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How do you store leftover KFC?

When it comes to leftovers, fried chicken can be a little tricky. Unlike many other foods, fried chicken doesn’t necessarily improve with time and reheating. The crispy coating softens up, making it less appetizing. However, that doesn’t mean you have to throw away leftover Kentucky Fried Chicken! With the right storage methods, you can keep KFC tasting fresh for several days. Here’s a quick guide on how to store leftover KFC.

Should You Refrigerate Leftover KFC?

Yes, you should refrigerate leftover KFC. Putting fried chicken in the fridge helps slow bacterial growth. The cold temperature inside your refrigerator (40° F or below) prevents spoilage and food poisoning. Just make sure to store the chicken in a sealed container, plastic wrap, or resealable plastic bags.

Once fried chicken is refrigerated, it will maintain best quality for 3-4 days. Any longer than that and you risk the chicken drying out or picking up odors from the fridge. After reheating refrigerated KFC, you should eat the leftovers within a couple hours.

How to Store KFC in the Fridge

When storing fried chicken in the refrigerator, follow these tips:

  • Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Putting hot food directly in the fridge can raise the temperature inside and make other foods prone to bacteria growth.
  • Place the chicken in a sealed container or resealable plastic bag. Plastic wrap also works. This prevents the chicken from drying out.
  • Put leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking. Don’t leave fried chicken out at room temperature too long.
  • Store chicken in the back of the fridge furthest from the door. This area maintains the most consistent temperature.
  • Consume within 3-4 days for optimal freshness and flavor.

Can You Freeze Leftover KFC?

Freezing is another excellent way to preserve leftover fried chicken. In the freezer, the chicken stays fresh for longer. KFC will keep for 2-3 months in a tightly sealed container at 0° F.

To freeze leftover fried chicken:

  • Let the chicken cool to room temperature before freezing, just as you would do when refrigerating.
  • Portion the chicken into meal-sized containers or bags. That way you can thaw just what you need at a time.
  • Make sure there is no air inside containers or bags. Use a straw to suck out excess air. Air leads to freezer burn.
  • Put containers in the coldest part of the freezer where temperature remains consistent.
  • Avoid overstuffing the freezer. Too much food causes temperature fluctuations.

Properly stored frozen chicken maintains juiciness and flavor for a few months. But for absolute best results, consume within a month. The crispiness still won’t be as good as fresh after freezing.

Thawing Frozen Leftover Chicken

Always thaw frozen fried chicken properly before reheating:

  • Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This is the safest method, preventing bacterial growth.
  • You could also submerge the bag of chicken in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until thawed.
  • Microwave defrosting is okay but can alter the texture. Microwave at 50 percent power in short increments.
  • Never thaw chicken on the counter. Bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature.

Reheating Leftover KFC

The right reheating method helps revive some of the signature crunch of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Here are a few ways to reheat refrigerated or frozen leftover chicken:

  • Oven: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet lined with foil. Heat for 10-15 minutes until warmed through. The oven keeps the outside crispy without drying out the chicken.
  • Skillet: Add 1-2 Tbsp oil to a skillet. Heat over medium. Fry chicken pieces skin-side down for 2-3 minutes until some crispiness returns. Flip and heat other side.
  • Air Fryer: Mist chicken with oil. Air fry at 350°F for 8-10 minutes until heated through and slightly crispy.
  • Microwave: This is the quickest method but won’t restore crispy texture. Microwave chicken on a microwave-safe plate in 30-second increments, checking frequently.

How Long Does Leftover KFC Last?

The timeline for enjoying leftover fried chicken depends on the storage method:

  • Refrigerator: 3-4 days
  • Freezer: 2-3 months

Make sure chicken is stored properly in the fridge or freezer. Use an airtight container and minimize temperature fluctuations. Also, pay attention to any signs your leftover chicken has spoiled.

Signs of Spoiled Chicken

Throw away leftover fried chicken if you notice:

  • Slimy texture
  • Graying color
  • Off odors
  • Mold

When in doubt, remember the old adage “When in doubt, throw it out.” Don’t risk eating spoiled chicken.

Other Tips for Enjoying Leftover KFC

Here are some other handy tips for making the most of leftover Kentucky Fried Chicken:

  • Use leftover fried chicken in casseroles, soups, salads, or sandwiches.
  • Slice chicken into pieces and pan fry for chicken noodle soup.
  • Refrigerate mashed potatoes and gravy to enjoy later.
  • Save biscuits in an airtight container for a few days.
  • Reheat biscuits wrapped in foil for 10 minutes at 350°F.
  • Let kids have leftover chicken as after school snacks.
  • Don’t forget to refrigerate or freeze any unused fried chicken within 2 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is KFC good for after cooking?

Freshly cooked KFC is best if eaten within 2 hours. After that, refrigerate leftovers promptly in a sealed container. Properly stored in the fridge, leftover KFC will last 3-4 days.

Why does reheated KFC taste different?

The signature crispy coating on KFC softens when the chicken is refrigerated or frozen. Reheating helps restore a bit of the crunch, but it’s hard to replicate the fresh texture. The flavor also dulls slightly over time.

Is it OK to reheat fried chicken more than once?

It’s best to only reheat fried chicken once. Multiple rounds of reheating make the chicken more dried out and rubbery. Eat any chicken leftovers after the first reheat as soon as possible.

Can you eat KFC chicken cold?

It’s safe to eat cold KFC chicken within the recommended 3-4 day fridge life. However, the texture won’t be nearly as good. The coating will be soggy rather than crispy. For best results, reheat the chicken.

How do you revive soggy KFC chicken?

If fried chicken has gone soggy, you can revive some crispiness by coating the outside with cornstarch and pan frying in a little oil until golden brown. An air fryer also works well to crisp up the coating on soggy fried chicken.


With proper refrigeration and freezing, leftover KFC chicken can stay fresh and delicious for several days up to a few months. Make sure to store leftovers in airtight containers within 2 hours after getting your food. Reheating in the oven or air fryer works best to restore some signature crunch. Follow these tips to enjoy Kentucky Fried Chicken even as leftovers.