By Rachel Johnson

From Southern-style buttermilk chicken to panko-battered Japanese karaage, kitchens around the world have a love affair with fried chicken. But even though we are constantly eating it, how to reheat fried chicken is still a mystery in many home kitchens. The wrong method, attitude, or cook time means settling for a result that falls somewhere between mushy, grease-drenched, and burnt.

Photo by Rachel Johnson

Related: 15 Classic Side Dishes for Fried Chicken

Whether you're reheating golden wings or tender fried chicken breasts, what you want is to preserve the crispy exterior and succulent meat. We tested for the best ways to reheat fried chicken. Here are the results:

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in a Conventional Oven

The oven is one of our favorite methods for reheating any meal, and it holds true for fried chicken. Start by taking your fried chicken out of the fridge and letting it sit for 10-30 minutes, or until it reaches room temperature. This helps the chicken reheat evenly all the way through, and prevents it from losing too much moisture.

We took a similar approach to reheating chicken in the oven as we would with oven-baked recipes. A wire rack fitted inside of a baking sheet will allow hot air to circulate on all sides so that every part of the chicken has the same juice-to-crispiness ratio. If you don't have a wire rack, a foil-lined baking sheet will work fine.

Place the tray in the center of a 400°F oven and allow it to cook for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remember that the ideal cook time will vary depending on the type and size of your chicken cuts. To prevent your chicken from drying out, checking it after 10 minutes for legs and thighs, and after 15 minutes for breasts. Once the chicken has reached your desired level of crispiness, move it to a wire rack to cool.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in the Microwave

The microwave method was particularly tricky to test as the machine tends to bring moisture to the surface of the food, leaving fried leftovers soggy. They also reheat unevenly, meaning that the inside of you chicken can easily become dried out.

If you're set on microwaving your fried chicken for ease of convenience, you can minimize the damage by microwaving the chicken in 30-second intervals and flipping it intermittently. By placing the chicken on a paper towel, you can also help reduce some of the soggy texture, but not all of it. In general, a toaster oven would be a much better option compared to the microwave.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in a Skillet

The tested option that yielded the crispiest next-day fried chicken was also the most labor-intensive. Double frying fried chicken gave us a decently crispy exterior with a fully cooked interior. Start by letting the chicken sit out for 10-30 minutes, or until it reaches room temperature (you never want to fry cold chicken).

Fill a large, flat skillet with a shallow pool of a neutral frying oil and bring up the heat to medium-high, or until the oil reaches 300°F. Use tongs to gently place the chicken in the oil, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Be careful not to crowd the pan- too many pieces of chicken will lower the temperature of the oil too drastically. Once the chicken's crust is crispy again, set the chicken on a wire rack for 5 minutes. This will help drain any excess oil while the chicken cools.

Note that this method will leave the chicken oilier than other reheating methods. The oil should be allowed to come to room temperature before discarding.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken by Searing

If you want a quick, stove-top cooked option without drenching your chicken in oil, you may find yourself compelled to pan-sear your fried chicken leftovers. Unfortunately, like the microwave, this quick-fix doesn't work so well with fried chicken.

Pan-searing pieces of fried chicken can leave you with a meal that is burnt on the outside and poorly heated on the inside. If you do want to sear your fried chicken, cut it into smaller, manageable pieces that will heat more quickly and evenly. Add a dash of cooking oil and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken in an Air Fryer

In an alternate testing method, we found that the Air Fryer is a great way to reheat fried chicken quickly and with less grease than traditional frying.

Like with the other reheating methods, leave your chicken out of the fridge for 10-30 minutes prior to cooking. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on the bed of the fryer, being careful to not overlap them. This may mean cooking just a few pieces at a time, but it will help the skin stay crispy.

Set your heat to 375°F, and cook for 3-4 minutes, flipping your chicken halfway through the process. When you are finished, set them on a wire rack to cool.

BONUS ADVICE: Don't Reheat It at All!

Sometimes the best way to eat leftover fried chicken doesn't involve reheating it at all. Like pizza, many people enjoy fried chicken fresh out of the fridge. Cold fried chicken is also an easy and delicious addition to salads and sandwiches. It is a reliable, portable option for any occasion, from picnics to workplace lunches.


Check out our complete collection of Fried Chicken Recipes.


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