Homemade Chicken Nuggets

4.75 from 4 votes

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Homemade Chicken Nuggets is a recipe that people of all ages will delight in. You know exactly what ingredients are going into them, they are more cost-effective, and they are moist and delicious. If your kids like fast food, they will love these chicken nuggets!

close up of crispy fried and golden homemade chicken nuggets.
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This recipe for make-ahead and stash-in-the-freezer chicken nuggets is a total game-changer on the chicken nugget scene. It’s a great dinner option on busy nights or if a babysitter needs to feed the kids while you are on a hot date! So easy and healthy. 

For a full make-ahead meal, make an easy potato salad and a homemade coleslaw along with getting the nuggets in the freezer during a weekend meal prep session. Now you have a super easy and healthy meal for a busy weeknight!

crispy fried and golden homemade chicken nuggets on a white plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Homemade chicken nuggets make a great lunch, dinner, or snack. You can also use the leftovers for the lunchbox the next day.
  • Prepping the nuggets ahead provides an easy, faster-than-fast-food meal, and they are freezer-friendly, too.
  • Once your family tastes these juicy and flavorful homemade nuggets, they’ll never want store-bought or fast-food chicken nuggets again!

Recipe Ingredients

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Boneless, skinless chicken – most people prefer white breast meat, but dark meat from boneless, skinless thighs will also work
  • All-purpose flour
  • Onion powder
  • Granulated garlic – garlic powder can be substituted, but you will need to use less
  • Eggs
  • Bread crumbs – make your own or use store-bought regular or Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil – a neutral oil with a high-smoke point is needed for frying the nuggets

See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities.

all ingredients for homemade chicken nuggets in small clear bowls.

How to Make Homemade Chicken Nuggets

raw chicken soaking in a marinade in a clear glass bowl.

Step 1. Cut the meat into nugget-sized pieces and soak in brine 30 minutes. Dry off the meat.

ingredients for homemade chicken nuggets on a blue background - eggs, raw chicken pieces, eggs, flour, breadcrumbs in green bowls.

Step 2. Bread the meat by dipping into flour mixture first, then egg wash, and coating with bread crumbs last.

freshly breaded but raw homemade chicken nuggets waiting to be fried.

Step 3. Set aside nuggets as they’re breaded, and heat the oil in a pan.

pan with oil and top view of cooking nuggets in the pan.

Step 4. Cook the nuggets in batches so they aren’t overcrowded in the pan. Drain on paper towels.

Recipe FAQs

How long do I brine the chicken?

Don’t brine for more than 30 minutes, or the chicken will be too salty.

Are chicken nuggets really that “healthy”?

I’m calling this recipe healthy because it is SO MUCH BETTER for you than traditional store-bought chicken nuggets. Frying isn’t bad, it’s a very traditional cooking method. If vegetable oil isn’t your thing cook them in avocado or coconut oil.

How long can chicken nuggets stay in the freezer?

If properly stored in an airtight freezer bag, they can be kept frozen for 1 month. Do not thaw before reheating.

raw chicken being dipped in egg with the bowl of breading to the left.

Expert Tips

  • Thoroughly pat dry the brined chicken with a paper towel. This is a crucial step in making the breading coat stick.
  • Cook the coated chicken in the skillet until golden brown on each side (about 3 minutes per side).
  • Here are my pro tips to ensure juicy nuggets—cut the chicken into larger pieces (more chicken finger and less nugget) and soak them in a quick 30-minute brine. It adds so much flavor and moisture to the chicken. Even Chick-fil-A brines their chicken!
crispy fried and golden homemade chicken nuggets on a white plate.

How to Cook Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer

The air fryer is a great option when making homemade chicken nuggets. Be sure to spread the nuggets out so they aren’t touching and cook evenly. If you go the air fryer route, you will probably need to cook them in batches to make sure they aren’t overcrowded. 

What to Serve With Chicken Nuggets

In order to eat chicken nuggets you need a dip! I serve them with ketchup, BBQ sauce, homemade Ranch dressing or fry sauce. Complete this meal by making…

These tasty nuggets also make a fabulous salad addition. Try it on a bacon ranch salad, an Asian chicken salad, or a chicken bacon ranch pasta salad. All of these can be made ahead and would be perfect to take to a potluck, too!

pan with oil and top view of cooking nuggets in the pan.

More Easy Chicken Recipes to Consider

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close up of crispy fried and golden homemade chicken nuggets.
4.75 from 4 votes

Freezer Friendly Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Stock your freezer with these Healthy Homemade Frozen Chicken Nuggets from America’s Test Kitchen. This is a meal prep recipe that will save your life and your wallet!
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 10

Ingredients 

  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken , (Cut into strips that are 3/4 inch wide)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs, (store bought, homemade, or Panko)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions 

To Prep:

  • Add 2 cups of cold water to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and Worcestershire and stir to dissolve. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Combine the flour, onion powder, granulated garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow dish.
  • Beat the eggs in a second shallow dish.
  • Add the bread crumbs to a third shallow dish.
  • Working with a piece at a time, toss the chicken in the flour, then dip it in the eggs, then coat with the bread crumbs. Transfer to a large plate.
  • Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a 12-inch skillet (cast iron works great here) and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Cook one third of the coated chicken in the skillet until golden brown on each side (about 3 minutes per side) until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a wire rack sitting inside a baking sheet to cool. Wipe out the pan and repeat with the remaining chicken, 1/3 at a time (so you’ll cook a total of 3 batch of chicken nuggets).
  • Serve right away or you can make these ahead of time in large batches and keep them in the freezer so you always have frozen chicken nuggets on hand!

To Freeze and reheat:

  • Let the chicken cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the cooled chicken nuggets to a freezer zipper-lock bag and seal. Freeze up to 1 month. Do no thaw before reheating.

To Finish and Serve:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Bake nuggets on a wire rack, set on a rimmed baking sheet until crisp and heated through, about 30 minutes. Flip the chicken half way through cooking time. Serve hot.

Notes

  • America’s Test Kitchen’s original recipe called for all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat), and Panko bread crumbs (I used homemade whole wheat), so use what you think is best. I rarely substitute things in their recipes, but did this time because that is what I had on hand.
  • Don’t brine for over 30 minutes, or your chicken will be too salty.
  • I’m calling this recipe healthy because it is SO MUCH BETTER for you than traditional store-bought chicken nuggets. Frying isn’t bad, it’s a very traditional cooking method. If vegetable oil isn’t your thing, cook them in avocado oil.
  • Homemade Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs: Dry 6-8 pieces of your favorite homemade wheat bread in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until the bread feels dry. Tear the bread into large pieces and process in a blender or food processor until you have bread crumbs. Easy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1 of 10 servings, Calories: 355kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 301mg, Potassium: 357mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 94IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 58mg, Iron: 2mg
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41 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I made a double batch of these today. Used cajun seasoning instead of the other seasoning listed. They were very good and I’m afraid we’re going to eat them all before being able to freeze them. My only recommendation is that you really only need half the flour and egg coatings mentioned. I add to the panko as I go so I don’t waste much.

  2. 5 stars
    Instead of the salt, pepper, onion and garlic, give Lawry’s seasoning a try, just swap out for 2 TB. of the seasoning. For a nice little kick add 1 tsp. (or more depending on taste) of Grandma’s Chili powder.