Yes, "leftover fried chicken" is a real thing that happens.
Photo: Getty Images/Deb Lindsey
| Credit: Getty Images/Deb Lindsey

We know. Some of you might be looking at this headline with extremely large question marks flashing in your head. What is this “leftover fried chicken” you speak of? There are people who exhibit a level of self control such that they have to face a dilemma like this? If this is your train of thought right now, we understand your confusion and encourage you to keep on keeping on as you are. A life without leftover fried chicken is a perfectly good one to have.

However, for those of you that can relate to this problem (whether you got a little carried away with your weekend frying project, overestimated how many people were coming to your pool party, or got slightly too excited about a sale on prepared fried chicken at the hot bar deli counter, etc…), we’re here to offer you tasty, smart solutions to this mini-crisis. God forbid you were left with no other option but to commit the unthinkable—and throw away fried chicken. *GASP.* No, it need not ever come to that.

Here are our favorite re-uses to give your bounty of crispy chicken a whole new life. In fact, we wouldn’t judge anyone for intentionally obtaining more than enough fried chicken specifically so that they could put the leftovers to one of the following purposes. However, let this be said loud and clear—there is also no shame in eating it cold, straight out of the plastic container, standing at the kitchen counter in your bathrobe. Do you.

Toss it in a Green Salad

By throwing your leftover chicken in a vat of crunchy veggies, it goes without saying that you are the picture of health. Congratulations! But seriously, we’re all about some #balance, and there’s no better protein to top off that salad of yours than some chopped up bits of fried chicken. Whether you heat it up before you mix it in, or opt for it cold, you really can’t go wrong. Save your grilled chicken for another (sadder) day.

Make a Buffalo Chicken Wrap

We need to have a serious discussion about how meant to be buffalo sauce and fried chicken are for each other. #Couple #Goals #Amiright? Anyway, grab a bottle of Frank’s or Texas Pete or whatever flaming condiment of choice you’ll vehemently defend, and get to dousing. Now, warm up a tortilla, spread some blue cheese dressing on it (you know you love it), throw on some lettuce and tomatoes (or don’t, whatever), carefully arrange said doused chicken pieces, and wrap that baby up. Yeah, you did that!

Chicken in Waffles image
Chicken in Waffles image

Chicken in Waffles image

Mix it In Your Waffle Batter

Yes, you read that correctly, and trust us, you’ll thank us for this. Since we all know that a good fried chicken and waffles breakfast is an unrivaled way to start the day, why not take one step further and incorporate leftover bits of fried chicken right into the batter (chicken-n-waffles < Chicken IN waffles). The hot edges of your waffle iron will bring the crispy bits of your chicken back to life, and every bite of the waffle will be chock full of salty, crunchy goodness. GOOD MORNING is right.

Stir it in a Creamy Chicken Salad

Stick with us now, because there is a level of chicken-inception here that may be a little tough to follow. Rather than coloring inside the lines and using pale, flavorless chicken breasts to be the backbone of your next creamy chicken salad, liven things up with your leftover fried chicken. The crispy, fried bits add a punch of salty flavor and crunchy texture that makes for the perfect dip for a cracker or sandwich filling. And it’s really fun to say—"Fried Chicken Chicken Salad."

Hot Chicken Deviled Eggs image
Hot Chicken Deviled Eggs image
| Credit: Daniel Agee; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Robin Bashinsky

Hot Chicken Deviled Eggs image Photo: Daniel Agee; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Robin Bashinsky

Top off Your Deviled Eggs

We still don’t know whether the chicken or the egg came first, but we do know that these Hot Chicken Deviled Eggs are a mega-flavor party. Perfect for picnics or summer entertaining, these bite-size cuties are no joke. Guests will love this clever appetizer, and they’ll never have to know that it’s made with repurposed leftovers. Go ahead and finish those off with some hot sauce and pickles, because why would you not?

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane