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How To Reheat Sweet And Sour Chicken So It Stays Crispy

If you’ve just cooked up a big batch of sweet and sour chicken, you may be left with a little more than you can finish in one sitting. (Unless you’re my partner, but that’s another story…).

If so, you may be wondering what the best method of reheating sweet and sour chicken is. 

I have personally experimented with several different reheating techniques and tips to find out what really works. How can you bring the dish back to its former, crispy, tangy glory?

These reheating methods include:

I also give some tips on making sweet and sour chicken in advance (so it stays crispy) and some best practices for storing and freezing the dish.

Psst. have some sweet and sour chicken already covered in sauce? You can save it! Click here to jump to the section where I manage to salvage and crisp up already sauced sweet and sour chicken.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

A note about my experiment

To properly experiment with different reheating methods, I ordered a large batch of sweet and sour chicken from my local Chinese take-out joint, explicitly asking for the chicken to be packaged separately from the sauce.

I divided the extra-large portion of sweet and sour chicken into several different containers (1 per experiment).

The next day, I reheated and taste-tested each portion individually, rating it on how crispy the chicken turned out, how easy the method was, and the overall taste and aroma of the dish.

The best way to reheat sweet and sour chicken

The best way to reheat sweet and sour chicken is by reheating the chicken and the sauce separately. Remove the chicken from the sauce and pat dry. Reheat the chicken in an air fryer for 2-3 minutes at 390°F (200°C). Reheat the sweet and sour sauce in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.

How to reheat sweet and sour chicken:

  1. If the chicken is already sauced, remove it from the sauce and pat it dry using a paper towel.
  2. Place the sweet and sour sauce in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil.
  3. Preheat your air fryer to 390°F (200°C) and reheat the chicken for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Reheat the sauce in the microwave for approximately 30-60 seconds.
  5. Allow the chicken to rest for 60-90 seconds on a wire rack before combining with the reheated sauce.

Note: if you don’t have an air fryer to hand (seriously, this machine is a godsend), you can still achieve similar results by patting the chicken dry and cooking it in the oven or toaster oven. Do not cover the chicken in foil – this completely defeats the point of trying to crisp it up.

Verdict

Now, THIS is what I’m talking about. The chicken still had crunch and life, even when it had been covered in sauce for two days. How? The magic of the air fryer.

Okay, I’ll admit, it’s not 100% as fresh as day one. But this is the closest you’ll get.

Reheating sweet and sour chicken in the oven

Reheat the sweet and sour chicken in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for 15-20 minutes or until piping hot. Place it in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil. Covering the dish with foil prevents it from drying out when reheating.

How to reheat sweet and sour chicken in the oven:

  1. Place the sweet and sour chicken in an oven-safe dish or small baking tray.
  2. Cover the dish with foil to prevent the sauce from burning and drying out.
  3. Reheat in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for 15-20 minutes or until piping hot.
  4. For best results, remove the chicken from the sauce and reheat it on a separate baking tray on the top shelf of the oven (without foil).

Verdict

This method is okay IF you don’t care about the chicken pieces regaining any crisp or crunch. 

For me, it’s a complete deal-breaker. 

I really dislike soggy fried chicken pieces, and sadly, the oven just can’t fix the sauce-logged chicken pieces. Other than that, the rest of the dish was perfectly edible and delicious.

How do you fix this? A compromise is to remove the sweet and sour chicken from the sauce and cook uncovered on the top shelf when reheating the sweet and sour sauce.

Reheating sweet and sour chicken in the microwave

To reheat sweet and sour chicken in the microwave, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with pierced plastic wrap. Reheat the sweet and sour chicken on full power for 60-90 seconds, stirring frequently. Allow the sweet and sour chicken to rest for 60 seconds before serving.

How to reheat sweet and sour chicken in the microwave:

  1. Place the sweet and sour chicken in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with pierced plastic wrap (or better yet, use a splatter cover!)
  3. Heat the sweet and sour chicken on full power for 60-90 seconds, stirring frequently.
  4. Allow the sweet and sour chicken to rest for 60 seconds before serving immediately.

