Chicken breast in batter with pasta on a white plate, selective focus

Reheating food is a basic skill for cooks, since discarding uneaten portions can be damaging to the food budget. There are two fundamental points to remember when reheating meats. One is to use gentle heat, to minimize the risk of overcooking and toughening meats, or creating unwelcome scorched flavors. The second is to protect the food from drying. These things are especially important when you are reheating a relatively delicate food like chicken.

  • Shallow baking dish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chicken broth, or water
  • Leftover chicken gravy, if available
  • Aluminum foil
  • Meat thermometer
  • Microwaveable bowl or dish
  • Plastic film wrap
  • Parchment paper

Oven Method

Slice the leftover chicken, skinning and deboning it if desired. Line the bottom of a shallow baking dish with the chicken, and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Moisten the chicken with a small amount of chicken broth or water. If there is leftover gravy from the original meal, thin that with some water or chicken broth and spoon it over the sliced chicken meat.

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Place the dish in an oven preheated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm the chicken for 20 minutes, then rotate the dish 180 degrees Fahrenheit and heat for 10 minutes longer, to ensure even heating.

Remove the chicken from the oven when it has reached a food-safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, when tested with a meat thermometer. Serve hot.

Microwave Method

Slice and debone the chicken, as directed for the oven method. Layer the chicken into a microwaveable dish or bowl, seasoning the layers lightly with salt and pepper.

Moisten the chicken with a few tablespoons of chicken broth or water. If gravy is available, thin it with chicken broth or water and spoon it over the chicken.

Cover the dish with plastic film wrap, and microwave on medium power for two minutes. Allow the dish to sit for two minutes, so the heat can equalize throughout the chicken. Repeat the process, shortening the heating time to one minute.

Repeat, until the chicken reaches a food-safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit when tested with a thermometer. Serve immediately.

Fried Chicken

Line a baking dish with parchment paper, and place the leftover pieces of fried chicken in the dish. Space them so that the pieces are not crowded, and air can reach the exposed sides.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and place in a preheated oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat for 20 minutes, turning the pieces midway through that time.

Remove the foil from the baking dish and increase the heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat for another five or six minutes, until the chicken has become crisp again. Remove from the oven, and serve immediately.


"On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen"; Harold S. McGee; 2004Southern Fried Chicken Southern Fried ChickenPartnership for Food Safety Education: Limits to Leftovers