How To Make Chicken Breast Nuggets

How To Make Chicken Breast Nuggets

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Patty Catalano
Apr 6, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

Admit it — there's something appealing about eating food that doesn't require a fork and knife. This is one of the reasons why everyone loves chicken nuggets. And the crispy bite-sized pieces of tender, juicy chicken have come a long way, with white meat nuggets becoming the standard in most fast food chains.

But there is something to be said for having ultimate control over what you serve your family. So here's a simple recipe for turning chicken breast into chicken nuggets straight from your oven. They're so good you will be batting away those fingers before you plate them up!

The Case for Homemade Nuggets

Armed with my weekly ration of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I am just a few dips, dunks, and shakes away from crispy-crunchy homemade chicken nuggets. Dicing chicken breasts for nuggets means the bake is quick and even — just right for keeping the chicken from overcooking. A traditional three-step breading process means that each cube of tender white meat is tossed in paprika- and garlic-spiked flour, dipped in egg white, and tumbled with crispy buttered panko.

Arranged on a baking sheet, it takes mere minutes in the oven and a quick sizzle under the broiler to turn out juicy nuggets just right for filling lunch boxes and dinner plates. Make a double batch and stash half in the freezer for the night when you've forgotten to grab a bag of prefab frozen nuggets as insurance against last-minute meal prep paralysis.

Find a freezer favorite: Taste Test: Frozen Chicken Nuggets

For Your Information

  • This recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. At home, slice the breasts into bite-sized chunks.
  • Use a standard breading procedure to coat each nugget: Dust with seasoned flour and cornstarch, dunk in egg white and buttermilk, and coat in buttered panko.
  • Bake and freeze nuggets for a quick weeknight supper. Reheat as many or as few as you need in a 400°F oven for about 15 minutes.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Key Steps for Chicken Breast Nuggets

  • Bread the nuggets. Set up a standard dredging station. Fill bowl #1 with flour, cornstarch, and seasonings. Toss the chicken breast pieces in here first to give the wet stuff (the egg and buttermilk) something to cling to. In bowl #2, whisk an egg white with buttermilk. Using egg white only is the secret for a crispy coating, as you'll have a softer crust if you include the fatty yolk. Bowl #3 holds buttered panko breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and crispier than traditional fine, dried breadcrumbs, baking up with a satisfying crunch.
  • Set the coating. Once the nuggets are dredged, dunked, and breaded, set them on a wire cooling rack for up to 30 minutes. This sets the coating so that breading mixture stays on the nuggets instead of sliding off.
  • Bake and broil the nuggets. Bake the nuggets until cooked through; this should take 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your nuggets. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature of the meatiest nuggets. Switch your oven to broil for another minute or two to boost the browning level.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Serving Chicken Breast Nuggets

After broiling, try to resist popping a crispy brown nugget in your mouth to let it cool slightly. These juicy, crispy, bite-sized bits of white meat chicken are ideal for dipping and even better for topping salads, tucking in a wrap, or even snuggling between a sliced roll for an easy sub sandwich.

Dipping Sauce Suggestions

More Fun Finger-Food Recipes

How To Make Chicken Breast Nuggets

Serves 4 to 6

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon

    cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 cup

    buttermilk

  • 1

    large egg white

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

  • 2 cups

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • Equipment
  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Knife and cutting board

  • Mixing bowls

  • Whisk

  • Wire cooling rack

  • Rimmed baking sheet

  • Tongs

Instructions

  1. Set up a dredging station. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder together in a large bowl; set aside. Whisk the egg white and buttermilk together in a shallow bowl. Toss the panko and melted butter together in a separate shallow bowl. Fit a wire cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.

  2. Dredge the chicken. Place the chicken in the seasoned flour and toss until evenly coated. Transfer the chicken, one or two pieces at a time, to the buttermilk mixture, leaving any excess flour in the bowl. Coat the chicken in buttermilk, then toss with the buttered panko until coated. Place on the wire rack. Repeat until all the floured chicken is coated.

  3. Set the coating. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes to let the coating set.

  4. Heat the oven. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F.

  5. Bake the chicken. Bake the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest nugget registers 165°F, 15 to 20 minutes.

  6. Broil the chicken. Turn the oven to broil. Broil until the crust is crispy and brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cool slightly before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

Make ahead: The seasoned flour can be made and stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 week. Freeze baked and broiled nuggets in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer to a zip-top bag for up to 3 months. Reheat in a 400°F oven until nuggets reach an internal temperature of 165°F, 15 to 20 minutes.

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