You will love these chicken nuggets for everything! Deep fry, air fry or bake them in the oven. They turn out so good – Extra crispy, extra juicy, super flavorful & made from scratch with fresh ingredients. Chicken nuggets are a delicious appetizer that is enjoyed by children and adults, alike. With a light, crisp exterior, juicy & well-seasoned interior, they are popular on restaurant menus. The truth is, you can make them at home quite easily which has the added benefits of being healthier and less expensive.
The traditional process of making chicken nuggets involves dipping seasoned chicken in flour and then in the beaten egg. Lastly breaded with seasoned bread crumbs which are deep fried. Egg is the main ingredient here as it locks the juices in the chicken and keeps them soft even after frying.
However if you want to make super addictive, extremely juicy and tender chicken nuggets then you have to try out with the extra step of brining the chicken. This extra step is worth the effort! If you are in a rush to make them quickly you may skip this step. But nothing beats the brined crispy chicken nuggets!
With this technique and recipe, you can feel confident about serving really tasty chicken nuggets that your family will love.
Pro tips to make best chicken nuggets
This is a key to making thoroughly and well-seasoned chicken nuggets that are super juicy. In this technique, we will use a unique buttermilk brine to make sure that your chicken nuggets are never dry. Your guests will marvel at how tender they are! That is due to the acidity of the buttermilk which actually traps moisture within the chicken and imparts a delicious flavor.
Brining your chicken does require a small bit of prior preparation. A simple, hands-off step that involves soaking your chicken with buttermilk will yield fantastic results. If you have never tried this method before, you will be pleased with the results.
Choosing the Chicken
When making chicken nuggets at home you want to select the best chicken. Chicken breasts will give you the best texture and flavor. By cutting them into uniform pieces, you will be able to cook them rather uniformly.
Choosing the Spices
This is the part that gets a little more creative. At home, we love the combination of garlic powder, garam masala, and paprika/ chilli powder for a burst of flavors. You can take this recipe in a different direction by switching those spices up a bit. Try using Italian seasoning or adding some lemon zest with dried thyme and oregano.
The point here is that once you have mastered the technique of making juicy and crispy chicken nuggets you can put your own spin on it to flavor them. The options are endless!
What Oil Is Best?
When you are deep frying in your home kitchen, you want to choose a neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point. Good options for this include vegetable oil or canola oil. Not only do these hold up well at high temperatures, but they will also impart very little flavor to your chicken nuggets, which really lets the taste of the chicken shine.
Which Bread Crumbs are Best?
There are a number of options when it comes to breading your chicken nuggets. Optimally, you can make bread crumbs at home from leftover bread which allows you to control any additives. Prepackaged bread crumbs are also fine, and this is where you have even more options.
You can go with traditional bread crumbs for a finer crust or try panko bread crumbs for something a bit of a lighter and crunchier exterior.
How to make chicken nuggets
Once you have gathered your ingredients it is time to get started. Begin by preparing your chicken well in advance of when you plan to eat. Since the chicken requires at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours in the brine, plan accordingly. Simply cut your chicken into evenly sized pieces, place them in a bowl with your brine, cover, and refrigerate.
1. I brined it overnight in the refrigerator. To make the brine solution, whisk together ¼ cup yogurt with 1/3 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Then pour 1 ½ cups water and mix. Cut the chicken to 1 inch pieces and add them to the bowl. Chicken looks pale after it is soaked in buttermilk.
2. Once you have brined your chicken for at least 3 hours, remove it from the brine. At this point, season your chicken with your spices, coating them evenly.
3. Next, is the breading procedure. It will help to have three bowls ready: one with egg, another with seasoned flour, and the last with the breadcrumbs. Beat the egg well with a fork. If you want to skip egg you may use the buttermilk brine in place of egg in the recipe.
4. Dredge the chicken nuggets with the flour.
5. Next dip into the egg.
6. And then finally into the breadcrumbs.
7. Continue until all of the chicken has been breaded, allowing the nuggets to sit while you begin heating your oil for frying.
Frying chicken nuggets
8. Heat your oil in a deep pan making sure it is deep enough to accommodate the chicken. When it has reached a temperature of about 350 degrees, begin frying in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan.
9. Cook until golden brown on one side, then turn nuggets carefully to ensure that both sides are thoroughly cooked. This process will take about 5-7 minutes, depending on size and temperature.
When your chicken nuggets are light golden brown, remove them carefully from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain thoroughly on a paper towel-lined pan to absorb any excess oil. Continue with the remaining chicken until they are done and serve immediately.
Serve chicken nuggets hot with ketchup or a garlic mayo dip.
Air fry or bake chicken nuggets
There are alternate ways of cooking these chicken nuggets for times when you are looking for something perhaps a little healthier. You can successfully air fry the breaded chicken at 400 degrees F or 200 C, for 5-7 minutes per side, turning for even browning.
Alternately, you can bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 18-20 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Serve while still warm and enjoy!
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 250 grams chicken breast (cubed to 1 to 1¼ inch)
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (or wheat flour prefer organic)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt or as needed
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 tsp ginger garlic paste (divided)
- ¾ teaspoon garam masala or 1 teaspoon Italian herbs (divided)
- ¾ teaspoon crushed black pepper or paprika or red chilli powder (divided)
- 1 egg (or use buttermilk)
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
for brine (optional)
- ¼ cup yogurt (plain)
- 1½ cups water
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
Preparation for chicken nuggets
- Cube the chicken breast to 1 to 1 ¼ inch pieces.
- Brine: (optional) If you wish to go ahead with brine, whisk together yogurt and salt in a bowl until smooth. Pour water and mix well. Add the chicken and brine overnight in the refrigerator or at least for 3 hours. Later drain completely.
- Add ½ teaspoon each of garlic powder, garam masala or Italian herbs and black pepper to the chicken. Also add ⅓ teaspoon salt and mix well.
- Add the rest of the seasonings to a bowl along with the flour. Mix well. (check step by step pictures)
- Break one egg to a bowl and beat it well with a fork. Alternately you may use the brine.
- Transfer the bread crumbs to another bowl. Arrange all the 3 bowls side by side – flour, egg & bread crumbs.
- Dredge chicken in flour and then dip it in egg. Then coat in bread crumbs. Repeat this for all the chicken nuggets. Gently press down each nugget with your fingers so the bread coats it well.
- Rest them for 10 mins. Meanwhile heat oil in a pan for deep frying.
How to make chicken nuggets
- When it has reached a temperature of about 350 degrees F, begin frying in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. If you do not have a thermometer, gently drop a piece of bread crumb to the oil. If the oil is hot enough, it will rise.
- Cook until chicken nuggets turn light golden brown on one side, then turn them carefully to ensure that both sides are thoroughly cooked & fried.
- Remove them to a wire rack or a kitchen tissue.
- Serve chicken nuggets hot with your favorite dip or sauce.
- Place the chicken nuggets into the air fryer basket. Spray them with olive or avocado oil. Air fry them for 5 to 7 minutes at 400 F or 200 C.
Bake in oven
- Place the chicken nuggets on a prepared tray and spray oil. Bake them for 18 to 20 mins at 400 F or 200 C, turning the chicken once after 10 mins.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Chicken nuggets recipe first posted in March 2016. Updated and republished in May 2021.