How to Reheat Fried Chicken
There’s no denying that fresh fried chicken makes for a great meal. It’s also no secret that fried chicken tastes better when hot and crispy. What should you do if you have leftovers? You don’t want to waste the chicken, but the chicken doesn’t taste as good when served as a leftover. However, many people don’t realize that there are multiple ways to reheat fried chicken so that it’s as good as the first time.
Using a microwave to reheat fried chicken is an ineffective method because it pulls the moisture to the top. As a result, the chicken will lose its crispiness and will instead come out soggy. Additionally, as the moisture rises, the microwave will likely dry the chicken out. This will cause the meat to lose its tenderness.
If you are looking to reheat your leftover fried chicken for your next lunch or dinner, consider trying one of these methods.
How to reheat fried chicken: Bake it!
One of the most effective ways to reheat fried chicken is by baking it. You’ll find that the chicken is as crispy as when it was initially, if not more so. There are two ways you can go about reheating your fried chicken in the oven. Both methods require you to take the leftover chicken out of the refrigerator or freezer and allowing it to reach room temperature.
You want your chicken to be room temperature so that it bakes properly. If your meat is cold on the inside but warm on the outside, the chicken will not crisp correctly. Before putting your fried chicken back in the oven, make sure that all of the meat is room temperature. You can use a meat thermometer for this. Below are tips for using a meat thermometer.
Once your chicken is at room temperature, the first method calls for you to preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and place the chicken on a baking sheet. We recommend lining the pan with aluminum foil, which will help the chicken come out extra crispy while also protecting your baking sheet.
Place the chicken in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes. Larger or thicker pieces of chicken will need more time in the oven than smaller pieces. However, you should be careful not to overcook the chicken, as it will end up dry.
Remove the pan from the oven once the chicken has turned golden-brown again and is bubbling. Serve the chicken hot with your best dinnerware and enjoy.
The second baking method calls for you to preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C). As the oven is preheating, place the chicken into brown paper bags. The chicken should be evenly-spaced. If you have more than two or three pieces of chicken, you’ll likely need to use multiple bags. Carefully seal the bag shut once the chicken is inside.
Place the bagged chicken onto a baking sheet, and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Even though the chicken is in the brown bags, which will help with moisture retention, it’s still possible to overcook the meat. Be mindful of this so that you do not dry the chicken.
Once heated, remove the chicken pieces from the oven and tear open the bags. Serve the chicken hot and crispy for a great leftover meal.
Breakfast-for-Dinner Chicken Hash
If you’re in a creative rut and don’t know what to do with all the reheated leftover chicken, you could serve it as breakfast for dinner. One extremely simple, easy-to-make (it doesn’t take more than 20 minutes) and delicious recipe would be potato chicken hash.
For 4 servings, you’ll need:
- 4 russet potatoes (medium sized, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes)
- 2 cups (8 ounces) of reheated fried chicken, shredded
- 4 eggs
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil (don’t use extra virgin olive oil as the flavor may be too overpowering)
- salt and paper to taste
- In a large pot or skillet with heavy bottom, heat the oil on medium-high heat.
- As soon as the oil sizzles, add the potato cubes and a bit of salt
- Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes or until they get lightly brown
- Add the entire chicken and cook everything for 5 more minutes (check so that the potatoes are tender on the inside and crisp on the outside)
- Place the potatoes and chicken into a bowl and cook the eggs in the leftover oil (If you feel like you need more oil add more oil; the eggs can be cooked as you wish: scrambled, sunny-side up, fried, etc)
- Place the hash on four different plates and top with the eggs
- Serve with ketchup, hot sauce, mayo, or 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika for each serving; you could garnish with fresh parsley too.
Fry the Chicken Again
One of the best ways to reheat fried chicken is by merely refrying it again. This method can be a little messy, but it will likely result in the most delicious option. This is only a possibility if you have a deep-fryer at home.
Begin by letting the leftover chicken get to room temperature. If your chicken is not room temperature, then the oil temperature will drop when you add the chicken, reducing the fryer’s effectiveness. Then, pour the required amount of oil into the deep fryer, and allow the oil to heat to 375°F. Carefully place the chicken into the deep fryer. Allow the chicken to re-crisp until it is golden brown with a crispy crust.
When putting your leftover chicken into the fryer again, you should not need to place more breading on the chicken. All you need to do is put the leftover chicken into the deep-fryer.
If you do not have a deep-fryer, you can also consider using a heavy pan like a cast iron skillet or an air fryer. These pans retain heat well, making them a great option to fry foods. Place the pan on a burner set to high. Add a decent amount of oil to the pan and allow the oil to heat. You should pour enough oil into the pan submerging at least half of your chicken.
