If you’ve prepared a big batch of sweet and sour chicken, it would be a shame not to use up all of it at a certain point. So much food gets thrown away, so it’s time to start reconsidering our choices.
When it comes to food that does not taste the same when reheated, we understand the skepticism. Thankfully, sweet and sour chicken isn’t one of these dishes, and it can easily be reheated.
What is the best way to reheat sweet and sour chicken? The best way is to use an air fryer, however, you can also heat it up using a microwave, saucepan, or crockpot – and we’re quite positive you’ll enjoy the end result!
The best ways to reheat sweet and sour chicken
Sweet and sour chicken is certainly one of the most popular dishes of Chinese cuisine, and something many of us opts for when ordering Chinese takeout. However, it can be just as delicious – if not even better – if made from scratch.
This popular Chinese dish is a beautiful blend of aromas and flavors, and just like the name itself implies, it marries two completely different flavor notes – sweet and sour – into one delicious dish, featuring crispy yet tender chicken.
If you end up with leftover sweet and sour chicken and you want to store it in your fridge, make sure to place it into an airtight container and not keep it there for more than 3 days, since it will probably go bad.
On the other hand, if you don’t think you’ll eat it within 3 days, perhaps the best option would be to freeze it. If you decide to freeze your sweet and sour chicken, you can keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months and reheat it when needed.
You need to freeze this dish by placing it into a heavy-duty freezer bag and make sure to squeeze out any excess air and close it tightly. Also, it is recommended to store the sauce separately from the chicken pieces, so the chicken doesn’t absorb it all.
In case you store the sauce and the chicken separately, not only will this prevent the chicken from absorbing all the sauce, but it will also preserve its crispiness and tender texture on the inside. What’s more, the sauce will preserve all its flavors and aromas.
Let’s see what’s the best way to reheat sweet and sour chicken, whether you’re reheating altogether or you’re separating the sauce from the meat.
How to reheat sweet and sour chicken in an air fryer
If you own an air fryer, we’re sure you’ve already used it for reheating all kinds of food, since it is efficient, convenient, and incredibly easy to use. When it comes to reheating food, you’ll notice that it doesn’t dry it out, but it preserves its oils and juices.
If you’re looking to reheat Chinese sweet and sour chicken in an air fryer, our recommendation is to separate the chicken from the sauce (unless you’ve frozen them together). This way, you’ll get the maximum out of both ingredients, since they require different reheating.
This may seem like much work, but in reality, it’ll only take a few extra minutes. In case you decide to reheat them together, you may end up losing all the sauce since it will most likely evaporate, and if you add more water, you’ll probably water the flavor down.
Reheating them separately will leave you with a flavorful, aromatic, sticky sauce that you love in your sweet and sour chicken. At the same time, you’ll reheat the chicken just enough to release its flavors and crisp it up.
Here are the steps to reheat sweet and sour chicken in an air fryer:
- In case you haven’t done it prior to storing the dish, separate the chicken from the sauce and pat it dries using a paper towel.
- Pour the sweet and sour sauce into an oven-safe dish and cover it with a piece of foil. This way it will get heated up without evaporating.
- Reheat the sauce for about 10-15 minutes at 350 °F.
- Once the sauce is done, preheat the air fryer to 390 °F and add the chicken.
- Reheat the chicken for about 2-3 minutes – just enough for it to retain that crunch.
- Let the chicken rest for about a minute before combining it with the sauce you’ve reheated earlier.
How to reheat sweet and sour chicken in the oven
If you don’t own an air fryer, or you simply don’t feel like separating the chicken from the sauce and doing all those extra steps, you may want to use a method that allows you to reheat sweet and sour chicken altogether.
While we still believe that you’ll get the best results by storing and reheating them separately (since the chicken will remain intact and it won’t absorb the sauce), reheating this dish in the oven is the best solution if you want to heat them up together.
What will prevent the chicken from drying out and the sauce from evaporating is a piece of foil on top of the tray, so don’t forget this step. Also, you want to taste the dish afterward and check if it needs any additional seasoning – especially if it has been frozen.
Here are the steps to reheat sweet and sour chicken in the oven:
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F.
- Transfer the sweet and sour chicken from your air-tight container or freezer bag into an oven-safe dish or a small tray.
- Cover the dish with a piece of foil to protect both the chicken and the sauce.
- Add the sweet and sour chicken into the oven and reheat it for 15-20 minutes without removing the foil.
