Why Leftover Restaurant Chicken Wings Will Probably Disappoint You

Chicken wings are the quintessential bar food menu item. When correctly cooked, they're perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and are drenched in that delicious sauce that makes every bite an explosion of heat and flavor. Be they fried or smoked, gourmet or cheap, a good chicken wing pairs perfectly with celery, bleu cheese or ranch, and a cold one. The allure of those crispy and tender morsels is enough to make you want to have them again the next day! But when you pop open that clamshell Styrofoam container and reheat those bad boys, the result is a tough, chewy, almost dry texture with a soggy, barely edible breading. What went wrong? 

According to Dovetail's Chef Brad Stevens, via Southern Living, chicken wings are usually cooked twice in a restaurant — a process that helps ensure crispy skin and a tender interior, according to Serious Eats. By reheating them a third time, the result is almost always a tough, chewy wing, a far cry from the delectable buffalo sauce-drenched meal you had last night. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can try to get the most out of your leftover wings.

Ways to keep your wings tasting fresh

There are a few tricks to ensure that you get as close to that fryer-fresh wing you enjoyed the night before, each ranging in complexity and speed. If you simply want to microwave your wings for the quickest way to saucy nirvana, The Manual suggests that you first let your wings sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before microwaving in a lidded container. They suggest that you flip your wing every minute to ensure that the wing gets as much surface exposure as possible. While it is a quick and easy way to reheat wings, The Manual does remind you that this process can leave you with a somewhat soggier wing than the rest.

In case you want a crispier wing, Wings and Rings can walk you through using your oven to get that crispy, fresh taste you're looking for. They do recommend, however, that your wings be unsauced before you begin, so it's best to do this with frozen wings. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, spreading your wings, in one layer on a baking sheet. Place your wings in the oven for a period between 10 and 20 minutes, or until the largest wing's internal temperature reads 165 degrees. Following baking, transfer the wings to a heat-proof bowl and toss with your favorite brand of sauce until the wings are thoroughly coated.

While these are helpful tips, it goes without saying that nothing beats a fresh, hot, savory chicken wing.