How Long Should You Fry Chicken Nuggets?

How Long Should You Fry Chicken Nuggets? (Image: belchonock/iStock/GettyImages)

Who doesn't love chicken nuggets? Though they're sometimes considered strictly children's food, adults like to sample them as they're cooking — just to make sure their taste is up to the kiddos' expectations, of course. If you're trying to figure out chicken nuggets fry time, though, several factors determine how long it will take for them to thoroughly cook inside while still staying juicy and acquiring that perfect, golden crispy outside.

Using Stove vs. Deep Fryer

Use one of two methods to fry your chicken nuggets: Fry them in a frying pan on the stovetop, or deep-fry them in a pot of hot oil or a deep fryer designed for this purpose. Either one works well if you pay attention to details such as how much oil you use, the temperature of the oil, etc.

  • In a skillet on the stovetop. Choose a large skillet so the nuggets don't touch; work in batches so the pan doesn't get overcrowded. Add about 1/4 inch of oil evenly across the bottom of the frying pan. The nuggets should just rest on the oil, not be submerged in it.

  • Deep-frying in oil. To deep-fry the nuggets, use ether a deep fryer or a medium-sized pot with straight sides. (A larger pot or one with slanted sides will require more oil to fully cover the nuggets.) Fill either no more than halfway with oil, so it doesn't splash out when it boils.

Frying Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Use some tips to successfully fry your homemade chicken nuggets so they're cooked all the way through, but crispy on the outside and not burnt:

  1. Hand-cut the chicken into pieces of equal thickness because they will take the same amount of time to cook. The nuggets can be any length, although keeping their lengths relatively consistent helps them fit in the pan more easily.

  2. Coat the nuggets according to your favorite recipe. The standard coating is flour, then beaten egg followed by breadcrumbs. Some tasty alternatives include substituting mayonnaise for the flour and egg or adding grated Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs. For spicy nuggets, add red pepper flakes to the breadcrumbs.

  3. Heat your pan or deep fryer. *Turn the stovetop heat to medium high, or heat your deep fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When the oil is hot enough that a breadcrumb sizzles in it, gently place the nuggets in the oil using a slotted spoon or tongs. *DO NOT COVER YOUR PAN OR DEEP FRYER! Lids keep in steam, creating moisture that will make the coating soggy instead of crispy.

  4. *Set your timer. *Fry stovetop nuggets 4 minutes per side. Check chicken nuggets in the deep fryer after 2 minutes. There's no need to turn them over since they float in the oil, which cooks both sides at once. Cook 1 minute longer if the nuggets aren't crispy. If they're browner than you'd like, set the timer for 1 minute less on the next batch.

  5. Drain the chicken nuggets on paper towels.** **Eat while still warm. Serve with ranch, honey-mustard or any dressing you like.

Frying Fully Cooked Chicken Nuggets

Many home cooks enjoy using store-bought, fully cooked chicken nuggets for their convenience and "almost-like-homemade" taste. Suggested directions for frying refrigerated nuggets:

  1. *Use a large skillet, medium-sized pot or deep fryer. *Follow No. 3 in the previous section on homemade nuggets to select temperature and the amount of oil to use.

  2. Choose nuggets of the same thickness. If you're using all the nuggets, group them according to thickness and fry in separate batches.

  3. Follow step No. 3 in the previous section. The temperatures and amounts of oil are the same. And again, don't cover your skillet, pot or deep fryer.

  4. Set your timer. Since the nuggets are pre-cooked, they only need to be heated through and crisped on the outside. Fry in the skillet 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side and 1 minute if deep-frying.

  5. Drain on paper towels and serve warm with the dressings and dips of your choice.

If you're using frozen pre-cooked chicken nuggets, follow these same directions, except:

  • Be careful not to let the hot oil splash! Ice particles from the frozen coating can cause the hot oil to splash out. Adjust the temperature down a bit until the splashing or spattering stops.
  • Fry a bit longer. The nuggets are pre-cooked, so they still only need to be heated through and given a crispy coating. But since they're frozen, they will take longer to cook through. Fry in a skillet 2 minutes per side and, if you're deep-frying, a total of 2 minutes.
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