When you’re in a pinch but don’t want something fatty to eat, a whole rotisserie chicken easily makes a delightful weeknight dinner. They’re readily available at your local Costco or Walmart grocery stores, and with a couple of microwavable sides, food can be on the table in under 20 minutes! But unless you’re feeding a whole family of four (or more), leftover chicken will end up back in your fridge—meaning you’ll be asking yourself an important question later that week:
What’s the best way to reheat this leftover chicken?
Leftover meats are difficult to reheat. They often dry out, become overcooked, or simply lose their flavor. In fact, I know several friends who refuse to eat leftover meats because they can’t stand what comes out of the microwave. There are many sites that claim to know the best ways to reheat takeout chicken, but I found that many lacked consideration for one (or more) of the following: flavor, time, and effort.
Luckily, I’ll tell you how to reheat rotisserie chicken in three great ways that don’t compromise any of the flavor and take very little time or effort on your part! I tried out over 8 different ways, and combined the best methods into these three options.
Here’s the breakdown:
When To Use
|Oven (20 Minutes)||Moist & Fresh!||Anytime|
|Stovetop (7 Minutes)||Decent||Small Amounts|
|Microwave (1 Minute)||Hot & Flavorful!||When time is precious.|
Please note that you need to follow my steps below to achieve these results! Certain steps are important in each of the methods, and I’ll make sure you don’t miss anything.
So, keep reading if you want to know the three truly best ways to reheat your leftover rotisserie chicken.
Best For: Overall Flavor
Although this may not sound like the best method based on time, it is the best way for reheating rotisserie chicken in terms of flavor. Plus, it doesn’t require much active effort on your part. Feel free to kick back and stream an episode of one of your favorite Amazon Prime shows while the oven does all the work!
How to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken In The Oven:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place your leftover portions of rotisserie chicken (or the whole chicken) in an oven-safe dish (Note: preferably use a high-sided baking dish rather than a baking sheet for this method).
3. Add 2-3 cups of chicken broth or chicken stock to the baking dish. Try to have around ¼ inch of broth surrounding the chicken. Depending on the amount of chicken and the size of your dish, this may require more or less liquid.
4. Cover the dish and place in the oven. If your dish doesn’t have a cover, simply use aluminum foil. Whatever you do, do not skip this step!
5. Reheat the rotisserie chicken in the oven until the liquid is bubbling and the chicken is warmed all the way through. This should take around 15-20 minutes depending on how much meat you’re reheating. (Verify that the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit with a meat thermometer.)
6. Using your oven mitts, remove the cover. Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes.
7. Don your oven mitts once again to remove the baking dish from the oven. Let the chicken cool for a couple of minutes, then set the table and enjoy!
What Not To Do:
- Several sites suggested letting the chicken sit out for up to 30 minutes (or at least while the oven preheated) to come to room temperature before reheating. I tried this, and I honestly can’t recommend it. If anything, this seemed to dry the chicken out before it even started cooking. Not to mention, who wants to spend that much more time waiting for dinner?
- The original site where I found the above directions didn’t specify to cover the chicken while it baked. I can assure you, leaving that chicken uncovered for 30 minutes in an oven roaring at 400+ degrees isn’t wise. Sure, you’ll end up with delicious crispy chicken skin, but your meat will dry out and lose all of the flavor. That just leaves you with a dry, bland piece of meat in your mouth. Follow my advice and cover that bird!
- Many sites simply suggest wrapping the leftovers in foil and baking for 20-30 minutes. While this turned out alright, I found that adding the liquid did enhance the flavor and the moisture of the chicken. Furthermore, those uncovered few minutes at the end really crisped up the chicken skin!
This reheating method left the chicken the most flavorful and the chicken moist by far! I also loved how the skin was crispy, but not hard. I worried that the chicken broth would add too much salt to the meat, but it simply enhanced the flavor of the rotisserie-style cooking.
Aspect of Chicken
Overall, I highly recommend this method if you can spare the time. Since it doesn’t require constant watching or any turning while in the oven, you can use that time to complete a small chore, call someone, or even just watch an episode of your favorite show. Trust me, this method is worth the wait!
Best For: Reheating Smaller Portions
This quick and easy method is a great way to warm up small pieces! It’s also great if you plan to throw the remaining chicken onto a veggie salad or another dish.
How to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken On The Stovetop:
1. Shred your leftover chicken into bite-sized pieces.
2. Heat 1 to 3 teaspoons of canola or vegetable oil in a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. (You can use olive oil, however, be careful not to heat the oil too high as it can burn.)
