Baked homemade chicken nuggets come out of my arsenal any time I have a picky eater to feed. Buttery, crunchy, golden–and still neutral enough in flavor that kids will gobble these down no questions asked!
I know it can be really hard to come up with new, fresh dinner ideas all the time–especially ideas your family will all eat. Feels like an impossible task doesn’t it?
That’s why you must have this recipe and the strategies to make it your own.
This is one time when you also get to choose the quality of the ingredients too–these are so much better than “chicken breast with rib meat” shaped patties from a box.
4 tips for top flavor
- Choose good chicken. We love a brand called Katie’s Best which is vegetarian fed, has no injected water, and is air cooled so the meat isn’t mushy from chlorine baths (and it’s healthier). I don’t have much luck with conventional store brands. My family always asks me “…Uh…where’d you get this chicken mom?” That’s not a compliment.
- Use real parmesan even though the powdered kind is tempting. Buy a block at your cheese counter, shred it up (cut off the rind) and use it for lots of recipes all week.
- Use any cracker you want, but something buttery works best. Think Ritz,Club, etc. A gluten free butter cracker is a simple swap for dietary needs too.
- Don’t skip the dijon mustard. The mustard flavor is barely noticeable and it adds a great tang to the chicken.
Making nuggets step-by-step
Step 1: Cut breast meat in to 2 inch cubes. Skip chicken tenders–they have a huge tendon in them!
Step 2: Mix melted butter and mustard in a bowl, and crushed crackers and good parmesan in a second one. Dip chicken first into the butter/mustard then in to the cracker mix. Press well with your hands so everything sticks well.
Step 3: Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet (these will stick without it) and give them a couple of inches of space if you can so they brown evenly. Bake until golden, rotating the pan halfway through baking–15 or so minutes, total.
Make ahead strategies for homemade chicken nuggets even faster
- Bread your chicken nuggets ahead of time (a couple of hours at the most) before baking. You might get by with doing it the morning you want to make them but the crackers will soften some as they sit so the exterior may not be as crunchy.
- Pre mix your cracker and parmesan breading and store in an airtight container in the fridge for quick breading.
- Bake, cool and stick them in the fridge for easy snacks or lunches (they are delicious cold).
- Bake and freeze then rewarm covered in foil until heated through (the crackers may soften a bit with this method but if you’re okay with that, so am I).
Kid Approved Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken cut into 2" pieces
- 2 sleeves Ritz crackers gluten free works too
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 stick butter I use salted, but unsalted works fine
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a large cookie sheet with baking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl mix the butter and mustard. Set aside.
- In another bowl crush the cracker crumbs until no pieces larger than a pea remain. Add the parmesan cheese and toss to combine.
- Dip the chicken, a few at a time into the butter mixture then into the cracker crumbs, pressing the mixture on well.
- Transfer to the cookie sheet and place them about two inches apart for better browning.
- Bake until golden and crispy, about 15 minutes or so, turning once halfway through. Serve warm, but they are good cold too!