Chicken/ Finger Food

Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets

October 6, 2020 by Chris Collins

These Homemade Chicken Nuggets are ultra crispy on the outside and juicy & tender on the inside. Here I share with you some tips and tricks to making the BEST baked chicken nuggets!

No false promises here! They do take a little bit of prep, but it’s all worth it in the end. Let’s dive straight it, follow me…

nuggets fresh out the oven on wire rack

Panko Chicken Nuggets

The biggest tip I can give you straight off the bat is to coat your nuggets in Panko breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are great because they’re so big and airy. This means they turn extra crispy in comparison to regular fine breadcrumbs. The larger the crumb – the crispier the outcome.

Where can I find Panko Breadcrumbs?

You’ll be hard pushed to find a mainstream supermarket that doesn’t sell them. They’re mostly found in the Asian/Japanese section.

Toast for the most!

A nifty little trick to take things to the next level is to toast the breadcrumbs in butter before you use them. This not only injects flavour, but also ensures the breadcrumbs stay firm against any moisture released by the chicken. You can toast them ahead of time and leave to cool at room temp.

Process shots: add butter to pan (photo 1), melt (photo 2), add breadcrumbs (photo 3), stir and fry until golden (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to toast Panko breadcrumbs

Chicken Breast Nuggets

Chicken breast works best here and gives you that classic nugget texture. You can use thigh, but you’d have to ensure you trim all the fat and bake for a little longer.

Bash the Nuggets!

An absolute game changing step when making nuggets is to dice the breast into bite sized chunks, then pound them until level & thin. This serves 3 purposes:

  • Tender – Pounding the chicken will tenderize it and reduce the risk of them coming out dry/chewy.
  • Speed – By pounding the nuggets nice and thin you’ll reduce the cooking time.
  • Even – You’ll also ensure they cook through at an even rate as they’ll all be the same thickness.

Alongside that, you also get that classic nugget shape. They do shrink slightly as they bake, but they still look cute at heck!

To pound the chicken just cover the chunks in cling film and lightly bash with a rolling pin or mallet. You can even use a pot or pan, anything with a bit of weight behind it. You want to pound them fairly thin, but not so thin they break apart.

Process shots: lay chicken breast on chopping board (photo 1), dice into bite sized chunks (photo 2), lay over cling film and bash (photo 3), peel off cling film (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to make chicken nuggets

Baked Chicken Nuggets

When it comes to coating the nuggets, you’ll want 3 stations: flour -> egg -> breadcrumbs.

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

I absolutely love stirring parmesan through the breadcrumbs. This not only adds gorgeous flavour, but as they bake the parmesan goes nice and crispy. This, alongside the toasted Panko, results in an ultra crispy coating!

Chicken Nugget Seasoning

In with the flour and breadcrumbs I like to add a little seasoning mix of paprika, salt, onion & garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. This adds a subtle, but definitely appreciated kick of flavour.

Tips for baking chicken nuggets

  • Coating – Really ensure you properly coat the nugget at each stage, namely the breadcrumbs. You don’t want any piece of chicken showing!
  • Space – It’s important to space the nuggets out when you bake them. If they’re overlapping they’ll begin to steam and won’t crisp up.
  • Wire Rack – I highly recommend using a wire rack when baking. This ensures the heat circulates around the nuggets and cooks them evenly on the top and bottom.

4 step by step photos showing how to coat chicken nuggets

Serving Chicken Nuggets

Once they’re out the oven I recommend leaving them on the wire rack for a few mins before serving. This will allow all the steam to escape and ensure the breading stays nice and crispy.

What to serve with chicken nuggets?

I usually serve these as finger food with a dip. But you can make them into a full meal and serve with Potato Wedges or French Fries.

Can I make these ahead of time?

I recommend making them fresh, just so the breading doesn’t go soft. But if you want to you can prep up until the oven then tightly cover in the fridge or freezer and bake from there (more on this in the recipe card below).

If you love the sound of this recipe be sure to check out my Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders!

