We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

How To Keep Fried Chicken Crispy

Norah Clark
Crispy fried chicken with sauce in a serving bowl.

To keep fried chicken crispy once you’ve prepared it, place it in the oven at an extremely low temperature until you’re ready to serve. If you’d like to reheat fried leftover chicken, you just need to heat it in an oven to an extremely high temperature. This will allow the coating to dry while the chicken is warming.

Crispy, fried foods are one of the greatest food inventions of all time! There are a lot of multi-million-dollar firms based around crispy fried chickens, to be sure.

It’s delicious and juicy inside but exceptionally crisp and crispy on the outside. It’s a treat!

Read on to see the methods to keep fried chicken crispy and how to reheat leftover fried chicken.

Crispy Fried Chicken

You may have seen that we love crispy fried chicken. Making it requires a perfect ratio of ingredients, the most effective execution of the method, and cooking the chicken at precise temperatures for a specific period.

However, after all that work, the crispiness may last only for around an hour – if you’re lucky. Throughout the years, we’ve had a lot of fun in the realm of fried chicken, and today we’ll be sharing our best practices with you.

The first aspect you should consider is the kind of chicken you want to refrigerate. Fried chicken could be made at home (prepared from scratch), pre-coated, pre-fried frozen chicken, or store-bought ready-to-eat fried chicken (from a fast-food franchise).

Each has distinct features and, therefore, will require different strategies to ensure they are crisp. Within each category, each brand or franchise contains different components that could influence how you cook.

If this method does not work for the specific type or type of frozen chicken you are using, keep it in mind and try a different method next time.

Reheating chicken leftovers and crisp them differs from keeping fried chicken crisp for about an hour or two.

What Makes Fried Chicken Crispy

When you consider the method employed to prepare fried chicken, it’s always the same process with slight differences in ratios and method.

The chicken’s meat is cleaned and washed to eliminate impurities or unusual flavors. It’s not necessary, and most people don’t bother. It’s just a safety measure.

The chicken pieces are then individually coated with flour that has been seasoned, dipped in a beaten egg, then into seasoned breadcrumbs. There are ingredients that could be substituted for these, but the process is always the same.

Most often, each piece is coated twice to give an improved coating and, in the end, more crisp and clean pieces.

After the pieces are coated, most recipes recommend letting them rest in the fridge. This is dependent on the recipe and its specific ingredients.

The chicken is then cooked in hot oil between 320 and 360 degrees F (160-180 degrees C). Choosing the best oils for frying your chicken in is one of the reasons your chicken will turn out crispy.

Another element that causes food items to be crispy is the ingredients employed, in this case, eggs.

The moisture inside the egg is eliminated in the cooking process, which is why the egg coating is crispy while the chicken remains soft and moist.

Who would have thought that the fried chicken was so complex?

How Fried Chicken Can Lose Crispness

If frying food strips moisture away to form an extremely crispy crust, it’s clear that adding moisture would cause it to lose its crispness.

Moisture is everywhere! When the temperature is at room temperature, crisp chicken can absorb moisture from the air and become soggy.

A refrigerator uses liquid cooling systems to help cool food items. Consequently, fried chicken will absorb moisture in there too.

The most effective way to keep your chicken crisp is to keep it away from moisture, But how do you do this?

How To Keep Fried Chicken Crispy

Let’s begin with freshly prepared, home-made fried chicken. 

Once the chicken is taken off the grill, it begins to absorb moisture from the chicken’s flesh and the air around it.

These techniques are best suited when you cook your own chicken or freeze chicken. However, they are not for chicken that has been pre-cooked.

The chicken that you bought from a store has been sitting out for a while before you even purchased it, and after it’s been taken away from their ovens or heating elements, applying these methods won’t do much.

1. Keep Fresh Fried Chicken Crispy Up To An Hour

This method is great when you’ve just cooked and you want to ensure that your food is crispy prior to serving or to ensure that your subsequent servings are in good condition.

To keep your freshly fried chicken crisp for around an hour, take these steps after you complete the cooking process:

  1. Put a wire rack over an oven sheet or roasting tray.
  2. When you’ve cooked an entire batch or piece of chicken, take the chicken from the oil and put it on the wire rack. Be sure that the pieces aren’t touching.
  3. Place it in a dry, cool location away from drafts or direct sunlight. A microwave or oven which hasn’t been used for the purpose of cooking will be the best choice.

The reason that the “paper towel method” doesn’t work is that the chicken is left in the oil and becomes soggy once more. 

