Batter-Fried Chicken Nuggets with Homemade BBQ Dipping Sauce

February 10, 2013

My homemade Chicken Nuggets originated from a copycat McDonald’s recipe, and slowly evolved over the years based upon my kids taste and suggestions. About a year ago, I adopted some brining improvements from these Cook’s Country’s chicken nuggets; which have reigned supreme. So you can imagine my surprise when a comment left by a fellow food blogger lead to the crowning of a new “best chicken nugget” (at least in my household). Using this batter intended for whole chicken pieces, applying it to nuggets. The results were amazing. The nuggets were lighter, but still crunchy. It was almost like biting into a cloud.

The best nuggets yet. Like biting into a cloud.

The best nuggets yet. Like biting into a cloud.

Some of the changes required to make this recipe work for nuggets.  (1) I reduced the brine ingredients by 50%. Because nuggets are more compact than bone-in chicken it doesn’t need as much brine. (2) The nuggets should only be brined for 30 minutes for they will be too salty. (3) I also reduced the batter ingredients by 50%, which was enough to 3 chicken breasts (about 30 large-sized nuggets).


  1. I am intending to put together another post that pulls together everything you need to know about chicken nuggets into a single place; 3 different nugget recipes, plus 4 to 5 dipping sauces. I’m tired of everybody saying “serve with your favorite dipping sauce.”

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $5 for 2-pounds.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Medium/High.
Started: 4:45 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below.

2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 boneless chicken breasts

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (2-5/8 oz)
3/4 cup cornstarch (3-1/2 oz)
2-1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups + 1 Tablespoon cold water (7 oz)
1-1/2 quarts (6 cups) vegetable oil

  1. If you like your sauce cool or cold, make it before proceeding with your chicken, If you like it warm, you can make it while the chicken brines in step 2.
  2. Cut chicken breasts into nuggets; about 7 to 10 nuggets per breast. Make the brine by whisking together 2 cups cold water, 2 tablespoons table salt and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in medium bowl. After the sugar and salt have dissolved, add chicken pieces, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in another large bowl add together the flour, cornstarch, pepper, paprika, cayenne, baking powder, salt, and water. Whisk until the batter is smooth and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. After brining, place a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1-1/2 quarts of vegetable oil and begin pre-heating for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, discard brine and pat chicken dry using paper towels.
  6. Re-whisk the batter to ensure an even consistency. Add half your chicken pieces to the bowl with the batter.
  7. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, remove chicken from batter one piece at a time and let the excess batter drip back into the bowl to avoid a doughy crust; add chicken piece to hot oil.
  8. If you want to serve the both batches together, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees to keep the first batch warm while the second batch cooks.
  9. Fry nuggets in 2 batches for 8 minutes per batch. The crust will become deeply golden brown. After 3 minutes stir the chicken to ensure that it has not stuck to each other (or the bottom of the pan). You will probably have to break some of the nuggets apart.
  10. Place the chicken on wire rack set over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Allow it to drain then pat with paper towels. Place in 200-degree oven while you prepare the second batch.
  11. Bring oil back up to 350 degrees and repeat from step 6 with remaining nuggets.

BBQ Dipping Sauce:

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  1. Add apple cider vinegar into a small saucepan, heat and whisk together garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder. When it starts to steam, add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, molasses, and brown sugar. Reduce burner to medium/low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes to thicken.
  2. Makes 9 ounces.

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