This Paleo Chicken Nuggets recipe is a great make-ahead freezer meal! You can upgrade to organic ingredients without adding a dime to your grocery budget, and have healthy(ish) fast food in your freezer ready to heat and eat on busy nights! Think ahead and be prepared so you can skip the drive thru and save money on your grocery bill!
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A regular diet of fried food is clearly unhealthy, but since I know we’ll end up buying fast food a couple times a month when events come up that derail my menu plan, I’d rather control the ingredients — and my grocery budget! — and follow Michael Pollan’s Food Rule #39:
Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
This recipe for Paleo chicken nuggets tastes exactly like regular chicken nuggets!
Bonus: you only need one “Paleo” ingredient: arrowroot powder, not a special mix of expensive flours, gums, and starches. A one-pound bag of organic arrowroot powder lasts me at least a year; I use it in place of corn starch or flour to thicken gravy and sauces, and to make crispy chicken nuggets!
I held a taste test with a group that groans when I tell them I tweaked a favorite recipe Paleo style: my husband and two kids. The contenders:
“Regular” Chicken Nuggets made with All Purpose flour
Paleo Chicken Nuggets made with Arrowroot powder
Nobody could taste a difference between the regular chicken nuggets and the Paleo chicken nuggets!
If you follow the Paleo diet but your family isn’t quite ready to go all in with you on Paleo restrictions (that’s totally understandable — nobody in my family is ready to cut out pizza!), this recipe lets you serve one meal to the entire family — Mom included!
This recipe makes about 50 oz of chicken nuggets. That’s enough for our family for one dinner and a couple of days’ worth of lunches for the kids — we really love fried chicken here! (To give you an idea of how much chicken this recipe makes in case your family does not pig out on fried chicken like my family does: One batch makes enough chicken nuggets to fill two large cookie sheets.)
Make a batch or two of this Paleo Chicken Nuggets recipe. (Two batches at a time is my limit; you may have more patience and a higher threshold for oil splatter burns!) Flash freeze, then transfer to freezer bags. Voila: fast food in your freezer! Skip the drive thru and save money!
You can upgrade to organic and save money on your grocery bill — it’s true! These Paleo chicken nuggets made with organic chicken are cheaper than McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.
The prices listed here are everyday prices, not sale prices. If you score a great deal, prefer organic chicken thighs to chicken breast, use conventional eggs, etc. you can save even more!
Paleo Chicken Nuggets Recipe Cost
|Total per batch (makes about 50 oz of Paleo Chicken Nuggets)||$17.73 total
$0.36 per ounce
|2.5 lbs organic chicken breast|
|2 oz organic arrowroot powder|
bulk spices, Winco
|5 organic eggs|
|2/3 cup olive oil|
Paleo chicken nuggets are made with organic chicken, organic arrowroot powder, organic eggs, and olive oil, plus normal pantry spices like paprika and salt.
McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are made with nasty, nasty stuff — more than 35 ingredients! — and that’s if you trust that the McDonald’s ingredients list that’s available to the public is complete! I don’t.
Paleo Chicken Nuggets vs. McDonald's Chicken McNuggets
|Paleo Chicken Nuggets||McDonald's Chicken McNuggets|
|Ingredients||4, plus 5 common spices||>35, including TBHQ, Dimethylpolysiloxane, MSG (Autolyzed Yeast Extract), and GMOs|
|Price per ounce||$0.36||$0.47 20 piece @ $4.99
$0.81 10 piece @ $4.29
$0.95 4 piece @ $1.99
$1.17 6 piece @3.69
Price per ounce includes 8% tax.
This recipe is adapted from Building a Better Chicken Nugget by Russ at The Domestic Man. His method is genius and works perfectly for both regular and Paleo chicken nuggets! (I skip the pickle juice brine: ain’t no Mom got time for that!)
- 2.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into cubes or strips
- ⅓ cup arrowroot powder
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (this amount adds flavor, not heat. Add more or less to taste.)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 5 eggs
- ⅔ cup olive oil (for 12" skillet; add more or less oil depending on pan size to cover the bottom of the pan to ¼".)
- Mix arrowroot powder and spices in a 1-quart bowl.
- Beat eggs in a second 1-quart bowl.
- Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.
- Heat oven to 475 if serving immediately.
- Cut chicken into cubes for chicken nuggets, or strips for chicken fingers.
- Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, dip in egg, drain excess, and fry in batches, flipping once, until the chicken is browned on both sides.
- Do not crowd the pan.
- Do not worry about cooking the chicken all the way; it will finish cooking in the oven.
- As batches of chicken are browned, remove them to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (Spread out the chicken so no pieces touch.)
- You will need two sheet pans to hold all of the chicken.
- If freezing: Cool chicken, then place sheet pan in the freezer to flash freeze. Once frozen, transfer to freezer bags, label with reheating instructions and date, and store in the freezer.
- If serving immediately: Cook chicken in the oven at 475 for 8-10 minutes and serve immediately.
Preheat oven to 475 and cook frozen chicken nuggets for 15 minutes (chicken nuggets) or 20 minutes (chicken fingers).
You can microwave the frozen chicken nuggets for approximately 2-3 minutes at 70% power, but the coating will be soft instead of crisp.
When was the last time you ate McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets?
Find this post and more tips, tricks, DIY, and recipes on this week’s Making a Home Homemaking Linky at Linda’s Lunacy.