Chicken Nuggets: Us vs. Them

by kimgerber on 05/21/2010

Print Friendly

I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t require chicken nuggets as a part of their diet.  That being said, I opted to make chicken nuggets the flagship recipe for Out of the Box Food.  As a mom, I’ve fallen prey to claims of “all white-meat chicken” and “whole grain” on boxes of cute dinosaur or mouse shaped chicken nuggets.  But it’s what lies beneath those items on the ingredient list that are harmful to our children. In a very short amount of time you can prepare comparable nuggets both in taste and consistency.  After baking them, they can then be easily frozen for those quick weeknight dinner or school lunch box needs.





(All ingredients followed by an * can be referenced at by clicking on the ingredient)


Okay, easy? Sure.  Recognizable ingredients?  Are you kidding?  Healthy?  Debatable.   Sure they’re cute, but do you want to feed them to your child?  Read on….


Out of the Box FoodSM Healthy Chicken Nuggets

SERVES: Makes 25-30 nuggets

TIME: Prep 20 min
Cook 25 min

SUPPLIES:  Food processor, broiler pan (or cookie sheet and rack)


  • 2 lbs organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Step 1 (8 minutes)

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Cut chicken into large pieces.
  • Place chicken pieces in food processor and pulse until ground fine.
  • Transfer chicken to large bowl and mix in sea salt, garlic powder, parsley flakes, onion powder and pepper.

Step 2 (12 minutes)j

  • Coat broiler pan with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil
  • Mix flours and paprika onto plate.  In separate bowl/plate, beat eggs.
  • Roll chicken into small golf ball sized balls (approximately 25-30 balls)
  • Roll each ball into flour, then egg, then flour.
  • Press each ball into rectangular “nugget” shape (or using cookie cutter cut into shape of choice)
  • Place nugget on broiler pan.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the nuggets. (nugget does not need to be completely coated)

Step 3 (25 min)

  • Bake nuggets for 15 minutes.  Turn nuggets over, drizzle other side with olive oil, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until browned.

Total Time: 45 minutes

To Freeze:

  • Let nuggets come to room temperature, then place in plastic freezer bag and freeze.
  • Nuggets can remain in freezer for up to 3 months.

To Reheat:

  • Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake nuggets for 15 minutes.

Okay, easy? Check.  Recognizable ingredients?  Check.  Healthy?  Check, check!  We’ve explored what actually needs to be in a chicken nugget and we’ve seen what the national consumer brands actually have in them.  The goal of Out of the Box Food is to encourage parents to question the ingredients in our children’s food.  Do we recognize the ingredients.  Are they man-made or natural?  If you can’t pronounce it, question it!





© 2010 – 2011, kimgerber. All rights reserved.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda December 21, 2012 at 8:34 am

Try Dr. Praeger’s Brocolli Nuggets, Potato Nuggets or Sweet Potato Nuggets if you want a better veggie nugget option. I found them at Whole Foods in the Freezer Section. My 20 month old loves them!


Kylee August 30, 2012 at 9:20 am

Can this be done vegetarian? Any tips? My little one loves her veggie nuggets, but I don’t “love” the ingredients and processing…


kimgerber August 30, 2012 at 9:28 am

I’m going to throw this question out to our Vegetarian readers…anyone have some insight for Kylee?


Alicia February 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

I wonder if you can use ground chicken instead? Any ideas?


kimgerber February 23, 2012 at 10:39 am

Hi Alicia,
The consistency would be different – I think it would yield a more “burger-like” texture. When you use the food processor it makes almost like a thick paste (I know, not very visually appealing) which is different the ground meat would be. That being said, if you give it a try let me know how they turn out!


