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What are cheesy nuggets?

Cheesy nuggets are a popular appetizer or snack made from chicken that is breaded or battered and fried, then typically served with a melted cheese sauce. They are a variation of traditional chicken nuggets that have an extra savory, gooey cheese flavor. Cheesy nuggets are creamy, crispy, and delicious!

What are the main ingredients in cheesy nuggets?

The main ingredients in cheesy nuggets are:

  • Chicken – Typically made from boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs that are diced into bite-sized pieces.
  • Breading or batter – The chicken is coated in a breading or batter before frying. The breading adds a crispy texture.
  • Flour – All-purpose flour helps the breading stick to the chicken.
  • Eggs – Used in the batter to help it adhere to the chicken.
  • Cheese – Usually a melted cheese sauce or cheese filling is added. Cheddar, mozzarella, and American cheese are commonly used.
  • Oil – For deep frying the nuggets to make them crispy.

The cheese sauce is made from ingredients like milk, butter, flour, and shredded cheese. Seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika are also often used to add more flavor.

How are cheesy nuggets made?

Here are the basic steps for making cheesy nuggets:

  1. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes.
  2. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and other spices.
  3. Prepare the breading station – Place flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs into separate dishes.
  4. Bread the nuggets – Coat each chicken cube in flour first, then egg, and finally press into the breadcrumbs.
  5. Fry the breaded nuggets in hot oil until golden brown and crispy.
  6. Make the cheese sauce by melting butter, stirring in flour to make a roux, then adding milk and shredded cheese. Stir until smooth and thickened.
  7. Toss the fried nuggets in the cheese sauce until fully coated.
  8. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauces!

The nuggets can also be stuffed with cheese filling by placing a cube of cheese inside the chicken before breading. Alternately, the cheese sauce can be poured over the cooked nuggets right before serving.

What kinds of cheese work best?

Here are some of the most popular cheeses used in cheesy nuggets:

Cheese Attributes
Cheddar Popular, sharp flavor, melts well
Mozzarella Mild, creamy, stretchy melted texture
Monterey Jack Mild, melty, little flavor impact
American Melt beautifully, creamy texture
Swiss Distinctive flavor, melty and shiny
Provolone Mild, smooth, slightly tangy

Cheddar, mozzarella, and American cheese are the most commonly used varieties because they melt smoothly with a creamy texture. Sharp cheddar provides a distinctly cheesy flavor while mozzarella is melty, mild, and acts as a great binding agent in the cheese sauce. The choice depends on personal preference!

What dipping sauces go well with cheesy nuggets?

Cheesy nuggets pair deliciously with a variety of dipping sauces! Here are some popular options:

  • Marinara sauce – The classic pairing, with its savory tomato flavor.
  • Ranch dressing – Cool and creamy, ranch is always a crowd-pleaser.
  • BBQ sauce – Sweet and tangy, it complements the savoriness of the nuggets.
  • Honey mustard – The tangy zip of mustard with sweet honey provides the perfect dip.
  • Buffalo sauce – For those who like heat, buffalo sauce adds a kick.
  • Blue cheese dressing – The bold flavor stands up to cheesy nuggets nicely.

Match lighter sauces like ranch or honey mustard with intensely cheesy nuggets. Spicy buffalo pairs well with milder cheese fillings. Get creative and serve an assortment of fun dipping options for your cheesy nuggets!

Are air fryer cheesy nuggets healthier than deep fried?

Yes, air fryer cheesy nuggets are a healthier cooking method compared to deep frying. Here is a comparison:

Cooking Method Air Fryer Deep Fryer
Calories Lower Higher
Fat Less overall fat absorbed Food is submerged in oil so more fat content
Preparation Simpler with less oil to manage Need large pot of hot oil on the stove

Deep frying leads to more calories and fat absorption because the nuggets are completely surrounded by hot oil. The circulating hot air in an air fryer means the nuggets cook without direct oil contact. Air fried nuggets will absorb less oil overall, making them lower in fat and calories. For a healthier option, air frying is the way to go!

How do you ensure crispy nuggets in an air fryer?

Here are some tips for getting crispy air fried nuggets:

  • Use panko breadcrumbs rather than plain – panko fries up extra crispy.
  • Let breaded nuggets sit 5-10 minutes before air frying to help breading adhere.
  • Spray nuggets with a little oil before cooking for crispy results.
  • Cook at 400°F, flipping halfway through, until deeply golden brown.
  • Avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket which can lead to soggy spots.

What creative cheesy nugget recipes can I try?

Take cheesy nuggets to new heights by trying creative new recipes like:

Recipe Ingredients
Jalapeño Popper Nuggets Cream cheese filling with diced jalapeños
Taco Cheesy Nuggets Seasoned beef or chicken filling, top with lettuce, salsa, sour cream
Buffalo Chicken Nuggets Shredded chicken in buffalo sauce, blue cheese crumbles
BBQ Bacon Cheddar Nuggets Cheddar cheese, cooked bacon bits, BBQ sauce drizzle

You can also coat the nuggets in crushed savory items before breading like crispy bacon bits, crushed potato chips, pretzels, or cornflakes for exciting new flavors and textures!

Can you freeze and reheat cheesy nuggets?

Yes, freezing cooked cheesy nuggets is totally fine and makes for an easy weeknight meal later on. Here are some freezing tips:

  • Allow nuggets to cool completely before freezing so the cheese filling sets.
  • Place desired portion sizes in freezer bags or airtight containers.
  • Remove as much air as possible and seal tightly.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat, bake frozen nuggets on a sheet tray at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until hot and crispy.

The cheese may become a bit more solid when frozen but will melt beautifully again once reheated. Freezer cheesy nuggets make for a quick and satisfying meal anytime!

What are some cheesy nugget recipe variations?

The possibilities are endless when it comes to funky cheesy nugget variations! Here are a few fun flavor ideas to try:

Cheese Choices

  • Gruyere – nutty, rich flavor
  • Brie – creamy, buttery interior
  • Goat cheese – tangy, robust flavor
  • Parmesan – sharp, salty flavor
  • Pepper jack – spicy kick
  • Blue cheese – bold, crumbly flavor

Coating Ideas

  • Crushed cheese-flavored chips like Cheetos or Doritos
  • Chopped roasted nuts
  • Crushed or whole pretzels
  • Shredded coconut
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Crushed graham crackers

Protein Options

  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Salmon
  • Vegan chicken
  • Seitan

Let your imagination run wild and get creative with unique cheese flavors, fun coatings, and different proteins to invent your own signature cheesy nuggets!


Cheesy nuggets put a savory, melted spin on classic chicken nuggets. Cheddar, mozzarella, and American cheese are commonly used for their creamy, melty qualities. An air fryer allows you to skip the deep frying for a healthier version. Consider creative new fillings like buffalo chicken or jalapeño poppers and coatings like crispy bacon or crushed chips. Freezing and reheating cheesy nuggets is simple for quick meals later. With endless flavor combinations, there’s no limit to the delicious cheesy nugget recipes you can whip up!