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Can you reheat cooked chicken – and should you? Tips on safely reheating leftovers

Whether you’re actively trying to manage your budgets better in the face of the cost of living crisis or you’re just looking to reduce your food waste, knowing how to properly store and cook leftovers can make a huge difference.

Cook a big meal in the evening and you can have lunches for the next couple of days – might not sound like a lot but that could quickly add up to a substantial saving after a few weeks.

Enough that maybe you don’t need to cancel your Netflix or gym membership.

So, with that in mind, let’s address a topic that can stump some people. Can you reheat chicken? If so, how many times?

Here is everything you need to know.

Can you reheat cooked chicken?

Yes, you can reheat cooked chicken – as long as you stick to some basic guidelines.

First, you need to let any cooked chicken cool before you pack it away for leftovers.

You should cover your left-over food, let it cool to room temperature (no more than four hours), and then put it straight into the fridge. Putting hot food in the fridge can breed bugs and bacteria and spoil your food.

Secondly, you need to make sure that you’re always cooking your chicken thoroughly – it should be piping hot, all the way through.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) explains, ‘reheating means cooking again, not just warming up. Always reheat food until it is steaming hot all the way through (you should only do this once).’

How many times can you reheat chicken?

Most sources agree you can reheat chicken safely two or three times.

It all comes down to properly reheating it and properly storing leftovers. If you let food cool before popping it in the fridge, you can reheat it a couple of times safely.

How to reheat cooked chicken

Depending on the tools available to you and how you cooked the chicken in the first place, you can reheat your meal a number of ways.

Reheating chicken in the oven

  • Blot the chicken you want to eat before adding some oil that’ll help crisp the skin
  • Food should be heated until it maintains the safe temperature of 70 degrees Celsius or above temperature for two minutes. Use an internal thermometer to check this.

Reheating chicken in the microwave

  • Microwaves are quicker, but they don’t always evenly heat food
  • When using the microwave to reheat chicken, cut it into smaller chunks if you can
  • When cooking, take it out halfway to check it’s cooking throughout and give it a stir or a shake to ensure all bits are cooking
  • Cook on full power for at least three minutes or until it’s piping hot – it’s better to make it too hot than not hot enough, so if it’s steaming hot, let it sit for a few minutes.

Reheating chicken on the hob

  • Add oil or butter to the hot pan before adding the chicken, and then cover if you want to maintain moisture
  • Heat for around five minutes, flipping halfway to ensure the meat is heated throughout
  • If the meat has been cut into smaller pieces, make sure these aren’t overlapping or touching when cooking.

The FSA gives some general advice on what to do when reheating leftovers.

This includes checking that pieces of chicken are very hot (steaming) in the middle. The meat should not be pink or red and the juices should not have any pink or red in them.

Also, if you are reheating large amounts of chicken, it’s advisable to check the meat in the thickest part of the leg.

Another thing to bear in mind is, though overcooking chicken can dry it out, it’s much safer than undercooking it. Undercooked chicken or chicken that hasn’t been safely reheated can still host bacteria that can cause illnesses including salmonella.

Credit: Source

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