Thea January 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I made this for my girls for dinner tonight. My 4 year old, the picky one, loved it. I dd fib a little and tell her it was from the frozen food section. I did stars and heart shaped min cookie cutters. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but pretty messy. I did over bake them, but they were still good. Next time, I plan to add some butternut squash puree to the eggs. By the way, I did have to use a 3rd egg. I am sure you could do it with 2 eggs, but I was rushing because I was little short on time and I wasn’t very careful with eggs. By the way, I have another recipe I use where I don’t puree the chicken. With that recipe I use a light ranch dressing for my girls to dip veggies and nuggets. With this Out-of-the-box recipe, my daughter said it tasted good without the ranch. Thanks so much, I had been considering buying the frozen dinosaurs. So glad you saved me from serving it and giving my kids a meal I can feel good about!


Christine July 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Thanks for the recipe. My kids love nuggets, and they are a quick and convenient way to “throw” something on a plate when lunch is running late and kids are starving. Did not know you could freeze homemade ones. I must try these! One question. Think they could be microwaved to heat? I know, I know, microwave not the best to use, but sometimes better than the alternative you are giving them to eat if they are losing it due to hunger.


Amanda June 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

Since these nuggets can be used in a school lunch box, I would like to know how to pack them? Obviously, a child cannot re-heat them in an oven at school… I keep seeing all these “substitutes” for lunchables, but they all need to be heated! The point of a lunchable is that it be tossed in a lunch box and be eaten cold, so I am getting a little frustrated. Please advise.

P.S. Thank you so much for posting a healthier version of a nugget.


kimgerber June 29, 2011 at 10:58 am

Hi Amanda,
I pack my kids hot food in a Kids Konserve Insulated Food Jar which keeps these nuggets warm until lunch! I just pour boiling water in it while I heat up the nuggets then pour out the water, pop in the hot nuggets and pack the container in their lunch box. There are other brands as well, but that’s the one I use. Hope that helps!


Merry120 August 27, 2010 at 9:10 pm

My biggest issue with boxed chicken nuggets (other than the weird ingredients) is the texture. I like my chicken to taste & feel like chicken. So we make chicken fingers from breast tenders (thin slices of breast meat) dipped in egg or water and then dredged in panko crumbs. Evan loves them and calls them crunchy chicken.


kimgerber August 28, 2010 at 5:02 am

I personally couldn’t agree with you more. I think some children are introduced to nuggets early on and stick with them, but chicken tenders are a great next step on the way to real, whole chicken! I’d love to share your Crunchy Chicken recipe with Out of the Box Food readers. If you’d like to share please go to the Readers Recipes tab to submit your recipe, or go to:
Thank you for visiting Out of the Box Food!


Hayley August 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm

My kids haven’t had nuggets…but your alternative looks yummo!


kimgerber August 28, 2010 at 5:06 am

Thank you, Hayley. If you’ve managed to avoid nuggets so far, you may want to continue down that great path and skip the nuggets altogether! Take a look at our Chicken Tender recipe and feel free to share any of your great kid’s chicken recipes on our Readers Recipes tab or by going to:
Thanks for visiting Out of the Box Food!


Ms. Whiteplates August 27, 2010 at 5:04 pm

This is such an awesome comparison! I just picked up two whole chickens to turn into magical lunches for my daughter who starts school in a matter of days… not that I’m freaked out at all.


kimgerber August 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Thanks for the feedback! Hope you’ll stick with us and continue the conversation about fresh alternatives!


Scatteredmom August 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

Oh I love the comparison-and that you have a recipe to try! I often challenged myself to come up with healthier alternatives when Jake was wanting a processed food that I didn’t want to buy.

Great idea! 🙂


kimgerber August 27, 2010 at 5:20 pm

So glad you find it helpful! Hope you’ll stick with us and keep the conversation going.


CNA Salary August 20, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Valuable info. Lucky me I found your site by accident, I bookmarked it.


kimgerber August 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Glad you found us!


Heidi Banks June 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm


This is awesome! YOU’re awesome! I’m looking forward to more recipes!

xo, Heidi & the Banks Boys


kimgerber August 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Thanks for your support!


Leave a Comment


{ 1 trackback }

Next post: