If your kids are similar to mine, their two favorite types of chicken are either the dinosaur chicken nuggets that you buy in the frozen section at your favorite grocery store, or Chick-fil-A nuggets. I have tried offering several other kinds of chicken (grilled, oven baked, etc.), but they always say, “Mom, this doesn’t taste as good as the dinosaur ones” or “Mom, this doesn’t taste as good as Chick-fil-A.” Ugh.
I love Pinterest, and it has been one of my missions lately to find a homemade alternative to dinosaur chicken nuggets that my kids will enjoy. I am happy to say that I finally found a recipe on New Year’s Day. I can’t take any credit for the recipe, but I am here to share the goodness with you and give a few extra tips I found after making it.
- 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (I suggest getting the thinly sliced ones in the package…it’s ok if it’s a little over 1.5 pounds.)
- 1 cup dill pickle juice (from the jar)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian breadcrumbs, but I think Panko breadcrumbs would be delicious too.)
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Cooking oil spray
- In a large sealable container, combine the chicken pieces, pickle juice, and milk. Stir well, seal, and refrigerate for an hour (don’t skimp on the time…this part is what makes the recipe so good).
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray, and set aside.
- In a large bag, combine the flour, breadcrumbs, powdered sugar, salt, paprika, and onion powder. Use tongs to remove one piece of chicken from the marinade at a time, let excess liquid drip off, and add it to the freezer bag. Shake the bag and toss well to coat the chicken nuggets. Remove the nuggets one at a time (with tongs), shake off excess breading, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Spray the nuggets liberally with cooking oil spray. Make sure there are no crumbly dry patches (really spray every nugget thoroughly to get the best result when cooking).
- Bake until the chicken nuggets are cooked through and the breading is golden, about 20-25 minutes, flipping once.
There are two keys, in my opinion, to this recipe that make the chicken really yummy. The first is the marinade. The pickle juice and milk combo adds flavor and makes the nuggets tender. The second is the cooking oil spray on the nuggets before baking. You literally want to spray every nugget so that it’s covered. This helps give the the nuggets the Chick-fil-A look, and it helps make the breading a little crispy.
If you don’t have a large bag to shake the nuggets in, a large bowl works fine too. I didn’t have a large bag, so I put the breadcrumb mixture in a large bowl and thoroughly stirred the nuggets to coat them.
My kids loved this chicken, and my husband did too. I call that a win!