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Chicken Nuggets

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These picky-kid-approved, healthy Chicken Nuggets made with ground chicken are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Better than fast-food and even have hidden veggies inside!

Chicken Nuggets

Best Chicken Nuggets

My sister-in-law and I set out to make a knock-off chicken nugget for my picky niece, and she loved these (and so did the rest of my family!). This homemade chicken nugget recipe uses ground chicken, frozen cauliflower rice (you can’t tell!), and seasoning, coated in breadcrumbs, and cooked in the air fryer or oven. They take a little longer than using chicken chunks but are totally worth it! You can double the batch and freeze the rest, so you have your own healthier, homemade frozen chicken nuggets you can feel good about feeding your kids. More nuggets you may want to try, these Baked Chicken Nuggets and Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets using chunks of white-meat chicken.

Chicken Nuggets with honey mustard

Why You Need To Make This Recipe!

  • Kid-Friendly: Toddlers and children will love these crispy chicken nuggets!
  • Healthier: Making the chicken nuggets from scratch means you control the ingredients. Baked or air fried instead of deep fried!
  • Added Veggies: I mixed in some cauliflower rice, and no one could tell.
  • Freezer Friendly: You can make them ahead, and freeze for the week!
  • Pack The In A Lunch Box: My sister in law has been packng them in her kids’ thermos so they are still warm at lunch.

What are chicken nuggets made of?

  • Chicken: For this chicken nugget recipe, I chose 93% ground chicken (a mix of chicken thighs and breast meat) instead of ground chicken breast, which comes out too dry. If you want to use skinless chicken breast, use this recipe instead.
  • Cauliflower Rice: Frozen cauliflower rice keeps these lean while adding extra nutrients.
  • Seasoning: Salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper
  • Egg: Beat one egg in a shallow bowl.
  • Breadcrumbs: Coat the nuggets in seasoned breadcrumbs or gluten-free crumbs.

How to Make Chicken Nuggets

  1. Form the Chicken: Combine the ground chicken, cauliflower rice, and seasoning in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 30 round, flat nuggets weighing about 25 grams each.
  2. Bread the Nuggets: Crack the egg into a bowl and pour the breadcrumbs into another. Dip the chicken mixture in the egg and then the breadcrumbs.
  3. Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets: Place them in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Spray the tops with oil and air fry for eight to nine minutes at 400°F, flipping halfway and spraying the other sides with oil. Cook until the nuggets are golden and cooked through, and repeat the process with the remaining pieces.
  4. Baked Chicken Nuggets: If you don’t have an air fryer, bake them in the oven. Place them on a baking sheet sprayed with oil, and spray the chicken with oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 450°F. Flip the nuggets over, spray with more oil, and bake for 6 more minutes until golden brown.

Variations

  • Poultry: Swap ground chicken with 93% lean ground turkey.
  • Breadcrumbs: Substitute breadcrumbs with seasoned panko breadcrumbs.
  • No seasoned breadcrumbs? Add spices, like onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and salt, to your breadcrumbs.

What to Serve with Chicken Nuggets

  • Dipping Sauce: Dip these nuggets in your favorite sauce, like ketchup, honey mustard, buffalo sauce, BBQ sauce, or spicy mayo.
  • Lunchbox Ideas: Pack them for school lunch with fruit, veggie sticks and your child’s favorite dipping sauce, or put them on a small roll for a chicken sandwich.
  • Salad: Adults can serve this with or over a salad with ranch dressing.
  • Sides: Serve them with french fries, mac and cheese, or with roasted broccoli or green beans.