Verdict

Honestly, I can’t recommend using the microwave to reheat your sweet and sour chicken UNLESS you have no other choice. The chicken pieces lose all of their crunch and turn into unappetizing, soggy lumps.

Don’t want to throw the dish away? Try removing the chicken pieces from the dish and adding something with a bit of crunch instead. 

How to keep sweet and sour chicken crispy

The best way to keep sweet and sour chicken crispy is to store the chicken pieces separate from the sweet and sour sauce until you’re ready to plate. 

If the chicken is already soaked in sauce, you can remove it and pat it dry using a paper towel. This isn’t perfect, but it does help to regain some crispiness – especially if following my air fryer technique above.

Removing excess sauce from sweet and sour chicken helps it to regain some crisp when reheating

Making sweet and sour chicken at home?

  • Double-frying the chicken pieces gives them an additional crunch and more of a barrier against being drowned in sauce.
  • Keep the fried chicken separate from the sauce until serving.

Ordering sweet and sour chicken as take-out?

  • Ask the restaurant to package the chicken and sauce separately and only combine what you want to eat. Some good restaurants do this already. 

How to store sweet and sour chicken

Sweet and sour chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will last for up to 3 days. For longer-term storage, sweet and sour chicken can be frozen, where it will keep for up to 3 months. For best results, store the chicken and the sauce separately.

Where possible, aim to store the un-sauced chicken and sauce in separate containers. If the chicken is already sauced, it still helps to remove it and keep it separately.

Freezing sweet and sour chicken

To freeze sweet and sour chicken, place the sweet and sour sauce in a heavy-duty freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Place the dry chicken pieces in a separate freezer bag or airtight container. Sweet and sour chicken frozen in this way can last for up to 3 months.

How to freeze sweet and sour chicken:

  1. Optional: remove any bell peppers from the sauce.*
  2. Place the sweet and sour sauce in a heavy-duty freezer bag and remove any excess air.
  3. Place the dry (un-sauced) chicken in either a freezer bag or an airtight container.
  4. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  5. To defrost, place both the sauce and the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.

*Some sources online suggest removing the bell peppers before freezing. This is because peppers can go a little mushy when frozen.

I have experimented with both keeping the peppers in and out when freezing. I don’t mind how peppers keep when frozen, but if you prefer your peppers to have that fresh ‘bite’, I recommend binning them and adding fresh ones when reheating later.

How long does sweet and sour chicken last?

  • Stored in the refrigerator, sweet and sour chicken can last up to 3 days.
  • Stored in the freezer, sweet and sour chicken can last up to 3 months.
  • At room temperature, sweet and sour chicken will last up to 2 hours before being classed as unsafe to eat.

How to reheat sweet and sour chicken balls

Sweet and sour chicken balls can be reheated in the same way as regular sweet and sour chicken. Patting the sweet and sour chicken balls dry before reheating in the oven or air fryer will help to regain some of their original crispiness. 

See detailed instructions above for reheating sweet and sour chicken balls.

The BEST Way To Reheat Sweet And Sour Chicken

If you’ve just cooked up a big batch of sweet and sour chicken, you may be left with a little more than you can finish in one sitting. (Unless you’re my partner, but that’s another story…).
If so, you may be wondering what the best method of reheating sweet and sour chicken is.
I have personally experimented with several different reheating techniques and tips to find out what really works and brings the dish back to its former, crispy, tangy glory.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 1 person
Calories 250 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion sweet and sour sauce separated from the chicken
  • 1 portion sweet and sour chicken un-sauced

Instructions
 

  • If the chicken is already sauced, remove it from the sauce and pat it dry using a paper towel.
  • Place the sweet and sour sauce in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil.
  • Reheat the sauce for approximately 10-15 minutes at 350°F (180°C)
  • Preheat your air fryer to 390°F (200°C) and reheat the chicken for 2-3 minutes.
  • Allow the chicken to rest for 60-90 seconds on a wire rack before combining with the reheated sauce.

Notes

Note: if you don’t have an air fryer to hand, you can still achieve similar results by patting the chicken dry and cooking it in the oven or toaster oven. Do not cover the chicken in foil – this completely defeats the point of trying to crisp it up.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 250kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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