How Long Are Leftover Wings Good For?

Hot, crispy, tender wings—what’s not to love? Their perfect crispiness is something you can’t resist. So whether you’re planning to cook them up for lunch or tuck in a midnight snack, it’s helpful to know how long leftover wings are good for.

The leftover wings are good for three to four days if refrigerated within two hours of preparation. Similarly, you can freeze your leftover wings for three to four months. It’s not recommended to leave wings at room temperature (40 degrees Fahrenheit or above) for more than two hours.  

If the temperature is over 90° F, leftovers wings are only good for about an hour. After that, you MUST refrigerate or freeze them.

This article will discuss the correct method of storing and reheating cooked chicken wings. In addition, we will explore how to repurpose your wing leftovers into finger-licking dishes.

How to Store Cooked Chicken Wings?

The last thing you want to do is ruin a batch of great chicken wings.

You can follow the tips below to keep your cooked chicken wings tasty and safe until you’re ready to eat them.

Store Chicken Wings in a Refrigerator

The main concern with refrigerating cooked chicken wings is moisture loss.

You don’t want to end up with dry, tasteless chicken wings. So how do you protect against that?

Use airtight or sealed packaging as it will keep your chicken wings safe from bacteria and help retain moisture.

Here’s how to store chicken wings in a refrigerator:

  1. Add chicken wings in an airtight packaging or a sealable container.
  2. Put the container in a fridge.
  3. Keep the container’s lid open until the refrigerator cools down to below 40°F.
  4. After that, seal the container.

Since refrigeration only slows down the bacteria growth on cooked chicken wings for a few days, it is only a temporary solution.

Bacterial growth increases dramatically after four days, so you need to discard the chicken wings after this time frame for your safety.

Store Chicken Wings in a Freezer

Your best bet for long-term preservation is freezing.

Here’s how to store chicken wings in a freezer:

  1. Lay your chicken wings flat in a plastic freezer-safe bag once they are cooled to room temperature. Avoid putting them on top of each other.
  2. Seal the bag tightly.
  3. Write the current date on the plastic bag if you have a lousy memory.
  4. Put the bag in the coldest area of your freezer. Make sure not to stack other food items over the frozen chicken wings.

It’s essential to know that freezing doesn’t kill bacteria. Instead, it only stunts bacterial growth.

The freezer will keep your chicken wings preserved for up to 6 months. In fact, frozen chicken wings will be safe indefinitely if kept at a constant 0⁰F. However, you should eat the leftover wings within the first three months of freezing for the best taste and texture. 

5 Easy Methods to Reheat Your Leftover Wings

No need to suffer through soggy, burnt wings! With the right strategy, you can quickly end up with a crispy treat.

When you reheat leftovers at the right temperature and time, they will likely taste as good as new.

Here are five foolproof ways to reheat your leftover chicken wings.

1.      Oven

The oven is one of the best ways to reheat your leftover wings because it retains the crispiness and flavor.

Here are the steps:

  1. Keep the chicken wings at room temperature for 10-15 minutes after taking them out of the fridge.
  2. Sprinkle a few drops of water or chicken broth on the chicken wings to prevent them from drying out.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and add chicken wings in a single layer.
  5. Put the baking pan inside the oven and reheat it for another six minutes.
  6. Flip the chicken wings to the other side and let them warm up for a maximum of six minutes.
  7. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your chicken wings. Insert the probe into the fleshiest part of the wing.  According to the USDA, the thermometer should read 165⁰ F when the chicken is ready.
  8. Now take the baking pan out of the oven and serve.

If you have frozen leftover chicken wings, shift them in the refrigerator overnight and put them in an oven later on for a delicious treat. Contrarily, you can also use a microwave or cold water method to thaw your frozen chicken wings.

2. Frying Pan

If you don’t have an oven, think of your stovetop as “the backup oven.” You can conveniently reheat your chicken wings on a frying pan.

Here are the steps:

  1. Keep the chicken wings at room temperature for 10-15 minutes after taking them out of the fridge.
  2. Heat your frying pan on the stove at high flame and add oil.
  3. Next, put the chicken wings carefully in the pan. If your frying pan is small, fry the chicken wings in small batches.
  4. Toss your chicken wings frequently while frying to distribute the heat evenly. Fry each side for approximately three minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken wings from the frying pan once they get golden.

