Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets

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These healthy baked chicken nuggets are coated in a crispy almond flour breading and baked instead of fried. And you only need 8 ingredients!

I have been a chicken nugget fan for as long as I can remember. I used to think they were the healthy option at fast food restaurants. While they probably are healthier than some options on the menu, they still weren’t that healthy! You went wild for my baked chicken tenders so I decided to create a healthy chicken nugget recipe that rivals Chick-Fil-A nuggets… I actually think mine are better, but you can be the judge.

Plate with baked chicken nuggets and a dipping bowl with homemade Chick-Fil-A sauce.

How to Make the Perfect Baked Chicken Nuggets

I have a secret tip for you. Are you ready? Marinate the chicken breasts in pickle juice. Sounds so weird, right? But many believe that’s exactly what Chick-Fil-A does to really flavor their chicken and it makes sense!

So to make these nuggets, you’ll start by marinating them in pickle juice for 8-12 hours, or overnight. After marinating, discard the pickle juice and make your breading.

In a shallow bowl, mix the almond flour and spices. Crack and whisk the egg in a different shallow bowl. One at a time, take the chicken pieces and dredge them in the egg. Wipe excess egg off and then dip in the almond flour mixture – making sure the entire piece is coated.

Hand placing an almond flour breaded chicken nugget on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Place nuggets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a wire rack that fits on a baking sheet. Using a wire rack will result in crispier nuggets! Cook until golden brown and completely cooked through.

Are Chicken Nuggets Healthy?

Most of the time I wouldn’t consider chicken nuggets to be a healthy food option, but these are! They are made with minimal ingredients and baked instead of fried! Here’s what you need for these healthy chicken nuggets:

  • chicken breasts
  • dill pickle juice
  • beaten egg
  • almond flour
  • spices – garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper

Compared to McDonald’s chicken nuggets (which involve lots of oil, white flour and natural flavors), I’ll take my version any day.

What to Serve With Chicken Nuggets

First things first: SAUCE! You can’t have chicken nuggets without dipping sauce, right?! I love honey mustard sauce, vegan ranch, healthy BBQ sauce or my new fave: healthy Chick-Fil-A sauce.

Fries are an obvious choice to pair with nuggets! My sweet potato fries are fan favorites, but if you’re feeling creative, I highly recommend my turnip fries or jicama fries.

If you’re dealing with a picky eater, this is the perfect example of how healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring. Chicken nuggets and vegetable fries for dinner? Kids love this meal! You can also pair nuggets with protein-packed healthy mac and cheese or vegan mac and cheese.

Of course, if you want to go the extra healthy route you could pair the nuggets with a green veggie side like roasted brussels sprouts or green beans or serve the nuggets over a salad.

A plate piled with healthy baked chicken nuggets and honey mustard sauce.

More Healthy Chicken Recipes to Try

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4.07 from 110 votes

Baked Chicken Nuggets

These healthy baked chicken nuggets are coated in a crispy almond flour breading and baked instead of fried. And you only need 8 ingredients!
Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients  

  • 1.5 lb organic boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks/nuggets
  • ½ cup dill pickle juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Marinate chicken 8-12 hours in pickle juice.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Place almond flour, paprika, garlic, sea salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Crack egg into another shallow bowl and whisk.
  • One by one, dredge each chicken nugget in the egg bowl, wiping off any excess and then dip each into the almond flour mixture. Roll until each nugget is covered completely. Place the coated nuggets on a baking pan lined with parchment paper or a wire rack that fits on a baking sheet. The wire rack will make for a crispier texture. Bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping the nuggets once at the 10 minute mark. When done the chicken nuggets should be golden brown, crisp and completely cooked through. Remove nuggets from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of recipe | Calories: 339kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 846mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked chicken nuggets
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
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90 Comments

  1. I would have never thought to marinate the chicken in pickle juice. Very interesting. I’m looking forward to trying this one!

    1. Yes! Definitely come back and let me know how the nuggets turn out for you if you try this recipe. 🙂

  2. What if I don’t have any pickle juice? Any other options? I don’t really want to go buy pickles I won’t eat…lol
    Also, I have some pecan flour…do you think that would work also? I understand it would give a different flavor, but have you ever used it this way?

