Crunchy, juicy, and seasoned to perfection, these chicken nuggets are so good, your kids will stop craving the store-bought stuff! This post shares the only healthy chicken nugget recipe you’ll ever need. Plus, tips to make them clean and kid-approved.
Chicken nuggets have easily gotten a bad rep over the years. Unsurprisingly so, because they’re laden with things you’ll want to stay clear of on a healthy diet.
They’re oily, fatty, salty, and filled with questionable stuff…
But kids love them, we love them, and clean eating isn’t about taking the fun away from food.
As parents who love their child, I’m sure you want to provide:
- Snacks your kids will love
- Meals packed with nourishing ingredients
- Dishes that your kids will enjoy
So how do we make this classic kiddie staple healthy? This post shares my healthy chicken nugget recipe. It keeps all of the golden crispy awesomeness of traditional nuggets sans the bad stuff.
Freeze them for later on or serve them hot off the oven.
Are Chicken Nuggets Very Unhealthy?
Yes, typical fast food and store-bought chicken nuggets are usually very unhealthy. They’re one of the most highly processed foods you can give your kid. Here’s why.
Traditional chicken nuggets are usually made with:
- Lots of saturated fat
- Excess sodium
- Lots of fillers (compared to real meat)
- Heavy breading and batter
- Artificial coloring and preservatives
Apart from all that, they’re fried in hydrogenated oils (containing high amounts of sugar and more fat)! This makes them devoid of nutrients and loaded with calories.
So, they probably shouldn’t be in any freezer committed to a healthy meal plan. UNLESS that is, you are making this healthy version of chicken nuggets.
Can Frozen Chicken Nuggets Be Healthy?
Yes, frozen chicken nuggets can be healthy, especially if you make them yourself. This is the best way to ensure you know exactly what goes into them.
In this recipe, I’ve made these chicken nuggets clean-approved by:
- Replacing the typical heavy batter with almond flour coating (this adds healthy fats and fiber)
- Using REAL chicken thighs or chicken tenders (instead of buying store-bought or fast-food nuggets that are low in protein, nutrients and may contain more fillers than actual chicken)
- Baking them instead of deep-frying them (for less oil, unhealthy fats, and calories)
- Using healthy spices and seasoning for awesome color and flavor (instead of artificial coloring and preservatives)
Read on further below for tips on properly freezing them if you want to make these chicken nuggets in advance.
Does Eating Chicken Nuggets Make You Fat?
Generally, traditional chicken nuggets can cause weight gain if eaten without moderation. They contain many unhealthy fillers, preservatives, fats, and oils that rack up in calories (especially when fried). They also have lots of sodium, which can cause you to bloat.
A 6-piece chicken nugget meal from McDonald's contains a whopping 270 calories! And that's not even a full meal, right?
The truth is, anything consumed in excess can tip the scale. The key to losing or maintaining your weight is proper portioning, eating healthy, and preferably working out or getting your daily steps in.
What Are In These Healthy Chicken Nuggets?
I've replaced the traditional heavy batter with almond flour and flavorful spices. And we say goodbye to the fillers, empty carbs, excess sodium, preservatives, and artificial coloring!
Simple and accessible ingredients make these healthy chicken nuggets a winner.
Here's what you'll need:
- Chicken tenders (or chicken breasts): The best thing about making your own healthy chicken nuggets is that you know it's the REAL DEAL: no fillers and highly processed fluff — just juicy, tender chicken.
- Eggs (large): This will help your beautiful almond flour coating stick to your chicken.
- Almond flour: One of my fave healthy flour substitutes! It's packed with more nutrients than white flour (which has all the good stuff stripped away).
- Garlic powder: The fine texture meshes well with your almond flour coating and tastes excellent.
- Paprika: This adds beautiful golden color to your nuggets. Plus flavor, Vitamin A, capsaicin, and antioxidants.
- Ground black pepper: For proper seasoning, of course. And more antioxidants!
- Cayenne pepper: This adds just the right amount of kick without it being spicy for your kiddos.
- Salt: We're cooking healthy, not bland! So just add as needed.
- Olive oil spray: This will help your coating brown more.
Don't forget to pair your healthy nuggets with my super easy Clean Honey Mustard Sauce!
Or my Homemade Ketchup Without Sugar, perhaps?
Can I Eat These Healthy Chicken Nuggets And Lose Weight?
Absolutely! We’ve taken out the artificial ingredients, excess sodium, sugar, and oils that are usually linked to weight gain… So these healthy chicken nuggets are lower in calories and higher in protein and nutrients that fit a clean diet.
Make sure to eat them in moderation with proper portioning, and a balanced diet. If you’re looking to lose weight, check out this post for tips on sustainable habits.
How To Make These Healthy Chicken Nuggets?
It’s shockingly easy to make these healthy chicken nuggets. I’ve chosen to bake them to rid the recipe of excess fat, oil, and calories.
Simple steps and ingredients make these chicken nuggets a guaranteed family favorite:
- Preheat your oven to 425F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with olive oil spray.
- Pat the chicken dry and cut them in 1 ½ inch chunks then, season with salt and pepper.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk together with 1 tablespoon of water—season with salt.
- Combine the almond flour, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and pepper in a wide bowl or plate—season with salt.
- Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, and let the excess drip off. Next, coat them in the almond flour mixture and shake off the excess.
- Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and spray the top of the chicken with olive oil spray.
- Bake your chicken on the center rack of the oven for 18-22 minutes or until fully cooked, flipping halfway through.
This recipe shares a similar process to my Salmon Fish Sticks! (Which the kids, Dustin, and I also LOVE, btw.)
How To Store?
To properly store your healthy chicken nuggets in the fridge, place them inside an airtight container and make sure they’ve cooled down to room temp. Then, transfer it to the fridge. When you’re ready to reheat them, pop them in the oven until they’re heated through. Baked chicken nuggets should last for up to 4 days in the fridge.
Want to make them in advance? To freeze your nuggets for baking later on, arrange them on a baking sheet and place them into the freezer for 1-2 hours to fully harden. Then, place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Frozen chicken nuggets can be stored for up to 1 month for best quality.
More Healthy Recipes For Kids
Whether it’s for their lunchbox, weeknight dinner, or sleepover, these recipes are sure to put a smile on your kid’s face. Check out these healthy recipes that can be enjoyed with the whole fam:
- Grilled Chicken Wings With Yogurt Ranch Dip
- Healthy Homemade Popcorn Recipe
- Baja Fish Tacos (Remove or reduce spiciness)
- Chicken Tacos (Remove or reduce spiciness)
- How To Make Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix (That Your Kids Will Love!)
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