Homemade Chicken Nuggets

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Here they are. They are world renowned for their ability to double as kid favorite and parent bail-out meal-- Chicken Nuggets.   How many times have you pulled out of the drive-through lane or dumped rock hard artifacts from the freezer onto a baking sheet and thought--"I'm glad the kids are getting their dimethylpolysiloxane (that's a real ingredient) today."  It must taste pretty good, because my middle daughter loves chicken nuggets.  I really wanted to find an alternative to all of the artificial chemistry lab stuff--a more wholesome version and one that I would enjoy as well.  If you follow the procedure below, I think you'll find a good way to get your kids the delicious nuggets they love that you can also feel good about.

Cut each chicken breast diagonally into thirds.

Working with the largest piece, turn the cut side towards you and slice into 1/2-inch thick pieces.

With your knife almost parallel to the cutting board, cut the two smaller thirds into pieces.

Continue with remaining chicken breasts.

Place the chicken pieces in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This keeps the chicken moist and flavorful.

Dry the chicken on paper towels.

 Coat the chicken pieces with egg whites.

Then dredge in the seasoned flour/panko mixture; pressing to adhere. Do not discard the remaining flour/mixture.

Place the coated chicken pieces on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Just before frying, return the chicken pieces to the flour/panko mixture and lightly dredge again.

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil to 350° F.

Place half the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, flipping once, about 3 minutes.


Remove the chicken from the oil (I like to use a Chinese skimmer) and return the oil temperature to 350° F before frying the second batch.

Drain the chicken on a separate wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.  Keep warm in a 200° F oven until ready to serve.

Since the nuggets take little time to fry, I make a double batch.  One for dinner and one to freeze for a busy weeknight. To make ahead, cool chicken nuggets completely, transfer to a freezer-safe ziploc bag, and freeze for up to 1 month.  Reheat in a 350° F oven for 15 minutes or until heated through.

I like to serve them with a drizzle of honey, but feel free to use any dipping sauce, like barbecue, ranch, or honey mustard.  Let's be honest--your kids will probably drag them through a red lagoon of ketchup.  A nice green salad and some seasonal fresh fruit completes the meal.
Printable Recipe

Chicken Nuggets
serves 4-6, about 3 dozen pieces

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup panko crumbs, crushed
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 extra large egg whites
4 cups peanut or vegetable oil

Cut each chicken breast diagonally into thirds.  Turn each third so that the cut side is facing you, then cut each third diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces.  Whisk the water, the tablespoon of salt, and Worcestershire in a large bowl until the salt dissolves.  Add the chicken pieces and refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the brine, discard the brine, and pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  In a shallow dish, combine the flour, panko crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, remaining salt, black pepper, and baking soda.  Whisk the egg whites in a separate shallow dish until foamy.  Coat half the chicken with the egg whites and dredge in the flour mixture, pressing to adhere.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken; set aside for 10 minutes (don't discard the flour mixture).

Adjust an oven rack to middle position and preheat to 220 ° F.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom saucepan to 350° F.  Return chicken to flour mixture and turn to coat, pressing to adhere.  Fry half of chicken until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.  Drain chicken on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.  Return oil to 350° F and repeat with remaining chicken pieces.  Enjoy!

Make Ahead
Cool fried nuggets, transfer to a freezer-safe ziploc bag, and freeze for up to 1 month.  To serve, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350° F.  Place nuggets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, flipping once, until heated through, about 15 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Cook's Country October/November 2010


  1. Nicole! I swear... you must have mental telepathy or something b/c you know what the people want ;-) I was just thinking of chicken nuggets/strips last night... was planning on combining a couple of different recipes & techniques. You did the work for me. Amazing how many times I pop on here & you are cooking something I had in mind! By the way, where did you find that little clip for your thermometer? It looks like a must have for me...

    1. Hope you enjoy the recipe, Carolyn:) The thermometer is a Redi-Chek® Digital Oil & Candy Thermometer. It comes with the clip.

  2. I've been looking for chicken nuggets recipe and it's a good thing I saw your post. I want to give my kids a healthier version chicken nuggets to replace fast food version. Thanks =)

  3. I am pretty sure even moms would love this version of Chicken nuggets!

  4. This is genius! It looks delicious!!

  5. Homemade so much better than store bought. Love it! :)

  6. AnonymousJuly 28, 2012

    Hi, what do you do with the baking soda as you have this in the ingredient list but not the actual recipe!! Thanks

    1. It is added in the flour mixture.

  7. Just what I was looking for... thanks! :-)

  8. These are fabulous! Thank you!

  9. How long do they stay in the preheated oven? Is that just to keep them warm while doing the second batch? I'm a beginner cook, kind of confused. Thanks.

    1. You are correct. It is just to keep them warm while frying the remaining nuggets.


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