How to Reheat Chicken Breasts Without Drying Them Out

updated Apr 4, 2022
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It would probably be challenging to find a fridge in anyone’s home without a package of chicken breasts. Unless you stick to a strictly vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, you likely have this beloved protein stocked in your home at all times.

Chicken breasts are a versatile go-to for lean and hearty dinners. And leftovers are great to have on hand for meal-prep lunches or quick dinners (here are 30 fun recipes for leftover chicken to get you started).

When it comes to knowing how to reheat chicken breasts, however, there’s definitely a right and a wrong way to do it. As with any kind of meat, the main risk when it comes to reheating chicken breasts is drying them out — even if you had perfectly cooked piece of chicken the first time around, you could end up with a leftover version that’s bone-dry. Here are some tips for keeping chicken moist — not dry and rubbery — when you reheat it.

How to Reheat Chicken Breasts Without Drying Them Out

When reheating chicken breasts, a good rule of thumb is to look to how they were originally cooked, as explained further in our guide to how to reheat leftovers. In the case of chicken, this usually means the oven or the stove. The microwave is another option, though it’s trickier to keep microwaved chicken moist.

How to Reheat Chicken Breasts in the Oven

To reheat boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the oven, preheat the oven to 350˚F; meanwhile, remove the chicken from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Add water or chicken broth to a baking dish — just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken breasts in the baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until heated through, at least 10 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165˚F.

For skin-on chicken breasts (whether boneless or skinless), follow the same steps described above, but add to the reheating time as needed (about 15 to 20 minutes should do it). After the chicken is warmed through, remove the foil and cook the chicken breasts, skin-side up, under the broiler to let the skin crisp up — keep a close eye on it during this time; it should only take a minute or two.

How to Reheat Chicken Breasts on the Stovetop

To reheat boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the stovetop, remove the chicken breasts from the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Add a little bit of water or chicken broth to a medium or large skillet, add the chicken breasts and heat over medium to medium-high. Cover with a lid and heat until warmed through, turning, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165˚F, about 10 minutes. (If you’re looking to get started, make use of this guide on how to cook super moist chicken breasts on the stove.) Skin-on chicken breasts can also be reheated in this way, but we prefer the oven method to keep the skin crispy.

How to Reheat Chicken Breasts in the Microwave

Though you should generally try to stick to reheating chicken breasts in the manner that they were originally prepared, you can reheat them in the microwave if you’re in a pinch. To reheat boneless skinless chicken breasts in the microwave, slice them into bite-size pieces and place them on a microwave-safe plate or glass dish. Spoon a little water or chicken broth over the slices and cover with a microwave-safe food cover. Heat in 1 minute increments until the pieces are warmed through (once again, 165˚F is the magic number). This go-to method can also be applied to other types of poultry, explained further in this article on how to reheat leftover turkey.

Alternatively, you can use Kitchn associate food editor Nicole Rufus’s go-to technique: Dampen a thick paper towel slightly and lay on top of the pieces of chicken before heating it up. This will also help lock in steam and reincorporate moisture back into the chicken — incidentally, this method works well for reheating steak too!

If you want to reheat bone-in, skin-on breasts in the microwave, follow either of the methods outlined above for boneless, skinless breasts, and then — if you have time — place the chicken under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp up the skin.

A Note on Safely Reheating Cooked Chicken Breasts

As noted above, you can safely reheat cooked chicken breasts if you do it properly. The internal temperature of reheated leftover chicken breasts should register 165˚F on an instant read thermometer. You should also only reheat leftover chicken once, so only reheat as much as you need in the moment.