can you reheat cooked chicken from the supermarket

Can You Reheat Cooked Chicken from the Supermarket?

Pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket has become a popular option for busy individuals who are looking for a quick and easy meal. Whether it’s for a family dinner or a packed lunch, pre-cooked chicken has been a lifesaver for many households. But what happens when you have leftovers? Can you reheat cooked chicken from the supermarket safely to avoid foodborne illnesses? Let’s explore the guidelines and recommendations surrounding the reheating of pre-cooked supermarket chicken.

Is it Safe to Reheat Cooked Chicken?

Reheating cooked chicken is generally safe, provided that certain precautions are taken to ensure that the chicken is thoroughly heated before consuming. The primary concern with reheating cooked chicken is the potential growth of harmful bacteria, particularly if the chicken has not been properly stored or handled.

Food Safety Guidelines Regarding Reheating Chicken

The USDA recommends that cooked poultry should be reheated to an internal temperature of at least 165°F to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. It’s important to use a food thermometer to ensure that the meat reaches this safe temperature throughout.

What Makes Pre-Cooked Supermarket Chicken Unsafe to Reheat?

While pre-cooked supermarket chicken may seem like a convenient option, it might not always be an ideal choice for reheating due to various reasons:

Ingredients and Preparation Methods

The ingredients and preparation methods used in pre-cooked supermarket chicken can affect its ability to be safely reheated. Some manufacturers may use addititives such as sodium, phosphates, and nitrates which can impact the quality and safety of the meat when reheated.

Additives and Preservatives

Many pre-cooked chicken products are treated with additives and preservatives to extend their shelf life. While these substances help prolong the life of the chicken, they can also affect the safety of reheated meat. Some preservatives could even trigger an allergic reaction or cause digestive issues.

How Long Does Supermarket Chicken Last?

The shelf life of pre-cooked supermarket chicken depends on various factors, including the storage conditions, expiry date and the presence of preservatives. In general, most pre-cooked poultry products have a refrigerated shelf-life of around 2-4 days. If you don’t plan on consuming it within this time frame, it is best to freeze it for later use.

Storing Supermarket Chicken Properly

It’s essential to store pre-cooked supermarket chicken properly to ensure its safety and freshness to reheat later. Store the chicken in an airtight container or tightly sealed freezer bag to prevent moisture and bacteria growth. Keep it in the refrigerator set at 40°F or below until ready to eat or freeze it if you won’t be using it soon.

Best Ways to Reheat Pre-Cooked Chicken

If you’re planning on reheating cooked chicken from the supermarket, there are different methods you can choose from depending on your desired outcome:

Oven Reheating Method

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F
  • Place the chicken in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil to retain moisture.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Remove from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Microwave Reheating Method

  • Take your pre-cooked chicken out of the fridge and place it on a microwave-proof dish.
  • Cover it loosely with a damp paper towel or microwave food cover.
  • Heat for one to two minutes on high, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Remove from the microwave and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Stovetop Reheating Method

  • Place a pan on the stove with a small quantity of oil or butter over medium heat.
  • Add the pre-cooked chicken to the pan and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until heated through.

Steam Table Reheating Method

  • If you have access to a steam table, place your pre-cooked chicken into the steam table at 165°F.
  • Leave it until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (generally takes about 15-20 minutes).

Tips for Properly Reheating Supermarket Chicken

Reheating supermarket chicken safely requires diligence. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Safe Temperature Guidelines for Reheated Meals

The USDA recommends reheating cooked meat products such as poultry, beef and pork to an internal temperature of 165°F throughout to kill any bacteria that may be present. This is especially important when reheating pre-cooked supermarket chicken.

Check the Internal Temperature Before Consuming

A food thermometer is an essential tool to ensure that the chicken has reached the recommended internal temperature. Insert the food thermometer probe into the thickest section of chicken meat, avoiding bones or cartilage, and check if it has reached 165°F.

The Risks of Eating Undercooked Chicken

Reheating pre-cooked supermarket chicken is not advisable if it hasn’t been cooked properly in the first place. Eating undercooked chicken can be dangerous and lead to various health issues such as:

  • Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping
  • Exposure to harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli and listeria
  • Food poisoning that can cause hospitalization in severe cases

How to Tell If Your Chicken is Undercooked

The best way to tell if your chicken is undercooked is by checking its internal temperature level. The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 165°F for all poultry products. This means you should use a food thermometer to check the meat inside before reheating or consuming.

Can You Eat Cold Pre-Cooked Supermarket Chicken?

Yes, you can eat cold pre-cooked supermarket chicken provided that you store it properly in an airtight container and refrigerate it at 40°F or lower. Cold pre-cooked chicken doesn’t need to be reheated, which makes it an ideal option for those who are in a hurry or don’t have access to a heating source.

How to Properly Store Leftover Cold Pre-Cooked Chicken

To store leftover pre-cooked supermarket chicken, put it into an airtight container or freezer bag to prevent moisture and bacteria growth. Store it in a refrigerator set at 40°F or below until ready to eat, ensuring that you’ve kept it no longer than 2-4 days from when it was originally prepared.

Suggested Side Dishes with Reheated Supermarket Chicken

Accompanying your reheated supermarket chicken with appropriate side dishes can greatly enhance your overall meal. Suggestions are:

Green Salad

  • A refreshing salad, such as caesar or green salad, can be a great accompaniment for the reheated pre-cooked chicken.

Rice or Pasta Dishes

  • Rich and flavorful rice or pasta dishes such as pilaf, risotto, or spaghetti.

Baked Potatoes:

  • If you want something more filling, baked potatoes studded with cheese or butter and topped with herbs can be a fantastic side dish to have along with reheated pre-cooked chicken.


In conclusion, cooking and reheating pre-cooked supermarket chicken safely is essential for your health. Understanding the risks of consuming undercooked chicken and how to properly handle and store leftover cooked poultry products can help reduce the likelihood of foodborne illnesses. Properly reheating pre-cooked supermarket chicken need not be challenging. By following these guidelines and recommendations, you can safely enjoy this popular food option at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Can you reheat cooked chicken from the supermarket?

A: Yes, you can definitely reheat cooked chicken that you have bought from the supermarket. However, make sure that the chicken is heated up to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) before consuming it.

Q: Can reheated chicken make you sick?

A: If you follow proper reheating guidelines, then reheated chicken will not make you sick. It’s important to always heat the chicken up to the recommended temperature to ensure any potential bacteria are killed off.

Q: How should I reheat cooked chicken from the supermarket?

A: The best way to reheat cooked chicken is to use an oven or microwave. When using an oven, place the chicken in a baking dish and cover it with foil. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is heated through. If using a microwave, put the chicken on a microwave-safe plate, cover it with a damp paper towel and heat it for 1-2 minutes on high until it’s hot all the way through.

Q: How long can I keep cooked chicken from the supermarket in my fridge before reheating it?

A: It’s best to eat cooked chicken within 3-4 days of purchase. If stored correctly in an airtight container in the fridge, the chicken can last up to 5 days. However, always use your judgement and if the chicken looks or smells off, discard it immediately.

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