How to Freeze Chicken Nuggets

Leftover nuggets last for up to four days in the fridge, but if you want to freeze them, here’s how:

  1. Bake or air fry the chicken as directed and let them cool.
  2. Flash freeze them on a sheet pan until solid for an hour or two.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container.
  4. To reheat, bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 11 to 15 minutes or 360°F- air fryer for 7 to 8 minutes.
Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer
Baked Chicken Nuggets
Chicken Nuggets in Freezer

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Chicken Nuggets Recipe (Ground Chicken)

4.90 from 29 votes
7
Cals:280
Protein:28
Carbs:13
Fat:13
These picky-kid-approved, healthy Chicken Nuggets are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. They’re better than ones from a fast-food restaurant and even have hidden veggies inside!
Course: Dinner, Lunch, School Lunch
Cuisine: American
Chicken Nuggets
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Yield: 5 servings
Serving Size: 6 nuggets

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs 93% lean ground chicken, organic preferred (not breast only)
  • 2/3 cup frozen cauliflower rice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, or gluten-free seasoned crumbs*
  • ketchup, honey mustard, buffalo sauce, BBQ sauce, special sauce, etc., optional for dipping

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine the chicken with cauliflower rice, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and mix well. Form into 30 round flat nuggets, about 25 grams each.
  • Place egg in a bowl and bread crumbs in another bowl. Dip the nuggets in the egg, then breadcrumbs and set aside.

Baked:

  • If baking, place on a sheet pan sprayed with oil. Preheat the oven to 450F and spray the chicken with oil.
  • Bake 10 minutes then flip, bake an additional 6 minutes, until golden. Spraying both sides until golden and cooked through.

Air Fryer Method:

  • Place the chicken nuggets in a singe layer in batches as needed, spray the tops with oil and air fry 8 to 9 minutes at 400F, flipping halfway spraying both sides with oil, until golden and cooked through.
  • Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Last Step:

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Notes

Leftover nuggets last for up to four days in the fridge, but if you want to freeze them, here’s how:
    1. Bake or air fry the chicken nuggets as directed and let them cool.
    2. Flash freeze them on a sheet pan until solid for an hour or two.
    3. Transfer to an airtight container.
    4. To reheat, bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 11 to 15 minutes or 360°F- air fryer for 7 to 8 minutes.
    5. Freeze up to 3 months.
*N.I. reflects 1 tbsp breadcrumbs that get tossed after.

Nutrition

Serving: 6 nuggets, Calories: 280 kcal, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Protein: 28 g, Fat: 13 g, Saturated Fat: 3.5 g, Cholesterol: 154.5 mg, Sodium: 670.5 mg, Fiber: 1.5 g, Sugar: 1.5 g

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59 comments on “Chicken Nuggets”

  1. I made these today and they are awesome. Very easy to make. Loved by all. We do prefer less sodium in a recipe so we will tweak it a tad to our taste next time.

  2. Absolutely delicious. My toddler is 1 going on 2 in a few months, he absolutely LOVES these. I have been looking for a healthy alternative and these are it! I use 100% ground chicken breast and it does not dry up, I added smoked paprika and have made them with and without the Panko crumbs – I just pan sear them in a small amount of olive oil and they come out beautifully. My husband is obsessed, he polishes them up when feeding our little one and has asked me to make them into wraps for him. Left a review on Pinterest where I found this recipe too – soooooo so good.

  3. These are absolutely delicious! Thank you for the recipe! I didn’t change a thing and will make these again! I’m thankful I doubled the recipe! knew they would be great based on the fact that every one of your recipes I’ve tried has been so delicious! This was no exception! I’m so happy I found you!

  4. I messed up on this one. Instead of dipping chicken mixture in egg and breadcrumbs, I mixed it all with the chicken. LoL it was too late to redo so I just shaped them and bake. It ended up being my 6 y.o favorite.

  5. I can’t wait to make these for the Grandkids. I got some BBQ sauce and dipped these delicious nuggets. These were better than I expected. Love that there is cauliflower rice in them too. The kids will never know veggies are in there by the crunch on the outside and moist delicious center. Winner winner chicken nugget dinner :).

  6. Excellent! I was very skeptical of this recipe. So easy and delicious! Everyone loved them. I just have to perfect the nugget shape

  7. The flavor is amazing! I finally have another meal that everyone – including my picky kids – can/will eat. And bonus on the hidden veggies! I pretty much followed the recipe as written, except made them into little oval patties, which made about 16 total. I just didn’t have the patience to bread 30 nuggets. They were a little gloopy, but I’ve worked with worse. They lost their shape in the egg dip, but took a better shape after rolling in the breadcrumbs. I shaped them into the ovals on the baking sheet and they held up beautifully. The cook time was exactly the same, as I made them about the same thickness as a nugget. One small recipe deviation: I also messed up and bought all white meat ground chicken. Following someone else’s suggestion, I added a few tablespoons of mayo and they came out perfect and juicy.

