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Crispy and golden brown, these easy homemade Chicken Nuggets are a simple, family-friendly meal! The fried chicken nuggets are dredged in seasoned flour, dipped in buttermilk, and coated with crunchy Panko breadcrumbs for a quick, flavorful dinner that’s ready in about 30 minutes. Skip the drive-thru and serve them with honey mustard and ketchup for dipping, plus salad, coleslaw, corn muffins or potato wedges on the side.

Close overhead shot of a plate of homemade chicken nuggets on a wooden table.

Fried Chicken Nuggets

There’s just nothing better than classic fried chicken nuggets! Yes, we love crispy buttermilk fried chicken or fried chicken tenders, but there’s something about that little nugget shape that’s incredibly fun to eat. Whether you’re 5 or 85, this meal always tastes delicious!

Are chicken nuggets made of real chicken?

When you make a chicken nuggets recipe at home, you can control all of the ingredients that go into your dish. While nuggets from a fast food restaurant may contain more fat and filler than actual meat, these easy homemade chicken nuggets are made with 100% boneless, skinless white meat chicken.

You can use 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 2 lbs. of chicken tenderloins (the tender muscle located underneath each of the chicken breasts). Either way, you’ll need to dice the chicken into nugget shapes. I find that the tenderloins are quickest and easiest to work with because they’re already in strips, so you can just use a knife or kitchen shears to simply snip them crosswise into smaller pieces.

Side shot of a plate of fried chicken nuggets on a plate with pickles in the background

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make homemade chicken nuggets. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Chicken: dice boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins into pieces with a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
  • Eggs and buttermilk: form the wet batter that helps the breadcrumbs adhere to the meat.
  • All-purpose flour, baking soda, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper: this simple seasoned flour coats the chicken nuggets before they’re dipped in the buttermilk mixture. The flour adds flavor to the meat and helps the buttermilk adhere to the chicken. The baking soda is important because it raises the pH level of the chicken, breaking down the peptide bonds and jumpstarting the browning process so that the nuggets get even crispier!
  • Panko breadcrumbs: a Japanese-style breadcrumb made from white bread without the crusts. The lighter, airier Panko breadcrumbs absorb less grease and stay crispier for longer than a traditional breadcrumb. These days you can find Panko breadcrumbs in just about any grocery store.
  • Oil: for frying. I recommend either peanut oil or vegetable oil.
Overhead shot of ingredients for homemade chicken nuggets recipe

What does buttermilk do for fried chicken?

I always use buttermilk for my fried chicken because it adds flavor, it tenderizes the meat, and it keeps the chicken juicy. It also provides an acidic element that reacts with the baking soda in the seasoned flour to help brown and crisp the nuggets. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own buttermilk by placing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup and adding enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes.

Process shot showing how to make the best chicken nuggets recipe at home

How to Make Easy Homemade Chicken Nuggets

This easy fried chicken nuggets recipe only requires a few minutes of prep and a few minutes in the skillet!

  1. Coat the chicken pieces in seasoned flour.
  2. Dip the chicken in a mixture of buttermilk and egg.
  3. Dredge in Panko breadcrumbs.
  4. Let the chicken rest on a wire rack while you heat the oil to 350°F.
  5. Working in batches, fry the chicken nuggets until they’re a deep golden brown, about 2-3 minutes total, flipping halfway through.
  6. Transfer the fried nuggets to a paper towel-lined plate and season with additional salt while they’re still warm.
  7. Repeat frying the remaining chicken nuggets.
Process shot showing how to make homemade chicken nuggets

How to Keep the Chicken Nuggets Warm While Frying Remaining Batches

Once the cooked chicken nuggets drain on paper towels, transfer them to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in a 200°F oven to keep them warm while you continue frying the remaining batches.

Horizontal shot of a plate of the best chicken nuggets on a wooden table

What to Serve with Fried Chicken Nuggets

Here are a few easy sides that go well with the delicious chicken nuggets:

Don’t forget a simple side of bread and butter pickles, ketchup and honey mustard dipping sauce!

Overhead shot of homemade chicken nuggets on a white plate with dip

Storage

Fried chicken nuggets are best when they’re warm, fresh and crispy. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days; however, they will not be quite as crispy when reheated. The cooked chicken nuggets can also be frozen for up to 3 months. You do not need to defrost them before reheating.

How to Reheat Chicken Nuggets

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, place the nuggets on a baking sheet. Next, reheat the chicken nuggets until the breading feels hot and very crispy, about 10 minutes for room temperature chicken nuggets or 15-20 minutes for frozen chicken nuggets (flip halfway through).

Copycat Chik Fil A Chicken Nuggets

The kids’ first reaction when tasting these homemade chicken nuggets was, “they taste like Chik Fil A!” I consider that high praise, since Chik Fil A sells their favorite fast-food nuggets. That said, if you really want to make these taste even more like Chik Fil A’s unique chicken nuggets, the secret is a pickle juice brine. Simply swap out the buttermilk and use ½ cup of dill pickle juice and ¼ cup milk.

