The Best Way To Warm Up Fried Chicken

After going out to your favorite chicken shack to get a little south in your mouth, whatever doesn't make it to your stomach comes home wrapped in your arms. You thought you could house every delicious piece but to no avail. Now, there's a bounty of future snacks in your possession, and you're not mad about it. That leftover fried chicken will make a delightful second meal.

Fast-forward to the next day, and you're craving more of that crispy goodness. Your eyes dart anxiously between the air fryer, the oven, and the microwave, and panic sets in. You know that reheating that fried chicken the wrong way will leave you with a soggy, unappetizing memory of a great dish. Between those three options, there is one that stands out as clearly the best. If you want the crunchiest fried chicken that stays moist inside, use your convection oven to revive your prized bites.

How the oven works best

First, take your fried fowl out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for about half an hour, or until it reaches room temperature. Then, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and warm the leftovers (yes, even though it's already cooked) until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. The time needed in the oven will vary depending on the size of your pieces, but 10 to 30 minutes is a good ballpark estimate.

Before reheating your fried chicken, you obviously have to let it cool down. Ideally, you want to refrigerate your cooked poultry within 2 hours of cooking it or bringing it home. Chilled properly, it should last up to four days in the fridge, and if you want to skip the heat altogether, cold fried chicken that's been cooked and cooled safely is a delicious snack all on its own.

When using the oven to warm up your fried chicken, you want to place the chicken on a wire rack on a sheet pan. A convection oven does its best work when it can cook the chicken evenly, keeping that delicious crunch intact. The last thing you want to do is dry out the inside or burn the outside, so you may want to remove smaller pieces earlier than larger ones.

Inferior methods can work in a pinch

A convection oven upgrades your leftovers using a short blast of high heat, allowing the chicken to warm to a safe temperature while retaining its moisture and crunch. Other methods of reviving fried chicken can work, but they can also dry it out, or worse, make the breading soggy. An air fryer is a decent second choice if you don't have much food to work with because it's essentially a smaller version of a convection oven. However, it's important to keep an eye on the chicken to make sure it doesn't become dehydrated, and you also want to space it out so it cooks evenly. Because most air fryers aren't terribly roomy, you'll only be able to heat small batches at a time.  

The microwave is one of the worst ways to revive fried chicken because it heats the water content in the meal and will make the delicious crispiness you crave mushy. If you do use the microwave, one trick that will help is putting it in for 30 seconds at a time, flipping between intervals. This may prevent it from becoming soggy while also arriving at a safe temperature. But if you're looking for the best second helping of your favorite flakey cuisine, the oven is the optimal method for preserving the quality. Your beloved crispy fried chicken will spring back to life and taste like it's been cooked for the first time.