren't going fast enough, try one of our favorite Leftover Fried Chicken Recipes.

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