How to Reheat Fried Chicken so It Stays Crispy


Silas & Grace

How to Reheat Fried Chicken

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Learning how to reheat fried chicken without drying it out is a super useful skill for any cook! And in any case, what cook likes food waste?

From the 4th Century when the Romans called it “pullum frontonianum,” to the 1830s when the name “fried chicken” first started appearing in American cookbooks, and up to the present day, we’ve been making so much fried chicken that leftovers often go cold and uneaten.

Unfortunately, it can seem that no matter how hard you try, your fried chicken never returns to its crispiness once it cools off. “Soggy”, “dry”, “unevenly cooked”—all common descriptors of a reheated fried chicken that has fallen from its former glory.

But is there a way to bypass what seems inevitable? Well, kind of…it’ll never be 100% perfect, but there are some great tips to follow that’ll spruce up your chicken and help you resist the urge to throw leftovers in the trash.

I’ve gone ahead and researched the best ways to reheat fried chicken, so after reading this you’ll know exactly what to do. So, let’s find out how to reheat fried chicken and keep it crispy and finger-lickin’ good!

Do You Have to Refrigerate Fried Chicken?

Yes, you do since fried chicken is a protein food that’ll break down at room temperature and will start breeding bacteria at warmer temperatures.

But how you refrigerate depends on when you’ll eat it again. If you plan on eating it within 1 or 2 days, then put it in the fridge. If you plan to store it 3 or more days, put it in the freezer instead.

But whether you store your chicken in the fridge or freezer also depends on how you plan to reheat it later.

So for example, you may freeze your chicken even if you plan to reheat it the next day. And as a matter of fact, a number of people say that storing it in the freezer is the best way to keep it crispy.

Can Fried Chicken Be Frozen?

As indicated above, yes it can. All fried chicken can be frozen such as KFC, store-bought or homemade fried chicken.

Once frozen, eat within around 1 month to retain the good taste, but it can be frozen for up to 3 months and still be safe to eat.

How to Store Fried Chicken

fried chicken on a white background
Before you’ve even decided whether to put your fried chicken in the fridge or freezer, you’ll need to know some steps beforehand on how to best store your chicken to lock in the good flavor and to increase the likelihood of it staying crispy when reheated.

Here are 4 simple steps to follow:

  1. After frying, dry the chicken on a drying rack with paper towels underneath ensuring all juices run off the chicken. You can use a fan to dry it off quickly if need be.
  2. Once dry and cool, put the chicken pieces into paper bags (better than foil) ensuring they’re not fully closed to let air escape. This is better than putting them in airtight containers since condensation leads to sogginess.
  3. Before you put the lid on your containers, to remove extra moisture, throw inside a desiccant dehumidifier. Salt or rice work well too if you’re looking for a homemade desiccant.
  4. Then put the container into the fridge or freezer depending on how you plan to reheat it and also on how long you plan on storing it for. (Remember: fridge if for 1-2 days, and freezer if for 3 or more days.)

Tip: There is no need to debone any of the chicken pieces when storing them.

How to Keep Fried Chicken Crispy the Next Day

Crispy fried chicken and chips wrapped in paper
For those wanting to know how to keep fried chicken crispy overnight, here are some extra tips for you that’ll increase the crunch during the cooking stage and will also help retain crispiness while it is stored.

  1. Make sure the chicken is at room temperature when prepping. Not ensuring this leads to an uneven cook and potential sogginess on one side while frying.
  2. Many fried chicken recipes will suggest dipping the chicken in egg mixture and then in flour mixture, but for extra crunch, dip it briefly in the flour mixture first and then the egg mixture and then the flour mixture again a 2nd time.
  3. But before you dip it back into the flour mixture the 2nd time, let it sit first to let any excess mixture drip off.
  4. Optional: Consider working breadcrumbs into your flour mixture. This will increase the crispiness, add flavor, and help keep your chicken moist on the inside.
  5. Optional: Before frying, add a tablespoon of sesame oil to the coat of the fried chicken.
  6. To make your chicken crispy all over, fry in a cast iron skillet or a pan with a deep bottom.
  7. When frying, make sure you use flavorless oils such as canola, coconut, peanut, or vegetable. Regular olive oil is ok for pan frying but not for deep frying since it’ll overheat due to its low smoking point. Always stay away from virgin olive oils whether pan or deep frying.
  8. Do not put your fried chicken on flat surfaces as they cool off (this includes resting them on paper towels!) This will trap steam which will increases sogginess.
  9. Dry and cool them off completely by leaving them on a drying rack with paper towels underneath to collect any run-off juices.
  10. As mentioned in the storing tips above, do not seal the fried chicken in airtight containers—instead, put them in paper bags once they are completely cool and dry and make sure you leave the bags slightly open to let air circulate.
  11. If put in the fridge, reheat sometime within 2 days. For longer periods of time, put them in the freezer. (But note that freezing may improve crispiness, so you may just want to freeze it regardless.)

