You might not want to know
Sure, it might be made from real chicken, but what part of it?
Chicken nuggets are one of those foods that are beloved by children, for multiple reasons. Three, they generally taste pretty good. Four, they’re made from the most inoffensive type of meat, chicken. While it might be easy to assume that they’re just ground-up meat, formed into patties and fried, that can be far from the truth, especially in fast food.
According to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center who picked up the nuggets at two unnamed fast food chains, the nuggets contained only about 50 percent meat. The rest was a hodgepodge of fat, blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, and ground bone.
Now there might very well be some chicken nuggets on the market that are made with nothing but high-grade chicken meat, but until we have a guarantee, we’ll stick with making our own; here’s a good recipe.
Are Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets the New Meatless Burger?
These plant-based packages are taking over the freezer aisle.
Photo by: SweetyMommy/Getty
Plant-based burgers appear to be everywhere now — even fast food joints. They're touted as being better for the environment, as well as a simple way to make living a plant-based lifestyle just a little easier. In the past, we've broken down the pros and cons of following a plant-based diet and the health benefits and risks associated with opting for a plant-based burger instead of springing for the real thing. (For what it's worth, the registered dietitians we talked to think it's OK if you want to eat real meat in moderation.)
But the latest craze in plant-based meat appears to be chicken — more specifically, healthier breaded chicken and meatless chicken stand-ins. Nuggets and tenders made partially or entirely of meatless ingredients are popping up on store shelves everywhere from Walmart to Amazon. And, they're being sold by brands you already know: Perdue, MorningStar and Gardein, to name a few. That said, we've also seem some exciting newcomers to the market like Caulipower (known for its packaged cauliflower pizza crust) and Raised & Rooted (an offshoot of Tyson).
If you're looking for a way to get more veggies into your family's diet without overhauling your grocery cart, these could be worth a try. Read on to find out what bags to look for next time you visit the frozen food section.
10 Chicken nuggets hacks that make dinner deliciously easy
So you went to the warehouse store hungry and somehow managed to come home with a giant-sized bag of frozen chicken nuggets. It’s either plain nuggets night after night, or you figure out how to make them into something more.
And of course, that’s where Reddit comes in. Reddit never ceases to amaze me with its treasure trove of ideas on how to make cheap eats taste good. Who knew there were so many legitimately tasty ways to prepare frozen chicken nuggets? These hacks turn chicken nuggets into seriously delicious meals.
1. Breakfast for dinner
Reddit says: Make mini chicken and waffles. “I use them for chicken and waffle appetizers. Cut the waffle in quarters and put the nuggets on top and drizzle with rooster sauce and syrup.”
Otherwise known as genius.
2. Kinda sorta lasagna
Reddit says: Make lasagna. “I made white lasagna once: layer lasagna noodles, nuggets, jar alfredo sauce, and your favorite white cheese (pepper jack, in my case…).”
This sounds like no lasagna I’ve ever heard of, but I need it in my life immediately.
3. No need for takeout
Reddit says: Make General Tso’s chicken. “Nuggets (better quality can pass for takeout), some prepared sauce… A microwave steamer bag of broccoli, julienned raw carrots, and a dose of Sriracha. Over rice, or not. I do this regularly.”
I can see why… sounds like a darn good idea to me.
4. The casserole dreams are made of
Reddit says: Make nugget casserole. “Nuggets, tots or fries, and cheese. Dump it all in baking dish and bake. Takes like 15 minutes.”
Be right back… making nugget casserole.
5. Hawaiian flair
Reddit says: Make Hawaiian chicken teriyaki over rice. “Stir fry diced green and red bell pepper, sliced carrot, diced white onion, sliced water chestnuts, whole baby corn, bean sprouts, minced garlic to taste, sliced mushrooms and pineapple tidbits in coconut oil. Prepare the chicken nuggets according to package directions, then dice into bite size pieces. Add to stir fry. Make a sauce from 1/4 cup pineapple juice, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in hot water. Pour over stir fry simmer and stir until sauce thickens. Pour over prepared rice.”