- If you decide to reheat the chicken separately, add the sauce into an oven-safe dish, and reheat the chicken pieces in a separate tray on the top rack of the oven without the foil on top.
- In case you’ve reheated the chicken separately, let it rest for about a minute before mixing it into the sauce, or pouring the sauce over it.
How to reheat sweet and sour chicken in the microwave
When it comes to reheating food, we’re not precisely the biggest fans of the microwave. While it is a good solution for liquid dishes such as soups and sauces, it often makes solid foods such as meat soggy and mushy, which is the last thing you want.
That being said, the microwave is a great option for reheating your sweet and sour sauce if you’ve removed the chicken. For instance, you could use it for the sauce, while preparing the chicken in an air fryer, or using some other method.
However, if you don’t feel like going through all these steps and you want to use the microwave to reheat the entire meal, follow our instructions to get the best results possible.
Here are the steps to reheat sweet and sour chicken in the microwave:
- Place the sweet and sour chicken into a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover the dish with a piece of pierced plastic wrap or a splatter cover to retain the heat and let the sauce cook thoroughly without evaporating.
- Reheat the dish at full power for 60-90 seconds. You may also stop mid-cooking to stir it and make sure it is heating up consistently.
- If you prefer the chicken to remain crispy, use the microwave for the sauce only, and reheat the chicken pieces using another method (such as the air fryer).
How to reheat sweet and sour chicken in a saucepan
With this method, just like the ones we’ve mentioned above, we recommend separating the chicken from the sauce and reheating them one by one. Not only will this preserve the crispiness of the chicken, but it will also preserve the unique flavor of the sauce.
Also, when you think about it, the meat and the sauce don’t require the same amount of time to cook, or to reheat, so it makes perfect sense to treat them individually. However, if you don’t feel like dealing with each ingredient separately, you can reheat them together.
To prepare the chicken for separate reheating, remove it from the sauce (unless you’ve already completed this step when storing it), and pat it dries using paper towels. The sauce, on the other hand, requires no preparation.
Here are the steps to reheat sweet and sour chicken in a saucepan:
- Add a little bit of oil or butter to the bottom of the saucepan and let it heat up for a minute.
- Add the chicken, lowering the heat and stirring constantly to prevent it from burning.
- Toss the chicken around the saucepan until it gets a nice, golden crisp on the outside.
- Set the chicken aside until you prepare the sauce.
- Add the sauce to the same saucepan (unless chicken pieces are stuck to it).
- Heat it up over medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove the sauce from the saucepan and pour it over the prepared chicken.
How to reheat sweet and sour chicken in a crockpot
A crockpot is not only a great appliance to reheat the sweet and sour chicken, it is also the best choice when making your own homemade sweet and sour chicken! This kind of cooking allows for the meat to tenderize, and the sauce to release all its flavors.
When it comes to reheating sweet and sour chicken, if you want the chicken pieces to remain crispy, you can simply prepare them in an air fryer, or fry them in a saucepan/frying pan until they turn golden.
Once the chicken is finished, you can add it to the sauce and reheat it a bit more, combining all the aromas, or set it aside and combine it with the heated-up sauce later – whatever you prefer.
Here are the steps to reheat sweet and sour chicken in a crockpot:
- Remove the chicken from the sauce and add the sauce to the crockpot.
- Pat the chicken pieces dry and reheat them in an air fryer, oven, or a pan over medium-high heat to get a golden crust. Set aside.
- Cook the sauce on high for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches the desired level of thickness.
- Add the chicken into the pot and cook for a minute or two, or remove the sauce from the crockpot and pour over the chicken.
- You can also reheat the chicken and the sauce together, but the chicken won’t have that unique crispy texture.
Can you reheat sweet and sour chicken?
Yes, you can reheat sweet and sour chicken without the sauce evaporating and the chicken losing its characteristic crunch. However, the bigger question is: can you reheat both the sauce and the chicken together?
The answer would still be yes for most of the methods we’ve mentioned. However, for the vast majority, except for the oven, we’d recommend separating these two ingredients – and the same applies to storage.
If you’re using an air fryer or an oven, you will probably still be pleased with the result even if you combine both the sauce and the chicken in a dish, but the chicken won’t be as crispy. We also recommend heating them up separately when using a saucepan.
Both the microwave and the crockpot are great options for heating up and thickening the sauce, but the chicken will probably become mushy and soggy if you leave it in the sauce.