Can You Freeze Fried Chicken? How to Freeze/Defrost/Reheat?

There’s nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a piece of piping hot fried chicken. It’s no surprise that this food is a favorite among kids and adults alike.

However, lots of work goes into making fried chicken. You may decide to make a big batch, which can leave you with lots of leftovers and one main question: what do you do with them? Can you freeze fried chicken? Keep reading to find out!

Can You Freeze Fried Chicken?

We’ve got good news: the answer is yes, you can absolutely freeze fried chicken! As long as you store it properly, it’s perfectly safe to freeze fried chicken.

You can leave it in the freezer for up to four months, though you may want to enjoy it before then for maximum freshness (as mentioned in my previous post, fried chicken can only last for two hours at room temperature. )

And if you follow the tips below for defrosting and reheating, you won’t have to worry about the breaded part getting soggy or the chicken going dry.

How to Freeze Fried Chicken

So what’s the right way to freeze fried chicken? Follow the steps below to prep your batch for the freezer.

Cool the Chicken

The first step is to let the chicken cool, which is especially critical if you’re frying a batch specifically to freeze. All residual heat must be gone; otherwise, you risk discovering a soggy breaded layer when it’s time to enjoy your fried chicken.

However, be careful not to leave it at room temperature for too long. You should begin the wrapping process no more than sixty minutes after your chicken is cool, though it’s best to complete this process in less than thirty minutes.

crispy fried wings

Wrap the Chicken

Next, it’s time to wrap the chicken. There are two things to keep in mind: each piece should be wrapped separately, and each piece should be fully covered to avoid freezer burn [1].

You can use plastic wrap or freezer wrap for this step. If you prefer an extra layer of protection, wrap your covered pieces in aluminum foil.

Put It in a Freezer Bag

Now it’s time to stick all your individually wrapped pieces in a freezer bag or some other airtight container, like Tupperware or a freezer-friendly glass container.

It’s best not to skip this step, especially if you didn’t add a second layer of plastic wrap or freezer wrap. A freezer bag adds another layer of protection and keeps the moisture in the chicken.  

Label the Chicken

Before you put your nicely packaged chicken in the freezer, be sure to write the date on it, lest you forget when you froze the chicken. Having a label will ensure you’re not eating chicken that’s more than four months old.

How to Store Leftover Fried Chicken

Maybe you plan to freeze only part of your fried chicken, but you’d like to have some in a day or two. How do you store leftovers in the fridge?

crispy fried chicken legs

Prepping fried chicken for the fridge is similar to prepping it for the freezer. However, the process is simpler, and you won’t need any freezer bags. You may choose to wrap each piece in aluminum foil, or you can store it in a shallow airtight container. It’s up to you.

Once prepped, put your delicious chicken in the fridge until you’re ready for it. Make sure to eat it within five days to ensure everything stays fresh.

How to Defrost Fried Chicken

Now you know how to prepare fried chicken for storage, but what about defrosting it? You can go one of two ways: put it in the fridge to defrost or leave it at room temperature.

In the Fridge

Thawing fried chicken in the fridge is the ideal way to defrost it. Sure, it involves a little pre-planning, as it takes anywhere from eight to twelve hours to defrost this way, but it’s the best way to do so.

Chicken shouldn’t be left for too long at room temperature, and with this method, you don’t have to worry about checking it.

At Room Temperature

If the chicken craving has hit hard and you don’t have time to let yours thaw in the fridge, you can let it defrost on your countertop for about an hour. Just be careful not to let it sit for longer than two hours once it’s defrosted.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken

Reheating your chicken correctly is critical if you want to enjoy a crispy, delicious piece of fried chicken. When done incorrectly, you can end up with dry chicken (and nobody wants that!).

The two best options are reheating your food in the microwave or in the oven. Refrying is not recommended; doing so can overcook your chicken or make it soggy. You should also avoid using the stovetop or a toaster oven, which makes it difficult to reheat evenly.

Oven

Using the oven is hands-down the best reheating method. If you have access to one, preheat it to 375F and lay a sheet of foil on the pan.

Putting aluminum foil down serves two purposes. It makes cleanup a breeze, but more importantly, it keeps that chicken bread crispy. You’ll also want to add a layer of foil to the top of the pan once you put your chicken on it.

Heat for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Thicker pieces like breasts and thighs may take longer (up to twenty-five minutes), so you may want to split batches for convenience.

Microwave

Using a microwave is less ideal than reheating defrosted chicken in an oven. It’s more work, as you have to wrap each chicken piece with a paper towel to keep the breading intact.

Once you do, stick the pieces in the microwave for thirty seconds to start. If they’re still cold, turn them over and heat for thirty more seconds.

Bonus: How to Make Fried Chicken in Air Fryer

If you love fried chicken, you’ll love air fryer chicken. Air frying chicken results in a crispy outside and a juicy, tender inside. Best of all, it’s a lot healthier than traditional deep-frying.


Final Thoughts

There you have it–a complete guide to freezing fried chicken. Now you know how simple it is to store leftovers. As long as you follow the above steps carefully, you can freeze your chicken for up to four months and enjoy those leftovers whenever you’re ready.

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