It’s one of the more involved recipes in the thread, but it sure sounds worth the trouble.
6. Easy Italian
Reddit says: Make chicken Parmesan. “Layer [the nuggets] in a baking dish and top with marinara and shredded cheese. Bake according to the baking directions on the nuggets bag/box. Easy and yummy!”
Sure beats pan-frying chicken and all the oil spatters that go with it.
7. Bring on the sauce
Reddit says: Make Buffalo chicken salad. “Cook and cut up the nuggets, toss them in hot sauce, and add them to a spinach salad. I add bleu cheese dressing because fitting into my clothes apparently isn’t important anymore.”
Worth it. Buffalo anything requires as much creamy, calorie-laden dressing as you can pack in the dish.
8. Make it cafeteria-style
Reddit says: Make a mashed potato bowl. “I work in a high school cafeteria, chicken nuggets are king. One thing we do is called a mashed potato bowl, kind if like the one at KFC. Mashed potatoes, corn, chicken nuggets, gravy, cheese (layered from bottom to top). Kids dig it.”
It’s the culmination of everything I’ve ever wanted in one bowl.
9. The easiest chicken soup ever
Reddit says: Make lemon chicken soup. “Make two cups of basic chicken bouillon, then add sugar, garlic, and lemon juice. Drop in chopped cooked chicken nuggets.”
Considering my love affair with Top Ramen, I can get on board with this.
10. Caesar salad 2.0
From our archives: Make chicken nugget Caesar salad. This recipe gets even easier when you swap in frozen nuggets. It’s like your favorite Caesar, but way better.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 2 cups corn oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1x1x1/2 inch pieces.
Fill a deep fryer with corn oil, no more than 1/3 full. Heat to medium heat.
Place egg and water in a small bowl and mix well. Add the flour, sesame seeds and salt, stirring until a smooth batter is formed.
Dip chicken pieces in batter and drain off any excess. Add battered chicken, a few pieces at a time, to the hot oil. Fry about 4 minutes or until golden brown and done (remove chicken from oil to test). Drain on paper towels.
We have determined the nutritional value of oil for frying based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. The exact amount may vary depending on cook time and temperature, ingredient density, and the specific type of oil used.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- One egg is usually enough for coating the chicken. If, however, you run out of the egg, add a second one to the bowl.
- For even crispier chicken nuggets, insert a wire baking rack into a rimmed baking sheet. Then, instead of baking the chicken directly on the baking sheet, bake them on top of the wire rack. Since air flows around the chicken, there is no need to flip the chicken.
- Make-ahead chicken nuggets: Make the nuggets by following the recipe above. Let them cool then freeze up to a month. To reheat, place them from frozen in a 400F oven and bake until crisped up and hot throughout, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Recipe inspired by Gimme Some Oven.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. We assumed full-fat salted potato chips. For fewer calories and fat, use baked chips.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste
Recipe Variations to Try
- Spice it up. Add extra cayenne to the panko breading or add hot sauce directly to the buttermilk.
- Swap seasonings. Mix up the flavor profile by swapping the seasonings for Cajun seasoning, ranch seasoning, Italian seasonings, etc.
- Add Parmesan. Add &frac13 cup finely, freshly grated Parmesan to the panko for a nutty, salty flair. This would also be tasty combined with Italian spiced panko.
- Serve with sauces. The easiest way to make this meal feel brand new is to serve it with an array of dipping sauces each time you make it.
4. KFC Popcorn Nuggets
If you're looking for a nugget that tastes a little more homemade, KFC is a safe bet. That's because instead of the usual uniform nuggets, they serve Popcorn Nuggets, like Sonic — although KFC's are smaller in size. These chunks of white meat chicken are covered in the chain's signature coating (made with the not-so-secret blend of 11 herbs and spices), then fried until golden and crunchy.
