Everyone loves chicken nuggets! They’re a versatile and easy meal for all ages. Frozen chicken nuggets are perfect for dipping, easy to eat, and popular with most palates.
Most of us always have a bag of frozen nuggets in the freezer. But how long do they actually last, and do chicken nuggets go bad?
You can keep most frozen chicken brands in the freezer for 3 to 6 months. In the fridge, they typically last 3 to 4 days but are best consumed after only 2 days. Thawing or raw chicken nuggets can sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
Keep reading this article to learn more about the expiration date of frozen chicken nuggets, how you can tell if they have gone bad, and if eating spoiled chicken nuggets can make you sick.
How Long Can You Keep Chicken Nuggets in the Freezer?
For the best quality, texture, and taste, it is recommended to keep chicken nuggets in the freezer for 1 to 3 months.
However, most brands recommend consuming their frozen chicken nuggets within 4 to 6 months, and if you store them properly, keeping them in the freezer for up to half a year is generally fine.
If you plan on keeping them frozen for such a long time, put them in a sealable freezer bag that won’t let in any air or moisture!
Of course, you can keep your nuggets in the freezer even longer. Generally speaking, it’s usually safe to eat chicken nuggets that have been frozen for 12 or more months.
Just be aware that freezer burn might become an issue if you keep them frozen for that long! And while freezer burn doesn’t affect the safety of your food, it does affect overall quality, texture, and flavor.
PRO TIP: Always check the “best by” date on the package and try labeling your frozen foods with the date you open them. Labeling can help stop you from overbuying and clarify how long your food has been in your freezer.
How Long Do Chicken Nuggets Last in the Fridge?
If stored properly, you can keep chicken nuggets in the fridge for 3 to 4 days before eating them either cold or (re)heated.
This goes for all raw and pre-cooked chicken nuggets, including store-bought frozen, restaurant, and homemade.
PRO TIP: For best results, store your chicken nuggets in shallow, airtight containers or sealable freezer bags, as they will keep them fresh for longer. Alternatively, you can wrap them in heavy-duty plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
However, from personal experience, you should only keep them in the fridge for up to two days, as the nuggets will almost always get soggy and lose some of their delicious flavor, no matter how well you’ve stored them.
That’s because the breading absorbs more and more moisture over time.
So if you can, either eat or cook them within those two days or simply pop them back into the freezer!
How Long Can Chicken Nuggets Sit Out?
Both thawing and cooked chicken nuggets should only sit out for up to two hours at room temperature.
If you leave them out for longer or at a higher room temperature, harmful bacteria will quickly grow on them, making them unsafe for consumption.
If the temperature is above 90°F, your chicken nuggets shouldn’t sit out for more than one hour!
So whether you are defrosting your nuggets for dinner or serving them cooked at a party, always keep this 2 and 1-hour rule in mind! Especially since we’re talking chicken!
If you want to keep fully cooked chicken nuggets out for longer than 2 hours, using heat might be a good idea.
Hot holding the nuggets extends the time they can be out of the fridge or oven.
The ideal temperature range to hold hot foods for serving is 135°F or higher.
PRO TIP: Fully cooked chicken nuggets can be held at a hot temperature in a chafing dish or food warmer for up to 4 hours.
How Do You Know If Chicken Nuggets Have Gone Bad?
Chicken nuggets can expire and go bad, whether stored in the freezer or fridge or if they sit out.
Always check your chicken nuggets before eating them, and always remember, if in doubt about the food you’re about to eat, just throw it out!
If you have chicken nuggets that are on the edge of their shelf life, there are a few things you should look out for.
Fully cooked chicken nuggets that have gone bad while stored in the refrigerator might develop a slimy texture, and the breading might slip off.
They might also smell unpleasant and look pale or moist.
In the freezer, chicken that is past its peak might have excessive freezer burn or look really pale in color.
Frozen expired chicken nuggets will taste bland and have an unwanted texture.
Thawed or cooked chicken nuggets that have been left out for too long tend to dry up and can develop an off smell and taste.
In all three cases, you shouldn’t eat your nuggets but instead discard them immediately!
Can You Get Food Poisoning From Chicken Nuggets?
Chicken is a tricky meat. It is easy to prepare, but if not handled properly, it can pose a serious risk to your health.
The salmonella bacteria that lives inside chickens have the potential to make you very sick and, in rare cases, even cause death.
With this in mind, raw chicken products, including raw chicken nuggets, must be handled with care.
If you make homemade chicken nuggets from scratch, wash your hands thoroughly after handling the meat or anything that has come in contact with it, including cutting boards and knives.
Additionally, keep raw chicken on the lowest shelf in your fridge and away from other ingredients while working.
Once the chicken has been thoroughly cooked, it is generally safe to handle, freeze, and eat.
However, consuming cooked chicken nuggets that have gone bad or been sitting out for too long can still lead to food poisoning.
Are Frozen Chicken Nuggets Pre-Cooked?
Frozen chicken nuggets are a highly convenient type of fast food! They’re ready in practically no time and so tasty!
One reason these deliciously dunkable nuggets are so quick is that most major brands of frozen chicken nuggets are fully pre-cooked.
Major manufacturers of top-quality frozen chicken nuggets craft the nuggets from scratch in their factories.
The nuggets are then fully cooked and flash-frozen. This locks in the flavor and freshness of the chicken so that you get a delicious crunchy bite in no time!
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