Baked Chicken Nuggets Recipe
Our go-to Chicken Nuggets! I have been working on developing a homemade chicken nugget recipe for years and tested countless versions. These are easy (a 30-minute recipe), freezer-friendly, and family approved.
Baked chicken nuggets are low fat and healthier than fried. They are crisp on the outside and tender inside.
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Homemade Chicken Nuggets:
Everyone loves chicken nuggets! There’s something so nostalgic about dunking a crisp and juicy chicken nugget into Avocado Ranch, or good old fashioned ketchup. Also, try them with our homemade fry sauces.
There is nothing great about store-bought nuggets. Consider this – when a box says “made with real chicken breast meat.” Does that mean some are made with fake chicken meat? And what else exactly goes into those nuggets? All of those scientific sounding additives on the label must be ok, right? With homemade, you know exactly what’s in these nuggets and you’ll feel good making them for your family.
Ingredients for Homemade Chicken Nuggets:
These have simple ingredients: chicken breast, garlic salt, and pepper, but there is a surprising ingredient that creates the texture of store-bought nuggets that our children love. That special ingredient is potato flakes. You only need 1 Tbsp, but it is the key to the right texture.
For the crust, we use a mixture of parmesan cheese and crushed corn flakes, which produces the best color (without pre-baking the crumbs), great flavor and a crisp texture.
To Substitute the Corn Flakes:
You can use 3/4 cup panko crumbs instead of corn flakes. To get the panko crumbs golden, spray your nuggets with cooking spray before baking and bake for 13 min (turning halfway), then broil nuggets an additional 2 minutes to give them a golden glow.
Can I Substitute the Potato Flakes?
You can substitute 1 Tbsp potato flakes (Instant Mashed Potatoes) with 2 Tbsp bread crumbs and add just enough water for the mixture to feel moist but not wet.
The Best Chicken for Chicken Nuggets:
We love using chicken breast for that classic light-colored center. Well trimmed chicken tenders or even chicken thighs would also work well.
How to Make Chicken Nuggets:
1. Pulse corn flakes in a Food Processor or high powered blender until fine crumbs form (or crush them with a rolling pin). In a shallow bowl, stir together 3/4 cup crumbs and grated parmesan
2. In the bowl of your clean food processor, combine chicken pieces, potato flakes, water, garlic salt, and black pepper. Pulse until chicken is finely chopped.
3. Dip your hands in water to prevent sticking then roll and flatten chicken into small nuggets (using about 1 Tbsp of the meat mixture for each nugget). Roll the nuggets into bread crumbs, pressing gently for crumbs to stick. Bake or freeze at this point (see freezing instructions below).
4. Transfer nuggets to lined baking sheet and bake at 375˚F for 15 min on the middle rack or just until cooked through (and a safe 165˚F on an instant-read thermometer), flipping them halfway.
How to Freeze Chicken Nuggets:
Chicken nuggets should be frozen before they are baked or they can dry out baking them twice. Once they are breaded, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze them a single layer for 1 hour or until firm, then transfer to freezer-safe zip bags and store up to 3 months.
Bake frozen nuggets at 400˚F for 15-18 minutes or just until cooked through with an internal temperature of 165˚F.
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets:
You can bake these in the air fryer. Just like our Air Fryer Chicken Wings, these turn out extra crispy. Place the nuggets on the air fryer basket in a single layer and bake at 400˚F for 8 minutes, turning halfway. Bake just until cooked through and the centers read 165˚F.
More Kid-Friendly Recipes:
These family-friendly recipes are sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
- Juicy Meatballs – my kids love these as meatball subs
- Philly Cheesesteak Quesadillas – who can resist this cheese pull?
- Cheesy Mashed Potato Pancakes – a recipe the whole family will love
- Chocolate Chip Cookies – so soft and loaded with chocolate morsels
- Mac and Cheese – with our best creamy cheese sauce
Baked Chicken Nuggets Recipe
Our go-to homemade Chicken Nuggets recipe! These are so easy and kid-friendly. Baked chicken nuggets are crisp on the outside and tender inside.
