My kids love chicken nuggets. I love the convenience and peace that chicken nuggets bring to dinnertime…but I can’t buy the packaged nuggets regularly anymore. Even the ones that make you feel better about them- the “natural,” “breaded with whole grain” nuggets that seem so wholesome. (I do buy them on occasion- when we’re having a ton of kids over or if we’re going to my parents’ house, but I really try not to buy them otherwise.)
It kills me a little bit, though, that my kids LOVE the crappy processed chicken nuggets and snub the healthy homemade chicken nuggets that required a lot more effort and took a lot longer to make! I have tried many recipes, and I have lied many times. “What kind of chicken are we having?” “The regular kind, the ones we always have.” When they seem suspicious I say, “It’s the same kind, just a different brand.”
So, I was excited when this recipe came out so good. My husband was impressed, I really liked them, surely the kids would gobble them up like they were straight from McDonald’s!
Well, not quite. But- they did eat some. And that’s progress. So I will hold on to this recipe, maybe tweak it a bit, and hope it becomes as loved as the store-bought ones. My plan is to make big batches of it, and freeze them. Then they would be just as convenient; put them straight from the freezer to the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
This recipe comes from Lisa Leake’s cookbook, 100 Days of Real Food. Her blog 100daysofrealfood was the first clean-eating website I found when I learned about the whole idea and I got the book for my birthday last year.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
(adapted from 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- olive oil
Preparation: Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, paprika, and garlic in a shallow bowl. Put the egg in a separate bowl and beat lightly. Grease the baking pan with a thin layer of olive oil. Cut the chicken into nugget-sized pieces (or chicken finger-sized pieces) and season with salt and pepper. Dip into egg, then into the breadcrumb mixture. Place on greased baking pan and bake in 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning halfway. (The original recipe calls for cooking them in oil on the stovetop, but I find baking them much easier. And less messy!)
I think this is the best healthy chicken nugget recipe I’ve tried. Hopefully as we get further away from the old chicken nuggets, these will be more appealing to my children. My oldest has seen and heard enough about fast food and processed foods that she is grossed out by most chicken nuggets. Maybe it’s just a matter of time for the other three, too!