Reheating leftover General Tso’s chicken while maintaining its crispy texture can be tricky, but it’s possible with the right techniques. The key is to use short bursts of high heat to quickly crisp up the exterior without overcooking the inside. There are a few different methods you can try using your oven, skillet, air fryer or microwave to revive takeout General Tso’s chicken so it tastes freshly fried.
Can you reheat General Tso’s chicken and keep it crispy?
Yes, you can reheat leftover General Tso’s chicken and restore its crispy texture, but the specific heating method you use makes all the difference. Reheating it slowly in the microwave will lead to a soggy, mushy mess. The goal is to use high heat to quickly crisp up the exterior breading before the interior chicken has a chance to dry out. An air fryer, skillet or oven set to 400°F or above for just 3-5 minutes does the trick wonderfully.
How to reheat General Tso’s chicken in the oven
The oven is a great way to reheat General Tso’s chicken and recrisp the crust. Follow these steps:
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Place the leftover General Tso’s chicken pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Bake for 3-5 minutes, until the exterior is sizzling and crispy again.
- Flip each piece over and bake for 2-3 more minutes if needed to recrisp the other side.
- Serve immediately for the best texture.
The high oven heat helps dry out the exterior breading quickly without overcooking the interior. Keep a close eye to avoid burning. A light brushing of oil before heating can also boost crispness.
Oven General Tso’s Chicken Heating Tips
- Use a baking sheet for best heat distribution. Parchment or foil prevents sticking.
- Flip the chicken halfway for even crisping on both sides.
- Add an extra 1-2 minutes if the chicken has been refrigerated.
- Brush with a little oil or sauce for extra crispness and flavor.
- Don’t overcrowd the tray – too close together steams instead of crisps.
How to reheat General Tso’s chicken in a skillet
A hot skillet or frying pan on the stovetop also does a stellar job of crisping up leftover General Tso’s chicken. Here’s how to use this method:
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the cold General Tso’s chicken pieces in a single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until crispy.
- Toss or flip the pieces to heat through, adding a splash more oil if needed.
- Once hot and crispy, remove from the pan and serve.
The direct contact with the hot skillet quickly crisps and browns the crust. Be careful not to burn the coating.
Skillet General Tso’s Chicken Heating Tips
- Use a generous amount of neutral oil for frying.
- Cook over medium-high for best results.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan which steams instead of fries.
- Toss or flip for even browning.
- Work in batches to avoid sogginess.
How to reheat General Tso’s chicken in an air fryer
An air fryer is the easiest way to reheat General Tso’s chicken so it’s crispy and delicious. Follow these simple steps:
- Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
- Place the chilled General Tso’s chicken pieces in the air fryer basket in a single layer, without overcrowding.
- Air fry for 3-5 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through, until the coating is crispy.
- Repeat with any remaining batches.
- Serve immediately for the crispiest texture.
The super hot circulating air quickly dries and crisps the exterior breading on the chicken. The results are deliciously crunchy General Tso’s chicken that tastes like it’s fresh from the restaurant.
Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken Heating Tips
- Preheat fully before adding chicken.
- Don’t overcrowd – cook in batches if needed.
- Shake halfway for even crisping.
- Add 1-2 mins for fridge-cold chicken.
- Brush with oil for extra crispness.
- Let the pieces sit for 1 min after cooking.
How to reheat General Tso’s chicken in the microwave
It is possible to reheat General Tso’s chicken in the microwave, but extra care must be taken to try to preserve the crispy texture.
Here is one method to try:
- Place the General Tso’s chicken pieces on a microwave-safe plate lined with a paper towel.
- Microwave on HIGH in 30 second intervals just until heated through, around 1-2 minutes total.
- Transfer the chicken immediately to a hot skillet coated in oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side to recrisp the outside.
- Alternatively, finish in a 400°F oven or air fryer for 2-3 minutes after microwaving.
The microwave can help quickly heat the chicken through without drying it out. But you’ll still need a secondary high heat method to restore the crispy texture.
Microwave General Tso’s Chicken Heating Tips
- Use 30 second intervals to avoid overcooking.
- Line plate with a paper towel to absorb moisture.
- Immediately follow with oven, skillet or air fryer to recrisp.
- Stir or flip chicken to evenly reheat in microwave.
- Add sauce after crisping to avoid sogginess.
General Tips for Reheating Leftover General Tso’s Chicken
Follow these tips for the best results when reheating leftover General Tso’s chicken:
- Use high heat – Around 400°F for the oven, air fryer or skillet works best.
- Cook in small batches – Avoid overcrowding to allow air flow for crisping.
- Flip/rotate/shake – Ensure even, all-over heating for uniform crispness.
- Keep sauce separate – Brush on after heating to avoid sogginess.
- Line pans – Foil or parchment prevents sticking and eases transfer.
- Don’t overcook – Check frequently and remove immediately after crisping.
- Let sit briefly – A 1 minute rest helps finish cooking inside for juicy meat.
- Work quickly – You want to brown exterior before interior overcooks.
- Enjoy immediately – Crispiness declines the longer it sits after reheating.
What causes General Tso’s chicken to lose its crispness?
There are a few reasons why leftover General Tso’s chicken tends to end up soggy and lose its signature crunch:
- Sitting in sauce – The sauce can soak into the coating, making it soft and mushy.
- Steaming in container – Storing chicken pieces stacked or tightly packed causes steaming.
- Low reheating heat – Slow heating allows moisture to make the crust soggy.
- Overcooking – Too high heat or too long microwaving dries out the chicken.
- Insufficient frying – The coating needs very high heat to maintain crispy texture.
That’s why reheating methods need to apply intense heat quickly just to the exterior to revive the crunch factor without overdoing the interior chicken.
How to store leftover General Tso’s chicken
To save General Tso’s chicken for delicious leftovers, proper storage is key. Here are some tips:
- Let cool completely first – Avoid trapping steam which leads to sogginess.
- Separate chicken from sauce – Sauce makes the crust soggy upon reheating.
- Use shallow airtight containers – Minimizes steaming and prevents freezer burn.
- Divide into smaller portions – Quicker reheating to optimize crispness.
- Refrigerate within 2 hours – Prevents bacterial growth.
- Use within 3-4 days – Best quality taste and texture.
- Freeze for up to 4 months – Allows longer term storage.
With the right storage and reheating tricks, you can enjoy crisp, saucy General Tso’s chicken again and again from leftovers.
Reviving the crispiness of leftover General Tso’s chicken is very doable with short bursts of high heat from an oven, air fryer, skillet or even microwave-oven combo. Separating the chicken from the sauce, cooking in small batches, using high heat for a short time, and avoiding overcrowding are all keys to success. With the proper reheating method for your kitchen, you can easily reheat takeout General Tso’s chicken so it tastes fresh and delicious.