How to Make Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets for Kids
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An easy recipe for how to make crispy baked chicken nuggets for kids! This recipe is both egg free and dairy free. Your kids will love these healthy homemade chicken nuggets! They are freezer friendly, so make ahead a big batch for meal prep!
You only need five ingredients to make these crispy baked chicken nuggets. And three of those five are salt, pepper and water.
This is my simplest recipe for making homemade chicken nuggets. If you’re looking for a basic chicken nugget recipe to please picky kids, this is it.
These baked chicken nuggets are much healthier than those that you might find in the frozen foods section at the grocery store. Since they’re baked, not fried, these are also healthier than most restaurant chicken nuggets. Since you make them yourself, you can feel good about serving your kids homemade chicken nuggets made with only real, recognizable ingredients: chicken, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and water. I’ve given a few suggestions for spicing up the flavors of these chicken nuggets in the tips section below.
These chicken nuggets are a great lunch or dinner for kids. Serve them with a fruit and vegetable for a balanced meal. Add in something for dipping – my girls prefer ketchup and my son likes his nuggets plain. BBQ sauce or my Homemade Hidden Veggie Pizza Sauce are other good options!
How do you make chicken nuggets crispy?
- Bake them on a cooling rack set on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Placing the chicken nuggets on a cooling rack, rather than directly on a baking sheet, allows air to better circulate around them. This produces a chicken nugget that’s crisp all around. I like this baking sheet and cooling rack set (affiliate link).
- I tend to skip this step, but you can lightly spray your nuggets with an oil spray before baking to make them even crispier. My kids gobble up these chicken nuggets when I skip the oil, so I don’t bother with it.
- Leftover chicken nuggets that have been refrigerated will lose their crispness. You can re-crisp them by warming them in the oven, but the insides may dry out a little.
Tips for how to make crispy baked chicken nuggets:
- I use water in this recipe to coat the chicken before dredging it in the breadcrumbs. I use water (rather than egg or milk) so that this recipe is allergy friendly for kids with egg or dairy allergies. To help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken, you can gently press them on with your fingers. The breadcrumbs don’t stick quite as well as they would if you used the traditional flour, then egg, then breadcrumb coating, but as you can see from the picture, they do stick.
- You can season your breadcrumb mixture however you like. I kept the flavors simple by using homemade whole wheat breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Other possible additions are Italian seasoning, dried parsley, paprika, chili powder or garlic powder. You can even mix in some grated Parmesan cheese. (You might also like my recipe for Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders.)
- Use an instant-read thermometer (affiliate link) to check if your chicken is cooked through. Cooked chicken should register at least 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. The exact bake time will vary based on the size of your chicken pieces.
- You can use store-bought or homemade breadcrumbs in this recipe. I like to use up the heels of our loaves of bread by making homemade breadcrumbs. It only takes a few extra minutes and the crumbs can be stored in the freezer so they’ll be ready when you need them. I’ve included a note in the recipe card below with how I make my homemade breadcrumbs.
How to Make Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets for Kids
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders (cut into 1 ½-inch pieces)
- ¾ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (see note)
- scant ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup water
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place a metal cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a wide, shallow bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Place water in another bowl.
- Dip the chicken pieces in the water and then in the breadcrumbs. Use your fingers to gently press the crumbs onto the chicken. Place on the rack on the baking sheet. (Discard any leftover breadcrumbs.)
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. It should register at least 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
- Serve with ketchup, BBQ sauce, honey mustard sauce, etc. for dipping.
- You can season your breadcrumb mixture however you like. I kept the flavors simple by using homemade whole wheat breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Other possible additions are Italian seasoning, dried parsley, paprika, chili powder or garlic powder. You can even mix in some grated Parmesan cheese.
- If desired, you can lightly spray your chicken nuggets with an oil spray before baking to make them even crispier.
- After baking, allow nuggets to cool completely. Transfer to a zip-top freezer bag and seal airtight.
- When ready to serve, bake directly from the freezer until hot, about 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Tear 3 slices whole wheat sandwich bread into large pieces. Place in a food processor and process to fine crumbs.
- Lay crumbs in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes, until dry and golden brown.
- Breadcrumbs may be used immediately or stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.
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