Sometimes I look back fondly on the days when Meghan was a toddler. You know, before evening activities. Dinner was so much easier back then. Now there’s these activities that steal my time in the kitchen, forcing me to either be uber organized and on top of my game or cut corners somewhere.
I remember clearly the first time I was not uber organized and not on top of my game at all. The activity was over, it was already later than our normal dinner time, and I wasn’t sure what we were having. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the activity and I snatched up a box of Applegate Farm organic chicken strips. The ingredients were better than most others you’d find in a box of chicken nuggets, so I figured it wasn’t that terrible of a choice. At least I didn’t bring them to McDonald’s, right?
One stinkin’ box was $8.00 and not quite enough to satisfy my hungry husband, but it got the job done. Despite the price, the convenience factor was strong. Every once in a while I found myself picking up a box to have on hand, just in case I had another n0t-quite-prepared night.
One of those times Meghan took a bite of her chicken strip and declared, “It’s too spicy!” Seriously, kid? I checked out the ingredient list again, and sure enough, cayenne pepper. I didn’t taste a bit of spice, but apparently after having the strips half a dozen times, Meghan noticed it and they became too spicy.
Cross that easy option off the list.
I’d tried a number of different homemade baked chicken strips and homemade chicken nugget recipes, but never had much luck with the kids liking them. I finally had an ah-ha moment and realized it was because I was using whole, cut-up chicken breasts to make them. The kind you buy in the store are soft. I needed to use soft chicken! Duh!
So instead of using whole, cut up chicken breasts for these homemade baked chicken nuggets, I decided to try using ground chicken. Bingo! It worked perfectly. They are soft like the store-bought kind, lightly seasoned so they aren’t bland, but not spicy for my kids with sensitive palates.
These are also super easy to make. It’s basically two ingredients with a few spices. It doesn’t get any easier! This recipe makes a huge batch of nuggets. If you don’t need so many for one dinner, just freeze half. Freeze them on a tray, uncooked, and then once they are frozen transfer them to a freezer-safe container and add a few minutes to the baking time when you are ready to make them.
Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets
Makes about 40 nuggets
2 pounds ground chicken
2 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs, divided
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by either oiling them, or lining them with parchment paper or a nonstick mat.
In a large bowl, mix together the ground chicken, 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and thyme. Use your hands and make sure everything is well combined.
Place the remaining bread crumbs ( 1 1/2 cups) in a separate bowl.
Form the chicken mixture into nuggets shapes, roll the nuggets in the bowl of breadcrumbs to evenly coat them on all sides. Place the nuggets on the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, flipping the nuggets half way through the cooking time. Enjoy!