Will it Taste Good? The Art of Reheating Chicken with Flavor Intact

Chicken is a kitchen staple, loved for its versatility and health benefits. But what about reheating chicken? With many opting for meal prep routines or simply having leftovers, knowing how to reheat chicken without it becoming dry, bland, or chewy is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various methods to warm up your bird, ensuring it’s just as delicious as it was when it was first cooked. 

When to Reheat

While enjoying leftover chicken can save you time and money, it’s important to consider food safety guidelines. By reheating chicken promptly, you decrease the risk of foodborne illnesses. The FDA recommends leftovers be heated to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) or until they’re steaming hot. Learn the Best Practices for Reheating Chicken

The Microwave Method

Microwaving is undoubtedly the quickest way to reheat chicken, but it can also be the riskiest in terms of flavor and texture. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Preparation: Place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate, then cover it with a damp paper towel to retain moisture.
  • Heat: Set the microwave to 50% power to ensure even heating. Heat in one-minute intervals, checking for doneness after each interval.
  • Rest: Allow the chicken to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. This helps distribute the heat and avoids steam burns.

The microwaving process can make chicken rubbery. However, employing low power and shorter times can minimize this effect, leading to a softer, more edible chicken. 

The Oven Method

Reheating chicken in the oven takes longer than the microwave but can produce far superior results in terms of flavor and texture. \

  • Preparation: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the chicken on a baking sheet and cover it with foil.
  • Heat: Warm the chicken for about 20 minutes if it’s refrigerated or 10 minutes if at room temperature. 
  • Broil: To re-crisp the skin, remove the foil and broil the chicken for a few minutes, keeping a close eye to prevent burning.

Reheating chicken in the oven allows for a more controlled temperature, ensuring the chicken heats through evenly without overcooking. This method helps preserve the chicken’s texture and can help revive the crispy skin. 

The Stovetop Method

If you’re in a hurry, the stovetop can be a great middle ground between quick reheating and preserved flavor.

  • Preparation: Place a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Add a splash of broth, water, or oil to the pan.
  • Heat: Once the liquid is bubbling, add the chicken to the skillet. Cover with a lid and heat for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through.

Reheating chicken on the stovetop with added liquid can infuse more moisture and flavors back into the meat, making it tender and juicy. 

The Sous Vide Method

A relatively new approach to reheating, sous vide ensures precise temperature control, which is ideal for maintaining the chicken’s original integrity.

  • Preparation: Fill a large pot with water and set your sous vide machine to 140°F (60°C).
  • Heat: Place the chicken in a sous vide bag, removing as much air as possible, then submerge in the water. Reheat for 1 to 4 hours, depending on the original cooking method and the thickness of the meat.

Avoiding overcooking is easy with sous vide, and you can achieve a precise level of doneness. However, it’s not the quickest method, so plan accordingly. 

Reheating Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is notoriously difficult to reheat due to the loss of crispness. 

  • Oven Method: The oven is often the best choice for reheating fried chicken. Place the pieces on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and warm them at 375°F (190°C) for about 15 minutes.
  • Stovetop Method: A skillet with a bit of oil can also work. Heat the skillet over medium heat, then add the chicken and cover with a lid. Turn the pieces occasionally until they’re heated through.

Retaining the crispiness is challenging, but these methods can help maintain the texture while reheating the chicken thoroughly. 

Final Tips for Reheating Success

  • Use a Meat Thermometer: The most foolproof way to ensure your reheated chicken is safe to eat and properly warmed is by using a meat thermometer.
  • Avoid Overheating: Timing and temperature control are key to preventing inadvertently overcooking your chicken. 
  • Add Moisture: Whether it’s a splash of liquid or a covered method, keeping your chicken moist during reheating can significantly improve the final taste and texture. 

By carefully selecting your reheating method and being mindful of the process, you can ensure that your leftover chicken tastes just as good as it did on day one. Remember, the goal is not only to warm the chicken but to do so in a way that maintains its original quality. Happy cooking, and may your reheated meals always delight your taste buds!