Is Reheating Cooked Chicken Dangerous?

Before you reheat that leftover chicken meat, make sure you know how to do it safely. Make sure you know when and how the chicken was originally prepared.

Follow these simple rules when reheating chicken meat to avoid making yourself or anyone else ill.

Safely Reheating Chicken

1. Never leave raw chicken out of the fridge, even to defrost.

2. Cover cooked meat after serving, preferably with foil.

3. Chill cooked chicken within an hour of serving.

4. Reheat thoroughly, to at least 75°C/165°F.

5. Only reheat once!

Storing Raw and Cooked Chicken

Do not allow cooked chicken to become contaminated by raw meat. Cooked meats should always be stored separately from raw meats. If possible, keep raw meats on a lower shelf in the refrigerator than cooked meats and keep cooked meat covered.

Enjoying Leftovers Safely

Don't waste a bite of that delicious roasted chicken! Reheat cooked meat thoroughly. It should be piping hot throughout, meaning at least 75°C/165°F all the way through.

Reheat Only Once!

Wrap your leftover pieces of chicken meat in foil and reheat in oven or place on a plate to reheat in a microwave. Never use foil in a microwave! Reheat only once after the original preparation. Once you have re-heated it once, eat it straight away.

Reheating Barbecued Chicken

It doesn't matter how chicken meat is cooked the first time, it is only safe to reheat it once. Similarly, the chicken can be reheated in a microwave, a frying pan, in the oven, on the barbecue, or even in a slow cooker.

Remember: Reheated chicken meat must consumed in one sitting!

Can I Add Cold Chicken to Recipes and Reheat?

Yes you can. I do it all the time. I'll often buy a ready-cooked chicken breast, or a pack of ready-cooked chicken and add it to the top of a pizza, or use it in chicken curry.

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Comments 46 comments

stricktlydating profile image

stricktlydating 7 years ago from Australia

Hi earner, thankyou for providing these details about re-heating chicken. It's very useful.

Best wishes.

earner profile image

earner 7 years ago from United Kingdom Author

My pleasure stricktlydating

I enjoyed writing about reheating chicken, I've never been ill after I've reheated chicken - and I've done it hundreds of times.

it's just basic food hygiene, common sense and not being lazy. A lot of people are lazy and can't be bothered to pop the chicken into the fridge after they've eaten their meal. They sit down and get distracted, then 6-8 hours later (or the next morning) it's still sat out in the kitchen.

When chicken is left out at room temperature the bacteria starts to multiply. If it's been left out for a long time then the ONLY place for it is the bin.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for a well written hub and good advise.

Jordan1990 profile image

Jordan1990 7 years ago from Kenilworth

As someone who now cooks a lot more than they used to, I found this very useful hub to read. I don't like wasting food and now I won't need to! x

earner profile image

earner 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Remember, reheating chicken is exactly the same as reheating turkey. So is reheating turkey dangerous? The answer is the same for reheating turkey as it is for reheating chicken.

Be careful when reheating your Christmas turkey too. Simply do the right thing and reheating a Xmas turkey is safe. Enjoy your Turkey leftovers!

Kulsum Mehmood profile image

Kulsum Mehmood 6 years ago from Nagpur, India

Thank you earner for your advice. Very useful info.

helgio 6 years ago

is reheating chicken after its been reheated 10 minutes prior counted as reheating?

Michael Willis profile image

Michael Willis 6 years ago from Arkansas

Wonder if this applies to deep fried and then cold chicken eaten? I like to buy a bucket of Chicken from Kentucky Fried and I love the cold chicken right out of the Fridge. Maybe the chicken being Deep Fried makes a difference. Have done this all my life with no problems.

map65 6 years ago

Good advice, thanks

nedlear 6 years ago

Hi, thanks for the info. Just eating some chicken now and was wondering when will i know if i'm going to get sick. I have had chicken poisoning from KFC when i was a small boy so i know it's painful, i just can't remember it unfolding. Also, what should one do if poisoning does occur?

Thanks again,


Wise owl 5 years ago

Remember, reheating chicken is exactly the same as reheating owl.

anonymous 4 years ago

so i made a home made pizza 2 days ago with chicken on it is it okay to reheat in the microwve without getting ill?

bob 4 years ago

good advice on chicken and really helpful

Carol 4 years ago

I was cooking a roast chicken when my oven broke down. The chicken was warm but no where near cooked. My oven has since been repaired but the whole chicken has been in the fridge for 2 days. Should i just throw it out?

earner profile image

earner 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

I'd certainly not eat that..... it's been part cooked and then kept in a refrigerator. It might be OK, but it's not worth the risk.