- 1 lb chicken breast, boneless, skinless and cut into pieces
- 1 Tbsp potato flakes, (Instant mashed potatoes)
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 tsp garlic salt, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups corn flakes cereal, (3/4 cup crushed)*
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pulse 2 1/2 cups corn flakes in a food processor until fine crumbs form (or take a rolling pin to them in a large zip-loc bag). In a shallow bowl, stir together 3/4 cup crumbs and 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan.
In the bowl of your clean food processor or high powered blender, combine 1 lb chicken pieces, 1 Tbsp potato flakes, 1/3 cup water, 1 tsp garlic salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper. Pulse until chicken is finely chopped.
With wet hands, roll and flatten chicken into small nugget patties, using about 1 Tbsp of the meat mixture for each nugget. Roll the nugget into bread crumbs, pressing gently for crumbs to adhere. (Freezing Tip: You can freeze them once they are breaded; freeze them flat for 1 hour, then transfer to ziploc bags and store up to 3 months. When ready to bake them, bake frozen nuggets as directed in step 4).
Transfer nuggets to lined baking sheet and bake at 375˚F for 15 min on the middle rack or just until cooked through, flipping them over half way through baking. Remove from oven and let nuggets rest a few minutes before serving. P.S. Don't over-bake your nuggets or they will start to get dry.
*You can use 3/4 cup panko crumbs instead of corn flakes. To get the panko crumbs golden, spray nuggets with cooking spray before baking and bake for 13 min then broil nuggets additional 2 minutes to give them a golden glow.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen
Note: Recipe initially posted in November 2014. The recipe has been updated with air fryer instructions.
Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review
I made these last night after work for my daughter and they were SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS! She hates the texture of chicken but will eat chicken nuggets so I was thrilled to find a recipe that perfectly mimics the texture of nuggets – but a much healthier option! I am going to make a huge batch this weekend to freeze so I have them available for quick dinners. Do you know how long I would bake them if I freeze them already cooked instead of raw like the recipe says?
If they are already cooked, you might try for just 8-10 minutes or until they are hot. You don’t want to bake too long or they will get dry.
can I use store bought ground chicken? thanks…don’t have a food processor or grinder.
Yes, absolutely! 🙂
I just made these. They are great!! The best chicken nuggets I’ve ever had. Thank you!!
Jeff, I’m glad you you like the recipe and thank you for the great review :).
This looks delicious! Cant wait to try it. For the potato flakes is that like instant potato? Or does it have to say potato flakes?
Yes it is the same as instant mashed potatoes. They are flakes in a packet.
I tried these chicken nuggets last night and my 18 month old loved them, she kept asking for more! My husband enjoyed them just as much especially knowing exactly what goes into them. I didn’t have any potato flakes but was able to successfully substitute them with breadcrumbs (same amount). No more store-bought chicken nuggets in this house!
Tania, thank you for the great review, I’m very happy that your family loves them :).
I love this recipe, it is so easy to make plus I actually have all the ingredients. It is good to finally have chicken nuggets and know exactly what ingredients are used. Thanks Natasha this is awesome.
That’s so great! I’m happy you enjoyed the recipe 🙂
Can you make these with ground chicken breast
Yes the recipe calls for chicken breast. Do you mean ground chicken thigh?
Natasha this looks so fantastic!!!! And love the new site!!! I love these chicken nuggets they look just like the restaurant ones except way better for you!
Thank you so much mila! I sure appreciate the feedback. Yes, and they have real chicken – with the restaurant ones, you can never really know 😉
We tried this today (using breadcrumbs instead of potato flakes and corn chips instead of corn cereal), and it was delicious! The nuggets were cooked in a pan in a little oil, as our oven heats up the house too much, and they were still amazing. As someone with chronic nausea, it’s so helpful to find an easy-to-eat source of protein, especially one that tastes so good.
Also, the recipe can be easily adjusted to compensate for dietary requirements (low-sodium, for instance). I’m really glad I found it!
I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe. It must be so difficult to enjoy food with chronic nausea. I’m so glad you found something that works for you 🙂
Finally something my daughter could eat ?
I made these twice this week already.. Very good. my 18 months old ate a lot of them. I hope homemade ice cream is on your future recipe list.
Masha, I’m very happy to hear that 18 month old approves the recipe 😀 and thanks for the ice cream idea.
thanks for the proper recipe.. have to make it
You’re very welcome 🙂
I made these as written (with panko) and they were super fast and they turned out great 😮 the only thing i forgot to do was spray them with cooking spray so they would be golden so they were kinda ugly and lifeless :p I’m definitely gonna make these all the time now. They stayed super juicy too!
