There’s nothing better for dinner than tasty, crispy fried chicken. In America, the most popular sides to serve with piping hot fried chicken are macaroni and cheese, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fresh buttermilk biscuits. In some parts of America, the menu might include collard greens or okra and fresh cornbread. In Europe, fried chicken is becoming ever more popular. It’s more likely to be served with a box of chips.
But let’s face it, whether you’re going to the trouble of making fried chicken at home or picking up a family bucket of take-out from a local chicken restaurant, you’re going to have leftovers.
Here’s how to reheat fried chicken for lunch or a midday snack the next day, so you can enjoy that deliciousness all over again.
If you’re going to reheat fried chicken in the oven, it’s always best to remove it from the fridge and let it warm to room temperature before reheating. The optimum temperature for reheating fried chicken is 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat the oven to the desired temperature for best results.
Use a cooking sheet lined with tin foil and place the chicken pieces on it, preferably spaced so they don’t touch. Cover the chicken loosely with tin foil and place on the rack nearest the top of the oven. For 3-5 pieces of chicken, check for desired crispiness after 15 minutes. For the crispier chicken cook in additional increments of five minutes.
Tips for Reheating Fried Chicken in the Oven
- Don’t reheat chicken straight from the fridge in the oven because the colder meat inside can interfere with the cooking process and prevent the chicken from getting crispy.
- Spritz chicken lightly with water to add moisture and prevent chicken from drying out.
- Spray the pieces of tin foil very lightly with non-stick cooking spray to prevent chicken from sticking to the foil.
- Larger pieces of chicken, such as breasts and thighs, may take longer to heat all the way through than legs and wings.
To reheat fried chicken in the microwave, use a microwave-safe plate or platter. Line the plate with paper towels and place the chicken pieces so they don’t touch each other. To prevent grease splatter and help absorb moisture, cover the chicken loosely with another paper towel.
Heating time will depend on the temperature and wattage of your microwave oven, but generally heating for 1 minute for each piece of chicken will suffice. It will be difficult to obtain a crispy exterior to your chicken using the microwave, but you can heat it this way. Food that is microwaved can be very hot when it first comes out so let the chicken cool for sixty seconds or more before serving.
Another great way to reheat fried chicken is to simply fry it in a deep fryer. It’s still important to let the fried chicken warm to room temperature before frying. Putting cold meat into hot oil causes the oil temperature to drop for several minutes and can impact crispiness. When using a deep fryer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and monitor chicken closely for best results.
If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can also reheat fried chicken using a frying pan and oil. You will need at least enough oil to submerge the bottom half of the chicken pieces. Allow the oil to heat for several minutes on high before placing the chicken into it. It will take several minutes of cooking and you will need to roll the chicken from side to side to make sure the chicken cooks evenly on top and bottom. Oil can splatter unexpectedly when it gets hot so be careful to stand back so you don’t get burned.
Once the skin reaches the desired crispiness, allow the chicken to cool on a wire rack or a paper towel-lined plate. The cooling time is important because it allows the grease to drain or be absorbed which increases the crispiness of the chicken. Three to five minutes is usually sufficient.
Tips for Reheating Fried Chicken Using Oil
- Frying chicken for too long can cause the meat to dry out on the inside.
- Reheating chicken using the hot oil can be dangerous. Use tongs to turn the chicken and be careful not to drop the chicken into the oil which can cause it to splash onto your skin.
- Oils have different “smoke points”. For fried chicken, it’s best to use oils such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or even peanut oil. These oils have a high “smoke point”.
- Olive oil or other oils with low smoke points can make your chicken taste burnt.
- Do not put a hot chicken on a Styrofoam plate as the hot oil that drains can cause the Styrofoam to melt or bubble.
- Make sure to properly dispose of used cooking oil once it has cooled.
Reheat Fried Chicken on the Grill
If the weather is warm enough or you want to brave the cold long enough, you can also use your outdoor barbecue grill to reheat fried chicken. You can cook directly on the rack or cover the rack with tin foil and poke several holes in it. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to light the grill and let it get hot. If desired, spritz the chicken pieces lightly with water to keep them from drying out. Place the chicken pieces onto the hot grill. Close the lid and let the chicken cook. Check frequently and flip the chicken over once or twice to prevent burning. Let cool before serving.
Regardless of how you choose to reheat fried chicken, make the meal complete by whipping up your family’s favorite side dishes while your chicken is heating. Nothing beats freshly cooked fried chicken when it comes to taste. But by following the tips above, you can have leftover fried chicken that tastes almost as delicious and is nearly as crisp as when you served it the first time.