How to Reheat Chicken & Keep it Tender

Updated June 18, 2018

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 minimise the risk of overcooking and toughening meats, or creating unwelcome scorched flavours. The second is to protect the food from drying. These things are especially important when you are reheating a relatively delicate food like chicken.

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 aluminium foil. Place the dish in an oven preheated to 121 degrees Celsius. Warm the chicken for 20 minutes, then rotate the dish 82.2 degrees Celsius 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 73.9 degrees Celsius, when tested with a meat thermometer. Serve hot.

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 equalise throughout the chicken. Repeat the process, shortening the heating time to one minute.

Repeat, until the chicken reaches a food-safe temperature of 73.9 degrees Celsius when tested with a thermometer. Serve immediately.

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 aluminium foil, and place in a preheated oven at 121 degrees Celsius. Heat for 20 minutes, turning the pieces midway through that time.

Remove the foil from the baking dish and increase the heat to 218 degrees Celsius. Heat for another five or six minutes, until the chicken has become crisp again. Remove from the oven, and serve immediately.


Leftovers must be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of cooking, in order to be food safe. Discard any food that has spent longer than two hours at room temperature, and do not attempt to reheat it.

Things You'll Need

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

Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.