Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Ground Chicken

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Satisfy the chicken nugget cravings for your or your kids with this recipe for Homemade Chicken Nuggets made with Ground Chicken. They’re juicy, golden brown, full of flavor, freezer friendly, and made with ingredients you feel good eating and serving.

a chicken nugget being dipped into a yellow sauce.

I’ve been really cognizant of how my preference for homemade food means my kids won’t have access to a lot of those ‘iconic’ childhood foods that their peers do. It’s been a goal to recreate them at home, so I can serve them things like mini corn dog muffins, homemade granola bars, and freezer waffles, but also feel good knowing exactly what’s in them.

These homemade chicken nuggets are the latest addition to my collection. They’re healthy and perfect for toddler or kid’s lunches (or you parents!).

I made them with ground chicken, a simple milk and bread mixture, common seasonings, and breadcrumbs to create a juicy, crisp, baked chicken nugget. What I love best is that I can pop in the freezer and pop them right back out for lunch. They’re pretty darn tasty if I say so myself, and my kiddos have yet to complain!

Ingredients & Substitutions

I tested all sorts of different combinations before landing on this set of ingredients. It recreates that superbly moist and flavorful frozen chicken nugget your kids want, but uses, you know, normal ingredients.

That doesn’t mean this recipe can’t be flexible! Use my recommendations here to help make this work for your pantry or your family’s preferences or diet.

ingredients to make chicken nuggets like ground chicken, breadcrumbs, bread, milk, and spices
  • Ground Chicken – Using ground meat is the best for creating a juicy, tender final texture. You can grind your own or use pre-ground meat. If you want, you can even use turkey.
  • Torn Bread – Torn bread is exactly what it sounds like, bread that’s been torn up into pieces. We’ll be combining it with the milk to help make the chicken mixture perfectly moist while it bakes.

    You can use any bread you like (gluten free included), but I recommend a softer textured sandwich bread or roll if possible. I’ve used my white wheat bread and my honey wheat bread with great success. Remove the crusts before using.
  • Milk – I’ve used both whole milk and oat milk for this and the difference is unnoticeable. Milk provides some fat and creaminess so I recommend it, but technically water could be used too.
  • Garlic & Onion Powder – These are the only seasonings you need! Make sure you choose the granulated options, not garlic salt.
  • Salt – I use coarse kosher salt in all of my recipes, even my baking. Sea salt is another great option.
  • Breadcrumbs – I use my homemade breadcrumbs for the coating on my chicken nuggets, which I make out of scraps. Feel free to use any fine grained breadcrumbs, preferably unseasoned, to coat yours.

    You can use panko, but the coarser texture doesn’t replicate the classic chicken nugget coating the way we like it too. Gluten free breadcrumbs are also a great choice.

Pro Tip – Veggie it Up! – I’m a big advocate for exposing kids to as many veggies as possible. But there’s also nothing wrong with sneaking in a little nutrition. Adding veggies into spaghetti sauce, muffins, turkey burgers, or these chicken nuggets is easy and often tasty. If you’d like to add some, I recommend 2-3 tablespoons of finely grated zucchini, summer squash, or carrot.

How to Use Fresh Chicken

Processed chicken nuggets are often made with a combination of ‘leftover’ meat, all ground together. Ground chicken at the store may be the same, unless you can buy packages labeled ‘100% breast meat’ etc.

If that concerns or bothers you, it’s very easy to make at home. All you need is boneless, skinless chicken and your food processor.

Use 1 pound of chicken breasts, or a combination of breast and thighs, and chop it into cubes. Pop it into the food processor and pulse repeatedly until it’s evenly ground. Pause to mix and then pulse again if needed.

Do NOT over mix, or simply let the machine run. You’ll end up with chicken paste instead.

Key Steps & Tips

The ingredients are simple and so is the process of making chicken nuggets at home. It’s so easy that I usually double or triple a batch so I can stock up the freezer. Here are some tips that elaborate on the recipe so you can get it perfect every time.

