These homemade chicken nuggets are healthy, easy to make, and a guaranteed kids’ favorite. Skip the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru and serve these nuggets with easy potato skins and stove-top macaroni and cheese for the perfect meal!
Over time, I’m slowly re-making some of my family’s favorite “junk food” meals into healthy homemade versions.
So far I’ve done homemade hot pockets, homemade instant oatmeal, homemade spaghetti o’s, homemade lunch meat, homemade peanut butter cups, and homemade donuts… just to name a few.
But no list of kids’ favorite foods is complete without chicken nuggets, so I had to find the perfect, healthy, homemade version of this drive-thru staple to satisfy our craving. Here it is, folks!
What makes these chicken nuggets so fabulous? They are:
- Healthy. Fast food nuggets are fried in unhealthy oils and are loaded with additives. These homemade chicken nuggets contain only whole food ingredients and are fried using healthy oils.
- Ready in less than 30 minutes.
- Flavorful. The spices in this recipe give these nuggets a special kick that will beat the taste of conventional nuggets.
- A Kids’ favorite. Your kids will beg for more (and probably your spouse too)!
- Freezer friendly. This recipe is easy to double or triple for an easy future dinner.
Here’s What You Need
- Chicken breasts
- Bread crumbs. You can buy them, or make your own following this recipe HERE.
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Flour. I use all-purpose einkorn flour, but you can use whole wheat or gluten free as well.
- A healthy cooking oil such as coconut oil or avocado oil.
A Quick Note on Meat
I often buy chicken at Costco, but if you’re looking for better meat and you can’t find it locally, Butcher Box delivers grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and heritage-breed pork directly to your front door each month.
I’ve shared my Butcher Box experiences a few times:
- Butcher Box Review (Updated!)
- How to Make Butcher Box Worth the Cost
- My Personal Experience and Honest Review of Butcher Box
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The hardest part about making homemade chicken nuggets is two-fold:
- First, the cooking technique. Fast food chicken nuggets are fried, and your kids or spouse will taste the difference if you try to bake them, so you’re going to have to fry them. But you can totally do that with coconut oil or avocado oil and you’re not only making a healthier dinner than the drive-thru, but you’re cooking with healthy fats, so you can fry 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. Don’t be scared of the amount of seasoning in this recipe. Trust me – they’re going to be AWESOME.
Plan to make extras, and follow the steps below to freeze them so you have supply to meet the demand!
Step 1. Pound down the chicken. 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 a 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.
Step 2. Cut the chicken into equal sizes, about 1 ½” in size.
Step 3. Preheat a cast iron skillet, or another heavy bottomed skillet to medium heat and add 2 Tbsp healthy cooking oil.
Step 4. 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.
Step 5. 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.
Step 6. 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.
Step 7. Add to the skillet in a single layer and cook until the sides begin to turn golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Step 8. Using tongs, flip each nugget over and cook until finished and both sides are dark golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.
Step 9. Remove the nuggets to a plate lined with a paper towel or napkin to allow excess oil to drain.
Step 10. 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.)
Step 11. Serve warm, or freeze for later.
How to Freeze Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Step 1. 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!).
Step 2. Freeze extra nuggets on a cooling rack (I have these) or on a cookie sheet for 30-60 minutes. (You can skip this step, but your nuggets will end up sticking together, and you’ll pull the breading off when you tear them apart later).
Step 3. Move the frozen homemade chicken nuggets from the cooling rack 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.
Step 4. To reheat, preheat the oven to 375F and bake for 10-15 minutes!
Are homemade chicken nuggets healthy?
Absolutely! Homemade chicken nuggets are packed with protein and healthy fats and, most importantly, are free of all the processed garbage that commercial foods contain. These chicken nuggets are cooked with healthy oils, real chicken breast, and a variety of flavorful spices.
What goes with homemade chicken nuggets?
Adding a salad and carbohydrate side is a great way to round out this meal. Try these easy potato skins and stove-top macaroni and cheese for a great, kid-friendly side dish! This delicious kale salad is another great side to try!
