This article was updated on 14th September 2023 for freshness and to incorporate new insights.
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 experimented with five different reheating methods to find out.
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.
How I tested reheating grilled chicken
For my 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 unseasoned chicken.
If your chicken is shredded, check out this article instead: Best Way To Reheat Shredded Chicken
Reheating grilled chicken in the oven
Time: 10-15 minutes
- 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 2-3 minutes if needed.
- Optional: Unwrap the foil and broil the chicken breasts to crisp the outsides for 1-2 minutes at the end.
Note: These timings are estimates and will vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces and the type of oven you’re using.
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.
Psst… if you don’t want to use foil you can also place the chicken on slices of bread soaked with stock and water (I leared that from here!).
Results: 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
Time: 4-6 minutes
- 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.
- Turn the heat up to high at the end to char the outside of the chicken if you want.
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.
Results: I loved this method. The chicken came out juicy and tender and it’s really easy to add extra flavors to the pan. Lemon juice, butter, chili, garlic, or even bacon grease would all be great.
Reheating grilled chicken in the microwave
Time: 4-6 minutes
- 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 in 30-second intervals, with a few seconds break in between.
- 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). And the small break in between heating intervals helps the heat equalize.
Results: 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
Time: 4-6 minutes
- 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 4-6 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 because 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.
Results: 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
Time: 3-4 minutes
- 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. Or make a poaching liquid by adding things like lemons and herbs to the water.
Results: 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.
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!
How To Reheat Grilled Chicken [Tested Methods]
- 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).