Nothing beats a crispy, juicy chicken nugget in all its glory. Maybe it is the nostalgia factor, the sheer deliciousness, or the tangy taste of ketchup and mustard. Whatever the reason, we can’t seem to get enough.
But getting them right isn’t always easy. Sometimes the breading falls off, other times, you end up with a dry and crunchy exterior. Either way, you’re left disappointed and craving more. So, what are your options?
If you’re looking for a quick fix, microwaving is your best bet.
Here’s how to cook chicken nuggets in microwave.
Place your chicken nuggets in a single layer on a paper towel-lined microwavable plate. Lay another paper towel on top and put them in the microwave. Cook them on high power for one minute, flip them over, cover again with a paper towel, and continue microwaving in 15-second intervals until done.
For more insights on microwaving chicken nuggets, how long they take to cook, helpful tips, a step-by-step guide, alternative cooking methods, and much more, please read on.
Can You Cook Chicken Nuggets in Microwave?
Absolutely yes, microwaving is an easy and quick way to cook chicken nuggets without sacrificing their taste or texture.
However, debate and controversy exist over whether it’s safe to microwave chicken nuggets. And, to be honest, who am I to blame? After all, microwaves have a bad rap for cooking food unevenly. But this doesn’t mean you can’t use them to your advantage. The secret is to follow a few simple guidelines.
For starters, chicken nuggets are essentially meat. If not properly cooked, meat can harbor harmful bacteria such as salmonella, which can cause food poisoning and other ailments. To avoid these issues, you must microwave your nuggets long enough to kill potential pathogens.
According to the USDA, that means heating your nuggets until they register at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a food thermometer. But again, leaving them in the microwave for too long risks overcooking them and ruining their texture.
So how do you find that happy medium between safety and well-cooked chicken nuggets?
Well, I find microwaving in short bursts does the trick. This gives me control of the process and ensures my nuggets come out perfectly done every time.
How Long to Cook Chicken Nuggets in Microwave?
The time it takes to microwave chicken nuggets depends on the microwave wattage, the size of the nuggets, and how many you are cooking at once.
For context, my 1100-watt microwave cooks 6-piece Tyson-sized nuggets in about 1 1/2 minutes, 10-piece nuggets in 2 1/2 minutes, and 15-piece or larger-sized nuggets in 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. However, the time may vary depending on how powerful your microwave is.
Chicken nuggets are fragile pieces of meat that, if overcooked, can dry out or become soggy. A fraction of a second less or more means the difference between a crispy, juicy nugget and one that is dry and flaky.
As a result, timing is critical. You want to stop microwaving as soon as the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73 degrees Celsius). It should also be browned and not pink in color when done cooking.
Remember to consider all of the variables mentioned above before deciding on a time frame for your chicken nuggets. Even if the times listed above work for me, they might not work for you. The best thing, experiment until you find what works best for you.
Tips For Cooking Chicken Nuggets in Microwave
Unfortunately, microwaving chicken nuggets is not always a cakewalk. Below are a few tricks to ensure your little morsels come out just right.
- Select high-quality nuggets: The foundation of any great meal starts with good ingredients. But sometimes, it’s hard to assess quality at first glance. To avoid disappointment in your dinner plate, read labels carefully before purchasing and avoid brands that contain preservatives or unhealthy fillers.
- Keep portions small: I find that slicing my nuggets into halves or even thirds ensures they cook evenly. Furthermore, smaller pieces have a larger surface area, allowing heat to penetrate more quickly. As a result, I’m able to reduce my cooking time considerably.
- Avoid overcrowding: It’s tempting to pack as many nuggets as possible in the microwave. But this will only spell disaster for you. The nuggets will steam rather than crisp up due to poor air circulation.
Instead, arrange them in a single layer on the plate, ensuring there is plenty of space between them. If they can’t all fit at once, I suggest microwaving them in batches.
- Line a paper towel(s) beneath the chicken nuggets: Are you a victim of soggy nuggets? If yes, try putting a paper towel on the microwave-safe plate. You see, as the frozen chicken nuggets microwave, the moisture from the thawing process gets trapped, creating a puddle of water underneath the nuggets.
