You’re hosting a party, the guests are mingling and you quickly duck into the kitchen to get the appetizers. Earlier, you made the most golden, crunchiest chicken wings on earth, but after putting them through the microwave they’ve become all chewy and no one will eat them! So, how to reheat wings and keep them appetizing?
Fret not! Reheating chicken wings properly might seem impossible, but I’ll tell you my favorite secrets to keeping them just the way they were when fresh out of the oven.
It all starts with proper storage!
It doesn’t matter whether you cooked the chicken wings in advance in order to save time, or whether they are leftovers from a game night a couple of days ago: there are tried and true ways to store chicken wings.
Wrap the cooked pieces in aluminum foil or food-safe plastic wrap: this will keep the meat moist and tasty. Then place the chicken wings in airtight containers, to avoid the spread of bacteria.
An important safety measure to follow: never let cooked food (such as your wings) come into contact with uncooked ingredients. That means, keep the already cooked wings away from all raw poultry.
A reliable way to do this is to place all cooked items above everything that’s raw. Also, make sure uncooked meats are stored in sealed containers.
Storing the wings properly will help them keep their flavor and guarantee the best possible results when you do reheat them!
How long do chicken wings keep for?
It depends on how you store them:
- On the counter: When left out, chicken will only keep for about two hours. This is because harmful bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature. If the wings have been on the counter for two hours or longer, don’t eat them.
- In the refrigerator: When you store them in the way I’ve detailed, your cooked chicken wings will keep good for 3 to 4 days. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t let too much time go by.
- In the freezer: In sealed freezer bags, wings will last up to 4 months, because the cold slows the growth of microbes. However, I’ve found that the texture changes when you use this method.
When reheating, make sure you have followed these instructions.
Before you reheat the chicken wings
Before you start reheating chicken wings, there are some steps to follow!
- Make sure you’ve chosen the reheating method and that you have everything you need at hand. You don’t want to rush unnecessarily.
- If you stored the wings in the freezer, thaw them in the refrigerator the night before. Never leave them to thaw on the counter: doing that could mean food poisoning.
- If the chicken wings were in the refrigerator, it’s safe to leave them on the counter for up to 10 minutes. The gradual increase in temperature means they’ll taste a lot better, and they will retain a golden, crispy look!
Oven: the best way to reheat chicken wings
To reheat wings in the oven: arguably the best way to do it. There are many different kinds of ovens, nowadays, and most of them— from the simplest to the fanciest— are a good option to reheat your food. So, what to do?
- Before taking the wings out, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Most ovens have an indicator for temperature, so it should be a no-brainer!
- After you’ve let the wings sit at room temperature for up to ten minutes, grab your favorite oven tray and cover it with baking paper or aluminum foil.
- Place the wings on the tray and space them out evenly. Use a spray bottle to sprinkle water lightly over the wings (this will keep them moist!). You can also paint a little butter over them.
- Bake them for about 15 minutes. When you’re halfway there, take the tray out and turn the wings around with a pair of tongs.
- Voilá! After 15 minutes, you’ll have good-as-new, perfectly hot chicken wings.
This method is the best way to reheat chicken wings: it provides even heating, which means there will be no cold spots in the wings, and brings back to life the crunchy texture all chicken wings should have.
Try alternative reheating methods to heat up wings
Sometimes using the oven is not an option: it might have malfunctioned, it could be too hot in the house, or you might have some other delicious treat cooking in there.
Whatever the reason, don’t despair! There are other ways to heat up wings and keep them tasty:
- Re-frying them: to heat up chicken wings by re-frying them, you only need a sturdy frying pan and some oil (olive, sunflower, your pick!).
- Cover the pan with the oil evenly and heat it up.
- When it’s hot (check by sprinkling some water: if the oil sizzles, it’s ready), put the wings on the pan and turn them over every 2 minutes or so.
- Pay attention: when the wings look evenly gold all-around, it’s time to take them out of the fire!
- Line a plate with paper towels to absorb extra oil. Place the wings on it.
- Grilling the chicken wings: This might not be the preferred method, as it can cause the wings to dry up a little, but it’s an easy and enjoyable process. You can grill them on a barbecue at low heat for about ten minutes. Again, pay attention to color: when they turn golden, they’re ready for eating!
Microwaving chicken wings isn’t the end of the world
When you think of microwaved chicken wings, you imagine soggy skin, rubbery flesh, and uneven warmth. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Though it may not be the best way to reheat wings, the microwave offers some advantages: it’s quick, easy, and leaves you lots of free space to cook other things. So, how to do it best?
- Place the chicken wings on a microwave-safe plate. Make sure to spread them around the edges and make them look flat. This way, the microwave radiation will cook the wings more evenly.
- Put the plate off-center: as the waves that heat up the wings travel in uneven patterns, doing this will guarantee that all the food travels through the cold spots and the hot spots.
- Place a bowl or cup with tap water in the microwave with the wings. The humidity produced by the water heating up will make sure the meat doesn’t dry out and become rubbery.
- You can cover the plate and wings with a paper towel to prevent moisture escaping the chicken.
- Every now and then, stop the microwave and check on the wings with a knife. If the center is hot, they’re done! Otherwise, turn them around and keep microwaving.
How to reheat buffalo wild wings
As hard as it is to think that there might be leftover buffalo wild wings— I mean, aren’t they the first and tastiest thing to be devoured?—, you might find yourself with some of these babies in your hands. How to reheat buffalo wings? For the most part, the same as you would other wings.
- The oven is still the best way to go: it will heat up the wings evenly and give you lots of space to work with.
- Re-frying is the next-best method: you have control over what you do and what you add to the wings.
- Speaking of adding: you might find that the spicy crust of the buffalo wings has worn off a little while they were stored. It might have been absorbed into the chicken. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you want your buffalo wings hot, am I right?
- Choose your favorite sauce for the chicken wings. This might be the one already on them, or you can mix-and-match! Get creative, your taste buds will thank you.
- You can choose to cook the wings with the sauce or add it later.
- If you decide to reheat the chicken wings with the sauce, add it to the pan or oven tray when they’re already mostly done. Make sure to cover the surface well.
- If you want to add the sauce once the wings are good and hot, put it in a bowl— you can add lemon, salt and pepper, or your favorite spices— and wait until the chicken is cooked. Then dip the wings in the mix and turn them around, covering them thoroughly.
If you follow these simple steps, no one will ever realize the wings aren’t brand-new!
Serve and enjoy!
The most important part of every meal is to feel good about it. So, whatever the results, get those wings on the table with dips or other dishes, and savor every last piece of them!
The bottom line
After learning these easy tips, you will never have to eat or present unpleasant chicken wings again.
A quick recap to remember how to reheat wings: make sure they are safely stored, choose a reheating method— the oven is best, but re-frying, grilling, and microwaving can also work— and follow the instructions. When the wings are hot and delectably golden, you can add spices and sauce. Serve immediately and— don’t forget it— kick your hard-working feet up and enjoy!