These are the best chicken nuggets I've ever had! They're so good that my husband has declared them better than Chick-fil-a...and that's saying something! I started out following a recipe for a fried chicken salad and after finding other similar recipes in various cookbooks, have come up with this combo which I make at least once a month. Trust me when I say you should make these in bulk! They're great for party bites, amazing for a family meal when you need your kids to gobble up their food, and will have your family and friends coming back for more...and more and more! These are a staple at our house and a frequent request for birthday dinners, celebrations, or just when we want to eat finger food for supper!
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Canola oil for frying
If breasts are very thick, butterfly chicken. Cut breasts into bite-sized cubes (about 1 inch in all directions). Alternatively, cut breasts into long strips to make chicken tenders.
Place chicken in a single layer in a large dish, such as a tupperware or marinading dish. Pour buttermilk over chicken, ensuring that each piece is completely submerged. Let soak for at least 1 hour (if longer, place meat in refrigerator). Turn container frequently to ensure chicken remains submerged and is allowed to soak up as much buttermilk as possible. Return chicken to countertop 30 minutes before frying so it can come back to room temperature.
Heat oil in a large, high-sided pot to medium-high heat. I use a small Fry Daddy for ease. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place a cookie sheet fitted with cooling rack inside to remain warm.
While oil is heating, combine remaining ingredients in a large container and stir to combine. Feel free to adjust the seasonings for personal preference. Something shallow and flat, with sides, works best. Remove chicken from buttermilk and allow excess to drip off each piece. Dredge chicken through Panko-flour mixture ensuring that each piece has a thick coating on all sides.
When oil is hot, and working in stages, carefully drop chicken nuggets (or tenders) into oil and allow to cook until golden brown and crispy, 3-5 minutes for nuggets. Stir half-way through the frying to make sure all sides are thoroughly cooked. Do not crowd your pot or fryer by overfilling; the chicken nuggets cannot be touching during the cooking process.
Using a slotted, heat-proof spoof, remove chicken from oil and place on preheated cooling rack. Leave in oven to remain warm while you cook the remaining chicken.
Make this honey-mustard dressing to dip the chicken nuggets. Or make a Dipping Bar with all your favorites: BBQ, Spicy Thai Peanut, Honey-Mustard, Ketchup, or more!