3. Microwave

If you’re short on time, reheat leftover wings in the microwave.

Here are the steps:

  1. Keep the chicken wings at room temperature for 10-15 minutes after taking them out of the fridge.
  2. Put a damp paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Alternatively, you can also use a microwave-safe container.
  3. Add chicken wings in a single layer. Make sure to leave little space between them.
  4. Spritz a microwave-safe lid with some water before covering the chicken wings with it. Or you can skip the lid and place another sheet of moist paper towel on top of the chicken wings.
  5. Heat the chicken wings on high for two minutes in a microwave. If they aren’t warm enough, heat for another 30 seconds.
  6. Let the chicken wings cool down before serving them.

4. Grill

Don’t let those cold leftover wings sit around any longer. Put them on a grill for a smoky makeover!

Here are the steps:

  1. Keep the chicken wings at room temperature for 10-15 minutes after taking them out of the fridge.
  2. Wrap your chicken wings in aluminum foil to restore the crispiness.
  3. Now grill and heat the wings on low heat for one to two minutes.
  4. Turn the wings around and let them heat for another two minutes.
  5. Serve the wings immediately.

5. Air Fryer

You can also use your air fryer to reheat chicken wings. It will take some trial and error to get the timing right for crispy wings, but that’s part of the fun!

Here are the steps:

  1. Keep the chicken wings at room temperature for 10-15 minutes after taking them out of the fridge.
  2. Add chicken wings to the air fryer and ensure space between them for even heat distribution.
  3. Bring the air fryer temperature to 400⁰F.
  4. Keep the chicken wings inside the air fryer for five to ten minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken wings when they appear golden. Serve after they cool down and enjoy!

What to Do With Leftover Chicken Wings

Are you struggling to fix a tasty meal from your leftover chicken wings? You might get bored of eating them the traditional way.

You can reuse leftover wings to create new dishes with surprising flavor combinations and nutritional benefits.

Here are some saucy ideas that turn leftover chicken wings into an instant meal.

  1. Grilled Buffalo wings with salad and blue cheese
  2. Chicken wing soup
  3. Chicken wing stew with rice
  4. Chicken stir fry
  5. Haitian spaghetti

Present the chicken wings with style! For instance, mix up your favorite game-day sauce with a side of classic mashed potatoes or buttered corn on the cob.


How Can You Tell if Your Chicken Wings Are Still Good?

Like most foods, chicken wings have a shelf life. The best way to tell if your wings are still good is to check the Best-by date on the package. If that’s lost or missing, look for one of the following indicators:

Smell: Good chicken wings don’t have a foul odor. They shouldn’t smell sour or rancid. If your wings have a terrible smell, they’re probably stale.

Texture: Fresh chicken wings are plump, moist, and tender. They should not be shriveled or slimy. Over time, the chicken loses moisture and becomes drier. It has probably lost too much moisture if you squeeze a wing and feel slight resistance.

Appearance: Discard the chicken wings if you notice grey-green spots or patches.

The above indicators apply to cooked and uncooked chicken wings. If you’re doubtful about your leftover wings, don’t take the risk and throw them away.

What Happens if You Eat Stale Chicken Wings?

Consuming stale chicken may cause food poisoning characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, high fever, stomach ache, and nausea.

Chicken is especially vulnerable to contamination from certain bacteria strains, including Campylobacter and Salmonella. Reheating the spoiled chicken wings will not kill the toxins caused by spoilage and pathogenic bacteria.

As a result, toxins from these harmful bacteria can make you sick for days. An upset stomach and diarrhea are the main symptoms.

In extreme cases, food poisoning can cause dehydration and even death. Children, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning.

Can You Refreeze Previously Frozen Chicken Wings?

You can refreeze previously frozen chicken wings if it has been thawed only in the refrigerator. If you used the cold bath method or microwave to reheat frozen chicken, it’s best to avoid refreezing.

Final Thoughts

It’s natural to go overboard ordering wings when the craving hits you. But that doesn’t mean the leftover wings have to go to waste.

You can store leftover wings in an airtight container in the refrigerator for four days or in the freezer for around three to four months. Reheat them like a pro in an oven, frying pan, microwave, griller, or air fryer – the options are endless.

You can also make a quick meal using leftover wings with a little innovation and creativity. Follow our tips above for a delicious, crunchy treat!