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How do you make leftover fried chicken taste better?

Leftover fried chicken can lose its appeal after sitting in the fridge for a few days. The crust loses its crunch and the chicken dries out. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to rejuvenate leftover fried chicken so it tastes fresh and delicious again.

Should you reheat leftover fried chicken?

Yes, you should reheat leftover fried chicken before eating it. Cold fried chicken straight from the refrigerator will taste soggy and unappetizing. Properly reheating fried chicken will revive the flavor and make the crust crispy again.

The best ways to reheat fried chicken include baking it in the oven, frying it a second time, or microwaving it. Each reheating method has its pros and cons:

  • Oven baking will make the crust crispy and heat the chicken through without drying it out.
  • Frying will restore the signature fried crispiness, but requires oil and effort.
  • Microwaving is quick and convenient, but can leave the crust soggy and make the chicken rubbery.

How to reheat fried chicken in the oven

Reheating fried chicken in the oven is one of the best methods for reviving leftover pieces. Here is a simple oven reheating technique:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the leftover fried chicken pieces on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until heated through and the crust is crispy.
  4. Flip the chicken halfway during baking to ensure even reheating.
  5. Brush or drizzle a little oil over the chicken before baking for added crispiness.

The key is to use a high heat so the crust recrisps. Baking on a foil-lined pan allows the bottom crust to also become crispy and browned. To enhance flavor, you can season the chicken with extra spices, herbs, or citrus juice before baking.

How to re-fry leftover fried chicken

Deep frying is the best way to achieve the signature crispy fried chicken crust. To re-fry leftover chicken:

  1. Heat 1⁄2 inch of vegetable or canola oil in a skillet to 350°F.
  2. Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels.
  3. Carefully add chicken to hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.
  4. Work in batches to avoid overcrowding.
  5. Use tongs to flip chicken and ensure even frying.
  6. Let excess oil drain off on paper towel lined plate.

The key is to get the oil hot enough to quickly brown and crisp the crust without overcooking the chicken. Frying in small batches helps maintain oil temperature. An instant read thermometer helps ensure the oil is at the ideal 350°F for frying.

How to reheat fried chicken in the microwave

Reheating in the microwave is the quickest method, but often leaves fried chicken with a soggy crust. To optimize microwave reheating:

  1. Place chicken pieces on a microwave-safe plate, not overlapping.
  2. Microwave on 50% power in 30 second intervals until heated through.
  3. Check temperature and continue microwaving if needed until chicken reaches 165°F internally.
  4. Let chicken rest 1-2 minutes before serving.
  5. Enhance flavor by basting chicken with butter, oil or sauce before microwaving.

The lower microwave power helps prevent overcooking and drying out. Basting the chicken helps keep it moist and adds flavor. Letting it rest after microwaving allows moisture to redistribute through the meat.

How to make leftover fried chicken extra crispy

For extra crispy leftover fried chicken, you can double up on the frying by re-frying after oven baking. Here is how:

  1. First bake chicken in 400°F oven until heated through, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Then fry the baked chicken at 350°F for an additional 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. The oven baking cooks the chicken through while partially crisping the crust.
  4. The frying finishes the crust to be shatteringly crispy.

You can also add an extra crispy coating before the final frying:

  1. After oven baking, brush chicken with buttermilk or egg wash.
  2. Roll wet chicken in breadcrumbs, crushed crackers or potato chips.
  3. Fry coated chicken until new outer crust is golden and crisp.

The double fry method results in juicy heated chicken with an incredibly crispy crust.

Best sauces and seasonings for leftover fried chicken

Coating leftover fried chicken in delicious sauces and seasonings is a great way to inject more flavor. Recommended sauces include:

  • Barbecue sauce – classic, sweet and tangy.
  • Buffalo sauce – spicy and buttery.
  • Honey mustard – sweet and savory.
  • Ranch dressing – cool, creamy and herby.
  • Blue cheese dressing – bold, creamy and pungent.

You can coat the fried chicken in sauce before reheating, or use it as a dip after reheating. Seasonings to sprinkle on before or after reheating include:

  • Paprika – smoky and savory.
  • Cayenne pepper – adds heat and spice.
  • Garlic powder – brings an umami punch.
  • Onion powder – boosts flavor.
  • Dried parsley – fresh herby notes.

What are the best recipes to use leftover fried chicken in?

Beyond snacking on plain reheated fried chicken, you can also repurpose it in many delicious recipes, such as:

Recipe Ingredients Instructions
Fried chicken sandwiches
  • Leftover fried chicken
  • Burger buns
  • Lettuce, tomato, onion
  • Ranch, BBQ sauce, etc.
  1. Reheat chicken if needed.
  2. Toast burger buns if desired.
  3. Add chicken, toppings and sauces to bun.
Chicken salad
  • Shredded fried chicken
  • Mayo
  • Celery, onion, relish
  1. Shred and chop chicken.
  2. Mix with mayo, celery, onions, etc
  3. Season to taste.
Chicken pasta bake
  • Chopped fried chicken
  • Pasta
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Cheese
  1. Cook pasta per package directions.
  2. Mix pasta with chicken, sauce and cheese.
  3. Bake until hot and bubbly.

The possibilities are endless! Use leftover fried chicken in tacos, wraps, pizza, soup, casseroles and more. It adds flavor, protein and texture to just about any dish.

What are the best ways to store leftover fried chicken?

To maximize leftover fried chicken storage time and quality, follow these tips:

  • Let chicken cool completely before storing.
  • Store in airtight containers to prevent drying out.
  • Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.
  • Use within 3-4 days for best quality.
  • Reheat only the amount you plan to eat.
  • Do not save reheated chicken longer than 1-2 days.
  • Label containers with date and contents.
  • Consider portioning chicken into freezer bags for longer term storage.

Properly stored, leftover fried chicken keeps well in the fridge for several days. Freezing is great for longer term storage. Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

How long does fried chicken last in the fridge?

In the fridge, properly stored leftover fried chicken will last 3-4 days. Make sure to refrigerate it within 2 hours of cooking. The colder 40°F or less temperature prevents bacteria growth and extends shelf life. But quality declines after a few days as chicken dries out.

How long is fried chicken good for in the freezer?

In a freezer at 0°F, leftover fried chicken can be frozen for 2-3 months with minimal quality loss. Use freezer bags or airtight containers. Portion the chicken so you can thaw only what you need. Defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Can you freeze fried chicken after reheating?

It’s best not to refreeze chicken after reheating. The multiple thaw and freeze cycles degrade the quality. Cooked chicken should only be frozen once. Reheat what you plan to eat in one sitting, then refrigerate or toss any remaining reheated chicken.


With proper reheating and storage techniques, leftover fried chicken can taste great for several meals after cooking. The keys are using the right reheating method to recrisp the crust, coating in flavorful sauces and seasonings, and repurposing it in fun recipes. Follow these tips for enjoying your leftover fried chicken to the very last bite.