Can homemade chicken nuggets be frozen?
Yes, homemade chicken nuggets can be frozen, and it is quite easy! Just remember to freeze them first on a cooling rack or cookie sheet so that they do not freeze together. Then, transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container.
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
Freezer Cooking: Dump Dinner RecipesSign up to get instant access to my step-by-step Freezer Cooking: Dump Dinner Recipe plan, complete with recipes, supply list, and shopping list!
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
These homemade chicken nuggets are healthy, easy to make, and a guaranteed kids’ favorite. Skip the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru and serve these up with easy potato skins and stove-top macaroni and cheese for the perfect meal!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Pan fry
- Cuisine: American
- 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.
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. Don’t be scared of the amount of seasoning in this recipe. Trust me – they’re going to be AWESOME.
- Calories: 660-770
- Fat: 27 grams
Keywords: homemade chicken nuggets
Do you reheat from frozen or from thawed? If thawed how long do they need to thaw.
Brittany @ Team Crumbs
This recipe is best when you reheat from frozen. To reheat, preheat the oven to 375F and bake for 10-15 minutes.
I thought so but this sentence before it confused me. “ That way you’re not thawing more than you need later on.”
Thank you for confirming. 🙂
I am going to try this recipe with turkey cutlets because my son is allergic to chicken, but he’s also highly allergic to eggs. Is there something I should use to replace eggs? Egg replacement powder will not work, he doesn’t like it. Sorry to be a pain. 😁 Thank you in advance.
Brittany @ Team Crumbs
Some great egg replacements for chicken nuggets are buttermilk, tomato paste, olive oil, and chia seeds. I hope this helps. 🙂
Has anyone tried these in an air fryer? I love the recipe just wanting to get away from frying them on the stove.
SJ - Team Crumbs
Hi Codey, Check out our friend’s recipe over at https://www.kitchenstewardship.com/air-fryer-chicken-recipe/
Do you cook these before freezing?? Or freeze raw then bake in the oven?
Karen @ Team Crumbs
I cook them first, then freeze them. Just remember to freeze them on a cooling rack or cookie sheet so that they do not freeze together. Then, transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Hope this helps! 🙂
This might be a dumb question ☺️ but if you have something like your recipe for the homemade Italian breadcrumbs do you still add the additional seasonings; peprika, etc? I wasn’t sure if you use both or one or the other? I’m excited to try these for my toddler but have never made nuggets before. Thank you! I’m excited to try making the breadcrumbs too.
Hi Angela! I would add the extra seasonings. The seasoning in breadcrumbs is so you’re not eating plain bread, and they won’t add a ton of flavor to the end product of something. I hope you like them!
Do you freeze after cooking or before?
Thx for this recipe. Do you think there would be another way to make these without the egg since my daughter is allergic to eggs/dairy? I wondered if I could dip them in coconut or almond milk instead? Thx for your input 🙂
I haven’t tested it personally Robin, but you could probably do either one!
Robin, a flax or chia egg substitute would probably work better than any kind of non dairy milk. Just google “flax egg recipe” or “chia egg recipe”, and I would grind either one of them extra fine before adding the liquid. Good luck!
I just want you to know that occasionally our family has homemade Chick fil A night and this is our go-to recipe! Actually we had it last night with these nuggets and your potato wedges (and my husband mixed up some mean CFA sauce)!
Oh wow, what a compliment! Thank you Heidi! ♥ I think I need to borrow your homemade Chik-fil-A night idea for our own meal plan. 😉
I made these for my family and I got the seal of approval from my2 year old Grandson, he told me my chicken nuggets were yummy for his tummy, lol 😉, so they will become a go to in my house and thanks for letting us know they freeze great cause will have to double or triple next time for sure. Thanks for sharing.b😛😝😋😊
You’re so very welcome Robin!
AMAZING. I couldn’t stop eating them…kids loved them too!! Thanks for posting!
You’re very welcome!
These are the best homemade nuggets I’ve ever made! Thank you so much for the recipe. Even my fussy other half approves ALOT. I can’t sign up to your minicourse though, it keeps failing!