Overhead horizontal shot of two plates of the best fried chicken nugget recipe

Nutrition

It’s difficult to calculate the exact nutrition facts for homemade fried chicken nuggets because the amount of oil absorbed in each piece will vary, and the amount of breading that adheres to each piece will vary. The nutrition provided below is merely an estimate; the numbers assume that about ½ cup of oil is absorbed by the chicken in the cooking process.

Recipe Variations

  • Baked Chicken Nuggets: Place the breaded chicken nuggets on a wire rack set on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Spritz the nuggets with oil or cooking spray (to help them brown). Bake at 400° F for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Spicy Chicken Nuggets: Add hot sauce to the buttermilk mixture and a dash (or more) of cayenne to the seasoned flour.
  • Regular breadcrumbs: Substitute regular breadcrumbs or even seasoned breadcrumbs for the plain Panko breadcrumbs. The texture won’t be quite as crispy on the outside, but they’ll still be good!
  • Deep fry: If you have a deep fryer, heat the oil to 350°F and deep fry the chicken nuggets for a total of about 3-4 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
  • Chicken Tenders: Instead of cutting the chicken into nugget shapes, use whole chicken tenderloins. Follow the same preparation, but cook the tenders for about 3-4 minutes per side.
Side shot of a plate of fried chicken nuggets on a plate with honey mustard and ketchup

Tips for the Best Homemade Chicken Nuggets Recipe

  • I prefer to add the seasoning to the flour in order to season the chicken. Then, as soon as the nuggets come out of the oil, season them with a little bit more salt while they’re still warm so that it adheres to the crispy coating.
  • Give the breaded chicken time to rest (dry) for a few minutes while the oil heats. This will help the breading adhere to the meat when it cooks.
  • Use either peanut oil or vegetable oil to fry the chicken nuggets. I typically use peanut oil because it’s affordable, it has a high smoke point, and it will not flavor your meat.
  • I like to use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure that the oil reaches and stays at a consistent temperature of 350° F. If you don’t have a thermometer, no problem! Instead, when the oil is hot (but not smoking), add a drop of water to the pan — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough for the chicken. You want to maintain a fairly steady temperature as the chicken cooks, so don’t overcrowd the pan with too many pieces at once (which will bring down the temperature).
  • To ensure crispy chicken nuggets, keep the temperature of your oil at a steady 350° F. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb the oil and have a soggy texture when done.
  • Never cover your warm fried chicken nuggets with foil. This traps steam and moisture, which will make the nuggets soggy.
Overhead shot of the best chicken nuggets recipe served on a red and white plate with honey mustard for dipping

More Fried Chicken Recipes to Try

Close overhead shot of a plate of homemade chicken nuggets on a wooden table.

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings 6 people (about 40 nuggets total)
Calories 76 kcal
Crispy and golden brown, these easy homemade Chicken Nuggets are a simple, family-friendly meal!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 cups peanut or vegetable oil

Instructions

  • In a large Ziploc bag or bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
  • Place Panko breadcrumbs in a separate shallow bowl.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the bag with the seasoned flour. Seal and toss to coat each piece in the seasoned flour.
  • Working in batches, dip the chicken pieces in the egg mixture and then dredge in the breadcrumbs. Let the chicken rest on a wire rack for a few minutes while you heat the oil.
  • In a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil to 350° F. Working in batches, fry chicken until deep golden brown, about 2-3 minutes total (flipping halfway through). Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray and sprinkle with a little more salt.
  • Keep the chicken nuggets warm in a 200° F oven while you finish frying the remaining pieces.

Notes

  • I prefer to add the seasoning to the flour in order to season the chicken. Then, as soon as the nuggets come out of the oil, season them with a little bit more salt while they’re still warm so that it adheres to the crispy coating.
  • Give the breaded chicken time to rest (dry) for a few minutes while the oil heats. This will help the breading adhere to the meat when it cooks.
  • Use either peanut oil or vegetable oil to fry the chicken nuggets. I typically use peanut oil because it’s affordable, it has a high smoke point, and it will not flavor your meat.
  • I like to use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure that the oil reaches and stays at a consistent temperature of 350° F. If you don’t have a thermometer, no problem! Instead, when the oil is hot (but not smoking), add a drop of water to the pan — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough for the chicken. You want to maintain a fairly steady temperature as the chicken cooks, so don’t overcrowd the pan with too many pieces at once (which will bring down the temperature).
  • To ensure crispy chicken nuggets, keep the temperature of your oil at a steady 350° F. That’s why you don’t want to overcrowd the pan by trying to cook too many nuggets at once. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb the oil and have a soggy texture when done.
  • Never cover your warm fried chicken nuggets with foil. This traps steam and moisture, which will make the nuggets soggy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1chicken nuggetCalories: 76kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 6gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 105mgPotassium: 99mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 15IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: fried chicken nuggets, homemade chicken nuggets
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

    1. Hi, Gabi! They should be fine! I’ve refrigerated them and then reheated them without issue — they weren’t even soggy. I would let the nuggets cool completely, and then store in an airtight container. Reheat directly from frozen at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, or just until warmed through. Hope your little ones approve!