Over time, I’m slowly re-making some of my family’s favorite “junk food” meals into healthy homemade versions.
A few weeks ago, I took the one item my kids ALWAYS want to order when we go out to eat and transformed it. Bring on the homemade chicken nuggets!
You might think that homemade chicken nuggets are hard, but here’s the thing: they’re not. They’re nothing more than chicken strips cut up into smaller pieces.
And chicken strips are nothing more than chicken breasts cut into strips.
And chicken breasts come in a package, ready to go (unless you butcher your own chicken first, which you totally can do and I actually recommend doing if you’re really working hard to get your budget down).
I usually get chicken from Costco, but also found amazing organic chicken at Butcher Box.
Easy Homemade Chicken Nuggets Recipe
The hardest part about making homemade chicken nuggets is two-fold:
First, the cooking technique.
Fast food chicken nuggets are fried. If you’re trying to do more homemade and less drive-thru WITHOUT your kids or spouse noticing, then you can’t just bread chicken and stick it in the oven and call it nuggets.
Finally – you can fry your dinner without guilt!
Second, the seasoning.
Salt and pepper are your BFF’s for seasoning, but homemade chicken nuggets require a little more oomph if you’re going to pass the test.
Actually, a lot more oomph.
Don’t be scared of the amount of seasoning in the recipe. Your chicken nuggets won’t be overly salty, garlick-y, onion-y or paprika-y. They’re going to be AWESOME, and your kids will beg you to make more.
Which brings me to my next point…
Freezer-friendly Homemade Chicken Nuggets
These homemade chicken nuggets are freezer-friendly!
This is a VERY good thing, because I used two chicken breasts and my family ate ALL OF THEM.
Not a single nugget was left and all of us were wishing there were more!
I mean sure, there was still some potato wedges on the table and I could have made a side salad to0…
How often can you tell your family you’re having chicken nuggets for dinner and say it without an ounce of guilt?
Not often, so I let these nuggets be the star of the show for once and this meal was one for the record books. I just made these last week and the kids (and husband) are already asking for more!
Which brings me to my point – they’re freezer friendly!
Freezer friendly meals are a lifesaver when you’re a busy family. It’s one of the core concepts I share in my free course: 5 Days to Getting Dinner on the Table, FAST.
How to Freeze Homemade Chicken Nuggets
First, make as many chicken nuggets as you want (I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe because you’re going to get requests for these often!).
Once you’ve made dinner, set aside all the extra nuggets you made and freeze them on cooling rack (I have these) on a cookie sheet for 30-60 minutes. (If you don’t care if your chicken nuggets stick to each other, and when you try to pull out a handful you end up pulling off the breading from a bunch of them, then you can skip this step. But because my family and I like having the breading actually on the chicken nugget, I do this.)
Move the frozen homemade chicken nuggets from the cooling rack and to a freezer-safe container. At this step, I recommend portioning out enough to cover one meal. That way you’re not thawing more than you need later on.
To reheat, preheat the oven to 375 and bake for 10-15 minutes!
- 2 chicken breasts (about 1 – 1 ½ lbs)
- 1 - 2 eggs
- 1 – 2 tsp water
- 1 – 2 cups breadcrumbs (make your own with this easy recipe)
- ½ - 1 cup flour (I used all-purpose, but you can use whole wheat)
- 1 – 2 tsp each: salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
- ½ - 1 tsp each: salt and pepper
- 2 – 4 Tbsp healthy cooking oil (coconut oil or avocado oil recommended)
- Unroll a 12” section of plastic wrap and place it on the cutting board. Place one chicken breast on one end of the plastic wrap and fold the other end over. Using a meat mallet (I have this one) or very heavy spoon or rolling pin, beat the chicken until the entire piece is even in thickness all over. I aim for ½” to ¾” thick. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Cut the chicken into equal sizes, about 1 ½” in size.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet, or another heavy bottomed skillet to medium heat and add 2 Tbsp healthy cooking oil.
- In a shallow dish, crack 1 egg and add 1 tsp water, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Use a whisk to mix well.
- In another shallow dish, measure 1 cup of breadcrumbs, ½ cup flour and 1 tsp each salt, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix well.
- Working in batches, move the cut chicken pieces into the egg mixture and coat thoroughly.
- Then move the chicken to the breadcrumb mixture and coat thoroughly.
- Add to the skillet in a single layer and cook until the sides begin to turn golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Using tongs, flip each nugget over and cook until finished and both sides are dark golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.
- Remove the nuggets to a plate lined with a paper towel or napkin to allow excess oil to drain.
- Repeat with the remaining chicken, using additional egg, water, breadcrumbs, flour, spices and cooking oil as necessary. (If you need just a little bit more of the breadcrumbs mixture, use ½ cup breadcrumbs, ¼ cup flour, ½ tsp of each salt, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder.)
- Serve warm, or freeze for later.
Additional Recipe Notes
If you are taking the time to make homemade nuggets, then you need homemade dipping sauce too! Try any of these homemade sauces for a delicious twist:
- Secret Recipe Buffalo Wing Sauce
- Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Magic Thai Peanut Sauce
- Homemade Caesar Dressing
- Non-dairy Ranch Dressing