If you’ve ever wondered why your microwaved chicken always tastes bad, you’re not alone. It seems like no matter how carefully you follow the instructions, the end result is always dry and rubbery.

But there’s a reason for this, and it’s actually pretty simple. Keep reading to find out why microwaved chicken never turns out quite right.

Why Does Microwaved Chicken Taste Bad

Why Does Microwaved Chicken Taste Bad?

The reason behind the chicken’s bad taste after microwaving it can be indicated by exposure to oxygen, which causes erosion of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the chicken. Reheating chicken can often result in a deterioration of both flavor and texture. No matter how delicious your dish was before. 

Moreover, when reheated, the chicken loses its previous moisture. That’s why it tastes weird.

Reasons For You Should Never Reheat Chicken In A Microwave

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are about 48 million cases of food poisoning in the United States each year, resulting in about 128,000 hospitalizations and more than 3000 deaths. 

One of the leading causes of these food poisoning cases is salmonella, which alone causes 1.2 million cases of food poisoning. And you guessed it: salmonella is just one of several dangerous bacteria that can be found in raw chicken. 

So what does salmonella have to do with reheating chicken that’s already been cooked? Once the chicken is cooked to the recommended internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, dangerous bacteria are eliminated. 

After cooking, though, chicken needs to be refrigerated or frozen within two hours, or one hour if it’s hot out. Any longer than that and bacteria start to regrow and multiply. 

Of course, if you reheat the chicken to 165 degrees, it will kill the bacteria again. But it turns out that microwave ovens are pretty bad at that. 

According to the World Health Organization microwaves don’t penetrate thick pieces of food very well, which can lead to uneven heating. This means that even if part of your leftover chicken is now piping hot, there may be portions of it that never reached that internal temperature of 165, and bacteria that can cause foodborne illness may still be hanging out. 

The heat from a microwave can only penetrate 1 to 1-½ inches into food, so the larger the piece of the chicken, the more you have to rely on conduction heating from the outer surface. 

Some people think putting a chicken in the microwave is the most sanitary thing to do. Plus it doesn’t have all the extra calories from the grease. It’s just a bad idea! 

But let’s say you’re not worried about any of that, or that you’re a microwave aficionado who always rotates food, cooks meat on lower power and for longer, and uses a thermometer to ensure a safe temperature. 

You still shouldn’t be reheating your chicken in the microwave for the sake of its flavor and texture. 

What Does The Expert Say About Microwaved Chicken Taste Being Bad?

Postdoctoral research scientist Dr Kyle Frischkorn explains that reheating leftovers often results in what he calls, “Warmed-Over Flavor”– or WOF but he worked with the team at Serious Eats to see if they could minimize WOF in chicken. 

While they found WOF is mostly unavoidable regardless of reheating technique, he did mince words when sharing his feelings about microwaving chicken, writing: “From the reheating-methods portion of the tasting, the clearest result was that microwaving does gross things to chicken and should be avoided at all costs.” 

Let’s imagine on a line and say that spongy, funky isn’t what you are looking for when you reheat the leftovers. And this is why it tastes bad. 

Watch this video in The Audiopedia Youtube channel about “What is WARMED-OVER FLAVOR? What does WARMED-OVER FLAVOR mean? WARMED-OVER FLAVOR meaning”

What Other Options Do You Have Instead Of Reheating Your Chicken In A Microwave? 

Conventional cooking wisdom says that you should reheat chicken in the same way it was originally cooked. This means your baked chicken dish should be reheated in the oven, your sauteed chicken should be reheated in a pan, and so forth. 

Science says not only will it taste better, but it will also be safer too. When it comes to chicken, ditch the microwave. Your health and tastebuds will thank you.

Read More: Do Microwaves Require GFCI? Let’s Find Out

Why Does Chicken Taste Different Now?

This means something in you has changed. Either it’s stirring up with your taste buds or a sense of smell. Or something else is going on. These symptoms could be a disease, like COVID, or a neurological issue which in both cases you should get yourself checked by a registered doctor as soon as possible. 

And there is a third thing that depends on a couple of factors. 

Why Does Chicken Smell Weird After Microwaving?

The major reason for the bad smell is chicken fat. Cooking in a pan, or oven, boiled, broiled, or fried, the fat is released. When left to cook inside the microwave, it gets rancid. That’s what you smell, the concentrated odour from the fat. 

How To Prevent Warmed-Over Flavor In Chicken?

Warmed-over flavor can be prevented by the addition of preservatives to processed meat. Various preservatives are antioxidants, ranging from tocopherols (related to vitamin E) to plum juice to industrial additives such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and propyl gallate.

Is It Ok To Cook Chicken That Smells A Little?

If you eat chicken that smells a little bit off, you’re most probably going to be OK. Pathogenic bacteria like salmonella, listeria and E. coli are the biggest risks with raw chicken, and cooking it to a proper heat (165 degrees Fahrenheit) will render those harmless. 


You may think to reheat the cooked chicken whole in the microwave, but it’s worth taking the time to reheat the meat properly. The chicken meat cools down more quickly if it’s stored off the bone in shallow containers, keeping it safer from foodborne pathogens and bacteria. It’s easier to reheat the meat in the way it was cooked. Then, it’ll be simple to absorb the taste of chicken among your family or friends. Then your confusion will never come back, why does microwaved chicken taste bad? You will be tension free. 

Always heat the chicken up to 165 degrees, and add it to your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

  1. https://www.reddit.com/r/Cooking/comments/879oj1/chicken_tastes_weird_when_reheated/

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