I got a burn on my belly when I was pregnant thanks to these healthy baked chicken nuggets. Rewind to when I was pregnant with Sidney: I was making this exact recipe in a crop top when I bumped my 9-month belly into the HOT baking sheet. I can STILL see the scar and that’s one of the reasons why I’ll always remember making these delicious little tender bites.
Another reason I love them? Tony said they’re officially his favorite chicken nuggets. He couldn’t stop raving about them. And that’s saying a lot considering he basically lived off fast food for a few years post-college.
What can I say — they’re truly the BEST healthy chicken nuggets ever.
The first time I tested this recipe I was blown away by just how crispy and flavorful these baked chicken nuggets were. The seasoning is based off my paleo chicken tenders (which I LOVE) but this time I was going for a version that was a little crunchier and one that could even give Chick-Fil-A a run for its money.
The results were FANTASTIC. Seriously tender. So flavorful. Crispy. Perfectly dippable. Outrageously good. ALL THE ADJECTIVES.
Ingredients in baked chicken nuggets
Not only is this healthy baked chicken nuggets recipe quick to make, dairy free, perfectly spiced and requires minimal ingredients that you might even have in your kitchen right now! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken breast and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
- Breadcrumbs: the outside of the chicken nuggets get nice and crispy thanks to panko breadcrumbs!
- Olive oil cooking spray: using cooking spray is a KEY to the crispy outside as well. You’ll learn why below.
- Spices: these chicken nuggets get their flavor from onion powder, paprika, a bit of cayenne pepper (if you like a little heat), garlic powder, salt & pepper.
- Eggs & milk: you’ll need both to help the breadcrumbs stick to the cubes of chicken. I used almond milk to keep the recipe dairy free!
- Dipping sauces: have fun with aaall of the sauces like honey mustard (try the homemade one in this recipe!), ketchup or your favorite BBQ sauce for dipping!
The secrets to crispy baked chicken nuggets in the oven
- Toast your breadcrumbs. This is essential for making crispy baked chicken nuggets. You’ll just need to toast the breadcrumbs in the oven for 5 minutes or so before tossing them with the spices and then the chicken. This is a crucial step for getting that deliciously crispy texture on the outside that tastes even better than the fried version.
- Use a wire rack. This will not only prevent sticking but will also allow the chicken nuggets to bake up nice and crispy on all sides. If you don’t have a wire rack, that’s okay, you can just flip them halfway through baking.
- Use cooking spray. You’ll want to not only spray the breadcrumbs with olive oil cooking spray before baking them, but you’ll also want to spray the assembled chicken nuggets once more before tossing them in the oven. This will ensure that they get that wonderful, golden brown color!
How to make healthy chicken nuggets
- Toast your breadcrumbs. As I mentioned above, this is essential to getting perfectly crispy chicken nuggets. Add your breadcrumbs to a large baking sheet, spray them with nonstick olive oil cooking spray, and bake them for a few minutes (stirring halfway through).
- Add your spices. Transfer your baked breadcrumbs to a bowl and mix in all of those delicious spices.
- Make the egg mixture. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and almond milk.
- Assemble the nuggets. Use tongs to dip each chicken cube in the egg mixture, then toss it into the breadcrumb mixture until it’s completely coated. Transfer the nuggets to a prepared wire rack.
- Bake & serve. Lastly, spray the tops of the chicken nuggets with more cooking spray and bake them up! Serve with your fav dipping sauces and our suggested sides below.
What to serve with baked chicken nuggets
Besides dipping sauces (which are obviously key) I love serving these baked chicken nuggets with a hearty salad or veggies, baked sweet potato fries, or maybe a scoop of homemade mac and cheese. CAN I GET A YUM?! Grab these recipes for your next weeknight dinner:
Get all of my side dish recipes here!
How to store & freeze homemade chicken nuggets
In the fridge: leftover chicken nuggets can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. To reheat, place the chicken nuggets on a baking sheet and broil them on high for a couple of minutes until heated through and crispy on the outside.
To freeze & reheat:
- Let the chicken nuggets cool completely before transferring them to a cookie sheet.
- Freeze them on the cookie sheet to ensure that they don’t stick together, then transfer the frozen chicken nuggets to a freezer-safe bag or container and place in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
- To reheat, I’d recommend heating them in the oven so that they’re nice and crispy.
More dinner recipes you’ll love (great for kids!)
Get all of my kid-friendly dinner ideas here!
I hope you love these best ever crispy baked chicken nuggets as much as we do. If you make this recipe please leave a comment and rating to let me know how you liked it — I really appreciate it! xo
The BEST Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets
These are the BEST crispy baked chicken nuggets you’ll ever make! This delicious, healthy chicken nuggets recipe takes just about 30 minutes from start to finish and uses super simple ingredients like panko breadcrumbs, chicken breast and spices. Serve with honey mustard, ketchup or your favorite BBQ sauce. Kid-friendly and adult approved!
- Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
almond milk (or milk of choice)
boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into into 1 inch cubes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Add panko breadcrumbs to a large baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Spray breadcrumbs with nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Bake for 2 minutes, then stir breadcrumbs (or just give the pan a shake) and then bake for 2-3 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Keep heat in the oven.
Transfer breadcrumbs to a medium bowl. Whisk in spices: salt, black pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and almond milk. Set aside.
Line the large baking sheet with an oven safe wire metal rack. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Dip each chicken cube into the egg mixture, then use a tong to grab each chicken nugget and toss into the breadcrumb mixture to completely coat with breadcrumbs. Use tongs to transfer to the wire rack, placing about 1 inch apart.
Generously spray the tops of the chicken nuggets with nonstick spray. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and temp reaches 165 degrees F with a meat thermometer. Serves 4. Serve with BBQ sauce, honey mustard, ketchup or whatever sauce you’d like!
Feel free to use a gluten free panko breadcrumb if you can find them. Panko breadcrumbs are essential to the perfect crispy chicken nugget!
See the full post for tips, tricks & storing instructions.
Servings: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 4)
Saturated fat: 1g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on January 23rd, 2020, and republished on September 21st, 2022.