Audrey 4 years ago

Thanks for clear well written instructions

SHEILA EAMES 4 years ago

How long shall i reheat a cooked chicken breast which i am going to cook today but reheat in the microwave tomorrow

earner profile image

earner 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

If you want to reheat a cooked chicken breast then how long you microwave it for will depend on the size of the chicken breast and the heat of your microwave.

As a guesstimate, I'd suggest that, from chilled, you put it on full heat (700watts) for 2 minutes, then turn it over and microwave it for 2 minutes more. Then, if it's not steaming, turn it and cook again for another 2 minutes.

The important thing is that the whole thing should be steaming hot - hot all the way through.

steve 2 years ago

agree on all that exept not good to put anything warm in a fridge as it will change the fridge temperature and affect other food especially raw meat.

earner profile image

earner 2 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Steve - you have to be careful what you put in the fridge to ensure it's not going to affect what else is in there. If I am putting anything in the fridge that's vaguely warmish then I make sure that it's well away from anything else - giving it lots of clear space and putting it in the best position for not affecting other items.

The issue is if you put warm chicken in the fridge whether that will raise the temperature of the items around it and the fridge as a whole. So, that will depend on the size/efficiency of the fridge, the size of your chicken/container and what else you've got in the fridge.

Most people, if organised, could rearrange the contents of their fridge appropriately to ensure the chicken finds a good/safe spot.

If in doubt, if you've got a freezer, you can take some ice packs from the freezer and place the chicken (wrapped) so that it's covered by the ice packs, even in a separate container, to cool it rapidly.

Mon 23 months ago

What about if I have a cold plate of chicken take out that is in sauce that I put straight in the fridge after I finished with it and was cold enough to put in there (I at first thought it would contaminate the chicken if I put it in the fridge half hot-not sure if this is true?) then take it out the next day and want to reheat it? Is that ok? I don't know if they reheated it at the place I ordered it from but when it came it was in the sauce on the bone. I live in Bangkok, Thailand.

earner profile image

earner 23 months ago from United Kingdom Author

Good question Mon - and there's no simple answer.

If you know the establishment well and are confident you know their food storage/heating/re-heating policies, then it should be OK. But, what if it has already been cooked/frozen/reheated before they hand it over to you?

Personally, I'd have no qualms over microwaving some chicken nuggets from a local Chinese takeaway the day after - I do it often. But it's something you have to judge for yourself and take a chance on. As I am making the choice and am the only one to suffer if I get it wrong, and as I'm young/healthy, there's less risk for me.... so just be your own judge and be prepared to accept that one day you might get it wrong and find that on that day reheating chicken was dangerous for you!

I've never had any ill effects from reheating chicken from any source, but that might be luck.

aesta1 profile image

aesta1 23 months ago from Ontario, Canada

I am concerned about this as often, we have chicken that we can't finish. Is this true of turkey as well?

earner profile image

earner 23 months ago from United Kingdom Author

aesta1 - reheating turkey should follow the same rules as chicken, they're both poultry. Although chicken seems to have more risks attached to it - this might be because more chickens are reheated more often as more chickens are bought.

janshares profile image

janshares 22 months ago from Washington, DC

I'm a big chicken re-heater-upper. I noticed that what makes a big difference is how well the chicken was cooked the first time. For example, COSTCO tends to not make their rotisseries well-done which causes that "day-after" taste when re-heated. On the other hand, Shoppers tends to do their rotisseries very well-done which makes that nice roast flavor last longer. I also don't reheat the whole thing. I cut off what I want to eat. Incidently, I had to throw away that COSTCO chicken after a few days. I think because it wasn't cooked all the way. Thanks for your informative hub and pointers about reheating.

Taylor Qualman profile image

Taylor Qualman 22 months ago from rawson, ohio

Very good article! I've seen first hand how some people handle meat, and it scares me. Old fashion ways still seem to be out there.

acorn 22 months ago

I've cooked liver pate, cooled it down, and cut into it today (the day after cooking), and it is still slightly pink inside - can I put back into the terrine and continue cooking for say another hour, then re-cool down?

earner profile image

earner 21 months ago from United Kingdom Author

Reheating chicken isn't dangerous - it's people that are dangerous when they have a gung ho approach to food safety.

Acorn - I've no idea, I've never made liver pate.

johnt50 19 months ago

Question: I prepared cooked a few pieces of chicken sliced them after cooked and added rice - I would eat this over a 3-5 period - utilizing a microwave for heating .40 seconds. My stomach has been bothering me for about a week......any clue & advise ???

earner profile image

earner 19 months ago from United Kingdom Author

johnt50 - it could be the rice. Reheating chicken is OK if done correctly, but a lot of people don't realise you also need to cool/reheat rice carefully. Cool the rice ASAP (within an hour), refrigerate, then reheat so it's hot all the way through, really hot.