    1. Hey Melissa – You can definitely skip the pickle juice, it just adds nice juiciness and flavor to the chicken. I haven’t tried using anything besides almond flour, but I’m sure pecan flour would work just fine! Definitely let me know how these nuggets turn out for you if you try them. 🙂

  3. Can I freeze this and re-heat in the microwave? My daughter LOVES chicken nuggets and I’d like a healthier (and cheaper) option that I can make at home.

    1. Hey Dakia – I haven’t tried freezing these nuggets, so I can’t say from personal experience, but I think it would be just fine to freeze and re-heat in the microwave. Definitely come back and let me know if you do try this so I know how they turn out once frozen. 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Hi! Would it work in an air fryer? I just got one for Christmas and i really want to use this recipe for that.. it sounds amazing

  5. We followed this step by step, used an entire jar of pickle juice, the Almond flour absolutely did not come out golden as the picture shows. This was a waste of time and food. I would suggest anyone making this use regular flour and fry not bake your nuggets. Mine was a white almond tasteless m

    1. Hi Lois! I’m so sorry that they didn’t turn out for you. Did you change anything about the recipe?

  6. This recipe looks great! I have a child with an egg allergy. Do you have a suggestion for an egg replacement for this recipe? Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve seen people use full-fat canned coconut milk as a sub for eggs when breading chicken. Let me know if you try it.

  7. Hi,
    I love your recipes. However, I am allergic to almonds and cannot use almond flour. Can you recommend an alternative?

    1. Hi Sharon! Good question. If you’re not worried about the nuggets being grain-free/gluten-free, you could try regular flour. Let me know if you decide to experiment and how they turn out!

  8. My kids loved these! They already want to know when I’m making them again.

    These were delicious and fairly simple to make. We loved both the Chick-fil-a sauce and the BBQ sauce on its own.

    Next time, I’ll make tenders to save a bit of time on prep. I had a problem with a lot of the breading falling off — not sure what the issue was there, but I’ll try again, maybe with a different flour.

  9. 5 stars
    This is the only nugget recipe I need- ever! I just made these with some garlic-y pickle brine I made this Summer (similar to Claussen’s), and I can’t believe how amazingly delicious they are. I could eat the whole bird I think! 👏🏼👏🏼

    1. Ahh this makes me so happy reading, Janelle!! Thanks for trying my recipe and for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It means the world to me. <3

  10. 5 stars
    I plan on making these soon. Do you have any idea if they would come out the same in an air fryer? Thx.

  11. 3 stars
    The batter didn’t stay on the chicken once done. Good flavor but it just didn’t stick and crisp up like I was hoping.

    1. Hi Alesia! I’m so sorry that the batter didn’t stick to the chicken for you. Did you change anything about the recipe?

    1. Yay!! I’m so happy that these nuggets turned out for you, Ashley! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and star rating, I so appreciate it! <3

  12. 5 stars
    These were awesome! My husband and I devoured these. Very good lightened up version of chicken nuggets. I am going to try making a big batch to freeze next time for a quick meal later.

    1. Yay!! That makes me so happy to hear, Bailey. Thanks so much for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!

  13. 3 stars
    I am an EBF fan so I hate to leave a bad review but these didn’t work for me either. I followed the recipe exactly and did the wire rack as suggested to come out more crispy. Did you mean to put directly on the wire rack or on parchment paper on top of a wire rack? I did parchment paper over a wire rack over a baking sheet and so far I tried flipping at 10 min and 15 min and batter was still falling off 🙁

    1. Hey Vanesa! I’m so sorry to hear that these nuggets didn’t turn out for you. 🙁 So, you could have either placed the nuggets directly on the baking sheet with parchment paper OR just the wire rack on top of the baking sheet without the parchment paper. Using the wire rack will result in crisper nuggets, so the added parchment paper with the rack might have caused your nuggets to not crisp up as good.

  14. These are my “go-to” chicken nuggets. I love them! Easy and great tasting! Perfect for kids and adults.

    ❤️❤️
    Tiffany
    Phlanx’s Marketing Specialist

  15. 2 stars
    So sad – I used the cooking rack on top of the baking sheet to make it crisper, and when I flipped the chicken after 10 minutes, the breading came completely off the bottom! I guess it’s just plain white chicken now.

