Characterizing water and fat distributions in fried foods is of major importance in terms of taste and nutrition. The objective of this study was to introduce a new technique to quantify water and fat distributions of chicken nuggets coated with methylcellulose (MC) through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and NMR relaxometry. Multi-slice-multi-echo (MSME-Spin Echo based) images were performed on a 1.03 T spectrometer for the whole chicken nuggets to obtain relaxation time distribution of different regions (core and crust) of the nugget. MSME images provided the relaxation spectra of the core and crust separately and showed that relaxation times and relative areas of the proton pools in crust and core regions are correlated (mostly, R-2 > 0.85) with moisture and fat content. Results demonstrated that MSME images in combination with T-2 relaxometry are appropriate tools to quantify spatial water and fat distribution in various food products. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.