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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

72 comments

  1. Hey, at least he make the “good choice” of non-weird parts chicken nuggets right? I love the “fast food happens” Yes. Yes it does. Thank you for being a regular person 😉

  2. These sound delicious! Have you ever trying frying up a batch and flash-freezing them? I wonder if they’d taste ok being baked.

  3. These nuggets look good! One thing I think everyone will eat. I have 3 kids, one eats everything, one eats most things and the other eats almost nothing. He’s 18 now and still hates everything, unless it’s fast foods. Wont eat any veggies and very few fruits. I think he was a “supertaster” as he always thought everything was TOO salty, sweet, sour, spicy etc. It doesn’t help to fight it. Just keep offering and hope they get better as they get older.

  4. Just want to tell all you moms with picky eaters out there that your kids will survive. Until the age of 17 I practically lived on PB and honey, cereal (lots and lots of cereal), hamburgers (with ketchup only please), rice, and baked potatoes (no sour cream please). I think I also occasionally would eat a carrot and an apple slice smothered in peanut butter. My husband still thinks I’m picky, but I’ll eat any vegetable now, most fruits, and I’m willing to try pretty much anything. I still don’t love seafood, olives and eggs (and I hate pickles), but that’s a pretty short list. And I’m now a very healthy adult with good blood pressure, low cholesterol and good metabolism (and a few cavities, but who’s counting).

  5. Remember when we didn’t have to stress so much about food and what we can admit out loud that we willingly feed our children? Those were the good ol’ preservative filled days… and we all survived somehow! 🙂

    I can’t get over how great all of your breaded items look. This is an area where I always fail! Yours are always even coated and professional looking, mine look like I turned the job over to my four year old. Might need to whip up some chicken nuggets to practice!

  6. I feel strongly that Chick-fil-a chicken has a hint of celery seed, so I’d probably add a generous pinch of that as well. Looks delicious! Thank you!

  7. I just wanted to send you some love through the world wide web regarding your picky eater and the meanies out there that think they need to comment on it in a not nice way. YOU ARE A GREAT MOM!!! Be proud sister!

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