How do you make Trader Joe’s Fish Nuggets with an air fryer? Let me show you! This air fryer frozen fish nuggets recipe is a great way to get kids to eat more fish, and it couldn’t be easier. These frozen fish bites are made with Alaskan pollock, with a mild flavor that’s not too “fishy.” Get cooking instructions including air fryer time, plus nutrition information for Trader Joe’s Battered Fish Nuggets right here!
Want to know how to cook Trader Joe’s fish nuggets? Though homemade fish nuggets may be a more nutritious choice, I get that sometimes you need a convenient alternative. I know I’ve used frozen fish squares as a dinner shortcut on a number of busy evenings.
I’m airfrying Trader Joe’s frozen fish nuggets here; feel free to adapt this recipe to your favorite brand. You can often find fish nuggets at Costco and other popular supermarket chains.
Fish nuggets are almost always made with white fish, a lean protein. Trader Joe’s fish nuggets contain Alaskan pollock fish. You can also find frozen cod nuggets and catfish nuggets. You can air fry fish nuggets made with any type of fish.
The one downside of white fish versus oily fish is that white fishes contain less of the omega-3s DHA and EPA. On the other hand, white fish tends to be very low in calories, and their mild flavor is often more acceptable to children.
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of Air Fryer Trader Joe’s Fish Nuggets has 345 calories, 25 grams net carbs, and 19.5 grams protein. This nutritional information is for 6 breaded fish nuggets, a serving that's 1.5 times what's on the box. Any dips or toppings you add are not included in the nutrition information.
Why make Trader Joe’s Fish Nuggets in the air fryer? Here are some reasons I think you’ll love this recipe:
- Fast: After doing a quick air fryer preheat, you can cook fish nuggets in 10 minutes. This is the fastest way to get crispy fish nuggets on your plate.
- Easy: Fish nuggets are a one-ingredient entrée. All you need is the box of frozen nuggets to make these.
- Perfect for New Cooks: It is practically impossible to screw up this air fryer recipe. This makes it a good option for college kids and others who may be amateur cooks.
- Picky Eater Friendly: Your child may eat this product even if they typically dislike fish and other seafood. The crispy batter and experience of eating these two-bite fish pieces with a dip will remind them of chicken nuggets. This can be a starting point for introducing other types of fish in the diet.
Here’s what you need to make air fryer frozen fish nuggets:
- Frozen fish nuggets
- Your favorite dipping sauce
You get about 16 Trader Joe’s battered fish nuggets per pound. If the fish nuggets you’re using are considerably larger or smaller, the cooking times may vary.
Don’t thaw your fish nuggets before air frying. We are going to put them into the air fryer frozen, just as we would if we were oven baking them.
To make frozen fish nuggets in the air fryer, you’ll need an air fryer and meat thermometer. I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven, but you can use smaller air fryers with an air fryer basket as well. You will need to cook the box of fish nuggets in batches if you use a small air fryer.
You may need to make slight adjustments to the air frying time if you use a Ninja Foodi, Cosori, Pampered Chef Air Fryer, Actifry, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Cuisinart, Philips, Power Air Fryer, or another air fryer. There are some cook time variations between the different air fryer brands. Always keep a close eye on your food the first time you try an air fryer recipe.
🔪 How to Make Trader Joe's Fish Nuggets
Let’s air fry frozen fish nuggets! Preheat your air fryer to 400F (200C) for 5 minutes.
Remove the fish nuggets from the box and put them in a single layer on your hot air fryer tray or air fryer basket. I needed both air fryer trays to fit them all.
️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long do frozen fish nuggets take in an air fryer? It took a total of 10 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200C) to air fry frozen fish nuggets.
If you aren’t air frying the whole box, put the tray in the top rack position of the air fryer. This is the position closest to the heating element. Air fry the nuggets for 5 minutes, flip, then air fry an additional 5 minutes on the top rack.
You can flip them once more and air fry 1-2 minutes if they’re still not crispy enough.
If there are nuggets on the bottom rack as well, move them to the top rack after the top rack nuggets have cooked. Let the fish nuggets air fry 3-4 more minutes, until they are as crispy as you like.
Check the fish nuggets with a meat thermometer to be certain they're done. They should have reached the minimum safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63C).
After cooking, let them rest for 1-2 minutes to crisp up more. They truly do taste best when you let them get fully crispy. If they’re too oily after cooking, try blotting them with a paper towel before serving.
Oven directions: You can oven bake frozen fish nuggets for 15-18 minutes in an oven preheated to 475F (246C). Flip fish nuggets halfway through cooking time. (These directions are straight from the Trader Joe’s fish nuggets box.)
