How To Reheat Fried Chicken In Air Fryer 

 Last Update April 19, 2024

By Jenny Zhang

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Some types of leftover foods are hard to reheat well, and fried chicken is one of them. While they can be eaten cold, heated ones taste much better. But 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 unless you cover it with a paper towel. However, reheating chicken in the air fryer will instantly create a crispy outer layer that locks in all the succulent juices while warming the interior to a tender!

In this post below, we will share how to reheat fried chicken in an air fryer, along with tricks and tips for turning last night's leftovers into a crispy masterpiece. This method works well with other fried foods as well.

How Does An Air Fryer Reheat Chicken?

Air fryers operate like a convection oven or toaster oven. Place cold fried chicken in an air fryer using 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 crust 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 cold 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 it in a microwave results in cold chicken 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 craving a quick meal and having only a limited time to enjoy it!

Use an air fryer for perfectly reheated leftover fried chicken that maintains all of the juicy tenderness of the meat while keeping a crispy and crunchy skin. Reheating it 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 can circulate freely, the chicken skin is just as crisp as when freshly fried.

How To Reheat Fried Chicken In Air Fryer

The best way to reheat leftover fried chicken is through an air fryer. The best part? It's not only the most effective way but also remarkably swift and uncomplicated! Here's the step-by-step guide:

Preheat The Air Fryer

Woman preheating the air fryer

Whether you are reheating fried chicken breast, thighs, or drumsticks, preheating your air fryer is best. 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

Leftover chicken pieces in an air fryer basket

Depending on the specific model of your air fryer, place the leftover fried chicken in either the basket or tray. Be sure not to overload the basket! The pieces of chicken need to be placed in a single layer. Reheating fried chicken in an air fryer is quick, so you have the time to work in multiple batches if need be.

Air fry

Frying chicken

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

Checking the temperature

Due to the differing thickness of various fried chicken pieces, it's crucial to employ a meat thermometer to accurately gauge the internal temperature of the reheated chicken. Ensure that the thermometer registers at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) when inserted into the thickest part of the fried chicken piece.

Serve Immediately

Serving airfried chicken

When your reheated leftovers are finished, remove them from the wire rack of the air fryer and enjoy them immediately! They will boast the same flavor and texture as freshly cooked fried chicken! To keep reheated fried chicken crispy, you must serve it immediately or place it in the oven to prevent it from becoming soggy.

Clean Your Air Fryer

Cleaning air fryer with baking soda

When you reheat fried chicken, excess oil will likely drip into the bottom of the basket and splatter around the air fryer. It's best to clean your air fryer immediately to make cleaning easier.

Top Tips For Reheating Fried Chicken

Group By Size

If you use your air fryer to reheat fried chicken in various cuts and pieces, place similar-sized pieces together in the air fryer basket. Fried chicken breasts and 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-sized pieces together.

Cooking Time And Temperature

Remember that the recommended cooking time and temperature are general guidelines. Depending on the size of your chicken, 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. Avoid using an air fryer liner/foil lined/baking sheet in the basket. 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 much oil as the fried chicken already contains a lot of oil. 

Reheat Room Temperature Fried Chicken

Let the leftover fried chicken reach room temperature before reheating for optimal results. This typically takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Don't Overcrowd

Overcrowding the reheating space is a common mistake. When you place the pieces too close together, they can't cook evenly, and you risk having some pieces 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.

Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.