I’ve been asked a number of times about the best way to reheat my chicken wings (I have quite a few wing recipes on my blog as I love them), so I decided to write a post to which I can refer my readers.
If you do some googling, you will notice that there is no clear consensus on what the best way to reheat chicken wings is and everyone has own method. What works and tastes great to me may not necessarily taste great to you. Still, let me talk about a few really good methods to reheat wings that will produce results that taste as close to the original as possible, provided they were good originally. If they weren’t, well, just toss them and make a new batch instead. Then, you can try and pick whichever one works best for you.
Safety considerations when reheating chicken wings
There is one very simple rule – when reheating leftover chicken wings you must bring them to 165F internal temperature, as per USDA recommendation on reheating leftover food.
Method 1 – no reheating
No doubt, the best way to reheat chicken wing is to not have to reheat them. So, eat them while they are hot off the grill. Stuff you face if you have to, that way you won’t have to reheat them.
But seriously, one really good way to reheat wings is to NOT REHEAT them at all. No effort required! Crispy, slightly charred grilled chicken wings have as much flavor and taste just as great refrigerated as they do hot off the grill. My Irresistible Grilled Chicken Wings come to mind. When I have some of those left over, and that’s like almost never happens, I run to the fridge the next morning and devour a handful of them. Just like that, without bread, side dishes or anything. Try it, you may like it as much as I do.
Now, you have to be cautious with this method. If the wings sat outside a fridge for an extended period of time (30 minutes +) after you cooked them, or weren’t handled properly, or have been sitting in a fridge for more than a day, or your fridge doesn’t run cold enough, it’s best to reheat them and bring back to the safe temperature of 165F.
Method 2 – reheat chicken wings in a toaster oven
If I were to pick the best and the quickest wing reheating method, toaster oven method would win hands down. Simply place chicken wings, unwrapped, on a sheet of foil, in your toaster oven. Then heat them up at 350F for about 5-10 min, or until 165F inside. The wings will be almost, almost, as good as freshly cooked.
Method 3 – reheat chicken wings under a broiler
Broiled chicken wings are a great alternative to grilled chicken wings. I love making them when I want grilled wings but either don’t have access to my grill / smoker or just don’t have the time for it. Reheating chicken wings under a broiler works super well. If you don’t have a toaster oven, don’t just go out an buy one. Instead, use this great method. Simply preheat oven on high broil for about 15-20 minutes, with the rack positioned about 10 inches from the heating element. Then spread the wings on a baking sheet lined with foil, you can even add a cooling rack on top of the baking sheet to make the wings less greasy, and broil until they are fully reheated (165F internal temp), flipping once. That should take about 10-12 minutes and the results are great.
Method 4 – reheat chicken wings in an oven
There are dozens of ways to reheat chicken wings in an oven. Some swear by low and slow reheating, e.g. 20 minutes at 250F. My personal favorite is exactly the opposite – ‘high and fast’ if you will. I place the wings on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, sometime on a rack to make sure they come out less greasy, place in the cold oven on the top rack, then turn the oven on and set the temperature to 475F – 500F. The wings will come to temperature (165F) fairly quickly, about 10-15 minutes, and will regain some of their crispiness back.
A different way to reheat chicken wings in an oven is to use convection function. The only issue here is that this methods tends to dry previously cooked wings out. I wouldn’t use it at high temperatures and would monitor the wings very closely. Frankly, I would avoid this method for reheating wings. You can get some mean chicken wings using convection, e.g. Extra Crispy Baked Chicken Wings or Killer Baked Chicken Wings, but it works on raw, wet meat, and tends to dry out cooked meat within minutes.
Method 5 – reheat chicken wings in a pan
I am starting to see a pattern here – other than the toaster oven method, a good reheating method for wings is how you’d cook them initially. Well, maybe not. Convection baking make ridiculously good wings but sucks at reheating. Anyway, when want quick, flavorful and fall-off-the-bone tender wings I pan fry them. Pan-fried wings are extra tender using my closed-lid cooking method.
This method works very well for reheating wings as well. Simply heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium-low heat, add the wings to the pan and cook covered for about 5-8 minutes per side, or until fully reheated. For crispier wings, cook covered for about 5 minutes per side on medium-low, then crank up the temperature to medium-high and cook for another 5 minutes or so, frequently stirring and flipping the wings, until nicely browned and reached 165F internal temperature.
Method 6 – reheat chicken wings in a microwave
This is the crappiest method you can possibly find, yet the quickest of them all. If you are OK eating rubbery-skinned, greasy wings, this one is for you. Heck, I’ve done it myself a few times in my life when I needed to reheat wings quickly. If you do decide to nuke your wings, do so in a container with a cover on. Or just cover the container with a piece of Saran wrap. This will help keep the moisture in and prevent chicken fat from splattering all over the microwave. To reheat in a microwave, place the wings in a microwave safe container, cover and zap on high for 1 minutes. Remove the the microwave, toss, and evaluate. Depending on how many wings you, this may be enough. If not, zap for another 30-60 seconds, or until they reach 165F internal.
Method 7 – deep frying
Now, this method is borderline silly, but I’ve heard some people suggest it so I thought I’d mention it just for kicks. Why silly? Well, if you are going to go through all the hassle of deep frying your leftover wings, wouldn’t it be better to make a batch of fresh deep-fried wings instead? But, let’s say you’ve got a whole bunch of leftover wings and you crave deep-fried stuff, and you don’t mind all the hassle. The process is as follows: bring the wings to room temperature first as cold wings will lower oil temperature too much and the wings will become soggy and oily, heat oil to 350F, then deep fry until nicely crispy and internal temperature of the wings has reached 165F. That’s it. Some chefs swear by double-fried wings, so this method may actually produced awesome results. I have yet to try it.
Bonus method – back to the grill (or whatever)
So you’ve read about all the methods I described above and think they all suck. OK, if that’s the case, just go back to how you originally cooked them. If you grilled them, just fire up that grill of yours and grill until reheated. If you baked them wings, stick them back in the oven at the same temperature and baked until fully reheated (165F internal). With this method you will end up with crispier, more cooked skin as you will essentially be cooking it twice, but who’s gonna complain about that?