Microwave directions: Please don’t try cooking frozen fish nuggets in the microwave if you want them crisp! Just don’t.
I highly recommend only cooking the fish nuggets you need, and keeping the rest in the freezer. You could technically keep cooked fish nuggets in the fridge for 24-48 hours, but quality may decline. Use leftover fish nuggets to make fish nugget tacos with cabbage, salsa, and guacamole.
🌶 Dipping Sauces
What are the best dips for Trader Joes Fish Nuggets? Here are some of my favorite sauces to serve with battered fish:
- Tartar Sauce
- Cocktail Sauce
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Honey Mustard
- Ranch Dressing (try the Homemade Ranch Dip in my Air Fryer Breaded Mushrooms Recipe)
Some kids really enjoy ketchup with fish nuggets as well, but I’m not really digging that. Haha
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Are Trader Joe’s fish nuggets healthy? Though you’re getting some seafood with this product, I actually wouldn’t consider them the most nutritious choice.
TJ’s fish nuggets have fish as the first ingredient, canola oil as the second ingredient, and white flour coming in fourth. Indeed, they do tend to be a little greasy. You definitely don’t need to add additional oil to cook them.
Like other ultra-processed foods, these have a very small serving size. I usually make my portion 6 ounces (170 grams), 1.5 times what's on the box. Taking a double portion is likely realistic for many people.
Per Cronometer, if you eat 6 ounces (170 grams) of Alaskan pollock fillets without breading, you’d get 113 calories, 1 gram net carbs, and 27 grams protein. In contrast, 6 ounces (170 grams) of breaded fish nuggets provide 345 calories, 25 grams net carbs, and 19.5 grams protein. That’s over three times the calories!
The calories in Trader Joe’s Breaded Fish Nuggets are so much higher than fish with no breading due to oil and flour. Oil provides 120 calories per tablespoon, while flour provides approximately 110 calories per ¼ cup. When you add these ingredients to your foods, the calories add up quickly.
While I wouldn’t consider fish nuggets the “healthiest” thing most could be eating, they’re not the worst either. (I know sometimes kids won’t eat fish unless it’s breaded and they can dip it. I’ve been there!)
For a lighter meal, choose lightly seasoned fish without the breading and pile some non-starchy veggies on your plate. My Cod En Papillote is a super choice for a low-calorie seafood entrée.
I would not assume that any chicken or fish nugget product is fully cooked unless it states it on the package. Many of these products have been partially cooked to set the breading or batter, but not fully cooked through. Since the box of Trader Joe’s fish nuggets doesn’t say they’re precooked, I would treat them as if they're raw.
I purchased a 1-lb box of Trader Joe’s frozen fish nuggets at my local TJ’s for $4.49. Prices may vary by location.
Trader Joe’s fish nuggets are not gluten free. They contain “wheat flour” (a sneaky name for white flour). Check out Ian’s Gluten-Free Frozen Fish Sticks and Starfish Gluten-Free Fish Sticks for GF options.
Trader Joe’s fish nuggets are not keto or low carb because they’re coated with a white flour batter. For keto fish nuggets, bread your own fish pieces with almond flour, coconut flour, or pork panko.
According to the FoodKeeper App, frozen breaded fish can be kept for up to 18 months in the freezer. After that, there may be some deterioration in freshness and quality. It’s not recommended to keep this product in the refrigerator.
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Frozen Fish and Seafood Recipes
Want more ideas for cooking frozen fish and other seafood in the air fryer? I’m on it! Check these out:
- Frozen Fish in Air Fryer
- Frozen Shrimp in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Tilapia (Frozen or Fresh Fish Fillets)
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Trader Joe’s Fish Nuggets (Air Fryer)
- 1 lb frozen fish nuggets (I used Trader Joe's brand)
- sauce for dipping (optional)
- Preheat your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for 5 minutes.
- Remove the fish nuggets from the box and put them in a single layer on your hot air fryer tray or air fryer basket. I needed two air fryer trays to fit them all.
- Air fry the nuggets for 5 minutes, at 400°F (200°C). Then flip the nuggets, return the trays to their original position in the air fryer, and air fry and additional 5 minutes.
- You can flip them once more and air fry 1-2 minutes if they’re still not crispy enough.
- Remove the nuggets on the top rack from the air fryer oven. Move the nuggets that were on the bottom rack to the top rack. Let the fish nuggets air fry 3-4 more minutes, until they finish crisping up.
- Check the fish nuggets with a meat thermometer to ensure they've reached a minimum safe internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). Add additional air frying time if needed.
- After cooking, let the fish nuggets rest for 1-2 minutes to crisp up more. If they’re too oily after cooking, try blotting them with a paper towel before serving with dipping sauce.