Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Chick-fil-a knock-off chicken nuggets from OUr Best Bites

There are moms out there whose kids have no idea what fast food restaurants are.

I am not one of those moms.

This isn’t a feather in my cap or something I’m bragging about, but the truth is that for us, sometimes fast food happens.

I’ve always been pretty open with the fact that I have one very unusually picky eater–if he could live on Kraft macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and cheese, he probably would (yes, I get a lot of advice, solicited and unsolicited, and no, I don’t want any right now. Thanks.) So even fast food can be a battle sometimes. But he will eat chicken nuggets, but only from places where the nuggets are just cut up pieces of chicken breast; if it’s ever been ground up and re-shaped into nugget-shaped somethings, he doesn’t want those. So I set out to make these at home. And they were juicy and salty and crispy and flavorful and a huge hit with kids and adults.

There are lots of baked variations out there, and the first time I made these, I tried baking some and frying some. And I decided that I’m just choosing a path and recommending that you fry these. They’re better. They just are. I know they’re not better FOR you, but honestly, sometimes you’ve just gotta take one for the team. I think there are ways to make a baked version tasty, but I felt like as it was, these were a little dry and flavorless and no one would eat them. So. There you have it. I’m being bossy. Fry these bad boys and call it a day.

You’re going to need 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces, buttermilk, dill pickle juice (yes, pickle juice; and those Walmart pickles are my favorites. Don’t judge.), and Tabasco sauce (which didn’t make the picture cut).


In a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, combine the pickle juice, buttermilk, and about 10 dashes of Tabasco sauce. Add the chicken and seal the bag, then refrigerate it for 1-4 hours.


For the coating, you’ll need flour, baking soda, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, eggs, and panko bread crumbs.


When ready to cook, whisk together 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the egg whites and water (discard the yolks or use them for something else). Add the bread crumbs to a third shallow bowl. Begin heating about 2 inches of peanut oil in a heavy pot (keep an eye on it…a grease fire will ruin your day).

Place a handful of chicken pieces into the flour and toss to coat (you can also coat them all at once by combining the chicken and the flour mixture in a large Ziploc bag and shaking to coat). Roll the chicken in the egg whites, then roll to coat in the Panko.


Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. I find it works best when I use one hand to do the flour/egg part and the other hand for the bread crumbs–it kind of keeps the mess to a minimum.

Preheat oven to the lowest setting.

When the oil reaches 350 degrees, place 1/3-1/2 of the coated chicken pieces in the pan and cook, stirring gently and frequently, until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes; use an instant read thermometer to check them if you’re nervous; the nuggets should be at least 165 degrees F in the center).

Chick-fil-a knock-off chicken nuggets from OUr Best Bites

Place the cooked chicken in the heated oven (or serve, if you have hungry little monkeys hanging around the kitchen) and repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve immediately.

Chick-fil-a knock-off chicken nuggets from OUr Best Bites

Makes 6 servings.  And if you’re wondering what to dip them in- Sara is going to share her yummy dipping sauce that goes with these in an upcoming post.  Until then, ranch, ketchup, bbq sauce, and honey mustard are always faves!

Chick-fil-a knock-off chicken nuggets from OUr Best Bites

state of great taste pk


  1. Yesterday my 2 year old ate a pb & honey sandwich with a cheese stick for lunch and Kraft Mac & Cheese for dinner. No joke.

  2. Kate, while I’m not glad that you have an extremely picky eater, I AM glad that I’m not the only one! One of my girls is a good eater, one would live on PB&J and craisins, and the other will eat anything (has eaten homemade salsa by the spoonful). I didn’t do anything different with them. It’s just one of those things, I guess.

    These chicken nuggets look great and are going on the August menu!

  3. You know what? These look great. And they’re definitely better than their mulched chicken parts cousins. Love love. And my kids will love. And about the pickle juice- I think I just heard that a certain chicken establishment uses pickle juice in their chicken and was was all, “now way, that’s so weird” and here you are, making sense of it all. Sigh. Thank you.

    1. I froze the left overs and sealed them with my food saver. It makes for a great quick dinner! Great recipe! My picky eater actually begs for them! Thank you for the recipe!

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