For more crispy baked goodness check out these beauties too:

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for these crispy baked chicken nuggets shall we?!

overhead shot of nuggets in small box surrounded by dip with fingers taking one off the top

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How to make Chicken Nuggets (Full Recipe & Video)

nuggets fresh out the oven on wire rack

Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets

These Homemade Chicken Nuggets are ultra crispy on the outside and juicy & tender on the inside. Here I share with you some tips and tricks to making the BEST baked chicken nuggets! (MAKES APPROX 24 NUGGETS)
Print Pin Rate
Course: Finger Food
Cuisine: Western
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings (click & slide): 4
Calories: 320kcal
Cost per serving: £2 / £2.50

Equipment:

  • Large Baking Tray & Wire Rack
  • 3 Medium Shallow Bowls (for dredging)
  • Small Bowl (for spice mix)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Cling Film & Rolling Pin/Mallet
  • Large Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon
  • Fine Cheese Grater

Ingredients (check list):

  • 1lb / 500g Chicken Breast (approx 3 medium sized)
  • 1 1/4 cups / 75g Panko Breadcrumbs (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup / 70g Plain/All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup / 30g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 heaped tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp EACH: Paprika, Salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • Oil Spray, as needed

Instructions:

  • Spice Mix: In a small pot/bowl combine 1 tsp paprika & salt, 1/4 tsp onion powder, garlic powder & black pepper and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper. Place to one side.
  • Breadcrumbs: Melt 1 heaped tbsp butter into a pan over medium heat and stir in Panko breadcrumbs. Continue frying for 5 or so mins until the breadcrumbs turn golden. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
  • Chicken: Dice chicken breast into bite sized pieces. Spread out over a chopping board and lay over a sheet of cling film. Lightly bash each one until they're level flat. You want them fairly thin, but not so much they start breaking apart. Main thing is that they're all even sized thickness so they cook at the same rate.
  • Dredge: Set up 3 bowls - 1st with flour and 1 tsp of your spice mix, 2nd with beaten eggs and last with toasted breadcrumbs, parmesan and the rest of the spice mix. One by one take a piece of chicken and dredge through each bowl, finishing on an oiled wire rack above a baking tray. Really make sure you properly coat the chicken at each stage, namely breadcrumbs.
  • Bake: Lightly coat with oil spray then pop in the oven at 200C/390F for 15mins or until deep golden and crispy. Timings will depend on how big/thick your nuggets end up being so just be vigilant. When you slice through one it should be completely white and piping hot.
  • Serve: Take wire rack off tray and leave for a few mins to allow all the steam to escape. Serve up as finger food with dips or with a couple of sides as a meal (serve notes below for suggestions).

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Panko - Panko breadcrumbs are great because they're big and airy, meaning they come out crispy when baked. Toasting them in the butter is an essential step and really takes these nuggets to the next level. You'll find Panko in most supermarkets/grocery stores, usually in the Asian section.
b) Serving Suggestion - My favourite dips are BBQ Mayo and Sweet Chilli Mayo to serve with these (all my delicious dips here). If I want to make these nuggets into a meal I usually serve with Potato Wedges or French Fries.
c) Make Ahead - I definitely recommend making them fresh, just so the breading stays nice and crispy. If you want though you can prep them right until placing in the oven (leave off oil spray) and tightly cover in the fridge. From there bring back to room temp and bake at the above temp/times. You can also freeze them, just place them spread out on a tray in the freezer for a couple of hours, then transfer to a zip lock bag. Thaw in the fridge and continue recipe.
d) Leftovers - Keep tightly sealed in the fridge for 2-3days (or to your discretion), then reheat in the oven at 180C/356F until piping hot through the centre again.
e) Calories - assuming 24 nuggets then shared between 4 people.

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets
Amount Per Serving
Calories 320 Calories from Fat 83
% Daily Value*
Fat 9.27g14%
Saturated Fat 3.82g19%
Trans Fat 0.081g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.494g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.697g
Cholesterol 157mg52%
Sodium 973mg41%
Potassium 384mg11%
Carbohydrates 22.83g8%
Fiber 1.2g5%
Sugar 1.29g1%
Protein 33.99g68%
Vitamin A 310IU6%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 134mg13%
Iron 2.87mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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