There are a few ways to reheat chicken properly, and they depend on how much time you have, what equipment you have available, and what tools or appliances are at your disposal.
I’m always skeptical about using the microwave to reheat my leftover chicken because it can lead to chalk-dry or rubbery chicken pieces. But it’s the quickest way to reheat if you don’t have time to wait around for it to heat up on the stove or in your oven.
How to Reheat Chicken in the Microwave
Here are 6 simple steps to reheat cooked chicken or roasted chicken in the microwave:
- Cut your chicken into smaller pieces
- Prepare a microwave-safe plate and place the chicken pieces on it
- Prepare a coating mix and spread it over the chicken
- Cover With a Damp Paper Towel
- Microwave on high for 1.5 to 2 minutes or until fully heated
- Serve with your choice of dipping sauce or side dish
1. Cut the Chicken Into Small Chicken Pieces
You’ll want to cut your chicken into smaller pieces before putting it in the microwave. Chicken, especially the breast part, tends to dry out quicker than the rest of the chicken meat when heated.
Cutting it into smaller pieces will help the meat heat up more evenly and have a better chance of not getting too dried up. For this reason, when I’m reheating chicken breast, I typically slice my breasts into 1-inch thick strips first.
2. Prepare Your Plate or Dish
Spread your chicken out on a microwave-safe plate or dish that’s appropriate for the size of your chicken pieces. Place the smaller pieces, like the wings, in the middle and the largest pieces, like the chicken breasts, toward the outer edges. Food on the outer edge heats faster than the interior parts.
Remember to use only a microwave-safe plate or container for reheating chicken in the microwave. Avoid using plastic containers or other containers such as yogurt or margarine containers because the food could end up being hot enough and melt the container.
3. Add Some Moisture
Prepare a coating mix by mixing about 3 – 4 teaspoons of water with a drizzle of olive oil. Alternatively, you could also put 1 tablespoon of chicken broth. Spread the mix out over all of your chicken pieces to create as thin a coating as possible. This will keep the chicken from drying out.
4. Cover With a Damp Paper Towel
Remember to only use a damp paper towel for covering the chicken in the microwave. The towel needs to be damp, so don’t soak it. Dip your fingers into some water and then run them over a paper towel that’s sitting in your kitchen sink. Squeeze out any excess water from the paper towel until it no longer drips.
You can also cover the chicken with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Avoid using regular cling wrap as that can melt very quickly in the microwave. Also, don’t use aluminum foil as the cover because it might spark.
5. Microwave Until The Chicken Is Fully Reheated
Set your microwave to power 8 (80% power) and heat the chicken for about 1.5 to 2 minutes. Take the dish out of the microwave, turn the pieces over and stir them around. Put the chicken back and continue microwaving for another 1.5 to 2 minutes.
Cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces and on your specific microwave’s wattage. If you’re reheating a whole-bought rotisserie chicken, it might take 5-6 minutes to heat it through.
Check that the chicken is fully heated or not by touching the thickest pieces of chicken with your finger or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F when tested with an instant-read meat thermometer.
If it hasn’t reached your desired temperature, continue heating in 30-second increments until it does.
6. Remove the Chicken From the Microwave
Once the reheated chicken pieces have reached 165°F, remove them from the microwave and let them sit for 2 minutes on the counter before serving it. Be careful when removing the dish from the microwave oven, always use oven mitts or potholders to avoid getting burned.
Other Methods to Reheat Chicken
Microwave is not the only way to reheat the chicken. You can use the oven, your stovetop, or even an air fryer as well. Here are some simple steps on how to reheat chicken in these alternative methods:
Reheating Chicken in The Oven
1. Defrost the Chicken If It’s Frozen
If the chicken is still frozen, you’ll need to defrost it first before putting it into the oven. There are many ways to defrost the chicken. You can thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, or you can thaw it in the microwave on the “defrost” setting.
2. Divide the Chicken Into Smaller Pieces
It might be easier to cut them into small, even-sized pieces. This will allow all of the chicken pieces to heat up evenly. If you prefer not to cut it smaller, just remember that the bigger the piece is, the more likely it is to dry out during the reheating process.
3. Spread the Chicken Out on Oven Safe Dish or Container
Place the chicken on an oven-safe dish or pan and cover it with aluminum foil to keep it from drying out. Do your best to spread the chicken pieces out evenly across the container. To help keep your reheated chicken stays moist, you can brush your chicken with leftover pan juices or baste it with chicken broth.
