chicken nuggets in a lined dish with ketchup on the side

RECIPE FOR NUGGETS

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Skip the drive-thru and indulge in homemade chicken nuggets bursting with flavour! Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this recipe for nuggets is a kid-approved favourite that’s so easy to make at home.

I don’t know why but when I was making this recipe, every single step of the way, I had visions of my super cute and smiling 3-and-a-half year old niece burned into my brain. There she was, as happy as ever, to be served up Auntie’s famous homemade chicken nuggets for dinner.

I mean, she doesn’t haaaave to know their homemade because I think I’d get the same reaction if I had promised her McDonald’s yet gave her these instead. She really wouldn’t know the difference! These oven baked homemade nuggets are a star dish for 3 and a half year olds and adults alike and they’re so much easier to make than you might think!

chicken nuggets in a lined dish with dipping sauces, more nuggets on a tray in the background

I think most of us would agree that having a plate full of chicken nuggets dipped into all of our favourite sauces would in fact bring back some memories of being a carefree 3 year old. Am I right?

I mean, when “chicken nuggets” is still an acceptable answer when someone asks you want you want to have for dinner, that’s a lifestyle I wanna live…. FOREVER. And heck yes, now I absolutely CAN with these healthy oven baked nuggets that are waaaay better made from scratch.

chicken nuggets stacked in a line bowl, one at the top cut in half to reveal the inside

This recipe for nuggets checks off ALL the boxes. They’re crispy. Crunchy. Better than take-out. Healthy. Oven Baked. Super delicious on their own or with all of your favourite dipping sauces. They’re kid approved, fun to make and are a dish we can all agree on as both an appetizer and a main dish.

It’s a win-win for us AND the kids! And when you have a recipe that the whole entire family is going to love, including the pickiest of eaters, I don’t think you need me to tell you that it’s a definite keeper!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE FOR NUGGETS

ingredients for recipe for nuggets - chicken, panko, eggs, parmesan, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, cooking spray
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

You don’t need very many ingredients to make your very own homemade chicken nuggets from scratch! These babies use few and simple ingredients, are oven baked to perfection and are way better than anything you’d order at any fast food restaurant. Let’s discuss each ingredient in a little bit more detail down below:

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: The main protein source in this recipe for nuggets. Chicken breasts are lean and healthy, providing high-quality protein. RECIPE NOTE: You may question their ability to resemble nuggets at first but trust me, just cut ’em in about 1-inch pieces (they don’t have to be perfect) and you’ll see them really come together after breading.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs: Act as the coating for the chicken nuggets, adding the perfect crunchiness and texture. You can use regular or whole wheat breadcrumbs instead, if you prefer. For a gluten free option, almond flour is a great alternative.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Adds flavour and helps the coating adhere to the chicken. It also contributes a savoury, salty taste to the nuggets. Freshly grated parmesan cheese works best in this recipe.
  • Paprika, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder: These simple seasonings add flavour to the coating for this recipe for nuggets. Paprika provides a mild heat and colour, while garlic powder and onion powder add savoury depth of flavour. You can use smoked paprika instead for a deeper and more smokey flavour, if you prefer.
  • Salt and Pepper: Enhance the overall taste of the nuggets. Salt brings out the flavours of the other ingredients, while pepper adds a subtle heat.
  • Eggs: Act as a binder, helping the breadcrumb mixture stick to the chicken pieces.
  • Cooking Spray: Used to grease the baking sheet or wire rack and lightly coat the chicken nuggets before baking. It helps to promote browning and crispiness during baking.
chicken nuggets on a wire rack lined baking sheet

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE HEALTHY CHICKEN NUGGETS (KEY TIPS)

hand holding a split chicken nugget over a bowl of the rest of them

You can find full instructions for how to make these homemade chicken nuggets in the recipe card down below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Cut the chicken breasts into uniform bite-sized pieces. This ensures even cooking and consistent texture in the finished nuggets. The chicken pieces may not look like they’re going to look like nuggets at first but trust me, they’ll come together, especially after being coated in the breadcrumb mixture. EXTRA TIP: The pieces don’t have to (and most likely won’t) look the exact same. A little variance is good for nuggets in terms of shape – just try and keep them similar in size.
  • Pulse the panko breadcrumbs and the spices in the food processor a few times to achieve your desired consistency. This will help to blend the flavours more evenly and ensure that the coating sticks well to the chicken. It will also help to create a finer texture, which can result in a more uniform and crispy coating on your homemade chicken nuggets.
  • Make sure you fully preheat your oven to the specified temperature before baking the nuggets. This ensures that they cook evenly and develop a crispy exterior.
  • Use a wire rack if you have one. Placing a wire rack on top of the baking sheet allows for better air circulation around the nuggets, resulting in a crispier texture. It also helps to prevent the nuggets from becoming soggy on the bottom. If you don’t have one, just place the nuggets directly on the parchment lined baking sheet. EXTRA TIP: If you’re not using a wire rack, be sure to flip the chicken nuggets halfway through baking to ensure even cooking on both sides.
  • Coat evenly. Coat each chicken piece thoroughly with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently to ensure it adheres well. Even coating helps to achieve a uniform crunchiness on all sides of the nuggets. EXTRA TIP: Be sure to shake off the excess egg before coating the chicken with breadcrumbs. This helps to achieve a more even, crispy, and flavourful result in the finished chicken nuggets.
  • Don’t overcrowd. Arrange the coated chicken nuggets on the baking sheet or wire rack in a single layer with some space between each piece. Overcrowding can prevent proper airflow and result in uneven cooking.
  • Lightly grease. Use cooking spray or lightly drizzle olive oil over the nuggets before baking. This helps to promote browning and crispiness without adding excessive oil.
hand dipping a chicken nugget into a yellow dipping sauce
FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT CUT OF CHICKEN IS USED FOR CHICKEN NUGGETS?

