I’m not a fan of most chicken nuggets and “kid foods” that cater to picky eaters. Or ones that are mostly processed and devoid of vitamins. At the same time, kid-size food can be fun every once in a while. Especially if the kids help prepare it!
Chicken parmesan is a classic recipe and an adult favorite. This recipe combines all the big flavors of chicken parmesan with the fun size of chicken nuggets for a more sophisticated kid food. I like to serve this with homemade pasta sauce instead of ketchup as a dip. They get less sugar, and it’s a fun way to eat a kid’s favorite recipe.
Parmesan Chicken Nuggets Recipe
The actual credit for this recipe goes to my oldest son. Years ago he saw me making regular chicken parmesan and suggested smaller pieces. Most of the kids don’t eat a whole piece anyway. His love for cooking has continued and he even co-wrote a cookbook with his friends.
With his help, this grain-free, dairy-optional recipe was born.
Chicken Nugget Ingredients and Substitutions
Most chicken nuggets have breadcrumbs (like panko bread crumbs). All-purpose flour is another common breading for these. And of course, there’s the unhealthy vegetable oil for frying!
This real food recipe doesn’t have any of that. I use a blend of almond flour, coconut flour, and parmesan cheese for the breading. Not only are they gluten-free, but they’re grain free too. If you need to make them dairy free, simply omit the parmesan cheese. They’ll still taste great, just more like regular chicken nuggets. You can even add a little onion powder or paprika to the flour mixture if desired.
If your family is nut-free or egg-free, you’ll need a few modifications. You can use any flour in place of the almond/coconut mixture. Substituting for the eggs is a little more complicated though. The best option I’ve found is to dunk in melted butter or coconut oil in place of the eggs. This doesn’t stick as well as the beaten egg mixture, but it does the job.
The Best Chicken
Forget the ultra-processed meat-like substances from fast food places like McDonald’s. These are made with pieces of actual chicken. You’ll want boneless skinless chicken breasts for this. Boneless chicken thighs can also work if you prefer dark meat. Some stores also sell boneless chicken tenders, which are just thinner chicken breasts.
Don’t Want to Fry Them?
If you don’t like to fry foods (or don’t want the mess), you can modify the recipe. These chicken nuggets work well in the air fryer and I’ve included directions for that in the recipe. Or if you prefer to bake them, first preheat the oven to 375°F. Continue with steps 1-4 in the recipe, dredging the mixture as you would for frying. Next, place them on a well-oiled baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil before baking for about 35 minutes.
Cooking spray gets a more even coating on the nuggets, but many of them have unhealthy oils I try to avoid. This avocado oil spray is a good option though. To better protect against sticking, you can also line the tray with parchment paper.
It may sound complicated at first, but homemade chicken nuggets are an easy way to get dinner on the table. You can also check out more of my easy recipes with these personalized meal plans.
Parmesan Chicken Nuggets Recipe
You can’t go wrong with homemade chicken nuggets! These are coated with grain-free Parmesan breading and served with marinara sauce. This Italian take on chicken nuggets is a kid favorite.
In a large skillet, heat the tallow or coconut oil over medium-high heat.
Cut the chicken into strips or nuggets (about 1 and 1/2 inch pieces).
In a medium bowl, beat the large eggs with 1 teaspoon of water or buttermilk.
In another bowl, combine the almond and coconut flours, Parmesan cheese, one teaspoon garlic powder, Italian seasoning, one teaspoon salt, and pepper and mix well.
Once the oil is hot, coat each piece of chicken first in the egg mixture and then dredge in the seasoned flour mixture.
Drop them carefully into the hot oil and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through.
Remove from the pan onto paper towels and keep in the oven to stay warm while additional batches are cooking.
Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve with marinara dipping sauce.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to several days. Reheat in the oven until crispy.
- Bake: Place the coated chicken pieces on a well-greased baking sheet and spritz with avocado oil. Bake at 375°F for about 35 minutes or until cooked through.
- Air Fry: Place the coated chicken pieces in the air fryer basket and spritz with avocado oil. Air fry at 400°F for about 8 minutes or until cooked through.
Calories: 348kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 32gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 722mgPotassium: 581mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 341IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 120mgIron: 2mg
Dipping Sauce Options
Marinara is our family’s favorite option for these and it fits with the chicken parmesan theme. If your kids aren’t feeling the marinara though, then there are plenty of other options! Here are some more homemade and healthy chicken nugget dipping sauces:
Do your kids love chicken nuggets? What’s their favorite way to eat them? Leave a comment and let me know!