Kids’ Classic – for Adults

With added touches of caramelized onion and quinoa, these chicken nuggets are for all ages.

By: Mandy Ashcraft
Photos by: Dustin Ashcraft

Chicken nuggets are known for being two things:

1. A food for children
2. A processed, shaped piece of mystery meat (sometimes in the shape of dinosaurs)

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be either of those things (but can still be in the shape of dinosaurs). This recipe uses organic chicken breasts, nutritious quinoa, the delicious flavors of caramelized onions and the baked crunch of panko bread crumbs. Make them in any shape you like; these nuggets are for all ages!

Note: This recipe makes 12 to 15 nuggets depending on size. Can be made ahead of time and frozen; see tip after instructions for reheating.


1 pound organic chicken breasts
1/2 cup dill pickle juice
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko Japanese-style bread crumbs


1/ Place chicken and pickle juice brine in a re-sealable bag and place in refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

2/ Add quinoa and 1/2 cup water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, place lid and allow to cook for 15 minutes.

3/ Meanwhile, add a drizzle of olive oil to a separate pan and add onions. Allow to caramelize while quinoa cooks.

4/ Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

5/ When quinoa and onions are done, add them both to a food processor. Add cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.

6/ Remove chicken from refrigerator. Chop into large pieces and place raw chicken into food processor with other ingredients. Process until well combined.

7/ Pour panko, beaten egg and flour into separate bowls. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and non-stick spray.

8/ Using your hands, remove nugget-sized amounts of chicken mixture and place into flour. If you’re using cookie cutters to make certain shapes, make them slightly bigger than the size of your cookie cutter.

9/ Coat with flour, then egg, then panko, and transfer to baking sheet. If using cookie cutters, cut out each nugget separately while already on the baking sheet. (Mixture is too soft to hold most shapes while dredging in egg and panko.)

10/ Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce!

Tip: Make ahead and freeze! Allow cooked nuggets to cool completely. Place in a freezer-safe container. To reheat from frozen, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place frozen nuggets on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

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