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Soft and tender on the inside with an unbeatable golden-brown, crispy exterior, this homemade McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets recipe features white meat chicken breast blended with flavorful spices and seasonings – and NO filler or preservative in sight. Serve with buffalo sauce, ranch, honey mustard, or barbecue sauce for a copycat chicken nugget experience you soon won’t forget!

“You have answered my recipe prayers! I hate fast food, but once in a while McDonald’s chicken nuggets are a treat. (I cringe every time) and that is the only chicken they will eat. I don’t like to deep fry anything, but even deep fried these have to be healthier than McDonalds! These are great! Now I just need to find a McDonald’s chicken nugget box or they’ll figure it out. 😉”

– ANGELA
Straight on photo of two freshly fried chicken nuggets that look like McDonald's McNuggets.

Update: This recipe was originally published in May 2015. I made updates to the article below to include more information about making copycat mcdonald’s nuggets at home.

Hi, friends! Let’s talk fast food chicken nuggets for a quick second. In my humble option, not all are created equal. And when it comes to my other half and my nephew, they will ONLY order nuggets from the double arches of McDonald’s or the spotted cows at Chick-fil-A. So sorry to the other nugget distributors out there.

Needless to say, I decided recreating one of those nugget recipes was at the top of my list. And, since at the time Mcdonalds nuggets were made with both white and dark meat, I decided it was my mission to create better-for-you homemade mcdonalds nuggets WITH tons of flavor locked inside.

About this mcdonald’s mcnuggets recipe

Moist and juicy on the inside with the most delicious light and crispy batter, this recipe for McDonald’s chicken nuggets will have you reminising and reliving your childhood. And since these nugget recipe features all white chicken breast meat and not one filler or additive in sight, you’ll be saying “I’m REALLY loving it”!

Serve your homemade mcdonald’s chicken nuggets with your your favorite dipping sauce, like barbecue or honey mustard, and recreate your own McDonald’s experience at home.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this copycat chicken mcnuggets recipe, I do want to be completely transparent: it’s definitely quicker and easier to succumb to the fast food drive through and order a 10-piece nugget meal from the golden arches than to make homemade nuggets. However, you won’t regret making your own mcnuggets because homemade is SO MUCH BETTER. Keep reading for why!

If you’re a lover of all things crispy and white meat chicken, be sure to try this fan-favorite Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlet Recipe!

Overhead photo of a dozen mcdo chicken nuggets with one nugget torn in half to showcase the tender interior.

Ingredients for chicken mcnuggets

You’ll need just six simple ingredients for this chicken mcnuggets recipe. Here’s what to grab:

  • Chicken Breasts: You’ll need about 1 1/2 pounds, or two whole, boneless skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. Be sure to trim off any excess fat before using. Substitution: Feel free to swap in boneless skinless chicken thighs, just note they’ll take longer to cook.
  • Spices and Seasonings: A combination of kosher salt, dry parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, and ground black pepper all provide robust flavors.
  • Unsalted Butter: Just one tablespoon of melted butter ensures the interior of your homemade mcdonald’s chicken nuggets are tender and rich.
  • Eggs: You’ll need two large eggs for dredging the nuggets.
  • All Purpose Flour: A cup of all purpose flour (along with the eggs) forms the breading for your mcnuggets.
  • Peanut Oil: Be sure to use peanut oil when frying your mcnuggets. It’s a neutral, high-smoke point oil that’s perfect for deep frying.

Recipe variations

  • Buffalo McNuggets: If you’re looking for a spicy, smoky, utterly delicious mcnugget experience, add a buffalo sauce to the chicken nugget paste.
  • Ranch Nuggets: If you’re a fan of zesty ranch, swap out the seasonings and use a ranch dressing seasoning packet. Or keep the seasonings and add a little ranch dressing instead.
  • Cajun Chicken Nuggets: Do you love the bold flavors of the Big Easy? Me too! Swap out the spices in this chicken mcnuggets recipe and use cajun seasoning mix instead.
  • BBQ Chicken McNugget: Looking for a sweet and savory mcdonald’s mcnuggets recipe? Add a little barbecue sauce to the mcnugget paste. Anything from classic carolina bbq sauce, to peach barbecue sauce. and white alabama sauce work great here.
Overhead photo of a dozen homemade McDonalds chicken nuggets on a sheet of parchment paper with bowls of blue cheese dressing and hot sauce off to the side.