Punifa, I’m so glad you liked the recipe, and yes, the cooking spray definitely helps with the color :).
would love to make these nuggets for my kids, cannot find potato flakes anywhere that aren’t full of junk. Any idea how these would work using maybe a little bit of cooled, cooked potato or substituting with Panko or regular breadcrumbs? Planning on freezing a lot!
You can totally substitute for bread crumbs but you may not need quite as much water as you would with the potato flakes. I found all natural ones in Fred Meyer, but the bread crumbs will work well also 🙂
These nuggets have become an absolute favorite for my kids! I recently became a stay-at-home-mom and am always looking for ways to save some $ while making things healthier for my family. These chicken nuggets reach both goals without being super time consuming. I doubled the recipe this morning and in all of maybe an hour I have over 50 nuggets! Thank you for this!!
Emadele, thank you for such a great review and you are welcome :).
I couldn’t tell if this was going to be really easy or really time consuming, but I figured I would give it a shot and I made them last night. OH MY GOSH! This is going to be one of my go-to, easy meals. I had them prepped and in the oven in less than 10 minutes and 15 minutes later, dinner was ready! My husband had thirds and my 14 month old gobbled them up. I really didn’t expect them to be as good as they were. We all loved them. Thank you so much for sharing such a fun, easy recipe! 🙂
I’m so happy to hear you loved the recipe 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing that with me 🙂
Made these tonight and I must say that they are the best!!! Thanks for the easy recipe!
I’m so happy you enjoyed them! Thanks so much for reporting back 🙂
Tried this last night…Mine came out flat?
Will try to make them again.
They look wonderful on your site.
They usually stay pretty true to the shape that you mold them. Did you feel like your meat mixture was too loose to form round patties? You might try just a little less water next time if that is the case.
How would you freeze these and how long would they be good for in the freezer? My kids love chicken nuggets and I hate buying them.
Absolutely! Please see the freezing tip under step three in the recipe. I hope that helps 😉
hi natasha, are the potato flakes just the package of instant potatoes?
Yes :). You can also substitute with bread crumbs, but you wouldn’t need quite as much water with bread crumbs 😉
Just wondering can this be made without the potato flakes?
You could use bread crumbs and just add water based on the texture – you don’t want it to be too wet or it won’t form nuggets. You probably wouldn’t need quite as much water with breadcrumbs as with potato flakes.
thy look so good and am making them right now
Enjoy! I hope you love them as much as we do 🙂
Natasha you should really look into a nuwave pro infraded oven.. The little ovens are nice but the nuwave makes the food come out so good and it is about the same price as a good mini oven. Even the chicken nuggets come out so much more juicy and crispy and u could cook almost anything in it starting from vegetables to making a full turkey.. I would suggest you take a look into it because I love to use mine
That’s great to know! Thank you! Where did you get yours?
If i don’t use potato flakes will the nuggets still turn out good?
You can use a little bit of bread crumbs instead such as panko, but you won’t need as much water in the recipe. Add water until the meat feels moist but can still be formed. I hope that’s helpful 🙂
thank you 🙂
Oh i see, thank you for the quick reply! 🙂
I see you used potato flakes from a ready made mashed potato package?
Yes; I found an all-natural one at Fred Meyer. 🙂
Thank you so much Natasha! Because of this recipe, my 2-year old “super picky” toddler is no longer vegetarian LOL. The nuggets turn out crispy & perfect every time, are so healthy, and nice and juicy on the inside.
Awww that is the best comment ever! I’m so happy to be of service 🙂
Thanks for feedback Natasha! I make these without the potato flakes and without Parmesan cheese because i didn’t have any at the moment and they still turned out incredibly delicious!
I’m so happy you enjoyed the nuggets :). Thanks for the great review! 🙂
Success! An easy recipe that doesn’t involve dipping in egg or frying. I used ground white meat chicken as a shortcut/mixed with my hands.
can i substitute potato flakes with something else?
Hi Inna, You can add some bread crumbs, but you’ll probably need less water with that option 🙂 – Natasha
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chicken nuggets are delicious when home made..and you can be confident it’s real chicken you are eating!
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