The paper towel absorbs excess moisture from the nuggets’ undersides, preventing them from becoming soggy while cooking.
- Use only microwavable plates: Most chicken nugget packages are made of Styrofoam and plastic. While these materials aren’t inherently bad, they break down when exposed to high microwave temperatures, melting down and releasing toxins into your food. Instead, invest in a set of ceramic or glass plates.
- Microwave in moderation: Do you want a McDonald-style chicken nugget without dealing with crowds or lines? The secret lies in balancing microwave power and timing.
Too much power, and you’ll have burnt, dry chicken nuggets. On the other hand, too little power and too short cooking time will result in raw, undercooked meat. As a result, I suggest microwaving in short bursts to allow for close monitoring.
How To Cook Chicken Nuggets in Microwave
Here’s a step-by-step guide for crispy, crunchy, delicious chicken nuggets in the microwave.
- Remove your frozen chicken nuggets from their packages or fridge. You don’t have to thaw them out before cooking. They may take longer to cook, but that doesn’t mean they’ll come out soggy and limp.
- Using kitchen shears, slice the nugget into smaller bits. However, proceed to the next step if their sizes are okay.
- Line your microwave-safe plate with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.
- Arrange your cut-up nuggets on the paper towel in a single layer. Cover them with another paper towel, and place them in the microwave.
- Set your microwave to high power and cook for one minute. Flip over the nuggets, cover again with a paper towel, and return to the microwave. Cook in 15-second intervals until golden brown, monitoring attentively to avoid burning.
- Before serving, use a food thermometer to ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked. It should register 165 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted into the thickest part of the nugget.
- Once confirmed safe, remove the nuggets from the microwave and let them cool for 1 minute. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, preventing a dry, overdone bite.
- Serve immediately with desired condiments, dipping sauces, and toppings such as lettuce. The possibilities are endless!
Alternative Ways to Reheat Chicken Nuggets
Although fast and convenient, microwaving chicken nuggets does not always produce the best results. Luckily, there exist a few other ways to reheat your nuggets for consistent flavor and texture.
One such method is to use an oven. It is my favorite since it ensures a crisper exterior and juicier interior than any other method. The only downside is that it takes a bit longer than microwaving.
To achieve this, set your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place your nuggets on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cook them for 15 minutes or until they’re browned.
Air frying is another fantastic option. It is the new craze in town. Like an oven, I found that it yields similar but better results with less time investment.
Even better, there is no guilt! Air frying uses a fraction of the oil used in deep frying while retaining all the crunch. It utilizes convection currents of hot air to cook food quickly and evenly. All you need is some good old-fashioned cooking spray, and you’re good to go.
Last but not least, I want to mention stove-top cooking. Although it is a little more hands-on than the aforementioned methods, its effectiveness cannot be denied. Simply preheat your pan over medium heat before adding enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Add as many nuggets as will fit comfortably in one layer and fry for 3-4 minutes per side. For extra crispy outsides, flip halfway through. When finished, transfer to a plate covered with a paper towel and blot off excess grease before serving. That’s it!
What Happens if You Eat Undercooked Chicken Nuggets?
Consuming raw chicken nuggets puts you at risk of contracting Salmonella and Campylobacter, bacteria that can cause foodborne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, this should not send shivers down your spine. As long as you’re willing to take matters into your own hands and cook your nuggets thoroughly, you’ll be fine.
The best weapon in your arsenal is a food thermometer. Please insert it into the thickest part of the meat, usually near the bones, and wait until it registers 165°F. Alternatively, cut one of the nuggets and ensure no pink is left inside.
Cooking chicken nuggets can be a hit-or-miss experience, with some turning out nicely while others dry and rubbery. But with a microwave, any cook can produce crispy-on-the-outside and juicy-on-the-inside nuggets that are not just edible but also delightful.
However, as with any food cooked using this method, microwaves are notorious for cooking unevenly, resulting in soggy or undercooked meat. As a result, it is critical to closely monitor your nuggets and ensure they reach a safe temperature before serving.
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