Stop! Don’t Microwave Your Chicken – Try This Instead!

It’s no contest – when it comes to heating up food quickly, a microwave is everyone’s best friend. But as we’ve seen with grains like rice, perhaps reheating certain items in the microwave can be dangerous for your health. Another item that has the potential to wreak havoc on your digestive system is chicken. Last night’s tenders, say it ain’t so! But why is it unsafe and what can you do to avoid becoming sick from yesterday’s leftovers?

Why You Should Never Reheat Chicken in the Microwave

According to the FDA, although heat is produced directly in the food, microwaves don’t cook food from the “inside out.” Because microwaves have a hard time penetrating thick layers of food, this results in uneven temperatures. When thick foods are cooked, the outer layers are heated and cooked first by microwaves while the inside is cooked mainly by the conduction of heat from the hot outer layers. Cold spots are where nasty bacteria can multiply and when we’re talking about chicken, we mean salmonella. Yikes!

The CDC estimates that 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. Yes, chicken is a well-known culprit but salmonella can be found in seemingly fine items like fresh cantaloupe, so be careful.

How to Reheat Chicken Safely

There are several different ways to make sure your cooked chicken is still safe to consume because realistically, no one is getting rid of their most used kitchen appliance.

  • The first tip is to reheat your chicken in the oven or on the stove. These are the safest methods because they ensure that the entire poultry piece will be reheated evenly from direct heat.
  • The second tip is to cover your food while it’s reheating with a vented lid to allow steam out. The moist heat will also help ensure your chicken is reheating at the same rate. If you’re reheating on the stovetop, having a little liquid in the reheating container will also help combat drying the poultry out.

Make sure to let the food rest briefly before checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It should read 165 degrees F in multiple places.