Chicken nuggets are typically made from boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken tenderloins. These cuts of chicken are lean and tender, making them ideal for creating bite-sized nuggets that are juicy and flavourful. Chicken breasts are often preferred for their uniform shape, which allows for consistent sizing of the nuggets. Additionally, chicken breasts are easy to trim and cut into bite-sized pieces, making the preparation process simpler.

While you can also use chicken thighs for chicken nuggets, they tend to be fattier and may result in slightly different texture and flavour compared to nuggets made from chicken breast. If you really want to, you can also use ground chicken to make homemade chicken nuggets. However, overall, boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken tenderloins are the preferred cuts for making delicious and tender chicken nuggets.

WHAT HOLDS CHICKEN NUGGETS TOGETHER?

Homemade chicken nuggets are held together by a combination of ingredients and cooking methods. First, you coat the chicken pieces in beaten eggs, which act as a binder, helping the breadcrumb mixture adhere to the surface of the chicken. This ensures that the coating stays intact during baking, resulting in crispy nuggets with a flavourful exterior.

Additionally, the baking process itself plays a crucial role in holding the nuggets together. By baking them at a high temperature, the egg and breadcrumb coating cooks and sets, creating a firm outer layer while sealing in the moisture of the chicken inside. Overall, the combination of egg as a binder and baking as a cooking method work together to hold homemade chicken nuggets together, resulting in deliciously crispy and flavourful bites.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO COOK NUGGETS?

The best way to cook chicken nuggets is by baking them in the oven. Baking allows for even cooking and crisping of the nuggets without the need for excessive oil. To achieve optimal results, preheat your oven to the desired temperature and arrange the coated nuggets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

For extra crispiness, place a wire rack on top of the baking sheet to allow air circulation around the nuggets. Lightly coat the nuggets with cooking spray or a drizzle of olive oil before baking to promote browning and crispiness. Bake the nuggets until they are golden brown and cooked through, typically around 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through if desired. Once done, serve the hot and crispy nuggets with your favorite dipping sauce (mustard mayo, anyone?!) for a delicious meal or snack. Baking is not only a healthier option in comparison to frying, but it also yields tasty and satisfying chicken nuggets that the whole family will love.

Who would I be if I didn’t also say that air frying is another great way of cooking homemade chicken nuggets? Follow the same steps for preparation and then stick them in a 400°F air fryer for 10-15 minutes or until they’re cooking through. If you have an air fryer basket (instead of a tray), flipping them halfway through cooking is probably a good idea.

CAN I FREEZE HOMEMADE CHICKEN NUGGETS?

YES! That’s one of the things that makes homemade chicken nuggets so great! Prepare a big batch and save some for later when you just need a quick meal to get you through the day! Here’s how to freeze them:

Allow the cooked chicken nuggets to cool completely to room temperature before freezing. Once cooled, arrange the chicken nuggets in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper. Make sure the nuggets are not touching each other to prevent them from sticking together during freezing. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let them freeze for about 1-2 hours, or until they are firm. Once the nuggets are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag. They’ll be good for up to 4 months.

When ready to eat, you can reheat the frozen chicken nuggets directly from the freezer.

chicken nuggets piled into a lined tray with a yellow dipping sauce
chicken nuggets in a lined dish with ketchup on the side

HOMEMADE CHICKEN NUGGETS

Yield: ~30 Nuggets
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Skip the drive-thru and indulge in homemade chicken nuggets bursting with flavour! Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this recipe for nuggets is a kid-approved favourite that's so easy to make at home.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, line with a wire rack if you have one, then lightly grease with cooking spray or olive oil.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder salt, and pepper to a food processor. Pulse a few times until you reach your desired consistency. Place into a bowl.
    panko, parmesan and spices in the base of a food processor
    breadcrumb mixture in a food processor
  3. Dip each chicken piece into the beaten eggs, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere the crumbs to the chicken.
    bowl of beaten eggs with a piece of chicken, another bowl with breadcrumbs
    beaten eggs in a bowl, breadcrumbs in another, hand pressing a piece of chicken into the breadcrumbs
    hand holding a chicken nugget over a bowl of beaten eggs and another with breadcrumbs
  4. Place the coated chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet, making sure they are not touching each other. Lightly spray the tops of the chicken nuggets with cooking spray or drizzle with a little olive oil to help them crisp up. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the nuggets are golden and crispy. Serve hot with your favourite dipping sauces!
    chicken nuggets on a wire rack lined baking sheet
    chicken nuggets on a wire rack lined baking sheet
    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 91Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 120mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 11g

    Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.

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