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in Oven

If you stored your leftovers in the fridge, here’s how you can reheat fried chicken in the oven. This way will leave your chicken crispy without it getting burnt or greasy.

Just follow these 4 easy steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450-500°F (this should take about 20 minutes.)
  2. Put your fried chicken pieces onto a metal tray wrapped in foil or a wire rack and leave it out until it is at room temperature (this can take about 15 minutes).
  3. Turn the oven off after it is fully preheated and then put the tray or rack in the middle and close the oven door. Leave it in for around 8 to 12 minutes depending on how many chicken pieces you have.
  4. Remove the chicken and serve.

How to Reheat Frozen Fried Chicken

A freezer with various food items inside it
If you decided to freeze your fried chicken rather than storing it in the fridge, here is what to do next to reheat it properly.

Assuming you followed the steps above on how to store your fried chicken, your frozen fried chicken should not be too moist. Do not re-fry the chicken since this will make it greasy. Instead, reheat it in the oven.

  1. Let the frozen fried chicken sit on a plate for around 30 minutes while it reaches room temperature. Make sure to separate the chicken pieces so that they’re evenly spaced out from each other.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375°F (this should take about 15 minutes).
  3. Once the chicken is at room temperature, evenly place them on an oven tray lined with a baking sheet or on a grilling tray.
  4. Once the oven is preheated, put the chicken in the center rack of the oven while also making sure to remove any other pans, racks or trays that may be inside it.
  5. Optional: Spray a couple of squirts of water onto the chicken to prevent it from drying out.
  6. Chicken breasts and thighs should take around 20 to 25 minutes, whereas chicken legs and wings should take around 15 to 20 minutes. Check up on your chicken every 10 minutes to prevent any smaller pieces from drying out.
  7. Once done, remove the chicken and coat it all over lightly with vegetable oil (make sure it’s not dripping) and put it back in the oven for 3 more minutes.
  8. Remove the chicken and serve.

Tip: Never freeze fried chicken again after it’s been reheated.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken by Broiling

Here’s an alternative way to use your oven that is effective in keeping your fried chicken crispy once reheated. It relies on having a microwave and an oven with the ability to broil.

  1. If frozen, let the chicken stand for 30 minutes, if chilled, let it stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 420°F (this should take just under 20 minutes.)
  3. Line a plate with damp paper towels (make sure they’re not dripping.)
  4. Put your chicken pieces on the plate and cover them with another damp paper towel over the top.
  5. Microwave the chicken until it is slightly warm (Up to 2 minutes should do it.)
  6. Then put the chicken on a baking tray and put it in the oven, setting the oven’s setting to broil. (The next two steps can be skipped if you use a wire rack instead.)
  7. Take out the chicken after 1 minute and flip it over.
  8. Put it back in the oven and cook again for 1 minute.
  9. Remove the chicken and serve.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in a Toaster Oven

We’d advise against reheating your fried chicken in a toaster oven since it can sometimes cook unevenly and reduce crispiness. But if this method is your only option, know that leaving the fried chicken uncovered when reheating it will work best.

Here’s the best way to reheat fried chicken in a toaster oven:

  1. If frozen, let the chicken stand for 30 minutes, if chilled, let it stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Take out your toaster oven’s baking sheet, line it with foil, and set it aside for the time being.
  3. Preheat your toaster oven to 400°F (takes around 5 minutes).
  4. Cover a plate with enough paper towels so that the underneath is wrapped too (2 squares should be enough) and place 2 to 3 fried chicken pieces on it.
  5. Put the plate in the toaster oven and heat for 1 minute remembering to rotate the plate at 30 seconds if your toaster oven lacks a turntable.
  6. After 1 minute, the chicken should be just about warming up. If it’s still cold, put it back in for another 15 to 30 seconds. Just make sure to remove the chicken just as it starts to become warm.
  7. Remove the plate and place the chicken pieces evenly onto the baking sheet lined with foil.
  8. Heat the baking sheet in the toaster oven for about 2 more minutes while keeping watch to make sure the fried skin doesn’t begin to burn.
  9. Remove the chicken and serve.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken Without Oven

Fried chicken wings with sauce in a metal basket
While ovens are the best way to reheat fried chicken since they retain crispiness better, there are other ways to reheat fried chicken that may be easier or more convenient for you. Let’s check them out one-by-one!

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in Microwave

If you’re short on time then the microwave may be the best option for you in reheating your fried chicken. Just be aware, however, that this is the least effective method if you want to leave the fried skin crispy.

Here’s how to do it!

  • If frozen, let the chicken stand for 30 minutes, if refrigerated, let it stand for 15 minutes.
  • Line an empty plate with damp paper towels (make sure they’re not dripping.)
  • Put your chicken pieces on the plate and cover them with another damp paper towel over the top of them.
  • Put them in the microwave.

