How to Reheat KFC

Kentucky Fried Chicken, better known as KFC is one of those foods that is terrific right after it is served. When the chicken is hot and fresh, you’ll definitely know because it will be just about dripping with some combination of grease and chicken juices. Did we forget to mention the breading? The breading is really good too.

But you bought the 15 piece bucket and your family couldn’t finish the whole thing after having their mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese as sides. Don’t worry though. It’s possible to get close to recreating the same first bite taste you experience when you first picked up your order. So, how?

Most kitchens offer a few ways to properly reheat KFC. The best methods involve the oven or toaster oven and some tin foil. We’ll go into more detail below.

Before reheating

Chicken isn’t especially well shaped for reheating. Most of the drums and breasts don’t lay quite evenly. 

KFC can be left out for a few minutes to allow it to get to room temperature. Leaving it out a bit ensures that most pieces of your chicken are at the same temperature before putting them in the oven and heating them. Room temperature allows the juices in the chicken to stay locked in before they get hot again.

Reheating KFC in the oven

We are going to start by saying that the oven is probably the second method to reheat KFC, and most anything in general. For fried foods, an air fryer also works really well and we will get into that later.

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You’ll need a oven safe dish, and oven gloves.

  • Remove the chicken from the fridge – if you can, leave it out for a half an hour as mentioned above.
  • Place the chicken on an oven safe dish
  • Turn the oven on to 400 degrees as you put the chicken in. This prevents the chicken from heating up too quickly. Sure, you could preheat, but immediately hot chicken isn’t really what we are going for.
  • Consider turning the chicken after a few minutes to ensure the chicken is thoroughly heated. Have you ever noticed how meats like chicken can have the thicker parts become cooked slower? This is the issue we are trying to work with here.
  • Leave the chicken in the oven for about 10 minutes. Try checking on it to see if it’s sizzling.
  • Using gloves, remove the chicken from the oven to check the temperature yourself.

Reheating KFC in the toaster oven

This method is very similar to the oven, only use the crisper tray if available. The toaster oven will heat up faster than the oven, so be aware of the actual temperature inside.

The toaster oven also tends to make the chicken easier to see as they normally have a glass window. In addition, seeing the glowing heating element is a good sign the toaster oven is getting hot enough.

The toaster oven is also potentially convenient because some work place might have a toaster oven in their kitchen, and it is better than the microwave for reheating foods.

Reheating in an air fryer

KFC is indeed fried chicken. Air fryers definitely dry! Air fryers are a device that are new to some kitchens – and you might not have one. 

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An air fryer circulates hot air and potentially oil to keep foods like KFC crispy and hot.

  • Place the KFC in the air fryer basket
  • Turn the air fryer to medium or high heat, or about 400 degrees.
  • Close the air fryer and let it sit.
  • You might start to smell the chicken – which is a good sign that it’s geting hot enough
  • Check the air fryer to see if the chicken is at your desired temperature
  • Remove the chicken from the air fryer

The air fryer does a good job of recreating the initial crispiness and texture of fried chicken without much risk of drying it out or making things mushy. This is our preferred method if you have an air fryer in your kitchen.

Reheating KFC in the microwave

This is admittedly not our favorite method, but if you brought your chicken to work and they don’t have an oven, you might not have a choice.

  • Place the chicken on a microwave safe plate
  • You can choose to either drizzle oil on the chicken itself or put some on a paper towel and cover the chicken.
  • Put the KFC in the microwave for about 30 seconds to a minute to start.
  • Remove the chicken once it is hot enough for you.

The microwave is great for heating food up quickly. It’s also the enemy of getting too hot. Ideally, your chicken should remain under 165 degrees inside to avoid further cooking. A microwave can readil make food got hotter than that, and quickly.

Check the microwave frequently to ensure it isn’t drying out. If it feels nice and hot, consider taking it out and not pushing further.

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Using tin foil

First, don’t use tin foil in the microwave. Now that that’s  been said, you can use tin foil on an oven safe with if you want to lower the risk of the chicken sticking to the pan. Tin foil can also help the chicken heat up a bit faster.

Tin foil creates more heat transfer and deflection as well, which is good when heating up chicken.

Conclusion

You can make KFC almost as good as the initial bite. We recommend using an air fryer to reheat your KFC, but the oven and toaster oven are good bets too. Using a slower heating method like the oven or toaster also helps you manage the temperature better and prevent over heating or recooking your chicken.

The microwave is a good option though it’s not the best for retaining the original quality and taste of a fried food with chicken.