These homemade Chicken Nuggets are made with ground chicken and panko breadcrumbs. They can be oven baked, fried, or cooked in the air fryer. Your kids will love to eat these and can even help you make them!
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
If my daughter asks for Chicken Nuggets for dinner one more time, I think she is going to turn into one. 👀 So needless to say, I much prefer to make homemade chicken nuggets from real chicken. I like to buy my own organic free range chicken and grind it myself in the food processor, but you can also purchase ground chicken at the store and skip that step!
These are made with an easy panade (a simple mixture of milk and bread), which keeps the meat nice and juicy (vs. heavy and dense). When meat cooks, the proteins expand and contract and in doing so, moisture escapes. The starch in the panade turns to a gel when cooked and lubricates the fibers in the meat as it cooks.
I like to brush these nuggets with a little bit of butter to get them extra golden and flavorful, but a light coating of cooking spray will also work!
Let’s get into everything you need to know so that you can make these in bulk and freeze them for easy chicken nugget dinners for you and the kids! (I love freezer food.)
How to Make It
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
Combine the bread, milk, garlic salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. (This is called a panade and it keeps the chicken juicy/prevents it from becoming dense when it cooks.)
Add the ground chicken to a large bowl and use your hands to gently incorporate the panade. Don’t overmix.
Use a Tablespoon to scoop up the chicken and form nugget shapes.
Brush whisked egg over the nuggets and coat in breadcrumb mixture.
Bake at 375° for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush each side with melted butter. Bake for 8 more minutes. Let them rest for a few minutes prior to serving.
To Fry in a Skillet
- Heat 1 inch of vegetable or canola oil in a dutch oven to 350 degrees.
- Fry the chicken in batches on each side until golden, 2-3 minutes per side.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan or the edges won’t get crispy. Use kitchen tongs to remove and set on a wire cooling rack.
Air Fryer Method
- Brush the top and bottom of the nuggets with 3 TBS butter or spray with canola oil.
- Air fry at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Flip them halfway through.
To Bake From Frozen
- If you plan on freezing, flash freeze the unbaked nuggets on a plate in the freezer for an hour, then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
- You can make your own ground chicken by placing cubes of chicken breasts in a food processor and pulsing to the right consistency. (You’ll need about 2 small chicken breasts for a pound.) Boneless chicken thighs can also be used.
- Crushed Cornflakes can be used instead of breadcrumbs if desired. They are more golden in color so the butter is not as necessary for color but can still be added for taste.
Refrigerating Leftovers: These are best if enjoyed fresh from the oven, however you can refrigerate them for up to 3 days and reheat in a 350° oven.
Freezing: Flash freeze the unbaked nuggets on a plate in the freezer for an hour, then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months. See section above for instructions on baking from frozen.
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Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- 1 lb. ground chicken, see notes
- 3 Tablespoons milk
- 1 slice bread, or 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 egg, whisked
- 3 Tablespoons melted butter, or canola oil spray
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Add the bread to a bowl and pour the milk on top. Let it absorb for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic salt and black pepper. Use your hands to combine. This is called a panade and it keeps the chicken nuggets juicy. (vs. hard and dense.)
- Add the ground chicken to a large bowl and add the panade. Use your hands to mix until just combined, don’t overmix. Take a tablespoon and scoop out the chicken. Form into nuggets and set aside.
- Combine the breading mix on a large plate and set aside.
- Brush each side of the nuggets with the whisked egg. Transfer them to the breading plate and generously coat each one until completely covered. Place on a baking sheet.
- Brush half of the melted butter on the top of the nuggets, this helps them turn a nice golden brown. You can also use canola oil spray but they won’t get quite as golden. If some nuggets are darker than others, place the darker ones in the middle of the baking sheet and the lighter ones along the edge.
- Bake for 7 minutes and remove from the oven.
- Brush each side with melted butter and bake for 8 more minutes. (You can use canola oil spray if preferred but they won’t get quite as golden.)
- Remove and let them rest for a few minutes prior to serving.
Crushed Cornflakes can be used instead of breadcrumbs if desired. They are more golden in color so the butter is not as necessary for color but can still be added for taste.
The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Air Fryer Method:
Brush the top and bottom of the nuggets with 3 TBS butter or spray with canola oil. Air fry at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Flip them halfway through.
To Freeze: If you plan on freezing, flash freeze the unbaked nuggets on a plate in the freezer for an hour, then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 3 months.
To Bake From Frozen: Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.