The Most Delicious and Best Way to Reheat Fried Chicken

Like many other fried foods, fried chicken, once it’s lost its warmth also quickly loses its appeal. What was once juicy, crispy, and irresistible, turns soggy, dry, and unpalatable.

However, it doesn’t need to stay that way! You just need to find the best way to reheat fried chicken, and you’ll bring it back to its former delicious self.

Fried chicken might just be the most-loved food the world over. In fact, few other dishes have their own variation in almost every culture and region !

Italy’s got their pollo fritto, Vietnam their Ga Xao, Singapore’s Har Cheong Gai, the US’s southern fried chicken, and so on!

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The Problems with Reheated Fried Chicken

chicken thighs deep-fried to a golden brown and draining on stainless steel cooling rack

Many people may balk at the endeavor of reheating fried chicken. They would claim that their fried chicken came out dry, overdone, still cold, soggy, or too oily. Hence, many would rather salvage left-over fried chicken into another dish.

Although the above concerns are entirely reasonable, rest assured that you can resolve them! Also, the reason why many end up with disappointing reheated chicken is that they follow unwise cooking practices.

Hence, before we get into the best way to reheat fried chicken, let’s take a look at some practices to avoid. You can apply these guidelines whether you’re frying your chicken for the first time or reheating them.

Avoid These 6 Practices When Reheating Chicken

1. Heating on a Skillet

Heating your fried chicken on a skillet isn’t inherently wrong. Pan-frying or sautéing can work for the smaller parts of the chicken such as the wings or the drumstick.

However, pan-frying on a skillet often does a bad job of evenly heating the thicker chicken parts such as the breast or thigh.

Also, since the amount of oil you can use on a pan is limited, much of the chicken’s surface area steam instead of fries. Therefore, you often end up with soggy chicken without the crunchy crisp skin.

2. Reheating in the microwave

Unlike the skillet, microwaves offer little to no benefit when it comes to reheating chicken. Although microwaves will technically heat chicken, you’ll most surely end up with soggy chicken at best or tasteless chicken at worst.

3. Reheating fridge-cold chicken

Nothing ruins a delicious and crunchy bite of reheated fried chicken like a leg that is still cold inside. Usually, this is a result of heating chicken straight from the fridge without letting it go back up to room temperature.

4. Reheating in low-temperature oil

Another potential cost of soggy fried chicken is insufficient cooking temperature. Reheating chicken in low-temperature oil leaves the chicken absorbing more oil than it should.

In contrast, high temperatures both crisp up the skin and creates a protective layer around the chicken keeping its exterior and skin crunchy!

You can resolve this problem by using a cooking oil with a high smoke point and reheating at high temperatures. Canola oil, peanut oil, clarified butter, and soybean oil is good examples of oils with high smoking points.

5. Overcrowding the chicken

Unless you have a big enough pan, fryer, resist the urge to reheat all the chicken at once. Filling the chicken will drastically decrease the temperature of the oil, and we already know what low-temperature cooking does to fried chicken.

chicken legs frying in a pan

Heat your chicken in batches if there isn’t enough room in the pan.

6. Setting fried chicken on paper towels

Setting fried chicken on paper towels once it’s done probably one of the most common mistakes we make. The paper towels are supposed to absorb any excess oil from the chicken.

Although it accomplishes this absorption to some degree, paper towels also make the fried chicken steam. You’ll then end up with soft chicken skin.

Instead of paper towels, use a wire rack. A steel rack will drain the chicken, as well as keep it crunchy.

Simple & Delicious ways to Reheat Fried Chicken

So, how do you bring the cold or left-over chicken back from the brink of unpalatability ? Simple: Re-apply heat the right way. You can do this in three ways: deep frying, broiling, and our unique frying method that you’ll learn about shortly !

Let’s get into bringing that juicy and crispy chicken back to form !

I. Deep Frying

Once again bathing your left-over fried chicken in hot oil makes a lot of sense. Not only will it restore its crispy exterior, but it will also make it juicy again!

country fried chicken in hot oil

You’ll need:

Steps

  1. Let chicken go up to room temperature.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pan or deep-fryer, bring cooking oil to 350°F. Use enough oil to cover the chicken. Canola oil will be helpful if you don’t have a thermometer since its smoke point is at 400°F. Hence, you can place the chicken a few minutes before it starts to smoke.
  3. Carefully put the chicken into the hot oil using your tongs.
  4. Reheat the biggest chicken parts for two to three minutes and less for the smaller parts such as the wing. Take care not to over-brown the chicken.
  5. Let them drain and slightly cool on a wire rack.
  6. Eat up and enjoy !

II. Broiling

Many also swear by reheating chicken in the oven ! Do this right, and you’ll be eating fried chicken that is crispy on the outside and moist !

fried chicken thighs in cast iron pan closeup

You’ll need:

Steps

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F while at the same time letting your chicken reach room temperature.
  2. Line an oven pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  3. Place chicken pieces on the pan while taking care not to overcrowd them.
  4. When the oven is at 400°F, place the pan of chicken on the center rack.
  5. Reheat your soon-to-be delicious chicken for about 15 to 25 minutes. Naturally, the drumstick and the wings will take about 15 minutes while the bigger breast and thigh parts will need at least 20.
  6. Alternatively, a meat thermometer will tell you that the chicken is ready once it reaches an internal temperature of 120°F.
  7. Check the chicken every 10 minutes or so to avoid overcooking them. Of course, you can always test a piece of chicken or two by tasting it.
  8. Try not to salivate at the wonderful fried chicken aromas now emanating from your oven.
  9. When the chicken is done, let them cool slightly on a wire rack.
  10. Enjoy your crispy and juicy fried chicken!

III. Our Favorite Heating Method

Our third and preferred way to reheat fried chicken is by frying the meat and the skin separately ! With this method, you won’t need as much oil as when you would deep-fry the chicken. Additionally, you can use a shallower pan.

grilled boneless skinless chicken thigh

You’ll need:

Steps

  1. Prepare the chicken by removing the skin and letting the chicken pieces go up to room temperature
  2. Pour just enough oil to coat the pan then set it over medium-high heat.
  3. Drop the chicken skin into the hot oil. You’ll know the cooking oil is hot enough if you hear the skin sizzling.
  4. Fry the skin for about 3-minutes until golden and very crispy. Let them drain on a wire rack.
  5. After the chicken skin, you can now proceed to pan-fry the other skinless chicken pieces until browned.
  6. Once all the pieces are done, let them rest on the wire rack as well.
  7. Enjoy your crispy fried chicken and topped them with crunchy chicken skin.
fried chicken skin served on white dish

Conclusion

Reviving cold or leftover fried chicken can be easy and still delicious! Just choose one of these awesome and best ways to reheat fried chicken, and you’ll be biting into juicy and crispy meat soon !

Also, remember to avoid the six common mistakes that people make when reheating chicken.

Your fried chicken will be so good that you’ll end up using your hands !

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Sheila Hutton
 

Hi, I'm Sheila. I love food so much. I learn almost cooking knowledge and recipes from my mother. She has taught me a lot of wonderful dishes. Now, I write all my experience on this website for sharing to you.

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