When you know how to reheat food in the air fryer leftovers become something to look forward to rather than "Ick, leftovers again?"
There's nothing better than crispy French fries, crunchy chicken tenders, or delicious crispy chicken wings. And, there's nothing worse than trying to warm up the leftovers just to have them come out soggy and limp.
Be sure to book mark this page - it's the ultimate guide to reheating leftovers with this popular kitchen appliance.
Don't want to scroll through the page to get to the recipe? Use the table of contents to click on the section you want to go to.
- Why you'll love this technique
- Quick overview of reheating food in the air fryer
- Pros and cons
- Leftovers that can be reheated in an air fryer
- French fries or onion rings
- Mozzarella sticks
- Chicken wings
- Grilled or fried chicken
- Chicken nuggets
- Chinese takeout
- Quiche, Empanadas, or Fried Pies
- Waffles or French toast
- Garlic bread
- Hamburger patties
- 💭 Things to know
- What not to reheat in an air fryer
- 👩🏻🍳 FAQs
- 🥄 Restless Chipotle recommends
- 📚 Related recipes
- 📞 The last word
Why you'll love this technique
- Crispy food stays crispy
- Quick and easy
- Lower energy use than trying to do it in the oven
Beyond that it's easy to clean!
I hate having kitchen appliances sitting around that I don't use - and I bet you do, too. For the longest time our air fryer was only used by the kids to heat up chicken nuggets and Tater Tots.
That was ok but I felt like it could do more than take up space on the counter.
And, I was right.
Quick overview of reheating food in the air fryer
This is just a basic overview of how to reheat leftovers in the air fryer. Some foods will require a lower temperature and some need higher temperatures.
Never preheat an air fryer with parchment paper in the basket. Parchment paper needs food on it or it can catch on fire. The food should at least cover the ⅔ the area of the parchment.
- Spray the basket with no-stick cooking spray.
- Preheat the air fryer at 350-400F for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Place the food you want to reheat in the basket without crowding.
- Air fry 3 to 5 minutes or so until crispy and heated through but keep a close watch on it.
Pros and cons
- Crispy foods stay crispy when reheated in the air fryer.
- Leftover fried foods don't come out greasy when reheated.
- Most leftover food can be reheated in less than 5 minutes.
- The kitchen stays cool if you're reheating food in the summer.
- Uses less energy than heating up the oven.
- No more soggy leftovers!
- Not all foods can be reheated in an air fryer.
- If not carefully watched leftovers can get dry or even burn.
- You are limited in the size of the foods you can warm up. For example, while you could reheat a slice of pizza there's no way you could reheat half a pizza all at once.
- It's better suited to reheating fast food than casseroles.
- It's not great for larger families unless you have teens that get their own meals regularly.
Leftovers that can be reheated in an air fryer
Following is a list of foods that can be reheated in the air fryer with step by step instructions.
This is not a comprehensive list at all! It's meant to be a guide to the types of things air fryers reheat well. Your air fryer may perform differently so definitely keep an eye on your food!
French fries or onion rings
Leftover French fries crisp right back up and taste as fresh as when they came out of the drive through window.
- Preheat your air fryer to 400F.
- Lay the fries in a single layer in the basket.
- Air fry for 2 minutes.
- Check and see if they are hot. If not air fry for another minute or two.
If you have a few Mozzarella sticks leftover from last night's dinner they'll heat up nicely in your air fryer. Remember not to crowd the food together. The hot air needs to be able to circulate freely.
- Place the Mozzarella sticks in the air fryer basket - no need to preheat.
- Air fry for 2 minutes.
- Check for doneness and add a minute or so if needed.
Keep those leftover chicken wings crispy and delicious!
- Preheat the air fryer to 350F.
- Lay the wings in a single layer in the basket.
- Air fry for 3 minutes. Stop and turn the chicken over.
- Air fry for 2 to 3 more minutes or until heated through.
Grilled or fried chicken
You can usually do fried fish this way as well. Check it after 2 minutes, though. It tends to cook a little faster than the chicken.
- Preheat air fryer to 375°F.
- Add a few chicken pieces but don't crowd. Make sure there's space between them.
- Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Cook for additional 1-2 minutes as needed to get them hot and crispy.
Chicken tenders and chicken nuggets are easy to do in the air fryer in the outside gets crispy again while the inside stays tender and juicy.
- Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
- Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Check if heated through.
- Cook for additional 1-2 minutes as needed.
