Chicken Nuggets

healthy chicken nugget recipeIf you are like me, getting my children to eat and try new foods is nothing short of a miracle on a nightly basis. But, I don’t “whike” it. It is “wucky”. It is too hard to chew (my personal favorite). I often think to myself, why do I bother? But I do bother. Because I know that it is important.

A long, long time ago I made a decision. I was going to feed my family the freshest and healthiest foods possible. I was willing to make sacrifices to be able to afford to do this. I would drive long distances to find the products that I was after. We were going to eat together as a family. Every night. I was going to make as many of the foods that we ate from scratch as possible.

Did I do it? Well, yes and no. I remember the days when I had to travel to a grocery store an hour away to buy organic milk. I now buy my organic milk at Costco. I remember making my baby’s baby food from organic fruits and vegetables and lovingly putting the purees into cute little ice cube trays (that were probably laden with BPA) and being so happy that I was giving my child something that I made instead of Gerber. I remember making my son scrambled eggs and oatmeal every morning for breakfast and being so happy that he ate a healthy meal that I put in front of him. Now, I am happy with a Nutragrain frozen waffle. Do we eat as a family ever night? Yeah, but sometimes it is at the taqueria down the road. As my family grows, I have learned that sometimes you just have to give a little.

So now I have a few new rules.

1. I do try to buy the best ingredients. I buy organic milk and yogurt, and cheese. I try to only buy organic local chicken and grass fed beef. I pick and choose on which organic fruits and vegetables that I buy. I try to buy local. I don’t buy things with high fructose corn syrup (occasionally I will use corn syrup in a recipe, but it is under my control) if I can help it. I try not to buy overly processed foods. I spend a CRAZY amount of money on food. I get a lot of slack for my food spending habits (although a huge triumph is that my husband is now 100% on board with me) and that is okay. To each his own. It is important to me. No judgments either. If you feed your children regular milk, great! I don’t judge. Really, I don’t.

2. My kids are given one meal at dinner time. If they do not want to eat it, that is fine, but they do not get something else. I used to give them a yogurt or something like that and after awhile, they stopped even trying what I cooked. The boys will usually eat it, but my daughter will not. Many days she eats one big meal a day. I had a heart to heart with her pediatrician about it and he agreed with me. “Don’t make food a battle”, he told me. So I don’t.

3. There is no such thing as “kid food”in our house. Obviously, by this post, I make things that kids like, I am no ogre. But for the most part, we eat all kinds of different things. Curry, salads, roast chicken, pasta, you name it. I do not believe that children are to be raised on a steady rotation of pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and grilled cheese. If we do not expose them to healthy and nutritious foods, how can we expect them to eat it? I am human, my children have had hot dogs for dinner and Papa Johns, but I try to give them a varied and broadened idea of the foods that are out there.

4. In order for children to have to try new foods and eat healthy, so do I. I used to be a pretty picky eater. I was definitely on the “beige diet”. I have grown out of my picky eating habits and now look forward to trying new things. I make an effort to show my children that when snack time rolls around, mommy will pick an apple versus the cookie. Although if I am being perfectly honest, I will eat the cookies, but only when they are in bed. Shh.. don’t blow my cover.

Are you tired of my preaching? Thank you if you have gotten this far. So sometimes, kids do want things that are stereotypically “kid food”. A few years ago when we were living in Canada, Jamie Oliver had a show called Jamie’s School Dinners. Very similar to the show he has now in America but this was the one set in the UK. Anyway, on it he showed how they make a processed chicken nugget. I have not eaten one since then. Here is a clip. If we do get fast food, it is Chic-fil-a. At least it looks like real chicken.

Part of the problem with trying to make a healthy version of something is that it tastes like cardboard. This is the recipe that I came up with. It is a mixture of a few different recipes. All I know is that my kids will eat and I don’t feel bad that they ate it. Yes, it has some sugar, but I can live with that since it helps with the non-cardboard thing.

healthy chicken nugget recipe4 chicken breasts cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1 cup panko crumbs
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

healthy chicken nugget recipeCut the chicken into small pieces.

Cover the chicken with buttermilk. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight. It helps tenderize the chicken. If you do not want to do this, you can dredge them in flour and egg.

healthy chicken nugget recipePut the other ingredients in a bowl and mix it up.

healthy chicken nuggetsDrain the buttermilk from the chicken and drop into the crumb mixture. Coat well.

healthy chicken nugget recipeI line a cookie sheet with foil and put a cooling rack on top it the foil. I spray the rack with cooking spray. At this point, you can put these in the freezer. Just add an extra 5-10 minutes to the cooking time. Bake the nuggets in a 375 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

healthy chicken nugget recipeEven Clay will eat it!


Oh hey there!

Well, hello there! I’m Bree Hester, the Boston-based blogger and food photographer here at Baked Bree. Here you can get lots of weeknight meal inspiration, eat more plant-based meals, and still indulge in a decadent sweet treat. Baked Bree is a place where you will find great recipes and inspiration for your next family adventure.

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This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. toni

    Bree, only you can make even raw chicken look good!

  2. Angie

    Bree I am just loving your blog! Seriously one of my new faves. So glad to have you on board with us, and loving these chicken nuggets! Will be trying them this week 🙂

    1. bakedbree

      thank you so much! I am happy to be on board.

  3. Heidi Fazio

    I am head over heels in love with the new blog. What a fabulous idea Bree. I am going to follow the posts as I agree with so much of what you are saying and invest a ton of time cooking from scratch for my kids!! I am truly inspired. Funny thing is I am a photographer and was thinking about how I am passionate about eco friendliness so now maybe i should start a new blog?