I’m glad you like the nuggets!
I attempted to sign you up for the mini course. Let us know if you didn’t get an email about it!
These were delicious! I have 4 boys and they all devoured them. But the real test was that my husband and I loved them too!
Wonderful! I’m so glad the whole family liked them. 🙂
These turned out fantastic! I’m gluten free so I subbed the flour and breadcrumbs for gluten free flour, breadcrumbs, and cereal. They turned out spectacularly. We even tested a small frozen batch for a midnight snack.
Thanks so much for this!
You’re very welcome Christina!
Made these tonight and they were amazing! The only thing I did different was using ghee to fry because I am low on coconut oil. Next time I need to double them because everyone scarfed them down. 😁😁
I have the same problem too!
Excited to try this! With a toddler chicken nuggets are basically a staple around here. But whenever we buy them I’m always thinking about how much better (and healthier) it would be if I found the perfect homemade chicken nugget recipe.
Can you tell me how many chicken nuggets this makes? Also, in the recipe it says “1-2”, “1/2-1”, etc. for each of the ingredients, can you explain the large range for the ingredients? Is it based on if you use 1 or 2 chicken breasts? I want to get the ratio right.
Hi Sarah!! I honestly can’t tell you how many this makes – my kids and hubby are always snacking on them as they come out the pan, LOL! Plus with the different size of breasts, different thickness, etc. If I had to guess, I’d say 25-30 ish?
As for the ingredients, if you notice, the range for each one is doubled. Basically, start at the low end. Then if you run low on egg wash or spices, you can make it again. Once you make this recipe the first time, you’ll know whether or not you’ll need to use the low end or high end of ingredient measurements. This will also depend on how much chicken you use too. I just didn’t want you guys to waste ingredients on egg wash or breading, and then not have a use for the extras!!
Hi, would it be black or white pepper powder?
I absolutely looooove chicken nuggets! I usually buy the frozen ones from Foster Farms at either Albertsons or Safeway. My ex-stepdad used to buy a big bag of them for me at Costco. I wish I could shop there, but it seems you have to have a membership, which is a bit spendy! Another downside to the bags I buy is they only last for a few servings. I would buy the big bags again, but the problem with that is I live in a studio apartment, and my freezer is so small! Right this moment, it’s practically stuffed to the ceiling! This is because most of the things I make, I usually freeze half the batches so they last longer. I wonder how I could make a homemade version that tastes like the ones from Foster Farms, without any preservatives? Also, how do they make all those cool chicken nugget shapes?
I’m afraid if I tell you how they make the cool chicken nugget shapes, you won’t want to eat them every again. 🙂 These chicken nuggets are really good – I encourage you to give them a shot!
And why would you think I wouldn’t want to eat them ever again? I was just curious about the shapes, since if I make the homemade version you’re describing, I’d like to make the familiar shapes. I know one of them is round, or maybe it’s oval, and another is sort of rectangular with a little handle, at least to me that’s what the shape feels like, and I think another of the shapes might be square. I don’t know, I’m just taking a guess.
I think nuggets that are made into shapes are highly processed.
Couldn’t I try making shapes with your recipe? How would I make them? Would I have to use a knife? Cookie cutters? A special pan? I’m confused!
You could try making shapes if you started with ground chicken, but not with chicken breasts.
I suppose you could cut the chicken into shapes, but I don’t know that it would hold it. Typically, shaped nuggets are made by blending or processing the meat so it will fit in a mold. I’ve never done it myself so I’m not sure how exactly it would work.
I’ve made chicken nuggets by pureeing the chicken and seasonings with some mashed potatoes in a food processor. If you do that, the nuggets can be shaped as you like, and the texture is similar to what you’d get from typical processed nuggets. You could follow the suggestion to just use ground chicken, but I’ve never tried that, so I don’t know how the texture would be without the potatoes.
My son and I found this recipe this morning and are already looking forward to making it! Thanks!
I hope you guys love it as much as we do Kitchen Fairy!!