The 5 Best Ways To Reheat Leftover Fried Chicken

Whether you live in the Deep South or on the West Coast, you probably love fried chicken. After all, it’s as American as apple pie… and just as tasty, too. But as “finger-licking good” as the entree is, you probably end up with leftover fried chicken anytime you prepare it for dinner.

So, how can you reheat fried chicken without losing that crispy taste?

Like many other carb-heavy items like pizza or french fries, fried chicken requires some trial and error to find the best reheating method. But don’t worry. We’ve done all that work for you. In this article, we provide step-by-step instructions on the best ways to reheat fried chicken along with words of wisdom regarding what not to do.

Are you ready to reheat some fried chicken? Here’s a quick breakdown on what we tried:

Overall Taste

When To Use

Oven Well-Balanced When time isn’t an issue.
Frying Pan Extra Crispy If you like crispy chicken.
Air Fryer Crisp Without The Grease If you have an air fryer.
Toaster Oven Warm, But Soft When in a pinch.
Microwave Hot When time is critical.

I will preface these reheating directions with a few notes:

  • I found that the best results happened when following the room temperature rule, meaning all of these methods require that the chicken rest outside of the fridge for 30 minutes before reheating. This really helped prevent soggy breading, which is never something you want with fried chicken.
  • I completed tests for each of these methods with both light and dark meat pieces. Although the smaller pieces of chicken heated in less time than the larger items, I found no difference in the flavor or finished product based on the meat itself.
  • I purchased this fried chicken pre-cooked from the grocery store. Results may vary if you are reheating fried chicken completely prepared at home from scratch ingredients, but I know that for my family, we usually just pick something up.

Oven Reheating

Best For: Overall FlavorTotal Time Required: 45 MinutesOverall Rating: A

Most Google searches suggest oven heating as the best method for pretty much any leftovers, and fried chicken proved to be no different. There are a few important parts of these specific reheating instructions to note, though. For starters, I can’t stress enough how much better the chicken turns out when you allow it to reach room temperature before reheating. Furthermore, this method utilizes a wire baking rack, and I feel that it is a critical component for best reheating fried chicken.

How To Reheat Fried Chicken In The Oven:

1. Pull chicken out of fridge and allow it to reach room temperature on the counter (approximately 30 minutes).

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Place a wire baking rack onto a baking sheet, then place the chicken on the wire rack.

4. Cook chicken for 15 minutes, then raise oven temperature to 400 degrees. Continue cooking chicken for an additional 5 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Using potholders, remove baking sheet from oven. Allow chicken to cool for 3 minutes before moving to a plate to devour.

What Not To Do:
  • Do not place the chicken directly onto the baking sheet. This creates spots of soft breading, which ruins the delight of fried chicken.
  • Do not broil or heat the chicken at excessively high temperatures. This simply dries out the meat, and that’s never tasty.
  • Do not throw the chicken straight from the fridge to the oven. The breading will never fully crisp this way, plus it takes longer to heat the meat.
End Result:

fried chicken reheated in the over

Although this method took the longest out of all of them, I felt it provided the best overall results. The breading did crisp up. Also, the meat warmed throughout but didn’t dry out. I really enjoyed eating this leftover chicken just as much as I did the first time.

Aspect of Chicken


Breading A
Moisture A+
Heating A+
Overall Taste A

Frying Pan Reheating

Best For: Crispy BreadingTotal Time Required: 35 MinutesOverall Rating: A-

I really hesitated to try this method, because it sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. However, the results pleasantly surprised me. Just like the oven-baked reheating method, this one includes some important steps and items to not do.

But before we go any further, I want to say that cooking with hot oil can be dangerous. The USDA even offers recommendations for how to do it more safely. Try this at your own risk and only if you have some experience cooking with oil in a frying pan.

How To Reheat Fried Chicken In A Frying Pan:

1. Pull chicken out of fridge and allow it to reach room temperature on the counter (approximately 30 minutes).

2. Heat frying oil in pan. This may take several minutes. (Again, use caution anytime you’re cooking with hot oil!)

3. Fry chicken for 2-4 minutes, turning multiple times during the process.

4. Remove chicken with tongs, then set on a wire rack for 3-5 minutes to drain the excess oil.

What Not To Do:
  • Don’t forget to turn the chicken while frying! One piece ended up burnt on the bottom and underdone on the top because I tried doing this while distracted.
  • Do not place the chicken on a paper towel after removing from oil. This actually just allows the breading to collect more oil, which leaves it soggy and disgusting.
End Result:

fried chicken reheated in a skiller

I absolutely loved the crispness of the breading with this method. The meat also stayed very moist, much to my surprise. My only complaint with this method was the obvious taste of cooking oil that never seemed to fade even after allowing the excess oil to drip off. If that doesn’t bother you, though, this might be the reheating method for you!