  4. corey

    Thanks so much for this post! I tried to make tasty, healthy chicken nuggets a few weeks ago. They were healthy, but not tasty. I can’t wait to make these. 🙂

  5. Jen

    I love your new site!! So going to follow you. The images are great, the content fantastic & the NAME. Perfection. Awesome!!!

  6. Jen

    P.S. I LOVE your rules. Love them. Many I follow…or at least try to. Kudos to you for encouraging healthy eating in your home!

  7. aris

    oh my sweet bree, i am SO PROUD of you, your new blog looks great and i’m loving the content so much, mostly because i have no idea what to make for my kids, ever, that’s my everyday struggle….
    i’m a huge fan already…..

    wish you all the luck

    1. bakedbree

      thank you Aris. I appreciate all the the love.

  8. Susie

    Just to clarify (I am an awful cook) do you freeze them before you cook them? Or after?

    I buy the Tyson Natural chicken nuggets and when I read the ingredients it says that they only have bread crumbs, chicken and a couple of other things that didn’t sound bad. (I don’t have the package in front of me). Is there something I am missing? Is there stuff in there that they don’t have to list?

    1. bakedbree

      You can do it either way, but I freeze them before I cook them. Not all chicken nuggets are the same. The ones that I am talking about are the over processed McDonalds kind of chicken nugget. There are some good natural brands out there.

  9. Jennifer Chaney

    Bree! This is fabulous! I love the post and the pictures. I totally agree with the “do what you can” rule. I wish I weren’t such a picky eater… I’d make curry for my kids, too. 🙂

    Are you tweeting your posts? Do you have a fan page yet?

  10. Gretchen Abrams

    Bree, one of my proudest moments was at a Cracker Barrel while on a road trip recently. Audra wanted cereal for breakfast. The waitress listed her options in this order: froot loops, frosted flakes, apple jacks, cheerios, cornflakes. Audra finally says “cornflakes- yay” and the waitress throws her head back and her eyes bulge, she grins and says ” now that’s a first, usually kids order one of the sugar cereals”. She seemed actually proud of this child who was unknown to her. Of course we were beaming as well! But, I think of all the healthy choices we make a home, I would be okay if she ordered “fruity cheerios” , as she calls froot loops. Its really okay to give as long as we know we are doing the best we can most of the time. She has never touched a typical chicken nugget or a hamburger. Why would I make her?

  11. Ashley

    I TOTALLY agree with your philosophy & look forward to trying out this recipe. What I ate as a child and what my friends feed their kids is fine, it’s every parent’s choice. It’s just not how I plan to feed my family on a regular basis. I concede that every American child needs burgers and ice cream sometimes! But, “kid food:” no such thing. I’ve seen little ones your Clay’s size nosh on curries and even sushi rolls.

    Our baby boy arrives in July, our first. I love eating strongly flavored foods (for his benefit, too!) and I can’t wait till he’s big enough to get into the kitchen with!

  12. ultrasound technician

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

  13. Memoria

    These nuggets look so scrumptious! Your little boy is too cute for words! He’s tugging my heart strings haha.

    1. bakedbree

      thanks… it is a good thing that he is cute sometimes. His little face saves him.

  14. Megan

    I made a similar recipe not too long ago and my kids loved it too. Your son is adorable!

    1. bakedbree

      thank you! we think so too.

  15. ErinL

    I will make these over the weekend! Have been wanting to give Vaughn more chicken but get disgusted when I look at a bag of frozen nuggets and wonder how I can put that in his mouth. As you know, we eat out A TON but I am trying to cut it back some…healthier for all of us.

  16. Megan

    I’m totally saving this recipe, Bree, and I love your “rules”. I’m trying to follow something similar for my 13mo old, and I’m still trying to learn. 🙂

  17. Susie


    I have been trying to pay more attention to what is IN food and try to make healthier choices for my daughter.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  18. Dangler

    I love your food mantra, and would love to see much hyped 100 Calorie Pack go away! These nuggets look really good…I am sans child, but I might attempt to make some for myself. Such a strange concept for me to cook.

  19. Andrea

    I made these for my parents, brother, and grandmother and they loved them! They were so good! Thanks so much for the recipe!

    1. bakedbree

      I am glad that they were a hit.

  20. Rebekah

    wow, great recipe,Thanks! 🙂 Where did you find such awesome dishes?

    1. bakedbree

      I think that I got them at Safeway a few summers ago. I know that Pottery Barn Kids used to make something similar. These were like $3 a piece.

  21. Leslie

    Amen sister!! We follow the exact same principles at our home! 2 of my 3 children are great eaters and wanted to take broccoli for snack day. Still working on my youngest but I will never make a separate meal for them and we don’t have “kid” food at our house. Most people think I am crazy, but we stick to that. Nice reading that someone else feels the same!!

    1. bakedbree

      Broccoli for a snack? I am totally jeal.

  22. Brittany

    I’ve never really cared about what I put into my own body as far as organic food goes. Lately I’m becoming more aware and more excited to be healthier and organic. It’s a hard switch especially since my husband is not on board in combination with our tight budget. I’ve mostly been trying to make foods from scratch out of my garden, or staying away from overly processed foods. Do you have any advice to getting husband on board?

    Thanks for all you do on this blog. I’ve learned so much!

    1. bakedbree

      My husband used to think that I was nuts. He did not understand why I spent so much money on food. We watched Food Inc. together and he has never said another word. He also read Omnivores Dilemma and that helped too. Baby steps is the easiest way. Start with maybe dairy and then add. It can be very expensive, but it is worth it to me.

  23. foto księga

    Good day! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform
    are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve
    had problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    1. bakedbree

      I use WordPress. I only recommend wordpress. If hackers are you problem, I would check out sucuri and make sure that your desktop is clean of viruses.

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