how to make mcdonald’s nuggets

Making chicken nugget paste

  • Grind Chicken: Add cubed chicken breasts to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to break up the chicken.
  • Add Flavor: Add the spices and seasonings along with one large egg and melted butter to the chicken in the food processor. Process the mixture until it resembles a paste-like consistency.
  • Roll Chicken Paste into Nuggets: Spray hands with non-stick oil and use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the chicken paste and then use your hands to shape it into a flat chicken nugget.
  • Dredge Nuggets: Dredge the formed chicken nuggets through flour, then dip into beaten eggs, and dredge through the flour again. Set the coated nugget onto a parchment-paper lined sheet pan and repeat coating all the homemade mcdonald’s chicken nuggets.

Cooking chicken McNuggets

  • Heat Oil: Add the oil to a heavy bottom saucepan or cast iron skillet with deep sides. Place the oil over medium heat on the stove top and heat until the oil reaches a temperature of about 350-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fry the McDonalds Chicken Nuggets: Working in small batches of about four or five nuggets, carefully lower the chicken nuggets into the hot oil. Let the nuggets fry, turning a few times during cooking, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the nuggets are golden brown and cooked through.
  • Drain Excess Grease: Remove the McDonald’s nuggets from the hot oil and place onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease before moving to a wire rack to prevent the nuggets from getting soggy. Repeat deep frying all the chicken nuggets.
  • Serve Warm: Serve homemade McDonald’s chicken nuggets recipe with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy while warm.

Expert tips for the best success!

  • Process Chicken Breasts: Replicating the texture of chicken mcnuggets will require grinding the chicken breast meat in the food processor. If you’ve never ground meat before, don’t worry, I have an entire in-depth article explaining how to grind meat. Whatever you do, don’t swap in a package of ground chicken from the grocery store is it will not yield the same result.
  • Wet or Spray Hands: When making your chicken nuggets, spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray or dip your hands in a little water before shaping each one. The oil or water will create a barrier which prevents the chicken paste from sticking to your hands.
  • Be Consistent in Size and Shape: To ensure even and full cooking, try to make your McDonalds nuggets all the same size, thickness, and shape. I recommend using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop or a kitchen food scale for accuracy.

FAQs: frequently asked questions

You’ve got questions? I’ve got answers! If you have a question you don’t see listed below, please drop them in the comments section. I’m happy to help when I can! 

Who invented chicken nuggets?

The chicken nugget was invented by a professor of poultry science at Cornell University, and chicken savant, Robert C. Baker, in the 1950’s.

Baker published a way to mold ground chicken into any shape without the use of chicken skin as an un-patented academic work.

The bite sized, molded pieces of ground chicken, coated in a batter that remained attached to the chicken during the process of deep-frying was dubbed the “Chicken Crispie” by Baker and his associates.

Thus, the birth of the chicken nugget.

What are Mcnuggets made from?

While I have worked at several restaurants, I’ve never worked for or at Mc Donald’s, so I can’t speak to mcnugget version of “real white meat” chicken nuggets However, I can tell you this chicken mcnuggets recipe utilizes REAL white chicken breast meat.

This homemade mcdonald’s chicken nuggets recipe simply contains chicken breast ground in the food processed with no weird additives, fillers or preservatives! It’s just chicken breast, buffalo hot sauce, melted butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Done and Done.

What cut of chicken is best for homemade McNuggets?

In my humble opinion, the best cut for chicken nuggets is boneless, skinless chicken breasts. However, you can use a mix of white chicken breast and dark thigh meat it you prefer – just make sure it’s boneless and skinless.

How do I get that processed chicken nugget texture?

Fast food restaurants like McDonald’s use a combination of chicken and preservatives, unhealthy fillers, and unhealthy binders like modified food starch to get the processed chicken nugget texture. While this recipe doesn’t precisely replicate the texture of a McNugget it does get very close. Instead, you’ll grind chicken breast in the food processor to get a similar texture and more natural chicken flavor.