Aspect of Chicken


Breading A+
Moisture A
Heating A
Overall Taste B+

Air Fryer Reheating

Best For: Crisp Flavor Without The Oily TasteTotal Time Required: 35 MinutesOverall Rating: A

You won’t find directions on using your air fryer to reheat fried chicken many places online (trust me, I searched). With that being said, I absolutely love my air fryer and seek excuses to use it any chance I get. I found that this method provided a great, crispy outside without the oily residue the frying pan method left. If you own an air fryer, I highly recommend trying this method!

How To Reheat Fried Chicken In An Air Fryer:

1. Pull chicken out of fridge and allow it to reach room temperature on the counter (approximately 30 minutes).

2. Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Once heated, place chicken in basket of fryer.

4. Air fry for 5-7 minutes, checking occasionally.

5. Remove from air fryer, allow to cool enough to eat, then enjoy!

End Result:

fried chicken reheated in an air fryer

I loved the crisp taste of this method, and I also felt like it did a great job heating the meat to a desirable temperature. Obviously, the only issue with this method would be if you feel strongly about having meat in your air fryer (although the fryer’s instructions say it’s fine).

Aspect of Chicken


Breading A+
Moisture A
Heating A
Overall Taste A

Toaster Oven Reheating

Best For: Small Living SpacesTotal Time Required: 45 MinutesOverall Rating: B+

Although I had high hopes for this method after the traditional oven turned out so well, I quickly discovered it just wasn’t the same. Part of the issue is the toaster oven’s size prevented me from using a wire rack to lift the chicken. The other issue was that I just don’t think the heating mechanism on the toaster oven works quite as well. However, this method still provided decent chicken, albeit slightly less crispy than the previous 3 methods.

How To Reheat Fried Chicken In A Toaster Oven:

1. Pull chicken out of fridge and allow it to reach room temperature on the counter (approximately 30 minutes).

2. Line the baking sheet from your toaster oven with aluminum foil.

3. Preheat toaster oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Place chicken on a baking sheet, then stick the baking sheet in the toaster oven for approximately 7-10 minutes.

5. Remove chicken, allow to cool, then eat!

End Result:

fried chicken reheated in the microwave

Not as crisp as the oven or any fried methods, but still edible. This method is definitely great for workplaces that don’t have access to a full oven, or for someone who tries to conserve their electrical usage.

Aspect of Chicken


Breading B
Moisture A
Heating B+
Overall Taste A-

Microwave Reheating

Best For: SpeedTotal Time Required: 31 MinutesOverall Rating: B

Let’s be real: the microwave is only a great solution when there’s nothing else available. With that being said, if you follow this method to the letter, it doesn’t turn out all that bad.

How To Reheat Fried Chicken In The Microwave:

1. Pull chicken out of fridge and allow it to reach room temperature on the counter (approximately 30 minutes).

2. Place chicken on microwave-safe plate, then put a paper towel over the plated chicken to help the chicken avoid getting too soggy.

3. Microwave the fried chicken for 60 seconds, then check. Continue heating in 30-second intervals if needed.

4. Remove from microwave and enjoy!

What Not To Do:
  • Don’t overheat! You’ll end up with dried out chicken quickly if you heat for even 30 seconds too long!
  • Don’t bother with trying lower heat settings or any of that mess. It really didn’t help and, in some cases, made the process take longer or left me with soggy breading.
End Result:

Slightly soggy, but still edible. If you’re at work and really want to eat that leftover fried chicken for lunch, this is a great way to reheat fried chicken in a pinch.

Aspect of Chicken


Breading B-
Moisture A-
Heating A
Overall Taste B+

So, what’s the final verdict?

Honestly, if you don’t already own an air fryer, you should really consider investing in one if you reheat fried chicken or other fried foods like french fries frequently. However, I felt that both the oven and a traditional frying pan provided great final results as well. Regardless of which of these methods you feel would work best, the important thing to take from this article is there are several ways to recapture the magic with leftover fried chicken, which can save you money and reduce food waste!

Feature Image via Pixabay