3 ways to reheat fried chicken for juicy, flavorful, and crispy results

3 ways to reheat fried chicken for juicy, flavorful, and crispy results
Avoid the microwave as it'll result in a soggy crust.Karl Tapales/Getty Images
  • Reheating fried chicken can be done in the oven, in an air fryer, on the stove, or in the microwave.
  • The oven, air fryer, and stove top will keep the chicken crispy.

We all know that crispy, perfectly-seasoned fried chicken is 100% delicious when served hot and fresh out of the fryer. But what some fried chicken fans don't realize is that this beloved treat makes for excellent leftovers.

According to some experts, like executive chef and founder Jeff Balfour of Southerleigh Hospitality Group in San Antonio, Texas, you don't even need to heat up next-day fried chicken. "There is really no better leftover than cold fried chicken (except maybe cold pizza)."

But, if you're determined to recapture the crunchy coating and juicy interior of just-cooked fried chicken, then follow these reheating tips from Balfour and executive chef Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea in Miami, Florida.

Quick Tip: Regardless of which reheating method you choose, you need to let the chicken come to room temperature beforehand. "The problem with going straight from the fridge is that by the time the chicken is heated through internally, the already-fried crust will be too dark and obviously not as tasty," says Balfour.

How to reheat fried chicken in the oven

3 ways to reheat fried chicken for juicy, flavorful, and crispy results
Reheating fried chicken in the oven is easy and effective.Colleen Michaels/Getty Images

For many home cooks, the oven makes for the easiest and best way to reheat fried chicken; it's a straightforward method that doesn't require any special equipment.


To get started, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While you're waiting for it to come to temperature, place a wire rack on a baking sheet and put the leftover chicken on top of the rack. Give the chicken a light spritz with cooking spray (this helps achieve the perfect crispy texture) and put the baking sheet in the oven to cook for 15 minutes, or until the skin feels hot and very crispy, Zapata says.

Then, pull the baking sheet out of the oven and use tongs to flip the chicken and lightly mist the other side with cooking spray. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the other side gets the same crispy texture as the first side.

For best results, Zapata recommends using a convection oven to reheat fried chicken. "Convection is key here because the hot, circulating air equals major crispiness," he explains.

If you don't have access to a convection oven, a standard oven will do the job, but be sure to avoid covering the chicken with foil or a lid. It will create condensation and make it soggy again. It's also possible to do this process in a toaster oven, which will save some time since you won't need to preheat it.

Important: Balfour recommends bringing the internal temperature of the chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a safe temperature for reheated chicken, according to the U.S. Food Safety & Inspection Service.


How to reheat fried chicken on the stove

Reheating fried chicken on the stove will give you appealingly crispy results, but the tradeoff involves extra oil and more cleanup. To do this, heat a small amount (⅛ inch to ¼ inch) of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat until it reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, add your room-temperature chicken and let it fry in the oil until it crisps back up, about 2 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan, drain it over a wire rack, then serve.

How to reheat fried chicken in the air fryer

3 ways to reheat fried chicken for juicy, flavorful, and crispy results
Air fryers work to heat the chicken with constant hot air circulation, resulting in the crispiest chicken.Grandbrothers/Getty Images

According to Balfour, air frying is the best way to reheat fried chicken because it heats quickly enough to crisp up the outside without drying out the inside. Because air fryers function in the same way as convection ovens (hot air constantly circulates around the food), you can get similar results with an air fryer as you can with a full-size convection oven.

Place the room-temperature chicken in the air fryer basket and cook it at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, Balfour says. "When loading the air fryer, make sure that the chicken has room for air to circulate freely," he recommends.

Note: Reheating in the microwave is the fastest option; you just need to microwave on high in 30-second intervals until the chicken is warmed through. That said, Balfour doesn't advise this method, as it can "result in a soggy crust."


Best air fryers

3 ways to reheat fried chicken for juicy, flavorful, and crispy results
Jen Gushue/Insider

To keep fried chicken crispy while reheating without sacrificing time, try out one of the best air fryers we test and recommend.

Insider's takeaway

While many fried chicken enthusiasts believe that cold fried chicken is a delicious leftover, reheating fried chicken while maintaining its juiciness and crispy crust is certainly possible.

Try reheating in a convection oven for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, air frying for 10 minutes, or refrying in vegetable oil on the stovetop for 2 to 4 minutes on each side. If speed is your priority, you can microwave the fried chicken in 30-second intervals until it's as hot as you prefer, but you'll be compromising on texture.