4. Preheat the Oven
Preheat the oven to 325 to 350 °F. Follow your oven’s instructions to ensure you are preheating the oven to the correct temperature.
5. Reheat the Chicken
Once your oven is preheated, put the chicken into the oven and reheat the chicken to 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to confirm that the chicken has reached 165°F.
If the chicken has been cut into smaller pieces, you might only have to reheat it for 15 minutes. If it’s a whole chicken, you may have to wait up to 25 minutes for the pieces to reheat completely.
Reheating Chicken on the Stove
1. Prepare the Chicken
The stove is the best option to reheat boneless and skinless chicken breast or leftover rotisserie chicken.
If you reheat rotisserie chicken, pluck the chicken off the bones first and remove any remaining cartilage. If you’re reheating leftover chicken breasts, cut them one-inch-thick pieces.
2. Warm Up the Skillet to Medium Heat
Place a non-stick skillet or pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil or butter to it. You could also substitute the oil with chicken broth. Both work just as well to prevent the chicken from drying out.
Feel the heat of the skillet or pan before adding chicken with the back of your hand. If you can feel the heat emanating from the skillet when you hold your hand 2-3 inches above it, it’s ready for the chicken!
Remember that the skillet should not be as hot as it would be if you were cooking raw chicken. If the skillet is too hot, the chicken will be dried out.
3. Add Chicken to The Pan and Reheat
Carefully place the chicken pieces into the skillet as soon as the water or broth starts to simmer. Lower the heat and stir the pieces constantly until the chicken has heated through to 165 °F.
4. Remove the Chicken and Serve It
Remove the pan from heat once all of the chicken pieces have reached 165°F. Let them sit for two minutes before serving them.
Reheating Chicken in the Toaster Oven
1. Preheat the Toaster Oven
Start by preheating your toaster oven to a temperature of 400°F. Line a baking sheet from your toaster oven with aluminum foil.
2. Put Your Fried Chicken on Microwave Safe Plate
Place your chicken pieces evenly on a microwave-safe place and cover them with a paper towel. This will prevent sogginess from forming on your chicken.
3. Microwave the Chicken for 1 Minute to 1 Minute and 45 Seconds
Microwave the chicken for 1 minute to 1 minute and 45 seconds, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.
4. Finish Heating in the Toaster Oven
Remove the chicken from the microwave and place it on a baking sheet. Put it into your toaster oven and reheat for 2 to 3 additional minutes.
Reheating Chicken in an Air Fryer
1. Prepare the Chicken
This method is best for reheating chicken wings. First, starts by having the wings come to room temperature, if you are in a rush, place the wings under warm running water for 2 minutes or until they’re at room temperature. Then spritz them with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Pre-heat the Air Fryer
Preheat the air fryer to 375°F and arrange the wings in a single layer. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. Flip them over and continue cooking for an additional 4 minutes.
3. Serve and Enjoy!
The best way to serve your wings? With extra hot sauce! Fried chicken wings are just better with hot sauce on top, so don’t hold back on the sauce. You can also try dipping your wings in ranch dressing or barbecue sauce if you prefer that to hot sauce.
What is The Best Way to Reheat Chicken?
Different methods are best for different types of chicken. Here’s a breakdown:
- If you’re reheating crispy takeout wings, an air fryer is the best way to retain the crispiness of your wings.
- If you have a leftover rotisserie that’s moist and flavorful, the stove is the best option to reheat it.
- An oven works wonders for breaded chicken leftovers or bone-in chicken.
- A toaster oven is the best option if you’re planning on reheating fried chicken.
- And if you’re in a rush and want your chicken reheated in minutes, you can always go with the microwave.
1. Is Reheating Cooked Chicken Dangerous?
It doesn’t matter how you cook your chicken meat for the first time, you can only reheat it once. You can use all the methods that I mentioned above to reheat your chicken. Just take a look at what type of meat you have and go for the appropriate method.
2. How Do You Moisten Dry Chicken
If you’ve reheated your chicken and it’s too dry, you can fix this problem with chicken broth. Heat some broth in a pot until it’s simmering but not boiling, then slice your chicken into small pieces and gently pour the broth over it. Keep the chicken warm in your oven for 15 minutes. The hot broth will slowly steam and infuse the chicken with moisture.
Looking for more tips on how to defrost chicken wings in the microwave? Check out our other articles for step-by-step instructions.