7 Ways to Reheat Frozen Cooked Chicken

by Ella

The convenience of preparing and freezing cooked chicken allows for easy meal planning and quick, wholesome dishes. However, reheating frozen cooked chicken requires careful consideration to ensure both safety and flavor. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods for reheating frozen cooked chicken while maintaining its juiciness, texture, and, most importantly, food safety.

Understanding Frozen Cooked Chicken:

Freezing cooked chicken is a practical way to preserve leftovers or prepare ingredients in advance. Whether you’ve roasted a whole chicken, grilled chicken breasts, or cooked a flavorful chicken stew, freezing allows you to extend the lifespan of your culinary creations. Properly freezing and reheating cooked chicken involves several key factors, including packaging, thawing methods, and reheating techniques.


Freezing Techniques for Cooked Chicken:

Cooling Before Freezing:


Allow cooked chicken to cool to room temperature before freezing. This prevents the formation of ice crystals, which can affect the texture of the chicken. Divide large portions into smaller ones for faster cooling.


Airtight Packaging:


Package cooked chicken in airtight containers or freezer bags to prevent freezer burn and maintain freshness. Squeeze out excess air from freezer bags to minimize the risk of ice crystals forming.

Labeling and Dating:

Clearly label each package with the type of chicken, date of preparation, and any additional information, such as seasoning or sauce used. This helps you keep track of the contents and ensures you consume them within recommended timeframes.

Safe Thawing Practices:

Proper thawing is essential to maintain the quality of frozen cooked chicken and ensure even reheating. Avoid thawing chicken at room temperature, as this can promote bacterial growth. Instead, consider the following safe thawing methods:

Refrigerator Thawing:

Thawing chicken in the refrigerator is the safest method. Place the frozen chicken in a dish on the bottom shelf to prevent cross-contamination, and allow it to thaw gradually over 24 hours.

Cold Water Thawing:

For quicker thawing, seal the frozen chicken in a waterproof bag and submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain a safe temperature. Thawed chicken should be cooked immediately.

Microwave Thawing:

Use the microwave’s defrost function to thaw chicken, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once thawed, cook the chicken immediately to prevent bacteria from multiplying.

Ensuring Food Safety:

Understanding the importance of food safety is crucial when reheating frozen cooked chicken. The “Danger Zone” for bacterial growth is between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C). To prevent bacterial contamination, follow these guidelines:

Thorough Cooking:

Reheat frozen cooked chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). Use a food thermometer to check the temperature at the thickest part of the chicken.

Avoid Partial Cooking:

Never partially cook chicken and then store it to finish cooking later. Bacteria can survive in partially cooked food, leading to foodborne illnesses.

Discard Spoiled Food:

If the frozen cooked chicken shows signs of freezer burn, unusual odors, or changes in color, it may be spoiled. In such cases, it’s safer to discard the chicken.

7 Ways to Reheat Frozen Cooked Chicken:

Now that we’ve covered the essentials of freezing and thawing, let’s explore various methods for reheating frozen cooked chicken. Each method has its nuances, ensuring you can choose the one that best suits your preferences and kitchen setup.

1. Oven Reheating:


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Place the frozen cooked chicken on a baking sheet or in an oven-safe dish.

Cover the chicken loosely with aluminum foil to retain moisture.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

For crispier skin, remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.


Consider adding a splash of broth or water before covering with foil to prevent drying.

Monitor the internal temperature to avoid overcooking.

2. Microwave Reheating:


Place the frozen cooked chicken on a microwave-safe dish.

Use the microwave’s defrost setting to thaw the chicken. Alternatively, use low power settings in short intervals.

Once thawed, heat the chicken on high power for 2-3 minutes.

Rotate or flip the chicken, and continue heating in 1-minute intervals until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).


Microwave reheating is quick, but it may result in uneven heating. Monitor closely and rearrange pieces as needed.

3. Stovetop Reheating:


Thaw frozen cooked chicken using a safe method.

Heat a skillet or non-stick pan over medium heat.

Place the chicken in the pan and add a small amount of oil or broth to prevent sticking.

Cook for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).


Stovetop reheating is suitable for smaller portions and ensures a more even heat distribution.

4. Steam Reheating:


Thaw the frozen cooked chicken using a safe method.

Place a steamer basket in a pot with a small amount of water.

Once the water is simmering, add the chicken to the steamer basket.

Cover and steam for 10-15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).


Steaming is a gentle method that helps retain moisture, especially for delicate chicken cuts.

5. Sous Vide Reheating:


Preheat a sous vide immersion circulator to 140°F (60°C).

Seal the thawed cooked chicken in a vacuum-sealed bag.

Submerge the bag in the preheated water and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Finish by searing the chicken in a hot skillet for a few minutes on each side.


Sous vide reheating allows for precise temperature control, resulting in tender and evenly heated chicken.

6. Air Fryer Reheating:


Preheat the air fryer to 375°F (190°C).

Place the thawed cooked chicken in the air fryer basket.

Cook for 10-15 minutes, checking for crispiness and ensuring the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).


The air fryer is excellent for achieving a crispy exterior while reheating.

7. Grilling Reheating:


Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Thaw the frozen cooked chicken using a safe method.

Grill the chicken for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).


Grilling adds a smoky flavor and can enhance the texture of reheated chicken.

See Also: Can You Freeze a Whole Cooked Chicken? Yes, Here’s How.


Reheating frozen cooked chicken is a skill that balances convenience, safety, and flavor. By following proper freezing, thawing, and reheating techniques, you can ensure your meals are both delicious and safe for consumption. Whether you prefer the precision of sous vide, the convenience of a microwave, or the traditional oven method, the key is to monitor internal temperatures and maintain food safety protocols. Experiment with different reheating methods to find the one that best suits your preferences, and enjoy the convenience of having flavorful, reheated chicken at your fingertips.



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