There's something undeniably magical about the first bite into a piece of freshly fried chicken – the crunch, the juiciness, the perfect balance of flavors. But what do you do when that succulent fried chicken from last night's dinner loses its crispy charm? You could turn to the microwave, but that's a one-way ticket to soggy, sad chicken. The oven? It takes forever and often yields uneven results. So, what's the secret to bringing that glorious crunch back to your leftover fried chicken? The air fryer. A multifunctional kitchen gadget that opens the door to experimenting with numerous air fryer recipes, resulting in a delectable array of healthy and tantalizing air-fried delights.
Some types of leftover foods are hard to reheat well, and fried chicken is one of them. You might lose the original golden crispy texture and end up with disappointing, soggy fried chicken. Any moisture in the food will probably be dried out in the oven or microwave. Reheating chicken in the air fryer, however, will instantly create a crispy outer layer that locks in all the succulent juices while simultaneously warming the interior to a tender, mouthwatering perfection!
In this post below, we will share how to reheat fried chicken in an air fryer, along with tricks and tips to turn last night's leftovers into a crispy, delectable masterpiece.
How Does An Air Fryer Reheat Chicken?
Air fryers operate like a convection oven or toaster oven. Placing cold, leftover fried chicken in an air fryer uses high-powered, circulating hot air to reheat the meat gently. This process accomplishes two crucial goals. First, it gradually increases the chicken's internal temperature, ensuring it's piping hot without overcooking or drying it out. Second, the circulating air revitalizes the outer coating, crisping it to a delightful crunch. The result? Chicken that tastes like it just emerged from the fryer, with a crispy exterior and juicy interior – a mouthwatering transformation that makes the air fryer a go-to choice for reheating fried chicken.
Why Use an Air Fryer To Reheat Fried Chicken?
Reheating leftover fried chicken offers several approaches, with the microwave and oven being the most commonly used methods. Yet, it's essential to recognize that each technique has its drawbacks. Reheating fried chicken in a microwave results in chicken that is cold in some spots and burning hot in others, all covered with soggy skin. The oven maintains the original crispy skin but can dry out the meat. Furthermore, the oven can be quite time-consuming when you're craving a quick meal and have only a limited timeframe to enjoy it!
For perfectly reheated leftover fried chicken that maintains all of the juicy tenderness of the meat while keeping a crispy and crunchy skin, use an air fryer! Reheating leftover fried chicken in the air fryer is a speedy and straightforward process. It reheats the chicken evenly without causing it to lose moisture. And because the hot air is allowed to circulate freely, the chicken skin is just as crisp as it was when it was freshly fried.
How To Reheat Fried Chicken In Air Fryer
The best way to reheat leftover fried chicken is through the use of an air fryer. The best part? It's not only the most effective way, but it's also remarkably swift and uncomplicated! Here's the step-by-step guide:
Preheat The Air Fryer
Whether you are reheating fried chicken breast, thighs, or drumsticks, preheating your air fryer is best. In order to ensure that your chicken reheats evenly, take the extra few minutes to preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Placing chicken in a cold air fryer and letting it cook as the air fryer heads up will result in chicken that is too hot in some spots and too cold in others.
Place Chicken In The Basket
Place the leftover fried chicken in either the air fryer basket or tray, depending on the specific model of your air fryer. Be sure not to overload the basket! The pieces of chicken need to be placed in a single layer. Using an air fryer to reheat fried chicken is quick, so you have the time to work in multiple batches if need be.
It's time to air fry your chicken! Although most air fryer models have preset functions, these are best used when first cooking food rather than reheating leftovers. Instead, set a cooking time of 4-20 minutes, flipping halfway.
Here's a general guideline to help you get started:
Chicken Wings and Drumettes: 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Chicken Tenders or Strips: 8-12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Chicken Thighs (boneless): 10-14 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Chicken Thighs (bone-in): 12-16 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Chicken Breasts (boneless): 10-14 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Chicken Legs (drumsticks): 12-16 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Chicken Quarters (leg and thigh attached): 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Whole Fried Chicken Pieces (e.g., breasts, thighs): 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Check The Temperature
Due to the differing thickness of various fried chicken pieces, it's crucial to employ a meat thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of the reheated chicken accurately. Ensure that the thermometer registers a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) when inserted into the thickest part of the fried chicken piece.
When your reheated leftovers are finished, remove them from the wire rack of the air fryer and enjoy them immediately! They will boast the identical flavor and texture as if they were freshly cooked fried chicken!
Top Tips For Reheating Fried Chicken
Group by size
If you are using your air fryer to reheat fried chicken in a variety of cuts and pieces, be sure to place similar-sized pieces together in the air fryer basket. Fried chicken breasts and fried chicken thighs are thick cuts of meat, while fried chicken wings and fried chicken legs are much thinner. To ensure that each piece can reheat evenly and completely, group similar size pieces together.
Cooking time and temperature
Remember that the recommended cooking time and temperature are general guidelines. Depending on the size of your chicken pieces, you might need to extend the cooking time by a few minutes. Additionally, air fryer temperatures can vary from one model to another. It's always wise to employ a meat thermometer to ensure the safety of your chicken before consumption.
Spritz With Water or Oil
Are you concerned about dry chicken? You can keep your chicken moist when air frying by giving it a quick spritz with water before loading up the air fryer basket or baking sheet. You can also use an oil spritz. It will help enhance the crispiness during reheating and make a noticeable difference in the texture. You don't need to use a lot of oil as the fried chicken already contains a lot of oil.
Reheat Room Temperature Fried Chicken
Let the leftover fried chicken reach room temperature for optimal results before reheating. This typically takes 20 to 30 minutes.
Overcrowding the reheating space is a common mistake. When you place chicken pieces too close together, they can't cook evenly, and you risk ending up with some pieces being crispy while others remain soggy.
Rest Before Serving
Like all air fryer chicken recipes, let the chicken rest for a minute or two after reheating. This short resting interval facilitates the even distribution of juices within the meat, guaranteeing a succulent and flavorful bite.
Prep Ahead and Storage
Prior to reheating in your air fryer, allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. When fried chicken is at room temperature, it reheats more evenly. The heat from the air fryer or oven penetrates the chicken more effectively, ensuring the entire piece is warmed uniformly.
To maintain the freshness of any remaining fried chicken, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a maximum of four days. It's advisable to avoid reheating chicken multiple times to ensure its quality and safety.
If you wish to extend its shelf life, consider freezing the cooled leftover chicken, as it can remain in the freezer for a period of up to two months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Air Fryers Be Used To Reheat Other Types Of Leftover Chicken?
Yes! Air fryers are uniquely suitable for reheating fried chicken, but you can reheat any type of chicken in air fryer baskets! Leverage the power of your air fryer to effectively reheat various chicken leftovers, including chicken tenders, chicken strips, and even delectable rotisserie chicken.
Do I Need To Add Oil When Air Frying?
No! That's one of the benefits of using an air fryer to both cook and reheat foods. Air frying uses, well, hot air! For fried chicken, which is already a bit greasy, it's nice to have a way to reheat fried chicken without needing to use more oil.
Can I reheat frozen fried chicken in an air fryer?
Absolutely, it's possible to reheat frozen fried chicken in an air fryer. However, please note that it may require a longer cooking time than thawed chicken. Make sure to heat it thoroughly until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.