  16. 5 stars
    My husband and I enjoyed these on top of a big salad with homemade honey mustard dressing. They were so tasty!

    1. Yay!! So glad these baked nuggets were a hit!! Thanks for trying my recipe and for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It means the world to me. <3

  17. Hi Brittany – these were really really tasty. I didn’t modify the recipe or instructions but the breading didn’t stay on the chicken very well. The bits that survived cooking fell off as soon as I dipped them into the sauce (which was delish!) The flavors were all excellent but I’d have preferred the breading remain. Any thoughts?

  18. 5 stars
    I’ve tried lots of healthy chicken nugget recipes and the “breading” always falls off. After reading the comments and seeing other people were struggling with the breading falling off with this recipe, I decided not to turn them at the 10 minute mark. We had no problems. They were crispy and delicious. And we didn’t even have time to marinate in pickle juice! Also used your CFA sauce copy cat with avocado oil mayo instead of cashews and it was amazing! #guiltfreeCFA Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Brandi! I’m glad these chicken nuggets turned out for you. 🙂 And I’m glad you also enjoyed the CFA sauce!! Thanks for trying and for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It’s super helpful to other readers!

    1. Hey Jenna – I’m sorry to hear this recipe didn’t turn out for you. Did you change anything about the recipe?

    2. 4 stars
      I normally bake chicken strips at 350 for 12 minutes. I did these for 14 min at 425 and they came out about the same, I was worried about over dryness. GF all purpose flour didn’t make it crispy, but I love the flavor

  19. 5 stars
    Oh my god… these are frigging amazing!! Just came out of the oven and damned if they’re not the tastiest chicken nuggets I’ve ever had.
    Did them just as instructed and marinated them for 8 hours in dill pickle juice. Cooked on parchment paper and unlike many, no issues with the almond flour staying on when I flipped them at the 10 minute mark. Another 13 minutes and they were done to perfection.
    I going to have a hard time not eating the entire lot of them immediately after I submit this review. 😃

    1. Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Ryan!! I’m so glad these nuggets turned out for you. Thanks for making them and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!!

  20. 5 stars
    Sooo good! I forgot to marinate in the pickle juice all day- so I chopped up my chicken and let marinate for about 30 minutes while I prepped everything else – worked great! We used a baking rack and did have issues with the bottom breading sticking so I will spray the rack with avocado oil next time. Definitely a keeper in our house though, the flavors and ease of the recipe were amazing!

    1. So glad this recipe was a hit, Stefani. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I appreciate it!

  21. My family loves chick-Fil-a, so I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Just to clarify however, is it sweet, dill or sour pickle juice that the chicken is to be marinated in?

    1. Hey Brittney, You could reheat them in the oven/toaster oven or microwave, but I would do the oven/toaster oven!

  22. 5 stars
    Flavor was amazing, whole family loved them even my 2 year old who normally won’t eat chicken nuggets. Here are a few tips for anyone reading the comments:

    Don’t cut your nugget chunks too small, you’ll end up needing more “coating”halfway through.

    They turn out crispier if you put them on parchment paper and not the rack. I tried both methods and the breading was softer on the rack.

    I didn’t try this yet but next time I will not be flipping the chicken. Too much breading came off while flipping.

    If anyone has tried these in an air fryer please comment on how it turned out and what settings you used.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Angie!! So glad these chicken nuggets turned out for you. I appreciate you coming back to leave a comment + star rating!

  23. 3 stars
    I made a double batch and followed this recipe exactly and my results were only so-so.
    Pros: still edible with ketchup or bbq sauce, lasted us 3.5 meals (2 people)
    Cons: chicken was dry, especially after storing in fridge. Pickle flavor was way too strong. Coating does not stick to the chicken very well so it becomes basically just baked chicken nuggets with little breading.
    Overall I was not a fan and will look for other ways to make healthy chicken meals.

    1. So sorry this recipe didn’t turn out for you, Nicole! Did you change anything about the recipe for the coating? And how long did you cook the nuggets? I’m wondering if they were baked too long which caused them to be dry.

    2. 5 stars
      I wondered about how well the egg wash would stick after reading the instructions so I read the comments and when I saw yours decided to dust my nuggets in some almond flour before the egg wash, then coating them with the almond flour and seasonings. They turned out so good! 😋

  24. 5 stars
    My nephew was recently put on a highly restrictive diet to help with a variety of issues. To a 9 year old, that was crushing. I knew to lift his spirits, I’d have to make a meal that tastes like something he loves! These chicken nuggets are now famous in my family. Made them once and I am never allowed to make ANY other kind! This is not my first recipe from EBF but my first review. Any recipe I’ve ever tried from Brittany has gotten rave reviews from my picky husband! Thanks Brittany for providing the world with your delicious and healthy recipes!

    1. Woo!! This makes me so happy to hear! So glad this recipe was a hit, Courtney. Thanks for coming back to leave a review 🙂

  25. Could these be made with a gluten-free flour that’s not almond meal for those who have a nut allergy?

    1. I haven’t tried a sub for the flour in this recipe. Maybe oat flour or GF all-purpose flour would work? Let me know if you try it and how these nuggets turn out.

  26. Hello, is there any way I can make this without the pickle juice? I am allergic to pickles. I know it is just the marinade, but can I use it without it?

    1. Totally! No need to use the pickle juice if you are allergic. The recipe will still turn out well!

  27. 5 stars
    Very tasty and I’ll be baking these again. It fits into my new gluten free/sugar free diet change. It’s a whole lot easier when the recipe turns out tasty and doesn’t leave the rest of the family unsatisfied.

    1. So happy to hear you enjoyed this baked chicken nuggets, Vicky. Thanks so much for trying them out and coming back to leave a review. I really appreciate it!

  28. 2 stars
    I don’t get the high ratings… these did not work out at all how they’re pictured. Followed the recipe exactly and the breading all came off and did not crisp up well. at all.

    1. I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t turn out for you, Erica. Thank you for letting me know. Just to confirm, did you marinate the chicken in the pickle juice for 8-12 hours?

  29. I would love to try this recipe, but do I buy dill pickles and use the juice from the pickle jar? Or can you just buy dill pickle juice by itself. If so, where would I buy pickle juice. I’ve never used pickle juice in a recipe before so this is new to me.

    1. Hey Denise – I always use the juice from dill pickles! Let me know how this recipe turns out for you if you end up trying it.

  30. 5 stars
    Super yummy. This is going to be a silly question, but do you have any ideas on how to make these into dino nuggets? Traditional nuggets are made with ground chicken that can be pressed into shape, do you think I could do that here without having it fall apart or adding extra binding ingredients? Sometimes, y’know, the only way to get through college is with emotional support dino nuggets

      1. 5 stars
        This tastes just as good as seasoned fried shnitzel. So so happy I found this recipe! Will definitely make again, family loved it and I’m pleasantly surprised!

        1. Yay! So glad you loved this recipe, Sally. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review! I so appreciate it!

  31. 5 stars
    Made these tonight and they were good! I love the ingredients. I missed the part about marinating for 8-12 hours so mine only did for about an hour but I bet the flavor will be even better next time when I marinate for the full time suggested. Thank you for a yummy dinner!

    1. So glad you loved these nuggets, Jessica. Thanks for making this recipe and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    1. Hi Samantha – No, you don’t need to spray anything on these before cooking. Just place them on a lined baking sheet or wire rack (that will make them crispier). Enjoy!

    1. Hi Roberta – Yes, I would still recommend flipping them at the 10 minute mark. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

  32. 5 stars
    Know I’m a little late to the game, but……
    Made these about a week ago, having frozen leftovers (froze after cooking) tonight,
    To all the folks with breading falling apart, here is the secret: let breaded nuggets sit uncovered in fridge for about half an hour after breading, preferably on a screen, so both sides dry equally. The egg tends to “dry”, and cements the coating to the nugget.
    Also, air fryer works great with this recipe! 385 for about the reco’d time, flipping half way through

    1. Ah thank you so much for sharing your feedback, Cindy! I am so glad these turned out great for you and you’re enjoying them.