Kids absolutely love chicken nuggets, but have you ever read the back of the box? It’s a laundry list of ingredients you’ve never heard of (and probably can’t even pronounce). It’s hard to get excited about feeding that to your family. Luckily, recipe developer Ting Dalton of Cook Simply has the ultimate solution: crispy, tender chicken nuggets made with just ten staple ingredients (all of which are easily pronounceable) and come together in under an hour from start to finish.
Of course, making homemade chicken nuggets takes a bit of extra time, but as Dalton notes, these homemade nuggets can easily be made in advance. "This recipe is great for batch cooking," she says. "Just place the nuggets in a suitable airtight freezer bag, and then reheat in the oven when you want to eat them."
Serve them on their own or with your favorite dipping sauces (Dalton likes ketchup and garlic mayonnaise), and wait for the applause from the whole family.
Gather the ingredients for chicken nuggets
To make these homemade chicken nuggets, you will, of course, need chicken. Dalton opts for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which she slices into 1-inch chunks.
You’ll also need a three-part breading system. First, flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Next, eggs beaten with just a splash of milk. And lastly, panko breadcrumbs, which Dalton prefers over regular breadcrumbs. "I personally like the added crunch," Dalton says. "They’re drier in texture [and absorb] less oil. [They] make these nuggets lighter and crunchier."
The panko is seasoned with with onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. As-is, these nuggets are wonderfully flavored, but Dalton also notes, "If you want them to have an extra kick, add some cayenne pepper to spice things up. Or, you can add oregano for a more herby flavor."
You’ll also need some vegetable oil for frying and a touch of salt and pepper.
Prepare the breading for the chicken nuggets
First up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. With the oven heating, it’s time to turn your attention to the breading.
When breading anything like chicken nuggets, preparedness is your best friend. Set out three bowls: one for the flour seasoned with salt and pepper, one for the beaten egg loosened with a bit of milk, and a final one for the spiced-up panko breadcrumbs. Line them up on your counter in order, and set a clean rack or plate next to the panko where the breaded chicken morsels can land.
Bread the chicken nuggets
The time has come to bread the nuggets! Designate one hand to be your "dirty" hand. This one will be moving the nuggets through the three bowls: first dredging the chicken pieces through the flour, then dipping them in the egg, and finally transferring them to the crispy panko, making sure to coat them very well. You can use your dry, clean hand to remove the chicken pieces from the panko and place them on a rack to wait before frying.
Fry the chicken nuggets
Once all the chicken is coated in breadcrumbs, it’s time to heat the oil. Using a non-stick frying pan will help keep things neat.
Fry the chicken pieces for just about a minute or two per side, until golden brown. As always when frying, it’s best to work in batches to prevent overcrowding the pan. Otherwise, the addition of the cold chicken will make the oil temperature drop, and you’ll end up with soggy nuggets.
Bake the chicken nuggets
Once all of the chicken nugget pieces have been fried, it’s time for them to take a trip into the preheated oven. Place the nuggets on a wire rack set over a baking tray, and bake for about ten to 15 minutes, until cooked through.
This extra step might seem like more work, but it actually makes your life easier, if you ask Dalton. "You can just continue to fry them in the oil," she explains, "but this means you need more oil and to have to keep an eye them for much longer. This way, the breadcrumbs are golden, and by baking them, you ensure the chicken is cooked and let some of the oil drain away."
As soon as they emerge from the oven, they’re ready to serve and enjoy!
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pound skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of onion powder. In another bowl, beat 2 eggs with 3 tablespoons of milk until well combined. In a third bowl, season ½ cup of flour with a pinch of salt and pepper, and combine.
- Take the chicken pieces, and coat in the flour. Then, dip them into the egg and milk mixture. Lastly, coat them in the panko breadcrumbs. Make sure to coat the chicken pieces with as much of the breadcrumbs as possible. Set aside, and repeat with the other chicken pieces.
- Once all the chicken has been breadcrumbed, heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
- Fry the chicken pieces in the frying pan, around one to two minutes on each side, until they are golden brown. You may need to do this in several batches.
- Once all the chicken has been fried, place onto a wire rack set over a baking tray, and bake for ten to 15 minutes until the chicken has been cooked thoroughly.
- Once out of the oven, serve immediately with your choice of sauces.