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Are Chicken Nuggets Fried Chicken?

Chicken nuggets have become a staple food item on many restaurant menus and frozen food aisles. But what exactly are those bite-sized pieces made of, and does that make them a form of fried chicken?

Are Chicken Nuggets Fried Chicken?

Chicken nuggets are a form of fried chicken. Most chicken nuggets, whether from restaurants like McDonald’s or purchased frozen in grocery stores, are made from chopped and formed chicken meat that is breaded or battered and then fried to cook through and make the coating crispy.

While some frozen nuggets are par-fried and require finishing in the oven, the frying process is usually a key step in creating chicken nuggets, allowing them to be classified as a type of fried chicken.

Related post: Are Breadcrumbs Good for Fried Chicken?

What are Chicken Nuggets Made Of?

Chicken nuggets are made from chopped and formed chicken meat that is breaded or battered and then fried. The meat used is most often a combination of white and dark chicken meat, minced together into a paste-like consistency.

Seasonings, binders, and fillers are added to help hold the nugget shape and add flavor. Common binders and fillers include wheat flour, starch, milk powder, and egg. Seasonings can include salt, pepper, spices, and flavorings.

The formed chicken paste is then coated in a wheat-based breading or batter before being fried in oil until golden brown and crispy. This method of chopping, binding, breading and frying allows the use of whole chicken parts.

Are McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets Fried?

Yes, McDonald’s chicken nuggets go through a frying process. According to McDonald’s own ingredients information, their chicken nuggets consist of tempura battered chicken, which is fried until crispy golden brown.

The tempura batter used by McDonald’s for their nuggets is made with wheat and rice flour, leavening agents like baking powder, spices, extracts, starch, and other ingredients to create the crispy coating.

Are Frozen Chicken Nuggets Already Fried?

Most frozen chicken nuggets sold in grocery stores are par-fried rather than fully fried. Par-frying cooks the nuggets about 80% of the way through before freezing. This gives them a lightly golden outer crust.

You finish cooking frozen par-fried nuggets by baking, frying, or air frying until the center is hot and the coating reaches the desired crispness. Fully fried frozen nuggets can also be found but are less common. These only require a short reheat before serving.

Are Tyson Chicken Nuggets Fried?

As a major producer of frozen chicken nuggets, Tyson utilizes par-frying for most of their nugget products. Tyson’s chicken nuggets are made with whole muscle chicken breasts and par-fried with a wheat flour batter.

To finish cooking Tyson par-fried nuggets at home, preparation instructions recommend oven baking or frying to reheat them until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. This brings the nuggets to a safe temperature for consumption.

In Summary

Chicken nuggets from most restaurants and frozen brands begin with chopped and formed chicken meat that is breaded or battered, then fried to cook and crisp the coating. Par-frying is often used to partially pre-cook nuggets before freezing. So while not fully fried twice, most chicken nuggets do go through a frying process at some stage. This earns most chicken nuggets the designation of being a type of fried chicken.


Are Chicken Nuggets Healthy?

Chicken nuggets can be a healthy option in moderation. Homemade nuggets using whole ingredients like chicken breasts, whole grains and minimal oil are healthiest. Commercial nuggets may be higher in calories, sodium, and saturated fat depending on preparation.

What’s The Best Way to Cook Frozen Chicken Nuggets?

Oven baking is the most common and easiest cooking method for frozen par-fried nuggets. Arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake at 400°F, flipping halfway through, until heated through and crispy. Frying or air frying also work well for finishing crispy baked nuggets.

Can You Make Chicken Nuggets without Frying?

Yes, homemade oven-baked chicken nuggets can be made without frying. Chicken pieces are coated in breadcrumbs, egg wash or flour, then baked at a high temperature to get a crisp outer texture. Brushing nuggets with oil helps promote browning and crispness when baking.


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