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homemade chicken nuggets on a white plate with roasted green beans

Homemade Chicken Nuggets Recipe

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These baked herbed chicken nuggets will please the kids AND the adults in your family. Guaranteed. They’re healthier than fast food, easy and delicious!

Instead of running through the drive-through for your chicken nugget fix, make your own at home with this super simple, much more wholesome homemade chicken nuggets recipe!

Herbed Chicken Nuggets in a white bowl

Baked Chicken Nuggets Recipe

I found the inspiration for this recipe in an old Southern Living while vacationing at a lake house in Arkansas over 2 decades ago. In the evenings, I’d flip through a stack of cooking magazines, jotting down recipes to try at home and when I spotted homemade baked chicken nuggets, I took the bait! The family loved these, so they quickly became a regular on our dinner rotation!

How to Make Chicken Nuggets 

Back then, with 3 children aged 2-8 and the picky husband, it was nearly impossible to make a dinner that everyone would eat without complaining. But McDonalds’ chicken nuggets seemed to be popular with the wee ones, and I was determined to make a healthier, more appealing version.

With a simple coating of  Parmesan and crushed croutons with a few dried herbs thrown into the mix, these baked chicken nuggets were hailed a success by all of us!! I was delighted that these nuggets were made with real chunks of chicken breasts instead of ground chicken breasts and skin. Ewww. Somehow the former seems so much more wholesome, right?

The process is to dip chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into melted butter, coat with the crumb mixture, and bake. It’s as easy as that. Read on for tips and a detailed recipe.

overhead view of homemade chicken nuggets on a round white plate with green beans

Tips for Making a Baked Chicken Nuggets Recipe

Even though this recipe uses a bag or box of seasoned croutons, they’re much healthier than their fast-food counterparts! Here are a few tips for making baked chicken nuggets at home.

  • Cut your chicken breasts into cubes while the chicken is still slightly frozen. You will be able to make nicer looking nuggets with better control over the slicing.
  • Wait until the chicken pieces are defrosted before dipping into the butter. Very cold chicken will make the melted butter congeal and then the coating will not stick.
  • PRO-Tip: I like to have two pie plates for dipping, one with the melted butter and the second with the breading. Your fingers will get a little messy, but it’s worth it to get all the nuggets well coated. If you’re a pro, you’ll keep one hand for dipping and the other hand clean. Somehow that never happens when I’m cooking.
  • A dose of herbs makes for a most flavorful result. I love the combination of basil and thyme added to the crumbs to give a boost of spice. No salt is needed as the croutons and Parmesan provide plenty.
  • I line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil for easy cleanup. Not necessary, but an option I use frequently.
  • Bake until browned and crispy, about 25 minutes. Time will vary depending on the size of your nuggets.

What are chicken nuggets made of?

Here are the ingredients in McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets: Ingredients: White Boneless Chicken, Water, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Bleached Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Vegetable Starch (Modified Corn, Wheat, Rice, Pea, Corn), Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Lactate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Spices, Yeast Extract, Lemon Juice Solids, Dextrose, Natural Flavors.

Here are the ingredients in my chicken nuggets: White Boneless, Skinless Chicken, Butter, Seasoned Croutons, Grated Parmesan Cheese, Dried Basil, Dried Thyme. Note: there are more ingredients included in the croutons, but not nearly as many chemicals.

How many calories in chicken nuggets?

The calories for one quarter of this recipe or one serving is 441 calories, very similar to 8 fast-food chicken nuggets. Since there are no fillers, the protein content is 2 1/2 times greater in my homemade version.

How long should you bake chicken nuggets?

The time will vary depending upon whether your nuggets are precooked or uncooked as well as whether they’re right from the freezer or homemade. The size of the nuggets is another variable. These freshly made chicken nuggets take about 25 minutes in a 400º oven.

How do you make crispy chicken nuggets?

To make these chicken nuggets as crispy on the bottom as they are on the top, place an oven-safe wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Place the uncooked chicken nuggets on the rack and bake as directed. The heat of the oven will be able to circulate, reach, and brown the underside of the nuggets using this technique.

Who invented chicken nuggets?

They were invented in the 1960s by Robert C. Baker in a Cornell University Lab. He dehydrated ground chicken and mixed it with binders. It was first marketed as chicken sticks and was instantly a hit in New York State.

Overhead view of Herbed Chicken Nuggets in a white bowl with a sprig of parsley and a bamboo handle fork

More Copy Cat Fast Food Recipes You Can Make at Home

Would you like to make more copycat fast food recipes at home? Check out the Real Housemoms’  Slow Cooker Copycat Wendy’s Chili, Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese from Rachel Cooks, and Barefeet in the Kitchen’s Homemade {Baked} Chick-fil-A Sandwiches! Plus my Classic Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing tastes a lot like KFC’s tasty cabbage salad.

This recipe was first shared in November 2014. The photos and text were updated in 2020.

homemade chicken nuggets on a white plate with roasted green beans

Herbed Chicken Nuggets

An easy, delicious weeknight meal that will please the whole family. Adapted from Southern Living.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces seasoned croutons, processed or crushed into crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Cover large baking sheet with foil (or just lightly grease baking sheet).
  2. Place crushed croutons, Parmesan, basil and thyme in a pie plate and mix to combine.
  3. Pour melted butter into a second pie plate. Dip chicken pieces in melted butter, then crouton mix. Place on large baking sheet.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes, till lightly browned.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 441Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 724mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 45g

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