can you reheat cooked chicken twice?

Reheating food is a common practice in most households. It is an easy way to enjoy leftovers from the previous meal. However, reheating food, especially chicken, comes with certain risks. Knowing how to reheat cooked chicken safely helps reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses caused by bacterial growth. In this article, we will discuss whether it is safe to reheat cooked chicken twice.

Why You Shouldn’t Reheat Cooked Chicken Twice

Proper food safety practices are necessary when handling and preparing any food item, including leftover cooked chicken. Bacterial growth can occur in cooked chicken if it is not stored or reheated correctly.

Cooked chicken left at room temperature for more than two hours becomes susceptible to bacterial infection as bacteria multiply rapidly between 40°F-140°F (4°C-60°C). Even refrigeration cannot completely halt bacterial growth as some bacteria survive low temperatures.

When you reheat leftover cooked chicken multiple times without proper storage, there’s a high chance that bacteria will grow and accumulate in the meat leading to infections such as salmonella and listeria among others.

How to Properly Store Leftover Cooked Chicken

If you plan on reheating leftover cooked chicken in the future, it is crucial that you store it appropriately after its initial preparation to maintain freshness and reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Here are several tips for storing your leftover chicken correctly:

  1. Keep Time Limits: Always refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking – for hotter regions this duration should be limited up to an hour only -to ensure that it does not enter the danger zone of bacterial growth.
  2. Label Your Containers: Clearly label containers with contents and date prepared so that you know when they were prepared.
  3. Use Air-Tight Containers: Transfer cooled down leftovers into air-tight containers so that they stay fresh longer both in your fridge and freezer.
  4. Freeze Extras: If you do not plan on using your leftover chicken within three to four days, freeze it instead. Frozen cooked chicken can retain freshness for at least six months.

How to Safely Reheat Cooked Chicken

Once you have stored your leftover cooked chicken properly, the next step is reheating it safely. To make sure your reheated chicken is safe to consume, follow these simple steps:

Microwave Method

  1. Place the chicken in a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Cover it with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel.
  3. Set the microwave on high power and reheat for about 2-3 minutes if refrigerated, or around 5-6 minutes if frozen.
  4. Check the internal temperature of the chicken; it should reach 165°F (74°C) throughout before consumption.

Oven Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Place the leftover cooked chicken in an oven-safe dish.
  3. Cover with aluminum foil to prevent drying out during reheating.
  4. Bake for around 20-30 minutes until heated through.
  5. Remove from oven and check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F (74°C) before consuming.

Stovetop or Skillet Method

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat or stovetop burner.
  2. Add two tablespoons of cooking oil or butter once hot.
  3. Cut up leftover cooked chicken into bite-size pieces before placing them in the skillet/pan carefully
  4. Keep stirring frequently until heated thoroughly within few minutes 5.Add water or broth if left-over chicken gives become dry/jerky 6.Check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F (74°C) then remove from heat and enjoy!

Is it Safe to Reheat Cooked Chicken Twice?

As mentioned earlier, bacterial growth occurs when temperatures fluctuate between room level(60°F(15°C)) and partial effective cooling (140°F(60°C)). It is not recommended to reheat cooked chicken more than once. The reason is that every time you reheat the chicken, you provide perfect conditions for bacteria to grow rapidly, which can lead to off-flavors, food poisoning and even lethal infections.

There are various variables that can affect the safety of reheating your leftover cooked chicken twice, including:

  • Storage conditions: If stored improperly after preparation or mishandled, it could lead to contamination.
  • Cooking Methods: Different methods of reheating determine bacterial growth rates on leftovers. For example, microwave heating will often create hotspots leading to uneven heating throughout the meat.
  • Environment temperature: Ambient temperature during transportation may affect refrigeration duration by default regulating spoilage before reaching home

Knowing how long ago your leftover cooked chicken was prepared and how it has been stored since then will help determine whether it’s safe to reheat it again.


Reheating cooked chicken twice may bring a lot of convenience when managing leftovers. However, due to safety concerns related to bacterial growth from improper storage or too many previous heat cycles -it’s not worth risking anyone’s health.

When handling leftovers properly and following appropriate reheating techniques using either an oven,microwave,stove-top or pan plus few hacks like adding some liquid or covering with aluminum foil we ensure a higher degree of food safety measures when seeking convenience.

Remember the cardinal rule in cooking(reheating inc): if in doubt throw it out!


  1. Q: Can you safely reheat cooked chicken twice?

A: Reheating cooked chicken once is safe, however reheating it twice can increase the risk of food poisoning. It’s best to only reheat chicken one time to reduce any potential health risks.

  1. Q: What’s the best way to reheat cooked chicken to ensure its safety?

A: The safest way to reheat cooked chicken is by using a microwave or an oven set at 350°F. Be sure to heat the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria that may have formed during storage.

  1. Q: How long can I keep cooked chicken in the fridge before reheating it?

A: Cooked chicken can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days before it needs to be reheated or thrown away. To prevent spoilage and ensure its safety, be sure to store the chicken in an airtight container within two hours of cooking.

  1. Q: Why is it unsafe to reheat cooked chicken more than once?

A: Reheating cooked chicken multiple times increases the risk of bacterial growth which leads to foodborne illness. Even if the first reheating process killed some bacteria, if left unchecked, some surviving bacteria can multiply and cause illness when consumed again after reheating for a second time.

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