How to Reheat Chicken in Microwave Safely (Best Way)

How to Reheat Chicken in MicrowaveLet’s face it, reheating leftovers can be icky. Nothing says gross more than eating cold chicken from last night’s dinner.

The soggy breading and lack of moisture can make anyone lose their appetite. And just when you decide to reheat on an oven or stovetop, more prep work and hours of waiting are needed.

At this point, you probably give up and order takeout instead. But what if there was a quicker, more convenient way to get your chicken back into a palatable state? Well, lucky for you, there is. All you need is a microwave.

How do you reheat chicken in microwave? Simply, place your chicken on a microwave-safe plate, and arrange it in an even layer. Add a splash of water or broth, then sprinkle a few droplets of olive oil over the top. Next, cover with a microwavable lid and nuke for two minutes per pound. After a minute, check for doneness, then flip and continue heating in 30-second increments until 165 °F.

And there you have it! A quick and easy way to reheat leftover chicken without sacrificing taste or texture.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of reheating chicken safely in a microwave. We’ll also share some tips and address common concerns about reheating chicken in the microwave.

Let’s get started.

Is It Safe To Reheat Chicken In The Microwave?

When it comes to food, one must consider one’s health. Unhealthy eating habits come at a high cost, both financially and physically. Given this concern, it is easy to understand why people are nervous about reheating chicken in a microwave.

The good news is that experts agree that you can do it safely under certain conditions. But first, let’s explain some fundamentals about the working of microwaves.

First, your microwave heat food by exciting water molecules within a process known as dielectric heating. This causes them to rapidly move around, heating all other nearby molecules, including those in your chicken. Note that it does not interfere with or change any chemical properties of your food.

Second, microwaves heat food at a very rapid rate. This allows you to quickly reheat your chicken without exposing it to intense temperatures for an extended period. As a result, soluble nutrients are preserved, and there is a slight loss of quality or taste.

According to the USDA, your food, including the chicken, is only safe for consumption if reheated to 165 ℉. This temperature will kill any bacteria that may have formed during storage or cooking.

Plus, before you even consider whether or not it’s safe to reheat chicken in the microwave, it must have been thoroughly cooked and then cooled adequately before storage. Store your food at temperatures between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit and within two hours of cooking.

If either of these steps are skipped, you could be putting yourself at risk for food poisoning.

How Long Should You Reheat Chicken In The Microwave?

How to Reheat Chicken in MicrowaveMost people dread reheating chicken using a microwave for simply one reason – they have no idea how long to heat it. If you don’t want your chicken tasting like leather, this can be quite a dilemma.

Chicken is a delicate meat and needs careful handling when reheating to avoid becoming tough and rubbery. One of the critical factors that determine the outcome of a tender, juicy, and flavorful piece of chicken is time. The amount of time spent heating food in a microwave impacts its texture.

So how long should you reheat chicken in a microwave?

Typically, one pound of chicken will take about two minutes to reheat. This is, however, merely a rough estimate and should be taken with a pinch of salt. The exact time will vary depending on your microwave’s wattage, weight, and the thickness of your chicken.

Because of these factors, it is recommended that you reheat your chicken in 30 seconds bursts flipping it halfway through. This will give you more control of the process and ensure even heating without overcooking or undercooking your food.

If you want to be extra cautious, then use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should reach 74 °C for poultry to be safe for consumption.

Tips for Reheating Chicken in the Microwave

How to Reheat Chicken in MicrowaveA little help or guidance here and there is never a bad thing. Everybody needs some assistance from time to time, especially when cooking. With that being said, here are some tips to ensure a delicious and safe meal every time you reheat chicken using your microwave.


  • Thaw your chicken if frozen before reheating it. You can do this a few ways, including using cold water or setting it out on a plate and letting it thaw at room temperature for several hours. You want to reduce reheating time as much as possible while avoiding burned chicken.
  • Cut your chicken into smaller portions before reheating it. This will help it cook faster and ensure that all meal parts are evenly and thoroughly heated. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears for easier cutting.
  • Reheat your chicken on a microwave-safe plate or dish. Avoid unsafe plates or containers that may melt from the high microwave temperatures and leach harmful chemicals into your food. Also, using metal bowls can cause sparks, leading to fire outbreaks.
  • Arrange your chicken pieces in a single layer on your microwave-safe plate or dish. Start by placing thicker pieces of meat towards your dish edges and work your way towards thinner portions, such as wings and drumsticks. This will help ensure that all meal parts are evenly heated and cooked.
  • Add a splash of water or chicken broth to your plate or dish before reheating it. This will help keep your chicken moist and ensure it doesn’t dry out during reheating. The broth also adds extra flavor, which is always a plus. Just make sure not to add too much liquid, resulting in soggy, mushy chicken.
  • Cover tightly with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap before reheating it. This will help trap heat and steam inside your dish, ensuring that your chicken is evenly cooked and moist during reheating. Alternatively, you can cover your plate or container with a damp paper towel if you don’t have any plastic wrap or a lid on hand.
  • Do not overcook your chicken during reheating. This is a common mistake and can cause your meat to become dry and rubbery. Microwave for short periods, preferably no longer than 30 seconds at a time, checking frequently after each interval. A food thermometer inserted into your chicken should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s done.
  • Allow at least five minutes for your chicken to rest before serving. This will allow it to finish cooking and ensure that all meal parts are evenly heated extensively. You also want the juices to settle back into your meat so you don’t have a dry, rubbery texture.

