You can reheat chicken pot pie and end up with a soggy mess, or you can finesse the process so the filling is warmed all the way through while the crust remains tender and flaky. The difference comes down in understanding the nuances of reheating pie in the oven and paying attention throughout the process.
To reheat chicken pot pie, cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil and heat in a 300-degree Fahrenheit oven for about a half-hour, turning halfway through the process to ensure even heating.
Reheating Pie in the Oven
A conventional oven is the best way to reheat a pie, whether you're warming an apple pie, a chicken pot pie or a Whole Foods vegetable pot pie. Conventional ovens, which rely on dry heat, do a much better job than microwaves, which are more effective for dishes that should stay moist all the way through. A perfectly reheated chicken pot pie will have a crust that is flaky, but not overcooked and hard, and a center that is piping hot.
Low heat works well because it is forgiving and because it is your best bet for even cooking. On higher heat, your chicken pot pie is likely to cook too quickly on the outside, leaving your crust hard and maybe even burned, without giving the center a chance to get up to temperature. It's most important to protect the edges of the crust to keep them from burning because this part of the dough is furthest from the moist parts of the pie that could keep it from drying out. In contrast, the center of the chicken pot pie contains so much moisture that it will generate steam and keep the middle part of the top crust nice and tender.
Reheating Frozen Chicken Pot Pie
The best method for reheating frozen chicken pot pie depends on whether the crust has been cooked before the pie was frozen. Some make-ahead chicken pot pie recipes save the step of baking the crust until after the pie has been frozen and then allow extra baking time for the crust to cook once the filling is fully heated.
For a frozen chicken pot pie with an uncooked crust, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; cover the pie with foil and bake it until it's hot enough in the middle that you can see the filling bubbling through the steam vents. This will take about 40 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, another half-hour or so. For a frozen chicken pot pie with a precooked crust, follow these same instructions, but shorten the uncovered baking time to about 15 minutes and leave some foil covering the edges of the crust.
If you're not sure if your crust has been precooked, follow the frozen chicken pot pie cooking instructions on the package.
Shortening the Cooking Time
It takes a while for chicken pot pie to reheat in the oven, and if you're really hungry or have somewhere to go, you can shorten that cooking time by heating it for a short while in the microwave to take off the chill. This shortcut only works if your pot pie is in a microwaveable dish or package. Don't ever put a pot pot in a foil pan in the microwave. However, if the bottom crust is precooked, you can transfer your pot pie from a foil pan to a microwave-safe dish and still benefit from this shortcut.
If your chicken pot pie is frozen, preheat it for 3 minutes in the microwave and then bake it in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the center is heated through and the top crust is flaky, but not burned. If your chicken pot pie is at refrigerator temperature, give it 1.5 minutes in the microwave and then follow the same instructions. When in doubt, use a metal stem thermometer to make sure the center has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the entire cooking time.
Devra Gartenstein is a self-taught professional cook who has authored two cookbooks: "The Accidental Vegan", and "Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes". She founded Patty Pan Cooperative, Seattle's oldest farmers market concession, and teaches regular cooking classes.