Pros:
  • This is a great option for when you’re required to fry an entire batch of chicken. As the first pieces are taken out, they’ll likely remain crisp for up to an hour. 
  • This recipe doesn’t require any additional effort or prep. Simply fry the chicken and place your chicken on the plate.
  • This method doesn’t need specific equipment or equipment and will not cost you a dime (like changing paper towels can).

Cons:

  • This method is not a good way to keep your chicken crisp for a prolonged time. Anything that is longer than 45 minutes or one hour will result in the chicken cooling down, taking in moisture, and becoming a bit soggy.

This method is ideal for when you want something easy to keep your chicken crisp just before eating or when you’re eating.

2. Keep Fried Chicken Crispy 2+ Hours

What happens if you need a way to keep your chicken crisp for a longer time, like during a large party or family gathering?

To keep your freshly fried chicken crisp for a few hours, Follow these steps:

  1. The oven should be set to 200 degrees F (100 degrees C).
  2. Set a wire rack on top of the baking pan or roasting tray.
  3. Once you’ve cooked an entire batch or piece of chicken, take it from the fryer and then place it on the rack. Make sure that the pieces don't touch. Repeat this process until your chicken is cooked.
  4. After you have finished cooking, put your baking pan and the wire rack in the oven at a low temperature. The chicken can be kept inside for about two hours before it begins drying out the chicken’s flesh.
  5. If you think it is getting too hot in your oven, you could reduce the temperature, but not too much since the moisture needs to be evaporated continuously.

Pros:

  • This method is extremely effective as it uses method 1 to stop the chicken from becoming moist, as the chicken is drained over a wire rack and not using paper towels.
  • Using an oven set to the lowest temperature will help keep the moisture out of the poultry and is a hassle-free process.
  • The chicken can be kept ultra-crispy for a few hours as you wait for your guests to arrive or run some errands.

Cons:

  • This process requires the oven to be turned on for the entire time, and that consumes plenty of power, a.k.a. money.
  • It is not a good idea to use leftover chicken.

3. Refry Store-bought Fried Chicken – Same Day

As soon as the chicken comes out of the oven at the store, it begins to absorb moisture.

It won’t be nearly as crisp when you get home. This is the best way to bring back fried chicken that you bought on that same day:

  1. Prepare your oven for 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Put a wire rack over the baking pan or roasting tray.
  3. The chicken pieces should be laid out in one stack on the rack and placed in the oven.
  4. Bake in a high-temperature oven for around 5-8 minutes or until the coating is crispy once more.
  5. If you wish for the meat to remain crisp for a few hours following the cooking, lower the temperature to 200 degrees F (100 degrees C) and keep the chicken to rest until prepared to cook it. Or, you could just reheat the chicken when you require it.

Pros:

  • It is a quick and easy method to heat up store-bought chicken.
  • Crispier chicken.

How To Store Leftover Fried Chicken

The term “leftover chicken” refers to any chicken portion that has been placed inside the freezer to completely cool and then heated.

When you freeze fried chicken, it’s harder to get your fried chicken to a crisp appearance since the coating has taken in much moisture.

We have found that the following recipes work great with leftover chicken that you have cooked yourself; however, not so well with store-bought or frozen pieces. 

1. In The Oven

Here’s how to bring back your leftovers from the kitchen, the most effective method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. As the oven is heating, take the chicken out of the refrigerator. Set it aside at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Set a wire rack on top of oven sheets or roasting tray.
  4. The chicken pieces should be laid out on the rack and then placed in the oven.
  5. Bake in a hot oven for around 12-20 minutes and until the chicken has warmed up and the coating has become crispy and crispy.

Pros:

  • It is an extremely efficient method. 

    Cons:

    • It requires a number of additional steps
    • Note: Chicken should not be reheated more than once. 

    2. In The Air Fryer

    If you own an air fryer, this is an excellent method of heating up and crisping up leftover chicken:

    1. Preheat your oil until it is at 360 Degrees F (180 degrees C).
    2. When the hot oil has begun to heat up, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let it stand on the counter at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.
    3. Add the chicken into the fryer (in small quantities) and cook for approximately 5-10 minutes until your chicken is crispy again.

    Pros:

    • Air fryers provide great dry air circulation and blend the best features from both oven and fryer processes.
    • It’s an extremely simple and easy method.
    • It's suitable for just about any cooked chicken.

    Cons:

    • Needs special equipment.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Profile Image Norah Clark

    Norah Clark

    Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

    Back to Boyd Hampers Magazine

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

    1 of 4