Think Twice Before Freezing Leftover Fried Foods

french fries in basket
french fries in basket - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

When it comes to avoiding waste, freezing your leftovers is almost always a good idea. But one category of foods that you may want to leave out of the freezer is anything fried. The whole point of frying chicken or onion rings is to get that signature crispy texture on the outside of your food -- but when you go to thaw your frozen bites, you'll only wind up with a soggy coating instead of a crunchy one.

This happens because when frozen fried foods are thawed, the melting liquid disperses throughout the bites. As we know, moisture is the enemy of crispiness, and it's important to keep everything super dry if you want that signature crunchy coating. But if you freeze your leftovers, it's almost impossible to retain the texture you want -- even if you fry them all over again later on. Plus, the oil that distributes throughout your food upon thawing can affect the flavor of your dish. And some oils (like vegetable and canola) don't fully freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning their oxidation continues after you put your food in the freezer, which can cause it to turn rancid and change its consistency.

Read more: 30 Popular Frozen Pizzas, Ranked Worst To Best

How To Store And Reheat Leftover Fried Food

fried food in air fryer
fried food in air fryer - grandbrothers/Shutterstock

So what should you do with leftover fried food? As anyone who has tried refrigerating their McDonald's fries knows, it's best to eat your goodies when they're hot and fresh. If you simply can't fit any more in your stomach, however, your ideal second option is to place them in the fridge (never the freezer). Before you do so, drain off excess oil, make sure they've fully cooled, and then place them in an airtight container with a paper towel to soak up any liquid. If you move your hot food straight into the fridge, the steam can turn into condensation -- and as we know, moisture isn't ideal for keeping things crispy.

When it's time to reheat your refrigerated fried food, you can use the oven, toaster oven, or air fryer, as they'll give you the most dry heat. Stay away from the microwave, which can warm unevenly, or a covered skillet on the stove, which will just cause your fries to steam. Before you place your food in any device, let it come to room temperature on the counter so that it warms up evenly. Then bake it in the oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or in the air fryer at 375 degrees. It may not be quite the same as you remember, but the texture will be much better than if you froze your leftovers.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.