KFC's popcorn nuggets are delicious when served hot. The crust is extra-crispy, the little bits of chicken are juicy, and it's nice that they retain the texture of traditional chicken meat, rather than that of nuggets that are made from meat that's been mixed with other ingredients and then cut-out, cookie style (like McDonald's does).
Unfortunately, when the popcorn chicken is served cold, it can taste rather greasy. The seasoning blend used is also quite salty, and because the popcorn chicken has a higher ratio of crispy coating to meat than their traditional bone-in offerings, after about half a container it can start to seem too salty.
They're delicious, but eat them fresh and in small portions.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
First, make the breading assembly line: In one bowl, stir together the flour, seasoned salt, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and water. In a third bowl, add the breadcrumbs. Bread a few pieces of chicken at a time by dredging them with flour, then quickly dunking them in the egg mixture, then rolling them in the breadcrumbs until they're coated. Shake off the excess and place them on a plate or pan as you bread the rest.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat (place the skillet on the backburner!), heat 1 1/2 to 2 inches of vegetable oil over medium-low to medium heat. (You want it to be hot enough to sizzle gently when you add the chicken, but not so hot that it browns too quickly.)
Carefully drop in 8 to 10 pieces of chicken and use metal tongs to spread them out to give them room. Let them fry on the first side for a minute or so, then carefully turn them over to brown on the other side. The chicken should cook until the breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes total if the chicken pieces are small, this should be enough time for the chicken to cook through.
Remove the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken until it's all fried. Serve warm with ketchup and/or mustard!
Chicken nuggets. What can we say about them? They&rsquore so simple, so ubiquitous, such a steady component in the diet of American kids. And okay&mdashAmerican kids&rsquo parents. And the choices&mdashthey&rsquore abundant! From fast food restaurants to big bulk bags in the freezer section of the grocery store, there are countless chicken nuggets to choose from in this great land of ours. But I&rsquoll let you in on a little secret: The best chicken nuggets are ones you make yourself.
For one thing, you can see exactly what&rsquos goin&rsquo in &rsquoem.
For another thing, you can make as many as you want. No deciding whether you want the 4, 6, or 10 pack!
For another, they&rsquore completely fresh and delicious.
For yet another, there&rsquos a cow in my yard right now.
(That last thing had nothing to do with anything. I just thought I&rsquod share.)
Let&rsquos make these chicken nuggets, baby! They are seriously the best in the west.
One secret to these chicken nuggets is the size of the chicken pieces: You want them to be small enough to allow the chicken to cook through before the breading gets too dark. So cut the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch strips&hellip
Then cut them into bite-sized pieces.
Keep going until you have a pile! Two big chicken breasts will go a long way.
Once you&rsquove got the chicken all cut up, make the assembly line for the breading: In one bowl, add some flour and seasoned salt&hellip
Along with some salt and pepper.
Stir it together with a fork and set it aside.
In a separate bowl, crack two eggs&hellip
And whisk them together. Set these aside, too.
In a third bowl, pour a couple cups of seasoned breadcrumbs. You can use plain ones, too, but I love the seasoned ones because they&rsquore so&hellipwell&hellipseasoned!
A note: While I love panko breadcrumbs, they tend to burn before the chicken has a chance to cook. Regular breadcrumbs are definitely the way to go!
To bread the chicken, grab a few pieces at a time and throw them into the flour.
Roll them around to dredge them, then shake off the excess.
Drop them into the egg wash&hellip
Then drop them into the breadcrumbs&hellip
As you bread the chicken, set them on a plate or baking sheet&hellip
Then keep going until you&rsquove got all the chicken breaded.
And hey! Guess what? You can totally flash freeze the breaded chicken, then pop them into a large zipper bag and store them in the freezer for up to six months.
But I&rsquom in the mood for chicken nuggets and I don&rsquot want to wait that long.