Actually most Asian foods work well in an air fryer because so many dishes are sauteed or fried to start with. If the dish has a lot of sauce then be sure to heat it up in an ovenproof bowl. Otherwise, just line the basket with air fryer safe parchment paper.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375F.
- Place the Chinese food in the basket and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.
- If the dish has a sauce with it, like sweet and sour chicken or General Tso's chicken, use a microwave to heat the sauce separately if possible.
Leftover pizza comes out of the air fryer with a crispy crust and gooey cheese topping.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350F.
- Line the basket with perforated aluminum foil or special air fryer safe parchment paper.
- Lay leftover slices of pizza in the basket and air fry for 3 minutes. You. may only be able to fit one at a time.
- Check and if it isn't hot/crispy enough air fry for another minute or two.
Quiche, Empanadas, or Fried Pies
Heating in a microwave can lead to soggy crusts but not when you warm up leftovers in your handy-dandy air fryer!
While these foods are very different in some ways, they are very alike in others. Quiche, Fried pies and empanadas can be heated in about the same way. They'll come out with a crispy crust and very hot interior so be sure to let them cool a little bit before that first bite.
- Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees.
- Place empanadas or fried pies in a single layer in basket with space in between.
- Cook for 2 minutes.
- Flip (empanadas or fried pies - not quiche!) and cook another 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
- If cooking more than 2 at a time add 1 minute or so.
- Let cool for a few minutes.
- Preheat the air fryer to 325F.
- Place biscuits in air fryer basket leaving space between each one.
- Heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
Waffles or French toast
Who doesn't love a hot, crispy waffle with melted butter filling the squares and syrup pooling on the plate?
- Preheat air fryer to 360F.
- Put leftover waffles in the air fryer basket in a single layer.
- Cook for 1 - 2 minutes or until waffles are crispy and hot.
You can make garlic bread in an air fryer - it's delicious! You can also heat it back up without worrying about the texture turning to leather. If you have a lot of leftover garlic bread you ought to try this garlic bread casserole.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350F.
- Add the leftover garlic bread - be sure to leave space between each piece.
- Reheat for about 4 to 5 minutes.
Without a bun
- Preheat the air fryer to 400F.
- Place hamburger patties in a single layer in the air fryer basket with space between each.
- Air fry for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Check with an instant read thermometer to make sure it's heated through. If not continue to air fry another minute or two.
With a bun
- Preheat the air fryer to 375.
- Remove any lettuce or tomatoes from your burger. They'll get soggy.
- Add to basket.
- Air fry the hamburger right in the bun for 2 to 3 minutes.
💭 Things to know
- If the food is frozen then it will take a little longer for it to cook.
- Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the food, the type of food, and the specific air fryer you're using.
- How quickly something cooks depends on the size, type, and brand of your air fryer. Use the times listed as a guide but keep an eye on your food the first time you heat up your restaurant leftovers.
- If the food is at room temperature it will take less time to cook than if it was refrigerated or frozen.
What not to reheat in an air fryer
Not every food can be reheated in the air fryer. Water based dishes don't do well and large pieces of meat like roasts or chicken are too big to cook all the way through safely.
- Whole roasts
- Whole chicken
I like to preheat but it's not totally necessary. If you don't you'll need to add a little extra cook time.
Yes, you can unless the recipe specifically says not to. You'll need to poke a few holes in the aluminum foil so the air can circulate properly.
No. Save the paper towel for the microwave. When you put it in the air fryer it becomes a fire hazard.
🥄 Restless Chipotle recommends
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- Air Fryer I like Ninja products. They last well and I've never had problems with any of them. This air fryer has a multi-layer rack and a ceramic basket so it cleans up really easy!
- Air fryer parchment paper makes clean up easy! It has holes in it so the hot air can circulate easily. It's no stick, too.
- Reusable silicone liners are used like the parchment paper but when you're done you just rinse them off and store them until next time. Good for the environment and the budget!
📚 Related recipes
If you've got an air fryer check out these recipes!
- How to Cook Acorn Squash in an Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Boneless Chicken Thighs
- Air Fryer Meatloaf
- Air Fryer Sugar Cookies
- How to Make Frozen Cookies in an Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Donuts
📞 The last word
I think the air fryer is the best method for reheating fast food leftovers that I've found. There is seriously nothing worse than soggy Chick-fil-a nuggies and droopy fries!
Keep in mind that there are many sizes, power levels, and brands of air fryers and this is a general guide based on my experience. The size of your air fryer, the food your are heating up, and other differences may mean that you need to cook a longer or shorter time.
Best advice? Always keep an eye on the food until you have a good idea of how your air fryer works.