Gluten-Free Homemade Chicken Nuggets Recipe
Kid-friendly and gluten free homemade chicken nuggets that are crispy, healthy, and easy to make. No breadcrumbs and no unhealthy oils.
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Chicken nuggets are one of those toddler staple foods. But *I* also happen to love them! I use my kids as an excuse to eat chicken nuggets. It’s totally fine. We’re all happy.
Even though I enjoy chicken nuggets, I honestly can’t eat real chicken nuggets (or should I say, not real chicken nuggets?). Chicken nuggets from good old McDonald’s are coated in glutenous flour and fried in…well…only the Lord knows what.
Just thinking about it makes my stomach hurt.
When you make homemade chicken nuggets, you know EXACTLY what’s in them. And then they can actually be a relatively healthy food. That sentence makes me very excited.
Healthy chicken nuggets.
Baked chicken nuggets versus fried chicken nuggets?
I’ve tried simply baking chicken nuggets at a high heat, but they were missing that fried coating that is just key to making them taste like a legit chicken nuggets.
I’ve tried just frying them, but it was hard to get the chicken cooked through without the outside burning. And I’m paranoid about under cooked chicken.
How about a little bit of both? A little frying, a little baking. But done in one pan, so there isn’t one extra thing to wash here.
I’ve landed on pan frying these homemade chicken nuggets and then baking them in the oven for the perfect crispiness.
…without all of the added frying oil.
It’s really not so much the frying that bothers me as it is the wasted oil when frying. Especially because you’ll want to use a good quality oil (like this one). When you use good oil, you get the added benefits of eating that oil.
A note on oil
Using the right oil is important when cooking at high temperatures.
Oils can break down and become very unhealthy when thy reach certain heat levels. Even extra virgin olive oil, which is considered a healthy oil, loses many of its benefits when heated over 325 F. It also starts to get a funky flavor.
A great oil to use for pan frying is coconut oil.
I’m not a huge fan of my chicken nuggets tasting like coconut, so I use refined coconut oil for this. You really can’t taste the coconut at all.
There’s some debate about unrefined versus refined coconut oil benefits, but from my research I’m very comfortable using both.
Refined coconut oil also has a higher smoke point, which means it doesn’t start to break down until it hits a pretty high temperature (400 F).
Another great option is avocado oil. It also has a high smoke point, but has benefits to eating it (it’s low in saturated fats, and can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure).
How to make chicken nuggets without breadcrumbs
You’re going to be doing a very familiar chicken-breading system.
You coat the chicken pieces in egg and then toss them in a flour blend.
Related post: How to Make Your Own Gluten Free Flour Blend
The best way to do this, is to put the flour mixture on a very large plate or pan, with the flour mixture off to one side and plenty of room on the other.
That way you can flour the chicken pieces individually and put them off to the side until you’re ready to cook them all at once.
Doing this will actually save time and cuts down on hand washing since I get the big messy part over with at once
If you’re already eating a gluten-free diet and make your own flour blend, then you probably have everything you need on hand…so let’s get started!
- 1 lb chicken breast or thigh, boneless & skinless, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 egg
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F
- Melt 1/4 cup oil in a large cast iron pan on medium-high heat
- In a shallow bowl, beat egg and set aside
- On a large pan or plate, mix together all of the dry ingredients and place off to one side
- Coat chicken pieces in egg and allow excess to drip off
- Fully coat the egg-washed chicken in the flour mixture and place in a pile off to the side of plate. Continue until all of the chicken is coated
- Add the breaded chicken to the hot pan, leaving a gap between each piece
- Allow to cook for about 2 minutes until they start to brown and get crispy. Turn pieces over with a pair of tongs and pan-fry for another 2 minutes
- Move cast iron pan into oven and allow to cook for 10 minutes, or until the insides reach 165 degrees F (this is my favorite meat thermometer). If you don't have a pan that can go into the oven, you can pan-fry the chicken and then place on a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper to keep them from sticking
- Once chicken is done, use tongs to place chicken nuggets on a cloth to drain and cool slightly before devouring