Charlotte 17 months ago

I am making a chicken dish in the slow cooker using diced chicken, veg, sauce etc. I wanted to put some in plastic container in the fridge once cooled down, then reheat in microwave the next day. Is this ok?

earner profile image

earner 16 months ago from United Kingdom Author

Charlotte - your chicken dish in the slow cooker using diced chicken will be perfectly safe if you put some in a plastic container in the fridge. Just make sure you cool it down and get it into the fridge within an hour. My fridge is mostly empty, so I've always a completely empty shelf, so am comfortable putting chicken in the fridge while it's still quite warm as it's not near any other foods that would warm up.

For those who have a stuffed and full fridge it'll be necessary to clear some space and/or take extra efforts to cool the chicken quicker. e.g. once it's in the plastic container - if it's watertight, you could try placing that in a bowl of ice or ice water to aid cooling as fast as possible (before you forget about it).

That's it: cool and refrigerate chicken within an hour. Reheating chicken in the microwave is perfectly safe and valid (I use my microwave for 90% of my food prep and reheating), just make sure it's really hot.

Pauly 16 months ago

I have just removed some chicken from the fridge (was cooked yesterday) and poured a chicken and mushroom pot noodle on it and the consumed it. I guess the chicken would of not reached 75c so it looks like it will be up all night.

16 months ago

I had chicken left over ..reheated but wasnt piping hot is that dangerous as I ate it and now nervous pls ?

mary615 profile image

mary615 15 months ago from Florida

I like to roast a whole hen and then use the leftover chicken (after refrigeration, of course). I use it for chicken salad, and chicken and dumplings.

I agree the chicken should be placed in the refrig. after cooking, though.

Linda 12 months ago

Hello. I cooked a chicken yesterday but it's still a little pink at the leg joint its in the fridge. Do you think if I took all the meat off the bone then thoroughly reheated it to say 85c or more it would be ok. Many thanks...

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 12 months ago from Home Sweet Home

thanks for your advice, I heard that reheating will create bacteria

Doreen Paul 12 months ago

Cooked chicken casserole last night but had power cut in the middle of the process. Resumed cooking the next morning. Can I put in 'fridge' and reheat in 2 days time

hazeltos profile image

hazeltos 10 months ago from Summerfield, Florida

I had no idea you could not reheat chicken more than once. I use leftover chicken in soups and casseroles. I will have to be more careful.

Amanda pocock 9 months ago

I cooked chicken casserole on monday forgot to put left over in fridge been in microwave, it's nonow Wednesday is it ok to eat thanks

Zoe 5 months ago

After how many days can you reheat meat I.E beef/chicken?

Jane 4 months ago

I made a pizza with previously cooked chicken from chilled section in supermarket. Should I have eaten the pizza immediately or could I eat it cold the next day? It's been in the fridge overnight. Is it safe to leave reheated chicken overnight in the fridge?

earner profile image

earner 3 months ago from United Kingdom Author

Jane, thanks for commenting.

I can see you bought pre-cooked chicken from the chilled section in the supermarket (I do that!). Then you put it on a pizza and cooked the pizza.

Then you put the pizza in the fridge ....

Is it safe? I'd say so.

If you'd cooked the pizza, then left it in the kitchen for 4 hours while you watched two films, then stuck it in the fridge, then I'd say "probably not safe".

The issue is that chicken at room temperature has the potential to grow bugs that are not nice.

It's really about food storage. I always say "once" because that's the best simple information to give out.

Yours I'd eat though :)

Sam 6 weeks ago

Question: cooked chicken yesterday put it in a container, tonight went to measure it out to bring for lunch tomorrow and it was a bit pink- put it in the microwave for 30 seconds then put it back in the fridge.. Is it okay to eat?

earner profile image

earner 4 weeks ago from United Kingdom Author

It should be OK, usually. You can reheat chicken twice, it's really about how the chicken's been cooled/stored between times that's the essential factor. That's why the advice usually goes out to "only reheat chicken once" as you're then in the realms of relying on people's ability to continue to cool/store the chicken correctly. It's over-engineering for slack people :)

Julie Lloyd 13 days ago

I got a whole roast chicken from Woolworths yesterday and had some with salad. I cut up the rest and put it in 2 plastic containers in the refrigerator. I would like to use this in my slow-cooker (at least part of it). Are there any recipes that I could use to do this using macaroni or rice and some tomatoes and onion? Please let me know of any you know of. Thank you. Julie

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