How do I get that classic McNugget shape?

It’s important to note that McDonald’s uses a special machine to form their iconic mcnugget shape. Since we don’t have access to fancy equipment, the most economical way is to just use your hands to shape the chicken nugget paste into a nugget shape. However, if you want to be precise you can purchase chicken nugget molds online at retailers like Etsy and Amazon.

Overhead photo of copycat McDonalds McNuggets with a ramekin of hot sauce on a sheet of parchment paper.

Serving mc chicken nuggets

This copycat McDonald’s chicken nugget recipe is a total crowd pleaser and beloved by both kids and adults alike. Below are some classic serving suggestions as well as some fun suggestions to elevate your homemade nuggets:

Dipping Delights

  • BBQ Sauce: If you like a tangy kick, opt for barbecue sauces.
  • Hot Sauce: Prefer a little heat? Try your favorite variety of hot sauce.
  • Honey Mustard: Sweet and savory honey mustard sauce if personally one of my favorites.
  • Ranch: Zesty, creamy ranch dressing is a popular choice for good reason.
  • Ketchup: A classic dipping option for this McDonald’s chicken nugget recipe if there ever was one.

Unique Dipping Experience

  • Aioli: If you’re looking for an elevated experience, combine mayonnaise with a little roasted garlic, fresh lemon juice, and a few drops of dijon mustard to create a rich garlic aioli sauce.
  • Avocado Goddess Dressing: Herbaceous and creamy avocado green goddess dressing makes the ideal grown-up dipping sauce.
  • Marinara: Don’t let crispy chicken cutlets and fried mozzarella sticks have all the fun. Try tomato marinara sauce for fun and flavorful nugget experience.

Go Beyond the Dip

  • Chicken Nugget Salad: Step aside cobb salad! Top a bed of leafy greens with nuggets, your favorite roasted veggies, crumbled or shredded cheeses, and a vinaigrette dressing for a light lunch. Or switch to a creamy rich dressing for a dinner salad.
  • Nugget Kebobs: If you’re looking for a finger food experience perfect for kids, thread homemade mcdonald’s chicken nuggets, sweet mini peppers or cherry tomatoes, and a cube of cheese onto skewers.
  • McNugget Wraps: Make a sandwich wrap just like Mc Donalds by laying chicken mcnuggets, green leaf lettuce, shredded cheddar jack cheese, and ranch dressing onto a flour tortilla. Roll it up and chow it down!
  • Nuggets Lettuce Wrap: If you’re looking to cut carbs, simply swap the tortilla out for leafy bibb or butter lettuce.
  • Chicken Nugget Dinner: Make a kid-friendly dinner by pairing the chicken mcnuggets recipe with steamed veggies, zucchini rice, and a dipping sauce.

Storing homemade mcdonalds nuggets

Allow leftover McDonald’s chicken nuggets recipe to cool completely to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator of freezer.

Refrigerator storage

  • Transfer the cooled chicken mcnuggets to an airtight storage container, arranging them in a single layer.
  • Place into the fridge and store for up to 3 to 4 days.

Freezer storage

  • Transfer the cooled mcdonald’s chicken nuggets to a parchment paper or wax paper lined baking sheet, arranging them in a single layer on the pan.
  • Transfer the copycat nuggets to the freezer and flash freeze for 1-2 hours, or until the mcnuggets are frozen solid.
  • Once flash-frozen, transfer the homemade nuggets to a freezer-safe resealable bag or storage container, squeezing out any excess air before sealing.
  • Place into the freezer and store for up to 3 months.
Close up photo of a McDonalds chicken nugget dunked into buffalo sauce.

Resist the urge to pull up to a drive-thru and join me in making the best homemade mcdonald’s chicken nuggets recipe. Just prepare to be amazed and possibly swear off fast food nuggets for life. 🙂

Until next time, Cheers!

Cheyanne

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More copycat recipes!

Overhead photo of copycat McDonalds McNuggets with a ramekin of hot sauce on a sheet of parchment paper.

Copycat McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets

4.50 from 4 votes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 22 Chicken McNuggets
Soft and tender on the inside with an unbeatable golden-brown, crispy exterior, this McDonald's Chicken McNuggets recipe features white meat chicken breast blended with flavorful spices and seasonings – and NO filler or preservative in sight. Serve with buffalo sauce, ranch, honey mustard, or barbecue sauce for a copycat chicken nugget experience you soon won't forget!

Equipment

  • 1 Food Processor (for making the mcnugget paste)
  • 1 Sheet pan (for preparing the chicken nuggets)
  • 1 Cast Iron Skillet (for deep frying the mcdonalds nuggets)

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • Start the Mc Nugget Paste: Place the cubed chicken into the bowl of a food processor and pulse four or five times, just to break up the chicken.
  • Add Flavor: To the food processor, add the parsley, onion powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper, butter, and one egg. Process the mixture until it resembles a paste-like consistency.
  • Roll Chicken Paste into Nuggets: Line a large sheet pan with plastic wrap. Dip your hands into water or spray them lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Then, use your hands to grab about 2 tablespoons of the chicken nugget mixture and gently shape it into a flattened nugget. Transfer the nugget onto the prepared sheet pan. Repeat forming all of the chicken mixture into nuggets.
  • Set Up Dredging Station for Chicken Nuggets:
    Add all the flour along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a shallow bowl and whisk to combine.
    Add two whisked eggs to a seperate shallow bowl and set bowl aside.
  • Set Up Dredging Station for Chicken Nuggets: Working with one nugget at at time, dredge the chicken nugget through the flour, shaking off any excess flour. Then, dip the floured nuggets into the beaten egg, allowing excess egg to drip off. Finally, return the chicken nugget back to the bowl of flour and dredge it through the flour to thoroughly coat the nugget. Transfer the breaded nugget back to prepared sheet pan and repeat the process until all the nuggets are coated
  • Heat Peanut Oil: When ready to cook, add the oil to a cast iron skillet, heavy bottom saucepan, or deep fryer. Place the pan over medium heat and heat the oil until it reaches a temperature of 350-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fry the Nuggets: Working in batches of 4 or 5 nuggets at at time, Carefully lower the nuggets into the hot oil. Let the nuggets fry, turning a few times during cooking, for a total of 4-5 minutes or until the mcnuggets are golden brown and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165-degrees F.
    Transfer the cooked chicken nuggets to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess grease and immediately season generously with salt while still warm. Then, transfer the chicken mcnuggets to a wire rack to keep them nice and crispy.
  • Serve Copycat McDonald's Chicken McNuggets: Serve homemade chicken nuggets warm with your favorite dipping sauces, such as buffalo sauce or blue cheese dressing and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Chicken: Feel free to swap in boneless, skinless chicken thighs or use a combination of white and dark meat if you prefer! However, please note you may need to adjust the cook time as dark meet takes longer to cook through than light meat.
  2. Buffalo Dipping Sauce: In a medium bowl combine 1/2 cup of Frank’s Hot Sauce with 2 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, and a few pinches of kosher salt. Whisk together until smooth and enjoy with your homemade McNuggets.
  3. Need to Scale the Recipe? Hover your mouse over the number of servings in the recipe card. You’ll see a sliding scale pop up, you can use that to scale the recipe up or down as needed.
  4. Got questions? I’ve got answers! If you ever run into an issue, have a question, or need any clarification – please feel free to drop them in the comments section. I’m happy to help when I can! 
  5.  Yield: approximately 22 Nuggets
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and the nutrition facts are an estimate based upon 22 servings. Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal    Carbohydrates: 4g    Protein: 1g    Fat: 9g    Saturated Fat: 2g    Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g    Monounsaturated Fat: 4g    Trans Fat: 0.02g    Cholesterol: 27mg    Sodium: 169mg    Potassium: 17mg    Fiber: 0.2g    Sugar: 0.04g    Vitamin A: 53IU    Vitamin C: 0.01mg    Calcium: 5mg    Iron: 0.4mg

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*Recipe adapted from SparkPeople

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