Saturday, February 13, 2021

Making Chicken Nuggets at Home - Grammy's Chicken Nugget Recipe

Chicken Nuggets are pretty delicious. For us, Chick-Fil-A is pretty hard to beat. We've tried to recreate them twice that I've posted, once for the Sandwiches and another time for the Nuggets. We've also made nuggets a few more times that I haven't posted while we just tried other people's interpretation of Chickfila's breading. None of them quite got there. 

But you know who else makes nuggets that everyone, and I mean everyone, loves? Grammy! If we have family visiting, Grammy's Chicken Nuggets are always requested. The only problem is, in classic Grammy fashion, she doesn't have a recipe. She does it all by however much she feels needs to be added. Well tonight, I'm going to follow along with my video camera and a scale, and finally write down all the ingredients, amounts, and steps that she follows as she makes everyone's favorite nuggets!  

All the other recipe sites make you scroll through the entire page before finally giving the ingredients and steps at the very end. That's annoying to me, so I'm going to put it here at the beginning and then you can read on if you like. 

Chicken Marinade
1 lb of chicken breast, cubed in pieces no larger than 1"
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
3/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbs Whole Milk
1 Egg

2.5 cups (350 grams) of All Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper 
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Powder

1. Trim 2-3 Chicken Breast filets of all fat and the white tendon. Slice in half if the filets are thick. Cut into 1" or smaller pieces. Add all seasonings and refrigerate for about 20 minutes
2. While chicken is marinating in the fridge, mix all ingredients for the breading in a bowl. 
3. Heat canola oil in a large pan to 275F-300F
4. While oil is heating, using a fork, toss 1/3 to 1/4 of the chicken in the breading mixture, making sure to cover every exposed piece of chicken. 
5. When oil is at temperature, lightly shake the loose breading off the chicken, then fry for 4-5 minutes. Chicken is done when the breading is light brown. Work in batches to ensure the oil doesn't drop in temperature. 
6. Drain chicken on paper towels. 

Alright, that's all the steps. Now we'll have a walk-through with pictures. 
After trimming the fat and tendons from the breast filets, she split them in half because they were so thick. 

Then all the pieces are cut into pieces no bigger than 1"x1"x1/2". More surface area means more room for the tasty breading. 

When Grammy normally does it, she grabs the different seasonings and shakes as much as she thinks it needs. This time I asked her to use a full teaspoon to shake the seasonings in, and I'd estimate how much she used based on what was left. 

All the other recipes I've seen use a buttermilk wash. This recipe uses very little milk, only 2 tablespoons. It's an egg that really pulls it all together. 

After mixing that all together, she puts it back in the fridge while she gets the other ingredients ready. 

Next it's time to make the breading. It starts with regular AP flour. 

Then she adds in a lot of the same ingredients that went into the chicken marinade. 

She uses her fingers to mix everything together, making it light and fluffy. 

While the oil comes up to temperature, she grabs the chicken from the fridge and starts mixing about a 1/3 to 1/4 of it into the breading, depending on the size of the pan she'll be frying in. After covering every exposed piece of chicken, she lets it sit for a couple more minutes. 

She's using a fork to stir is all up, so her hands don't get especially clumpy. 

One of the things she's never known is the temperature of the oil she uses to fry them. Her method is to get some water and drip it into the oil. When it starts popping a certain way, she knows it ready. I was ready with two different thermometers to figure out what temperature she was at. I learned that she fries at a much cooler temperature compared to what all the other recipes I've used say. She said it was ready to go when the oil hit 260F and we tried to keep it below 300F for the whole time. All the other recipes I've tried say to fry between 350F-375F. 

After a very light shake, she places the nuggets into the hot oil. There's a lot of extra flour on these that ends up on the bottom of the pan. 

Nuggets fry for as long as it takes them to turn brown. While those are frying, the next batch of chicken is tossed in the breading and left to sit for a few minutes. 

These fried for 4:30 minutes and then were ready to come out. She always uses a colander lined with paper towels to drain the nuggets. 

Golden brown and delicious. These are a little bit lighter in color than chicken nuggets from ChickFilA. But they're perfectly cooked and still moist and juicy inside. 

She's made these nuggets countless times. I asked how often and she said at least once a week! Oh yeah! Ian and Alli request it for lunch at least once a week. I just never get any because they don't have any leftovers. The kids don't like the processed stuff, like the dinosaur shaped nuggets. Why would they want them when they could have Grammy's Chicken Nuggets?

Theresa acting as Quality Control. Yep! They're just as good as usual. 

After she's done with the oil, there's a layer of flour that has fallen off. We'll filter the oil through a sieve so we can re-use it. 

Smile everyone! Grammy you did a great job, even under the pressure of my scrutinizing your every move. 

These look amazing! 

My plate tonight. A little bit of pasta e fagioli, shells and cheese, broccoli, and yummy chicken nuggets. 

The kids think it's good, but they get this all the time. 

We love them! Grammy, your chicken nuggets are delicious! Not too greasy, very crispy, and they've got a great flavor! Now that I have things written down, the real test is going to be can I make it on my own!


  1. Grammy is the chef star today!...nice demo, Grammy (especially under scrutinizing eyes!)...your chicken nuggets are deliciously light and wonder they're a hit. P.S. Grammy cooks like my parents in the sense that a recipe isn't used, either (they just put in what they "think" is the "right ingredient" and in the "right amount" :-) ) EOM

    1. I'm happy to finally have all the steps written down now! So many people have been wondering about this one. The proof will be when I make it myself, and Theresa is already dropping hints that I should make them sooner than later.