How to Cook Frozen Chicken Nuggets the Right Way

You know—and love—frozen chicken nuggets as a convenient dinner for the kids. Just be sure you're making 'em the right way!

Who doesn’t love chicken nuggets? For many families, frozen chicken nuggets are a staple weeknight dinner. But cooking them improperly has been linked to foodborne illnesses like salmonella.

Just because your chicken has a golden-brown breading does not mean it’s fully cooked or ready to heat and eat.

No one wants to inadvertently serve up a side of salmonella with dinner. The good news? It’s easy to cook this kid-friendly food safely.

How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken Nuggets

You should follow the package directions, because cooking time and temperature vary widely from brand to brand. The cooking times below are guidelines; make sure chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria that may be lurking.

In the Oven

The oven cooking time for chicken nuggets can be anywhere from 10 to 23 minutes—or more. Preheat the oven and let the chicken cook for the full time recommended on the package to double down on safety.

In the Air Fryer

Be careful when you air-fry frozen foods. The air fryer does make things crisp and delicious, but it can cause problems if food is undercooked, like this salmonella outbreak related to chicken. Keep chicken in your air fryer for 6 to 8 minutes. Be sure the air fryer is preheated.

In the Microwave

The microwave is your fastest option, at 55 seconds to 2-1/2 minutes. However, the oven and air fryer will yield a crispier nugget.

What Temperature Should Chicken Be Cooked To?

The safe internal cooking temperature for chicken is 165°. The easiest way to make sure you hit 165° each and every time? Pick up an instant-read thermometer. They’re easy to find and can save you a whole lot of hassle in the long run. As long as your readings hit that magic 165°-mark, you’ll know that the chicken nuggets are safe to eat.

Even when you’re making tasty homemade chicken nuggets, the same temperature rule applies. Be sure the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165° before you pull nuggets out of the oven or air fryer.

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Lara Eucalano
Lara is a writer, editor and gardener who loves to cook almost as much as she loves to eat. She will absolutely hop on a plane in search of good food!