You've Been Reheating Chicken Tenders Wrong Your Whole Life

A microwave is one of those must-have kitchen appliances that can shave chunks of precious time off of preparing a great meal. But at what cost? There are tons of easy meal options out there that are made specifically to be microwaved so you can have a quick bite on the go. Though this may be an ideal shortcut for our busy lives, there are certain foods you should never put in the microwave, no matter how desperate you might be to save some time. Chicken tenders are one of those foods.

When you cook up a bulk serving of crispy chicken tenders for dinner and need to store the leftovers, reheating them in the microwave the next day creates quite the chewy disaster. Your once fresh, juicy tenders are now dry, rubbery hunks of meat. Microwaves work by zapping energy into any area of your food that's storing moisture, but you want to keep all that water locked in so that your chicken tenders retain their tasty crunch. So, consider spending more time reheating them in ways that won't strip the moisture. It will definitely be worth it!

Toss chicken tenders on a stovetop skillet

A fast, surefire way to reheat chicken tenders evenly is to toss them into a pan and warm them up on your stovetop. Once you take them out of the fridge and let them become room temperature, cover the bottom of your skillet in a thin layer of vegetable oil. Be sure to wait for the oil to heat up to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit before placing them carefully in the pan. Try not to overload the pan, and keep your chicken strips in one single layer for the best heat distribution.

After your chicken tenders have sizzled in the oil on medium-high heat for a mere two minutes, flip them over for another two minutes to fry the other side. Keep a close eye on how quickly they begin to brown in the pan to prevent overheating. Your chicken tenders are already cooked, so it doesn't take much to heat them to perfection. Remove them from the pan, soak up the excess oil with a handful of paper towels, and let them cool a bit. With the moisture retained and not a rubbery bit in sight, you can grab your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy your chicken tenders as if you'd just made them fresh.

You can reheat chicken tenders using an air fryer

In recent years, air fryers have landed on many foodies' lists of must-have kitchen essentials because of how much oil you can cut out while frying food. They are said to provide a healthier alternative to deep-frying your food in fats and oils, all without compromising the flavor (per Cleveland Clinic). You can also use an air fryer to reheat your chicken tenders, which will keep them from becoming overly oily or dry. It's important to note that you should avoid reheating and cooling them more than once, as the texture of the meat will toughen up over time.

To start, preheat your air fryer to budget delicious recommends preheating the air fryer to 375 degrees while you wait for your chicken tenders to get to room temperature. When ready, stick them in your fryer's basket in an even layer. In about three to five minutes they should be ready to rotate using tongs. Start the air fryer again to heat the other side of your chicken tenders for a shorter length of time — two minutes should do it. Transfer them to a plate and you're ready to take that first satisfying crunch.

The best way to reheat chicken tenders is in the oven

The absolute best way to reheat your chicken tenders is in the oven, but because you're heating up the whole area inside your oven rather than a smaller kitchen appliance, this option will take the most time. As you wait for it to preheat to 400 degrees (per Southern Living) make sure that the chicken tenders are at room temperature, ensuring there will be no frozen or chilled parts to keep them from reheating unevenly. Get your baking tray ready to go and lay the tenders out without piling them up or crowding them together.

Remember, the goal here is to just warm them up nice and toasty and not to cook them, so only keep your chicken tenders in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes max. Again, you'll want to keep an eye on how they're browning during the reheating process and pull them out of the oven when ready. Let them cool for a bit and you can then enjoy your delicious reheated fried chicken, still packed with the same appetizing flavor and texture you were hoping to experience all over again.