Here's How You Should Be Reheating Fried Chicken

Whether it's cold pizza for breakfast or Thanksgiving leftovers, some foods just taste better the next day. With fried chicken, however, that's not always the case. Everything that makes fried chicken so delicious — the crunch of the skin and the juiciness of the meat — all goes away after a night in the fridge and a quick go-round in the microwave. It doesn't matter if it's made from scratch or ordered off the menu at KFC, fried chicken just doesn't take well to reheating. 

The good news is, you don't have to settle for mushy breading and dry meat. All it takes to revive your leftover fried chicken is a little bit of food science, your preferred kitchen appliance, and a few extra steps. If you want your fried chicken to look and taste just like it did when it was freshly made, make sure to follow any one of these methods the next time you have leftovers.

Try the pan-frying method

The microwave is certainly convenient, but according to Allrecipes, reheating fried chicken on the stove yields far crispier results. But before you even put your frying pan on the stove, you'll first need to let the fried chicken reach room temperature. Depending on whether the fried chicken has been sitting in the refrigerator or on the counter overnight, the defrosting will take anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Keep in mind this method won't work with cold fried chicken, so a bit of patience is key. 

Once the fried chicken reaches room temperature, set your stove to medium-high, and in a skillet, heat up only enough vegetable oil for a shallow fry. Once the oil reaches 300 degrees F, you'll then add the fried chicken, and it only takes two to three minutes per side in order for the fried chicken to crisp back up. After letting it cool and drain on a wire rack, your fried chicken is ready to be enjoyed for the second time.

Or maybe opt for the oven

If you're not too keen on incorporating more oil into your already deep-fried chicken, you may want to forgo the pan-frying method and opt for the oven instead. Food Network explains that reheating fried chicken in the oven at a high temperature works because it crisps up the outside without drying out the inside. 

It helps to let the chicken sit out to thaw slightly while the oven is preheating, but otherwise, there's minimal prep work involved. Simply place the fried chicken on a rack, and bake it at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes or when you see the skin begin to crisp up again. Food Network specifies that using foil either to line the baking tray or to cover the chicken is counterproductive, as it causes more moisture to collect, preventing the skin from crisping up. It's best to use a rack rather than a baking tray because it allows the fried chicken to reheat evenly on every surface.

Put that air fryer to use

Air fryers may be intended as an alternative to deep-frying, but they also happen to be great at reheating, Food Network says. For fried chicken, in particular, an air fryer is an easy option because, like a microwave, there's only one step — but you still get the same results as using an oven. 

As The Spruce Eats explains, air fryers are essentially compact convection ovens since they "fry" food by blowing around hot air. When reheating fried chicken in the air fryer, instead of thawing it separately, you'll just stick it in the fryer basket while the air fryer is being preheated to 375 degrees F. Then, when the air fryer actually reaches 375 degrees F, you'll leave it to cook for two minutes on each side. Food Network notes that you'll want to make sure that the chicken isn't overcrowded or piled up, otherwise you'll only extend the reheating time, so this method is definitely the most efficient if you're heating up a smaller batch of fried chicken.

You can even improve on microwave and toaster oven methods

Using the microwave may not be the most ideal way to revive your fried chicken, but with the help of a toaster oven, Reader's Digest says you'll get slightly better results. According to the publication, you'll start off by microwaving the fried chicken for about one minute, but no longer than one minute and 45 seconds. And instead of simply putting the chicken on a plate, you'll need to cover it with a paper towel to prevent the meat from drying out too excessively. 

While microwaving your chicken, line your toaster oven's baking tray with foil and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Then, when the chicken has been microwaved and the toaster oven has reached 400 degrees F, you'll be able to transfer the chicken to the toaster oven. From this point, it'll take two to three minutes for the fried chicken to be fully reheated.