Grilled chicken is probably the best meal prep food going, as long as you know how to reheat it.
But what’s the best way to keep your grilled chicken moist and succulent?
I did an experiment to find out and tested five different reheating methods.
I also give you some tips on storing your chicken so that it stays as fresh as possible.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best way to reheat grilled chicken is in the oven. Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C). Wrap the chicken in foil together with 2-3 tablespoons of stock or water per breast. Reheat the grilled chicken for 10-15 minutes (or until it reaches 165°F/74°C ). Broil for the last minute for crispy skin.
A note on my experiment
For this experiment, I grilled a whole pack of chicken and set it aside to cool.
Once cooled, I left it in the refrigerator overnight, ready for the next day’s test.
Here’s how I reheated the grilled chicken pieces:
- In the oven (good but a bit slow)
- On the stove (moist, tasty chicken)
- In the microwave (quick and convenient)
- In an air fryer (good for skin-on chicken)
- In the steamer (juicy chicken but best for plain meat)
My chicken came out of the oven smelling and looking great – it tasted pretty good too.
I also really liked the stove method.
The microwave would be my pick if I was in a rush (it wasn’t that bad).
The steamer produced super moist chicken, while the air fryer was more on the drying side but is perfect if you want crispy skin.
If your chicken is shredded, check out this article instead: Best Way To Reheat Shredded Chicken
Tips for reheating grilled chicken
Here are a few tips to help you get the best-tasting chicken you can.
- Don’t overcook your chicken the first ime (easier said than done, I know). But overcooked chicken is just going to get even drier when you reheat it.
- Consider brining your chicken before you cook it. You’ll need to plan ahead slightly, but even a half an hour soak in some saltwater (1/4 cup kosher salt dissolved in 4 cups water) will help tenderize the meat and ensure it stays juicier for longer.
- Some people can’t stand the taste of reheated chicken due to the ‘warmed-over’ effect. If this is you, try using lemon or lime juice when you’re cooking the chicken. It can help reduce the oxidation that causes the funky taste.
Reheating grilled chicken in the oven
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Package the chicken in foil together with 2-3 tablespoons of stock or water per breast. Place the chicken in the oven and heat it for 10-15 minutes (longer if they need it). Broil the chicken at the end for a crispy outside if desired.
Note: these timings are estimates and will vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces and the type of oven you’re using.
How to reheat grilled chicken in the oven:
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C).
- Remove your chicken from the fridge and package it in foil with 2-3 tablespoons of stock or water per chicken breast. Stock is preferable because it has more flavor.
- Heat the chicken breasts for 10-15 mins. Check on their progress and add another 5 minutes if needed.
- Optional: Unwrap the foil and broil the chicken breasts to crisp the outsides for 1-2 minutes at the end.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can use a sharp knife to check if the chicken is hot all the way through.
Stick your knife into the thickest part of the chicken and feel the temperature of the metal when you pull it out.
If it’s hot to the touch, then your chicken is ready.
If the chicken isn’t hot enough, remember to seal the foil again before putting it back in the oven.
This helps keep the moisture inside the packaging, so the chicken doesn’t dry out.
I was happy with this method and thought it worked well.
The chicken was moist and tasty and kept most of its flavor.
My only issue was that the process is a bit slow, especially if you have a big oven.
Reheating grilled chicken in a skillet
To reheat grilled chicken in a skillet, half cover the bottom of a pan with stock or water and warm it over a medium heat. Add the chicken once the liquid is hot, put the lid on, and warm for 4-6 minutes, flipping the chicken at the halfway mark.
How to reheat grilled chicken on the stove:
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of stock or water to a skillet.
- Heat the pan over medium heat and add the chicken when the liquid starts to steam.
- Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid to keep the moisture in (use foil if you don’t have a lid).
- Heat the chicken for 2-3 minutes, then remove the cover and flip it over.
- Replace the lid and heat for another 2-3 minutes before checking on the chicken.
- Repeat until the chicken is piping hot.
- Turn the heat up to high at the end to crisp any skin or char the outside of the chicken.
If you have large, thick chicken pieces, I would slice them in half before heating them to ensure that the middle gets hot enough.
You want enough liquid in the pan to create steam.
But not so much that you end up with watery chicken. A few tablespoons is perfect.
The only exception is if you have really dry and overcooked chicken. Then I would consider slicing it up and submerging it entirely in stock (not water as this will be too plain).
The chicken can then soak up some liquid, and it shouldn’t be so tough.
I loved this method.
The chicken came out juicy and tender.
Next time I might add a little butter or lemon juice to the pan to help on the flavor front.
Reheating grilled chicken in the microwave
To reheat grilled chicken in the microwave, place the chicken in a microwave-safe bowl filled with 2-3 tablespoons of water or stock. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Heat on a 50% power setting for 30 seconds and then continue in 30-second intervals until the chicken is piping hot.
How to reheat grilled chicken in the microwave:
- Fill a microwave-safe bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of water or stock.
- Place your chicken into the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Pierce a few holes in the plastic wrap so steam can escape.
- Heat the chicken on 50% power for 30 seconds.
- Follow that with 30-second intervals until the chicken is piping hot.