How Long to Reheat Fried Chicken in Microwave

When reheating your fried chicken in the microwave you have to be careful not to leave it in too long since this will dry it out by making the chicken tough and the skin soggy and soft.

Therefore, it’s best to monitor your fried chicken in about 25-second intervals while reheating it in the microwave. About 2 minutes should be the maximum length of time you microwave it for.

Reheat Fried Chicken in Paper Bag

Fried chicken in a white paper bag
This method might just be the easiest and most effective of all the methods in this post!

It starts off with using leftover fried chicken from the fridge. No need to let it thaw until it reaches room temperature or anything like that. Here are the steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F (this should take a bit under 15 minutes).
  2. Get some paper lunch bags and put the chicken pieces inside ensuring that no pieces are stacked on top of each other so that each bag contains a single row of chicken pieces. (E.g. one bag may contain 3 wings side-by-side and another may contain 2 breasts lined up side-by-side.)
  3. Fold over the opening of the bag but not too tightly and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Leave it in the oven for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken and serve.

Tip: If you’re starting off with frozen fried chicken, simply leave it in the oven 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Reheat Fried Chicken in Air Fryer

Microwaves get rid of crispiness and ovens take ages to pre-heat…so is there another method that bypasses both of these issues? Air fryers!

  1. Put the fried chicken pieces into the air fryer making sure they’re not touching.
  2. Optional: add a little bit of oil in too to minimize any chances of chicken pieces sticking together. Though this step will be unnecessary for most since fried chicken already contains oils.
  3. Set your air fryer to 350°F and the timer to 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken with tongs and serve.

Tip: Make sure not to overstuff your air fryer. If you have lots of chicken pieces, you’ll have to repeat these steps more than once.

How to Best Reheat Specific Parts of Fried Chicken

Here are some additional cooking tips or extra things to know for specific types of fried chicken when reheating them. They’re mostly the same instructions as we’ve laid out generally above, but there are a few differences worth noting!

How to Reheat Fried Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders on a plate
Chicken tenders are just fried chicken without the hassle of bones. So if you want to know how to reheat chicken tenders, listen up!

While fried chicken tenders can be reheated as normal using any of the methods already mentioned above, what makes chicken tenders unique is that they can be fried without getting too greasy. This is probably because they are skinny and boneless.

For frying follow these steps:

  • Heat up about a ¼ inch of canola or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until you see it shimmer. (This takes about 45 seconds.)
  • Evenly add the chicken tenders to the skillet making sure they’re not touching each other and fry for about 2 minutes.
  • Use cooking tongs to turn them over and cook for about another 2 minutes on the other side.
  • After frying, place them on a rack to let them dry and any potential excess juice run off. Do not place them on paper towels to dry off since this makes their bottoms soggy.
  • Optional: Add a little bit of BBQ sauce or another sauce of choice to moisten.
  • Serve the fried chicken tenders with tongs onto a plate and enjoy!

The best way to reheat chicken tenders in the microwave is to use the damp paper towel method mentioned above.

And if you want to use the oven, cook for up to 10 minutes if you’re reheating from the fridge, checking up on them after 5 minutes. And if from frozen, cook for around 15 minutes.

How to Reheat Breaded Chicken Cutlets

All the ways mentioned above will work as expected for breaded chicken cutlets but, since they’re usually flatter and longer, you’ll benefit with using a wire rack in the oven to help stop the bottoms from becoming soggy.

If the cutlets are thin enough, you could even try just popping them in the toaster!

How to Reheat Fried Chicken WingsFried chicken wings in a basket on a table

For buffalo wings and all other wings covered in sauce, reheating in the oven is the only way to go since other methods will make them far too soggy.

You can simply follow the instructions mentioned above for reheating fried chicken in the oven, starting either from the fridge or from frozen. Though since they’re quite small, keep an eye on them and cook for around 7 minutes if reheated from the fridge and 15 minutes if from frozen.

For wings without sauce, if you fry them, make sure to give them a good toss in the pan so that all the sides are evenly cooked!

How to Reheat Fried Chicken Livers

Reheating fried chicken livers in the microwave isn’t the best idea. Instead, put them in the oven or fry them.

Best Way to Reheat Fried Chicken Strips

Chicken strips are one of the easiest and most fun ways to eat chicken. And it’s always tasty!

You can never go wrong with using the oven, as outlined above, but many people (after a quick search online) seem to be opting for the toaster oven method for fried chicken strips…fair enough!

Reheating fried chicken is a useful skill for any cook, and as you can see, there are many different methods for doing it. So we hope you found this post useful.

If you know any other tips on how to reheat fried chicken without it getting soggy, let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear about them!

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Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

Food Leveling Up Your Cooking

Silas & Grace

Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

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