Homemade chicken nuggets are something we can all celebrate! Crispy, juicy and packed with flavor, these Paleo and whole30 approved nuggets will be a crowd-pleaser for kids – and adults who like to act like them!
Chicken nuggets are universal. Who doesn’t love them? Full of nostalgia for adults, and tasty morsels that even the pickiest of kids will wolf down, it’s no surprise that they are popular on both menus and in homes around the country. But their ingredient list leaves a lot to be desired. Well aren’t we lucky thenthat my recipe for Paleo fried chicken adapts so perfectly into homemade chicken nuggets that would fool any gluten eater into thinking they came straight from the Chick-fil-a drive through? Yes, yes we are.
It’s back to school, or, as we people without kids like to call it, September, so I thought this would be a fun recipe to share for folks who are back to that weeknight dinner chaos that characterizes much of the year. These homemade chicken nuggets deliver on flavor and texture despite being pretty darn easy to whip together!
A quick spice blend gets sprinkled over nugget sized chunks of chicken breast, and left to marinate overnight, or as long as you have (this recipe isn’t fussy!). A coconut milk, egg and apple cider vinegar wash perfectly replicates buttermilk. Once dunked in this mixture, a grain and gluten free breading mixture gets applied and then the nuggets are fried in some avocado oil, which tolerates high heat and makes it a great option for frying.
I have to toot my own horn about the breading mix used here. Many other nuggets I’ve tried are dry, almond flour-heavy, and just not realistic in taste, texture or appearance. This really truly nails the nugget experience. The keys are several Bob’s Red Mill flours: Paleo baking flour, arrowroot starch, and tapioca flour. It’s a magical combination that makes this taste like the real deal and I can’t wait for you to try it.
These are excellent as a fun weeknight dinner, and hold together pretty well for lunch the next day (although not as crisp, unless you reheat in a toaster oven). I like to dunk them in ketchup and ranch, but you can dip, dunk and drizzle them in whatever your heart desires!
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These homemade chicken nuggets will match any fast food ones for flavor, but knock it out of the park when it comes to clean ingredients!
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Paleo flour
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- ¼ cup arrowroot starch
- 1 cup of avocado oil (or enough to coat the bottom of the skillet to a depth of about 1/2 inch)
- Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces and place in a medium large bowl
- In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- Sprinkle chicken with spice rub, taking care to coat each piece evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or as long as you have
- Take the chicken out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to start frying it (again, if you have time. Cold chicken will drop the temp of your frying oil, so this step is worth it if you can)
- Pour enough avocado oil into the bottom of a cast iron skillet or dutch oven so it’s 1/2 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium high until it’s 350 degrees (this usually takes me at least 10 minutes on my stove, just FYI!). I use a regular meat thermometer to periodically test the oil temperature. I don’t have a fancy candy/deep fry thermometer
- While the oil is heating, whisk the coconut milk, apple cider vinegar and egg in a large bowl
- Mix the Paleo flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot, and remaining salt and pepper in a shallow baking dish
- Set your chicken up next to the stove top (breading mix closest to the stove, eggs in the middle and raw chicken furthest away
- Once the oil is hot, dip chicken piece by piece into the coconut milk mixture then the breading mixture, using one hand for wet ingredients and one hand for dry. Make sure and coat the chicken well in the flour mixture
- Add the breaded chicken to the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. You want the oil temperature to stay around 325 so that the chicken fries well and doesn’t become greasy. It will probably take three batches to cook all of the chicken, depending on your skillet size
- Flip the chicken after 3-4 minutes, allowing to brown well. Cook another 3-4 minutes until nugget is well browned, and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 (I usually test one when it looks like it’s done aka perfectly nugget colored, and then use that as a proxy for others going forward, but make sure and practice good food safety!)
- Remove cooked chicken and place on a paper-towel lined wire rack set over a baking sheet to cool and drain
- Enjoy immediately!
- If you don’t have or want to buy Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Flour (though I highly recommend you do!), you can swap it for a cup of cassava flour.
- I find the chicken takes 8-10 minutes per piece to be done.
- Add more avocado oil and bring back up to temperature if you need to in order to maintain an oil depth of 1/2 inch.
- Chicken reheats well in a 350 degree oven and crisps back up pretty well if you have leftovers.
Keywords: chicken nuggets, paleo, whole30, popcorn chicken, gluten free