- Let the chicken rest for 30 seconds before serving.
I found it best to stick to heating one or two pieces at a time, or else the chicken heats unevenly.
You want to go low and slow with your chicken to minimize the risk of overcooking the meat (which is pretty high in the microwave).
Everyone will tell you to avoid the microwave.
But my chicken turned out fine, and I thought it was the perfect way to warm up a quick lunch.
You just have to be careful.
Reheating grilled chicken in an air fryer
Set your air fryer to 350°F (180°C). Take your chicken out of the fridge and brush it with oil or butter. Marinade works too. The liquid helps to protect the chicken and lock in the moisture. Put the chicken in the basket and heat for 5-7 minutes until it’s hot all the way through.
How to reheat grilled chicken in an air fryer:
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (180°C).
- Brush the chicken with oil, butter, or some marinade to protect it from drying out.
- Arrange the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket, leaving a little space around each one for the air to circulate freely.
- Heat the chicken for 5-7 minutes until piping hot all the way through.
I prefer using the air fryer for smaller pieces of skin-on chicken.
This is where it comes into its own.
It can crisp the skin, and the skin protects the rest of the chicken from losing too much moisture.
If there is no skin, then adding some fat to the outside of the chicken can act as a barrier to moisture loss.
You can also try wrapping the chicken pieces in foil with a little added liquid and treating the air fryer like a miniature oven.
Avoid reheating large chicken pieces in the air fryer.
The outside will become dry and overcooked before the inside is up to temperature.
I love the air fryer for most things, but for reheating grilled chicken I think it’s a little harsh.
My chicken was slightly dry, and if you already have overcooked chicken, this effect will be even more pronounced.
But for crispy skin – the air fryer is unrivaled.
Reheating grilled chicken in the steamer
Bring the water in your steamer to a gentle boil (you can make a steamer out of a colander and a saucepan if you don’t have one). Place your chicken in the steamer and steam it for 4-5 minutes, checking to see if the chicken is hot before removing it.
How to reheat grilled chicken in the steamer:
- Set up your steamer and bring the water to a gentle boil (you can make your own using a pot, lid, and a sieve or colander if you don’t have one).
- Steam the chicken for 3-4 minutes before checking on it and deciding if it needs longer.
Steam heats much quicker than you might think, so don’t leave the chicken in for too long.
If you want to try and infuse some flavor into the chicken, use stock instead of plain water in the steamer.
This method worked surprisingly well, and I was happy with the result.
The chicken didn’t taste overcooked or dry, and it was really quick.
The only downside is that if your chicken is marinated or covered in a rub, the steam might mean you lose some flavor.
How to store grilled chicken
To store grilled chicken, allow it to cool down slightly and then wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container. Grilled chicken will last 3-4 days in the fridge. It can last longer, but be sure to smell and feel the chicken before eating it. If it smells funky or feels slimy, chuck it out.
Don’t leave cooked chicken out for longer than 2 hours at room temperature.
After this, harmful bacteria can start to multiply, rendering the chicken unsafe to eat.
Chicken doesn’t need to be at room temperature before you store it.
It’s OK to put slightly warm chicken in the fridge.
Just be mindful of creating too much condensation if you have a rub or marinade on the chicken.
Too much excess moisture can make the rub soggy.
For longer-term storage, you can freeze grilled chicken.
Can you freeze grilled chicken?
Grilled chicken freezes well. It will last for up to 6 months in the freezer, but I aim to eat it within 3 months so I can be sure it’s not going to taste of the dreaded freezer burn. Package the chicken tightly and freeze it as quickly as possible for best results.
How to freeze grilled chicken:
- Chill the chicken in the fridge before freezing.
- Wrap the chilled chicken tightly in plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil, excluding as much air as possible. This will protect the chicken against freezer burn.
- Label and date the packaging before placing the chicken in the freezer.
- Use within 6 months.
I chill the chicken in the fridge first to make sure it freezes as fast as possible.
The faster the chicken freezes, the less affected its texture will be by the freeze-thaw cycle.
Never freeze chicken when it’s still warm, or ice crystals will form in the flesh and mess with chicken.
Whole pieces of chicken will last longer in the freezer, but smaller cuts or shredded chicken will thaw quicker.
How to thaw and reheat frozen grilled chicken
Always thaw frozen grilled chicken before reheating it.
Frozen chicken will reheat unevenly, so the outside will be overcooked while the inside may still be cold.
You can thaw chicken in the fridge overnight, or by submerging the chicken (in an airtight bag) in a cold water bath. You can also use the microwave, but you risk drying your chicken out.
Once defrosted, reheat the chicken in the oven, in a skillet, or microwave.
What to know what to serve with grilled chicken – check out our ideas!
Exactly How To Reheat Grilled Chicken
- 1 portion grilled chicken
- 2 tbsp water or stock
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C).
- Remove your chicken from the fridge and package it in foil with 2-3 tablespoons of stock or water per chicken breast.
- Heat the chicken breasts for 10-15 mins and then check on them and decide if they need longer.
- Optional: Unwrap the foil and broil the chicken breasts to crisp the outsides for 1-2 minutes (at the end of the reheating process).