  • Toast the breadcrumbs first – My first test came out very blonde so I came up with a quick way to get that golden color without adding more ingredients. Spread the breadcrumbs out on a baking sheet in a thin even layer and pop them in the preheating oven while I assemble my ingredients. After just 2-3 minutes they’re golden brown and the chicken nuggets look way more authentic.
  • Make a panade – Panade is just a fancy term for bread paste. Add the milk to the torn bread and let it soak in. Then mush it with a fork until it’s a paste. Gently work it into the chicken and you’ll end up with the juiciest chicken nuggets ever.
  • Don’t mix it to death – Once the panade and spices are evenly mixed, stop. Continuing to knead or mix the meat can create a mushy texture instead of a tender one.
  • Press and shake to coat – The chicken mixture is moist enough that I’ve never had to use an egg wash. Instead I just form the nuggets and press it gently into the crumbs. Once I’ve done that on both sides, I give the bowl a shake so the sides and any missed spots get coated. (Use a bowl to stop messes)
a bowl of chicken nuggets with one cut in half.

How to Freeze – Baked or Unbaked

Parents love chicken nuggets because they’re easy  to get on the table in a hurry. These homemade ones can do that for you too. You can freeze them before or after baking and they’ll be delicious either way.

Freeze before baking – Complete the recipe to the point of breading them, then arrange your formed chicken nuggets on a baking sheet or other flat, freezer-safe surface. Freeze! After 1-2 hours pop the frozen nuggets into a silicone bag and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. To cook them, arrange the desired amount on a baking sheet. Cook from frozen in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

Freeze fully cooked – This way comes with the advantage of easy microwave use or quicker reheating. Simply bake all your chicken nuggets and store leftovers in a silicone bag or other freezer safe container When you’re ready to eat, microwave for 1 minute, or pop them into a 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes, flipping once. Try to use them within 3 months.

FAQ’s

Are homemade chicken nuggets unhealthy?

I would argue that homemade chicken nuggets are significantly more healthy than most pre-made frozen ones, and definitely better than fast food. All you’re using is wholesome ingredients like chicken, milk, and bread to create a juicy chicken nugget that kids will love.

Can I pan fry them instead of bake?

You can absolutely cook homemade chicken nuggets in a skillet if you prefer. Baking is quick and easy since they all bake at once, but a large skillet will work. Heat it over medium heat with 1-2 tablespoons of oil, and cook the nuggets for 4-6 minutes per side, or until they’re fully cooked through to 165°F.

Can I make homemade chicken nuggets gluten free?

Yes, this can be made gluten free easily. Swap in gluten free bread for the torn bread and a gluten free breadcrumb for the coating.

There’s nothing wrong with classic ketchup, carrot sticks, and a bowl of yogurt for lunch. But if you’ve got a more adventurous eater, try a chipotle sauce, red pepper aioli, or maple mustard vinaigrette for dipping.

Then check out these other kid friendly recipes for foodie family’s for more inspiration!

a bowl with chicken nuggets and a yellow dipping sauce.

Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Ground Chicken

Mikayla M.
Juicy tender chicken nuggets made with ground chicken, a milk and bread panade, and simple seasonings are the perfect homemade, healthy lunch for you and your kids. Make a big batch and pop them in the freezer for a quick meal anytime.
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course dinner, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 260 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup torn bread loosely packed
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs unseasoned, finely ground*

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Spread the breadcrumbs onto a baking sheet and place in the heating oven. Let toast for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Place into a bowl and reserve the baking sheet.
  • Combine torn bread with milk in a large bowl and toss, then let it soak 1-2 minutes.
  • Mush the soaked bread into a paste. Add in the ground chicken, garlic, onion, and salt.
  • Mix gently until the bread paste (panade) and spices are combined thoroughly.
  • Form heaping tablespoons into nuggets.
  • Press the nuggets into the toasted breadcrumbs on both sides. Gently shake the bowl so the sides are coated too.
  • Arrange on a baking sheet and then place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through to 165°F.

Notes

*Panko can be used, but the texture is coarse and may not coat the nuggets as thoroughly.
Feel free to double or triple and freeze! Freeze uncooked on a baking sheet then place into a freezer bag. Bake from frozen for 25+ minutes. Or freeze fully cooked and reheat from frozen in the microwave for 1 minute, or the oven for 10-15.

Nutrition

Serving: 5nuggetsCalories: 260kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 23gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 672mgPotassium: 656mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 12IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.

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5 from 16 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is a delicious homemade alternative to store-bought chicken nuggets. We loved it, and I will make it again. Thank you for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    My favorite comfort food is chicken nuggets. I always buy premade but decided to make my own for the first time. Your recipe is terrific, I love them!