When using this method, you must be cautious about which oils you choose. You should not use an oil with a low smoke point, such as olive oil. If you do, the oil will quickly burn, leaving your chicken with a bitter, smoky flavor. Instead, try using an oil with a high smoke point and neutral flavor, such as
- Canola Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Vegetable Oil
We also recommend using tongs to flip the chicken if it is in a frying pan. This can protect your arms from hot oil. Oil is known to splash and cause burns, so a pair of tongs could help keep you safe. Your chicken will only be in the oil for approximately two or three minutes, so you will not need to rotate it frequently.
No matter if you use a deep-fryer or cast-iron pan, you need to allow the chicken time to drain. Once the skin has become dry and crispy, you can remove it from the oil. Place the fried chicken on a wired rack and allow the oil to drain. This will help get the skin of your chicken even crispier than it was before. It should take less than five minutes to drain, allowing it to be served hot.
Use a paper towel
It’s also worth noting that you should not use a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Although it may seem like a quicker, cleaner alternative, it will keep your chicken well-hydrated. This means that your chicken will not be as crispy or delicious as you’d like.
Thrifty Chicken Nuggets
If re-frying your leftover fried chicken doesn’t sound like an exciting idea, you could get the kids on board and turn the leftovers into something they’ll live, like these thrifty nuggets (makes 10 nuggets).
For the nuggets:
- 1 and 1/2 cups leftover fried or roast chicken, shredded
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 oz milk or chicken stock
- 1 small egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
For the breading:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon paprika (optional, paprika gives the nuggets a nice, healthy color)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the nuggets: Chop the chicken in small bits as evenly as you can; add the egg, beaten, the flour, the milk or stock, and salt and pepper to taste.; and blend well.
- Now, for the breading: In one bowl, whisk the milk and egg together.
- In a separate bowl sift the flour and mix it with the paprika, baking soda, and seasoning.
- Take two tablespoons of the chicken filling and shape it into a ball ( a bit smaller than a golf ball); if the nugget mix is too loose add a bit more flour;
- Dip each nugget in the flour-and-paprika mix, in the milk-and-egg-mixture, and then again in the flour-and-paprika mixture (in this exact order)
- Heat the oil to 350°F and fry the nuggets in the hot oil around 3 to 5 minutes or until they’re golden brown; don’t fry too many nuggets at once, leave them enough room to fry.
- Place the nuggets on a thick layer of paper towels to remove excess oil; season them with a bit of salt; serve them with ketchup, hot sauce, or a mix of honey and Dijon mustard (1:2)
How to Reheat Fried Chicken: Final Tips!
When learning how to reheat fried chicken, there are a few tips to consider that may make the task easier. First and foremost, It’s important to store your chicken the right way. Instead of storing it in foil, plastic wrap or a take-out container, place the leftover chicken in an air-tight Tupperware container. The container will absorb moisture, reducing the sogginess of the chicken.
When reheating the chicken, consider coating it lightly with your favorite cooking oil. The oil will make the chicken crispier while adding a bit more flavor. Many have found that olive oil works best for this.
One of the best tips we can offer for learning how to reheat fried chicken is that you should learn how to use a meat thermometer properly. A thermometer is the best way to ensure that you do not overcook or dry out your meat. America’s Test Kitchen recommends using an instant-read thermometer that has a high upper range.
Serve as chicken sandwich and wraps
Learning how to reheat fried chicken can be tricky, and can take time to master. You can serve chicken cold, as it is often done so in sandwiches and wraps. And since someone has already cooked the chicken, you should not be worried about it being undercooked. But no one wants fried chicken that is cold.
If the outside crispy shell of your chicken is warm while the meat is cold, it will taste awful. Therefore, the trick is to find the perfect temperature for the entire piece of meat without over-cooking.
Furthermore, some find that not reheating chicken can result in digestive issues. Eating cold chicken after refrigeration alters the protein composition of chicken, which some say upsets their stomach. To avoid digestive problems, make sure that your leftovers are served hot.
Once your internal meat temperature has reached 165°F, your chicken should be considered reheated and hot enough to serve. If you were cooking the chicken for the first time, you would need the internal temperature to be 165°F for a few minutes. But because the chicken was already cooked, any time spent over 165°F will do nothing but dry out the meat.
You can gather a temperature reading by sticking the thermometer into the center of the chicken. The temperature should show up on the thermometer display within a few seconds. When you put the thermometer into the chicken, be sure to put it in the thickest part of the meat, since this takes the longest time to cook. Also, make sure your thermometer does not touch any bones or fat.
Finally, you may want to consider changing how you serve the chicken the second time around. If you have spent time trying to figure out how to reheat fried chicken and have found that it still is not coming out as flavorful as you’d like, try adding sauce or gravy for a better-tasting meal. For example, fried chicken from dinner can be served with waffles over gravy in the morning.
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