How to Reheat Chicken in Microwave (Step by Step)

How to Reheat Chicken in MicrowaveNow that we’ve established you can safely reheat chicken in a microwave; it’s time to look at how. The steps below are broken down into simple and easy-to-follow instructions.


Step 1: Defrost Your Chicken if Frozen

If your chicken is frozen, simply defrost either overnight in your refrigerator or by running it under cold water. If you’re short on time, you can microwave it for thirty-second intervals until it’s thawed through.

Step 2: Spread Your Chicken on a Microwavable Plate or Platter

Arrange your chicken pieces on a microwave-safe plate or platter in a single layer. Ideally, you want thicker portions of meat on the outside and thinner pieces towards the center. This will ensure that all the chicken pieces heat evenly.

Step 3: Add a Tablespoon of Water or Broth to Your Plate/Platter

This will help keep your chicken moist and prevent drying out during reheating. If you don’t have any water on hand, simply substitute with broth or stock. You can also add a tablespoon of butter or oil for added flavor.

Step 4: Cover Your Plate/Platter with a Microwavable Lid or Plastic Wrap

This will prevent splatters and keep your microwave clean. If you don’t have either on hand, use a damp paper towel instead.

Step 5:  Heat Your Plate/Platter for 2 Minutes

Simply pop your plate of chicken into your microwave, and heat in 30 seconds bursts. After a minute, check on your chicken, flip it over and continue heating until it’s hot or 165 ℉ (74 °C).

Final Step: Remove Your Plate/Platter from Your Microwave and Enjoy

Use oven mitts or pot holders when removing your plate as it will be hot. Let it cool down for a few minutes before serving with a side of veggies, rice, potatoes, or anything else you like.

Faqs on How to Reheat Chicken in Microwave

1. What is the best way to reheat cooked chicken?

You can reheat cooked chicken using either a microwave, an oven, stovetop, or air fryer. Each method has its pros and cons, so it’s essential to choose one that fits your needs.

For example, if you’re pressed for time, microwaving is a good option for reheating chicken. If you want crispy skin on your chicken, use an air fryer instead of a microwave.

2. How do you reheat chicken in the microwave without drying it out?

Sprinkle a little bit of water on your chicken before reheating it. This will keep it moist, and make sure you don’t overcook it. In the absence of moisture, cover your chicken with a damp paper towel. Also, nuke for short bursts (30 seconds at a time) instead of one long session.

3. Is it better to reheat chicken in the oven or microwave?

Both reheating methods have their pros and cons. You can use either way, but you may find that one works better for your situation than the other.

For instance, if you want crispy skin on your chicken, it’s best to reheat it in an oven. However, if you are trying to save time, reheating in a microwave is faster.

4. How long should you reheat chicken and rice in the microwave?

It will take about 2 minutes for a pound of chicken to reheat in the microwave and 3 minutes for rice. So a total of 5 minutes is needed to reheat this meal in the microwave.

Using an instant-read thermometer, which should read 165 degrees F when placed into your food, is the best way to tell if it’s done.

5. Can you microwave pink chicken?

Yes, you can microwave pink chicken. However, when reheating cooked poultry, make sure it’s piping hot or reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because raw chicken may be contaminated with bacteria that cause food poisoning, such as salmonella.

6. Why does chicken explode in the microwave?

The main reason for exploding chicken is its high internal water content which causes steam pressure when heated. If you’re going to microwave your chicken, pierce it with a fork to vent out steam.

7. Why should you not reheat chicken in the microwave?

Although you can use a microwave to reheat your chicken, it’s not always ideal. The issue is that microwaves heat unevenly, resulting in cold spots where bacteria can grow. If you don’t heat your food thoroughly enough, there’s a risk of food poisoning.

Closing Thoughts

Microwaves are convenient for reheating your chicken, especially if you’re pressed for time. You just need to abide by some rules and enjoy a mouth-watering meal.

Make sure that you sprinkle some water for extra moisture. If not, your chicken will become dry and rubbery. Nuke at short intervals to avoid overcooking it. Lastly, make sure your food is thoroughly heated to prevent food poisoning.

So, the next time you have leftover chicken in your fridge, don’t fret. You can effortlessly reheat it with these tips and others mentioned in the microwave without affecting its taste or quality.

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