10 Jan 2011 Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

I know a thing or two about chicken nuggets as I have been making them for two decades with a recipe very similar to the one Sara Moulton contributed to The 150 Best American Recipes.  Sara calls her version  “Garlicky Baked Chicken”, but I think she uses thighs or chicken-on-the-bone.  I don’t.  I use the same coating as she does, but I make chicken nuggets from boneless chicken tenders. To die for.

Make a bag-full of chicken nuggets to keep in the freezer. Double the recipe! You will be so glad you did. If you have kids at home, this recipe will probably become a staple.  Check out my recipe for Oven Baked Fries, too.  Put the two recipes together and you’ll be able to bake up some better-than-McDonalds Home Baked Happy Meals on a regular basis!

Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

6 T. butter
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use the minced-in-a-jar kind)
2 cups Panko* (Japanese breadcrumb, found in the Asian section of the grocery store-regular or Italian Herb)
1 t. kosher salt
½ t. black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not that stuff in the green shaker tube)
3 lbs. chicken tenders (for chicken nuggets cut each chicken tender into two pieces)

Melt the butter and the garlic in a shallow bowl. Mix the Panko*, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl. Set out a cooling rack. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the garlic/butter, and then into the Panko/parmesan mix. Once the chicken is well coated with crumbs place on rack to dry for a bit. (Use one hand for dipping in the butter and placing in the breadcrumbs, use the other hand for dipping in the breadcrumbs and putting on the rack. If you don’t use this alternate hand method, you’ll get big clumps of gunk on the fingers of both hands). When chicken has dried a bit, transfer to a plate or tray and place in freezer until firm. Once chicken is firm remove from plate and place in Ziploc bag and return to freezer.

To bake:

You need a hot oven to get a nice brown color to the nuggets. I cook at anywhere between 375º and 425º (preferring 425º). Take desired quantity of frozen nuggets from freezer and place on cookie sheetwhich has been sprayed lightly with a cooking spray or lined with parchment paper (to prevent nuggets from sticking to pan). Place in hot oven for 6-8 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes. DONE! Serve as is, or with any desired dipping sauce. My son likes ketchup.  My daughter likes honey mustard.  On of my daughter’s friends swears by ranch dressing.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you tomorrow!

*Panko is my current favorite to use for chicken nuggets but in the past I have also used a wide variety of homemade and boxed breadcrumbs (both the plain and the Italian kinds)—and one time I even used crushed Wheaties! Everything seems to work with this recipe. One of the notes in The 150 Best American Recipes suggests adding some chopped pecans to the breadcrumbs. Now I’ve never done this, but nut-lovers might want to consider it!

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8 Responses
  1. Regena says:

    I love the idea of making a saving some. Somehow there never seems to be leftovers no matter how many I make. I’ll try the panko crumbs next time I make them.

  2. Laurie says:

    We tried these tonight for dinner and they were seriously AMAZING! The only thing we did differently from the original recipe was using plain bread crumbs and adding some cayenne pepper and chili powder. I want to try it next time with the italian bread crumbs (minus the cayenne and chili powder) as you had suggested. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Chantal says:

    Why oh why do my chicken nuggets not look so good?? I tried these in the cooking class I teach and although they were super tasty, they just did not look the same. The kids did not see what they were supposed to look like so they had not complaints at all (plus, was hard to talk with their mouths full!) Any suggestions? Please help, I have another class in 2 days!!!!

    • Polly says:

      HI Chantal, interestingly enough, another friend of mine mentioned the same thing. Did you spray you baking pan with Pam? She didn’t and said some of the chicken coating stuck to the pan. Is this your issue? I’ll add “spray pan with Pam” to the recipe–you could also cook on a parchment lined pan. How fun that you are using this recipe in a cooking class!

  4. Chantal says:

    Thanks so much for the reply Polly, I know how busy you must be! I did not use Pam the first time, but I did the second time and although it did help, I think maybe one other factor may have affected the outcome : I used (finely) grated parmesan, taking your advice and not using the green stuff!! It is not granular like the prohibited cheese and is more flake-like so maybe that could have made a difference too. I brought home some of the nuggets, popped them in the freezer and made them for the family last night. They were, as predicted, delish and admittedly browned up better than the class ones. It may also be because I only have toaster ovens to work with in school and not my big oven. As mentioned, the kids had no complaints at all and they went home happy (with empty containers!). I am going to attempt the Funny face pops next week with them, and don’t worry, I give you full credit for all of the recipes I steal from you although I have to translate them into french for the kids; its a riot because everything I do is a big hit (I’m like a rock star to them, what an ego booster!!) The only sad part is they know nothing about cooking/baking because Mom/Dad do not cook at home, pity. Keep up the great work!

    • Polly says:

      Hi Chantal…the cheese sound right. I use shredded Parmesan-which is what you are describing. What kind of breadcrumbs are you using? I have made these with panko and with all sorts of other dried breadcrumbs, so that is probably not the problem though. I wish I were there and could pop over and figure this out! Are you using dried breadcrumbs? It might be the toaster oven…or a combination of things. Thanks for your enthusiasm, and for the kids enthusiasm. I don’t cook much in a toaster oven, but I will keep my thinking cap on for toaster over friendly recipes for you and the kids. How about baked potato soup? SO CHEAP! 5lbs potatoes, water, 1/2 lb bacon, green onions, and cheese….and could feed a family for two or three days.

    • Polly says:

      Hi Chantal…not knowing what equipment you have, how much time you have, or the age of your kids…not all these recipes will work…but I did a quick review of what I have posted that might be applicable to your class and I came up with these: Breakfast Biscuits, homemade spaghetti sauce, gringo grandma’s chili, hoisin chicken wraps, 45 minute pasta with turkey sausage, oven baked fries, chinese pasta salad, chinese chicken salad (makes a LOT), cupcake tin turkey pies, asian glazed thighs, chocolate mocha tart, meatball stroganoff, crockpot bean dip, meatballs on toast, any muffin…any cookie…have fun with the kids in the kitchen. Keep me posted!

  5. Chantal says:

    Thanks for the great ideas! and to answer some of the questions, I did use panko breadcrumbs and I am convinced the ovens were what messed them up, esthetically. I have from 5-10 kids (8-10 yrs old), 2 hour classes and limited resources: 2 so-so toaster ovens, an electric skillet, wok, 2 portable burners (I can boil, cook on them), a fridge, microwave but no oven (aaargh) and no sink (seriously!). I cannot do anything with peanuts or pork products(sadly not even canadian bacon!) but they are open to just about anything else. I did the fun face pops but made one batch 2 hours before class on tuesday so it would be ready for them to do and the batch they made I kept for my thursday class. May or may not have been such a great idea since the dough was a bit dry and crumbly, but we made it work. They really are easy going and were thrilled to work with candy bits and chocolates so they hardly noticed the dryness. We do a dessert and main course every class so I try to not choose 2 recipes that need the ovens. Today we did the fun face pops(ovens) and shrimp pad thai(skillet). Both yummy! Next week is almond pies (a recipe you may like) and I am trying to find something with beef (ground or otherwise) that is a reasonable price. Lately we have done chicken dishes, shrimp today, so I think its time for beef something or other! I will check out your meatball stroganoff recipe, sounds interesting. Thanks again for your time Polly, very appreciated.

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