3. Once the skillet and oil are hot, stir in the pieces of chicken. Then, cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Keep stirring the meat with tongs or a spatula as it reheats.
4. Once the chicken reaches an optimum temperature, cut off the heat. Remove the chicken from the pan and enjoy!
What Not To Do:
- Do not add too much oil! The less, the better. Too much oil will not only cause the chicken to taste like cooking oil, but it will also overcook the meat.
- Do not leave the pan unattended! When I say keep stirring, I mean it. If the chicken sits in one spot for too long, it will start crisping and overcooking. Trust me, it’s not tasty.
This method was great for smaller pieces of chicken. I ended up tossing the heated chicken onto a salad, and it tasted great! I wouldn’t recommend this for reheating a large amount of chicken, though. I also wouldn’t recommend it if you want to eat the chicken plain as it does maintain some of the oil.
Aspect of Chicken
My main issue with this method is that the chicken doesn’t remain as moist or flavorful as I’d like. I personally felt that the oven and microwave methods performed better. However, this was highly effective for reheating small pieces to throw on a salad.
Best For: Time Saving!
Obviously, we all need a quick reheat method. Microwaves save us serious time when it comes to heating up food. This method pleasantly surprised me, as I assumed the microwave would ruin everything. Turns out, this method is just as good as the stovetop (if not better) for delicious hot chicken!
How to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken In The Microwave:
1. Remove leftover chicken from the fridge and place chicken on a microwave-safe plate or container.
2. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Check for cold spots. If still not heated fully, throw in for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Once heated to your liking, remove from the microwave and enjoy!
It’s simple, but be sure to read the “what not to dos” below because there are a few mistakes you can make.
What Not To Do:
- Don’t bother covering the chicken with a damp paper towel or any other silly items. Several sites suggested this, but it didn’t help whatsoever.
- Do not cook for multiple minutes on a lower setting! Several sites also suggested microwaving for up to 5 minutes on 70% power. I tried this, and my chicken ended up dry and bland. Not to mention, I wasted more time waiting for it to heat up.
- Do not add any moisture to the microwave! I tried adding water in a few different ways and let me tell you: it didn’t help. All it did was make the skin disgusting and the chicken just as dry as any other microwave method. So, don’t listen to any sites that tell you to add moisture to the microwave through a cup or something on the chicken. It doesn’t help.
Not only does this method run circles around the rest when it comes to time required, it also rocks at maintaining the flavor! I was impressed with the overall reheating quality of this method.
Aspect of Chicken
If you’re hankering to eat right away, this is the approach for you! Surprisingly enough, the flavor and moisture weren’t impacted as much as I thought. As long as you heat it in small intervals and check, you’ll find the magic time that cooks the bird without drying it out.
BONUS: Air Fryer Reheating
Okay, I know I mentioned that there are three best methods to reheating roasted chicken, however, a relatively new culinary technology has emerged in recent years that is impossible to ignore here. I am, of course, talking about the air fryer.
An air fryer is nothing more than a small conventional oven that is used to “fry” foods using circulating hot air No, it’s not a slow cooker that often leaves foods soggy and, well, unappetizing. An air fryer, when used to reheat leftover rotisserie chicken yields crispy skin and succulent meat.
How to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken In An Air Fryer:
1. Set your air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place your leftover chicken in the frying basket and heat for 4 minutes.
3. Remove the basket (carefully) from the air fryer and enjoy!
Not everyone owns an air fryer, however, if you do this method is the best of both worlds when it comes to time and restoring flavor to the rotisserie chicken.
Other Ways To Reuse That Leftover Rotisserie Chicken
If you want to mix things up with that leftover rotisserie chicken, I found some amazing chicken recipes through delish.com. Not only did they suggest some great casseroles and soups, but they also had some fun ideas like nachos, too! And hey, you can’t beat a good chicken salad on a hot summer day. So don’t feel like you need to eat the leftover chicken as-is; try some bold recipes that take full advantage of the leftovers and spice up the dinner table.
So, what’s the final verdict?
If you can spare the time to preserve the flavor, the oven method rocks! With this approach, I barely noticed a difference between the reheated chicken and the original chicken the night before. For those who are desperate for time, the microwave method works wonders, too.
The biggest thing I found was there are many variations of each method online, and several of them just don’t work well. If you’re looking for fully-tested methods, these are the best ways to go.
Next time you’re trying to use up that leftover rotisserie chicken, give one of these methods a whirl. You won’t be disappointed!
And if you want to dive deeper into cooking rotisserie chicken, consider taking Gordon Ramsay’s first Masterclass where he breaks down an entire chicken and makes the process look really simple.
Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash