Baked Chicken Nuggets

chicken nuggets right after baking
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Chicken nuggets are one of the most universally loved kids’ food. My kids are no exception- look at Munchkin enjoying her nuggets when she just turned four. It feels nostalgic as she’s just started second grade today. With the school starting again, I cooked a batch of chicken nuggets to make my own frozen stash. I also updated my old recipe to make these nuggets even yummier!

young munchkin eating chicken nuggets
munchkin when she was four

Marinate in milk for tender chicken

I like the meat in chicken nuggets to be soft. Fast food chain nuggets likely influenced this preference, but the good news is that there is a way to make tender nuggets using whole chicken- Soak the chicken in cow’s milk for 1 hour or up to overnight. (I found that even 20 minutes of soaking helps when I’m short on time.) This soaking makes the chicken much more tender and eliminates the unpleasant chicken smell. The lactic acid in milk tenderizes the meat, so don’t substitute with plant-based milk.

chicken nuggets in a lunch box

When Munchkin was younger, I cut the chicken into tiny pieces, but oh boy. Coating those tiny pieces of chicken with panko was painful. I would get so frustrated half-way through. So nowadays, I cut into bigger chunks.

toasting panko

How to get golden panko when baking

I like to bake chicken nuggets instead of frying because it’s healthier and saves me time standing behind the stove. To get the baked nuggets to taste like fried nuggets, toast the panko bread crumbs with a little bit of oil in a skillet before coating the nuggets. I also mixed in grated parmesan with the bread crumbs to make them extra yummy, but you can skip the cheese.

chicken nuggets in the freezer bag

How to freeze and reheat chicken nuggets

Making your freezer stash of chicken nuggets is pretty easy! For storing:

  1. Let the nuggets cool down.
  2. Place them on a tray in a single layer and freeze for a couple of hours.
  3. Move the nuggets into an air-tight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

I like to use Zwilling Fresh and Save vacuum sealer to prevent freezer burn.

For reheating, air fry at 350 F for 8~10 minutes. Alternatively, bake at 375 F for 10~15 minutes until hot.

I packed these nuggets on the first day of school this year. Check out this video and make these chicken nuggets with me!

chicken nuggets

You can add thyme or your favorite herb to Panko bread crumbs. If you enjoyed this recipe, I would love to hear from you! Please take a moment to share your experience in the comments.

Also, check out my meatball recipe.

5 from 1 vote

Baked Chicken Nuggets

Make your own frozen stash of chicken nuggets for a convenient lunch or dinner.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 40 nuggets
Author whiteblankspace


  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thigh or breast
  • cow's milk optional
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • cooking oil spray


  1. (optional) In a bowl, add chicken and cover with milk. Let it marinate in the fridge for 1 hour up to overnight. This step is to tenderize the meat.

  2. When ready to bake, pat dry the chicken with paper towels. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over high heat. Add oil and panko bread crumbs. Toast until slightly browned, stirring constantly. When the panko has cooled down, mix in parmesan cheese.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, all-purpose flour, and water. Whisk to combine.
  5. In a separate small bowl, place a cup of the panko-cheese mixture. Using a small bowl makes it easier to get the chicken coated. Save the remainder for when the panko in the bowl gets soggy.

  6. Line a full-size baking sheet with parchment paper. Use two half-size sheets if you don’t have a large baking sheet.
  7. Add the chicken pieces to the egg mixture and toss. Take out one piece at a time, shake off the excess egg mixture, and dip the chicken into the panko mixture. Then, place the nugget in a single layer on the baking sheet. When the panko mixture in the bowl gets soggy, mix in some dry mixture.

  8. Spray oil on top of the nuggets. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

  9. For storing, let the nuggets cool down. Place them on a tray in a single layer and freeze for a couple of hours. Move the nuggets into an air-tight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
  10. For reheating, air fry at 350 F for 8~10 minutes. Alternatively, bake at 375 F for 10~15 minutes until hot.

Recipe Notes

You can omit parmesan cheese to make the nuggets lower in sodium. Add one more cup of panko bread crumbs to the recipe if omitting cheese.

10 Responses

      1. 5 stars
        All 3 kids gave a thumbs up for this chicken nugget recipe! Marinating the chicken in milk made it so tender! Thanks for sharing! This is definitely a keeper! 🙂

        1. I’m so happy that all of your kids enjoyed this recipe. Also, love that you tried marinating in the milk. It makes a difference!

    1. Hi Adriana, I used dairy milk to tenderize the chicken and remove any foul smell.I’m not sure if plant based milk will have the same properties.

    1. Yes, it should work. (I use my oven because my air-fryer basket is pretty small and I can only cook a small batch at a time.) Air fryer cooks food faster than a traditional oven, so I would lower the temperature to 375 F and start checking the doneness around 12~15 minutes mark.

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