How To Microwave Frozen Chicken Nuggets Without Making Them Soggy

Whether it's served at school lunches, in their fast-food meals, or packaged in the shape of dinosaurs, kids (and adults) love chicken nuggets. They can't seem to get enough of these crispy, breaded, and fried hunks of boneless white meat — and why wouldn't they? Chicken nuggets are quick, easy to make, and like other types of fried chicken, are just all-around pretty delicious.

Preparing chicken nuggets is very simple and there are many ways to go about doing it. Some of you may follow the directions on the packaging and put them in the oven for exactly the specified amount of time and temperature. Others may toss half a bag of chicken nuggets in the air fryer for a few minutes or so and just "guesstimate" when they're done. No matter what you do, be it in your oven or in the air fryer, the end goal is to always make chicken nuggets that are perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. 

But when it comes to preparing crispy chicken nuggets, the microwave isn't exactly your first choice. It may heat the chicken nuggets up much faster than the oven or air fryer, sure, but the end result is usually warm chicken with soggy, crumbling breading that slides right off the meat.  While this may be true most of the time, there is a very easy way to remedy the problem of soggy chicken nuggets. All you need are a couple of paper towels. 

Put your frozen chicken nuggets on a paper towel first

If you take a few frozen chicken nuggets, put them on a plate, and then toss them in the microwave, your end result will probably be chicken nuggets that seem more moist or wet on the bottom than anything crispy or firm. Could it be possible to "absorb" all of this excess moisture and prevent it from soaking back into your chicken?

A solution for this problem involves taking a few paper towels and layering them onto the plate before dumping your nuggets onto it. Put the plate into the microwave and cook the nuggets until they're fully heated through. The end result should be chicken nuggets that have little to no moisture on them and are still somewhat firm rather than having a white, "slimy" exterior. The reason paper towels help to give your chicken some degree of crispiness is that the towels absorb all of that excess moisture that comes off the chicken nuggets. Instead of the moisture pooling around the bottom of the chicken nuggets and seeping into the breading, the moisture goes into the paper towels, preventing those little pools of watery breading you'd find under your nuggets.

Will the chicken nuggets be as crispy as they would be in the oven or the air fryer? Not exactly.  But will the paper towel method help make some decent chicken nuggets relatively quickly? It can do that just fine. 

Why doesn't food get crispy in the microwave anyway?

Microwaves aren't the culprits behind your chicken nuggets becoming a soggy mess. Rather, it's excess moisture that develops as the nuggets thaw. But nuggets also thaw out in the air fryer and the oven, yet they don't come out soggy or moist. What exactly makes the microwave so different that chicken nuggets can't come out as crispy as they would in an oven?

Microwaves don't so much as "cook" the food as it does "boil the moisture inside of it." The electromagnetic waves inside your average microwave aren't meant to brown your food, but to instead warm your food by heating the water molecules inside of it, such as the moisture in leftover pizza, inside popcorn kernels, or in this case, frozen chicken nuggets. When the water molecules are heated, steam is released and, since there's no place for the steam to escape or evaporate, it gets reabsorbed back into your food, per Kitchen Appliance Answer. Your chicken nuggets and leftover pizza will be hot but they will have reabsorbed a lot of steam and moisture.

There are plenty of ways to get crispy foods in the microwave, such as shallots, garlic, and even chicken nuggets. But you must remember the microwave is more of a convenient tool than a full replacement for your oven.