  8. These were very easy to make and tasted good! I did defrost my cauliflower rice and wrung out the liquid, I think it helped to keep the mixture not be so gloopy. Will make these again for sure.

  9. Avatar photo
    Linda Thorogood

    Looks fantastic could you substitute cauliflower for cannellini beans? We have food intolerance and cauliflower is out.

  10. I made these for my son who doesn’t eat veggies. I’m always looking for ways to hide veggies and these were perfect. I used a cookie scoop to make sure they were all the same size, then shaped into nuggets. He loved them. I froze the leftovers for his school lunches. I originally tried making them into dino nuggets by using cookie cutters, but it did not work because the chicken was just sticky and wouldn’t stay in the dino shape. Do you have any tips? I tried spraying the cookie cutters but that still didn’t work.

  11. I didn’t have high hopes for such a simple recipe but these were so good. They satisfied my fast food craving and I feel good about the ingredients/calories. My husband says they taste better than his fav drivethru.

  12. While this was yummy I found it really tedious to form and bread every little nugget. In hindsight I’d chill the meat after mixing because it was just gloopy and annoying to handle. It was just a pain and I wouldn’t make them again.

  13. Oh my! I doubted this recipe – the combination of ingredients seemed off. How could ground chicken(I used ground breast) and cauliflower taste,and give this grandmother the texture, of nuggets? I don’t know how, but this recipe is delicious – definitely a keeper!! Don’t doubt Gina, make this today!!

  14. Made these for the grandchildren. I didn’t have the cauliflower rice so threw some cauli and broccoli in the food processor. Delicious and healthy!

  15. I loved this – definitely an easy fast food remake. A perfect lunch option & took no time to prep/make.
    I do recommend browning up the breadcrumbs on the stove before dredging the nuggets in them – that got mine to look a bit more “fried”
    Overall a great recipe and nuggets were tasty dipped in Bolthouse Ranch 🙂

  16. I made these they were very good. I made them with panko crumbs they didn’t get as brown but were crunchier than ones I made with regular bread crumbs. I’d like to know if you spray them with PAM or do you put oil in container then pump it to pressurized it then spray. What oil do you use?

  17. Avatar photo
    Brenda Britton

    I made this recipe for my husband, 11 year old granddaughter and myself. The nuggets were delicious. My granddaughter told me that they were good. No one could taste the cauliflower and I didn’t tell my granddaughter they were in the nuggets. Great way to add vegetables!

  18. These were delicious! I accidentally bought 97% lean ground chicken breast. I was worried they would be dry so I added a couple tbsps of Mayo to the mix and they were perfect! Messy to shape, but still perfect. Thank you so much for the recipe! Definitely making these again.

  19. Darn! I accidentally bought 97% lean chicken breast. Could I add some oil to the ground meat to keep it from being too dry?

  20. Love this recipe and what’s exciting is the whole family loves it and didn’t recognize that it was cauliflower in there! We did it in the air fryer and had to use ground turkey cause that’s what we had on hand.

  21. Haven’t made these yet but am planning on it this weekend. Once cooked, is the cauliflower visible? Can you taste it? Because, kids.

  22. Avatar photo
    Sarabeth Peterson

    These were so great! I used 93% ground turkey because I couldn’t find 93% ground chicken in my store. I used panko and seasoned them myself. My husband despises turkey and even he was happy with these!

  23. Do you think this would come out good with ground turkey instead of chicken? Only asking because I have a BUNCH of ground turkey, haha!

  24. I accidentally mixed the breadcrumbs and egg in with the chicken. Proceeded to form the nuggets and dip in egg and breadcrumbs. Air fried at 400 for 4 minutes each side. Despite my mistake, they turned out delicious. Moist, tender and seasoned to perfection. Looking forward to making it again without the added egg and breadcrumbs.