Oh&hellipanother quick note: This is a completely different breading approach from the one I use for Homemade Chicken Strips, which is more of a traditional fried chicken breading. Both are delicious, but this breadcrumb coating is my favorite for the small, bite-sized nuggets.
Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat. To test the oil to see if it&rsquos ready, drop in a few breadcrumbs. If they sizzle gently, the oil&rsquos ready! (If they brown very quickly, the oil&rsquos too hot.) When the oil is perfect, carefully drop in a few pieces at a time.
Let them cook for a minute (or a little longer) on the first side&hellip
Then use metal tongs to turn them over and let them finish browning on the other.
You don&rsquot want the nuggets to brown too quickly&mdashthe chicken needs a chance to cook through&mdashso keep the oil at a nice, steady temp.
When the breading is nice and deep golden, remove the nuggets to a paper towel lined plate&hellip
And keep going until all the nuggets are done. Yum!
Serve them with little dishes of ketchup, mustard, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, or whatever makes your skirt fly up. You&rsquoll love these! They&rsquore delightful.
Grab the recipe from the sidebar, or follow the link below to the printable recipe on Tasty Kitchen. Enjoy!
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- Coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Cooking spray
- Honey Mustard or Spicy Ketchup, for serving (see Cook's Notes below)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut chicken into 2-inch pieces. Spread panko on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a shallow dish, then add Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon salt drizzle with oil and stir to combine.
Place flour and eggs in separate shallow dishes. Increase temperature to 450 degrees.
Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet lightly coat rack with cooking spray. In batches, coat chicken in flour, shaking off excess, dip in egg, then coat with panko, pressing to adhere. Place on rack.
Bake until chicken is cooked through, 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve nuggets with sauce.
How to Make Chicken Nuggets
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at making chicken nuggets at home, you’ve hit the jackpot with this recipe. These chicken nuggets tastes just like McDonald’s but because you make them completely from scratch, you know exactly what is going into them. Grab the kids and make these today!
I have made these chicken nuggets several times now and each time they are met with rave reviews from my family and friends. I’ve shared this recipe with others too and they have had great success as well! I encourage you to try it and let me know what you think.
I don't know about you, but chicken is one of my favorites! It's versatile, easy to make, and absolutely delicious! Get my favorite ways to make chicken for dinner. See ALL my cookbooks here !
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The most popular question about this recipe is “is the chicken raw or cooked when you run it through the food processor?”
The chicken is raw, not cooked.
First you’re going to cut some boneless chicken breasts into cubes, then run them through the food processor.
NOTE: The food processor pictured above is a cheap $70 model. It lasted me less than a year.
The bowl (with the handle) broke three times – I had to order it from the manufacturer each time. By the time I got done paying for replacement bowls I could have bought a bigger, better machine.
So I bought a Cuisinart 12-cup food processor that I absolutely LOVE. It works fantastic and it’s easy to clean. Only wish I had done it sooner!
Here’s what it looks like when it’s done.
Mix together the salt, pepper, onion powder, oregano and parsley.
Sprinkle it over the ground up chicken in a bowl and mix it all up.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
Mix the flour and salt in another bowl.
Use a cookie scoop to measure out chicken balls. Ha ha.
Roll the balls smooth and get everything together. You’ll need your bowl of whisked eggs, your bowl of flour mixture, the chicken balls and an empty plate.
First roll a chicken ball in flour.
Coat the floured ball with egg.
Coat it in flour again. I found that the best way to do this was to actually use one hand for the egg and the other hand for the flour so that the flour doesn’t end up clumping all over your egg-y wet fingers.
Then place the flour chicken ball on a plate and gently flatten it with your fingers.
I used my fryer set at 365F, but you can use a cast iron Dutch oven or even a heavy bottomed sauce pan too.
In my fryer it took about 7.5 minutes, I flipped them over halfway through. Drain them on paper towels.