How to Reheat Chicken (without drying it out)

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Need to reheat chicken for another meal? Take those leftovers and find out how to reheat cooked chicken in the oven, on the stove, or even in the microwave. These are the best ways to reheat fried chicken, chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, and all types of leftover chicken.

How to roast a chicken with rosemary and thyme.

Reheating Leftover Chicken

Making chicken for dinner is a go-to for a lot of us, but what happens when you make too much? I always recommend saving leftover chicken to eat later because it actually reheats nicely.

Whether you want to serve another round of the same meal on another day, or use the extra chicken to add to another recipe, saving leftovers is a must.

I’m sharing here the best way to reheat chicken after it’s been cooked and stored away in the fridge or freezer. Get tips on how to store it, how long you can save it, and different ways to reheat it.

up close sliced baked chicken breast on large plate

How to Reheat Chicken

These are general methods for reheating chicken of any kind. Whether it’s rotisserie chicken, breast, thighs, chicken wings, fried chicken, or shredded chicken, you can follow these step-by step guidelines.

In the Oven

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Keep chicken in the fridge while the oven preheats.
  2. Once oven is heated, take chicken out of the fridge and arrange it in a baking dish so that there’s some space between pieces.
  3. Pour a small amount of chicken stock (or water, or another liquid) into the dish. You don’t need much, less than an inch.
  4. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and place it in the oven.
  5. Let it reheat until it reaches 165°F all the way through (about 20 minutes, but check temperature to be sure).

On the Stove

  1. Pour a small amount of water into a skillet (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan), and place the skillet over medium heat.
  2. If reheating bone-in chicken, it’s best to remove meat from the bone before heating it.
  3. Place chicken in the skillet and stir/flip pieces until they are heated through to 165°F.

In the Microwave

  1. Arrange pieces of chicken on a plate with space between them. Place larger pieces around the outside, and smaller pieces at the center. 
  2. Cut boneless chicken into smaller pieces for more even cooking. Shredded chicken and rotisserie chicken that’s been removed from the bone works well.
  3. Drizzle with water and/or olive oil to add moisture.
  4. Cover the plate with a microwave lid/cover, or cover loosely with damp paper towels.
  5. Microwave until chicken is fully heated through. Start with 2 minutes cook time, check the chicken, then cook in 30 second to 1 minute intervals.

Note: This is not my recommended method, but if you’re short on time it will do. It works better for shredded chicken and small pieces than it does for large pieces.

The Best Way to Reheat Chicken

Here are a few notes and tips for reheating different cuts of chicken.

  • Chicken Breast: Heats best in the oven, wrapped or covered with aluminum foil. Cutting it into smaller pieces will help it heat more evenly.
  • Fried Chicken: Reheating in the oven is the best method. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet, and place the chicken on the rack so every piece of the chicken gets warm and crispy.
  • Chicken Wings: Reheating chicken wings on the stove is the easiest method. It’s pretty quick, and it reheats them perfectly.
  • Rotisserie Chicken: Remove meat from the bone to reheat. I recommend using a skillet for this type, but it also reheats pretty well in the microwave.
  • Shredded Chicken: You can easily heat up large amounts of shredded chicken in the oven. If you only need a little bit, a skillet on the stove top is a good option, and the microwave works well too.
Shredded chicken in a glass dish on a white background.

Tips for Reheating Chicken

  • Internal Temperature should always reach 165°F. Insert a meat thermometer at the thickest part of the chicken to check the temperature after reheating.
  • Reheat chicken one time only after cooking and storing it.
  • You can safely reheat chicken after cooking, but it’s important to store it properly and to heat it fully when reheating. Do not consume partially-warmed chicken.
  • Cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer, and then reheated in many different ways. I recommend using the oven for best results.
  • The best way to keep the chicken from drying out is to add more liquid (water, stock, etc.) while reheating.
  • Only reheat the amount of chicken you plan to eat right away. Leave the rest in the fridge/freezer.
  • If reheating chicken after freezing, give it time to thaw in the fridge first (ideally overnight).
  • All food handling and food safety tips in this post are based on USDA guidelines.

Storing Cooked Chicken

How you store chicken after cooking it is an important part of being able to safely reheat it later, so take these tips and steps as a must for saving leftovers.

  • Never let cooked chicken sit out for more than 2 hours. Ideally, you should put it away in the fridge as soon as it cools from cooking.
  • Place chicken in airtight containers to store. You can use containers with tight-fitting lids or use well-sealed bags.
  • Separate chicken into smaller portions before storing it (especially before freezing). This will make it easier to reheat the amount you need each time you use leftovers, and keep the rest safe for reheating another time.
  • Store cooked chicken in the refrigerator 3-5 days.
  • Store cooked chicken in the freezer up to 4 months.
What temperature should chicken be reheated to?

Chicken should always be cooked to 165°F, even when reheating.

How many times can you reheat chicken?

After initially cooking and storing chicken, it should only be reheated one time. Reheating it more than once is not considered food-safe, plus constantly heating, saving, and reheating will dry it out and expose it to bacteria. For this reason, I recommend only reheating the amount of chicken you plan to eat at the time, and leave the rest stored in the fridge/freezer.

Can you get salmonella from reheating chicken?

To prevent any food safety or contamination issues, be sure that chicken has been fully cooked (to 165°F). Do not partially cook and then save to finish later. Keep cooked chicken away from any raw poultry or meat. Store chicken within 2 hours of cooking, and store it properly. As long as you follow these guidelines, you shouldn’t have any issues. 

Can you reheat chicken in the microwave?

You can in a pinch, but it’s not ideal. The texture won’t be great as it tends to feel rubbery and dried out after heating in the microwave. It’s also likely to reheat unevenly, which is cause for concern regarding food safety. However, I have included a safe step-by-step way to reheat it in the microwave below.

Can I consume cold chicken after it’s been cooked?

Yes, it is safe to eat leftover chicken cold, as long as it was fully cooked before refrigerating. Also, be sure you consume cold chicken right after taking it out of the fridge. If it sits at room temperature for too long, it will no longer be safe to consume without reheating.

Can you reheat chicken in a slow cooker?

According to the USDA, it is not recommended as a safe way to reheat food. However, you can reheat chicken with another method, and then set it in a slow cooker to keep it warm while serving. This would be a great option if you want to serve chicken at a party or large gathering.

As you can see, reheating chicken is actually really simple, as long as you make sure it’s stored properly and fully heated through before consuming. Now that you know how to reheat chicken properly, don’t let any leftovers go to waste!


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