When our kids were preschool age, few foods made them as happy as brown and crunchy chicken nuggets dipped in a puddle of ketchup. Sometimes I would buy baked chicken nuggets for a quick and easy lunch, but I always felt better about what they were eating if I took the time to make my own, and it wasn’t that much harder.

Eileen Wali, a member of my dinner planning service Six O’Clock Scramble, asked if I could lighten up her family’s favorite chicken nugget recipe, which was drenched in butter.  I slashed the saturated fat by replacing the butter with low fat buttermilk, and boosted the seasoning in the crunchy coating.

My whole family, including Andrew and I, loved this healthy homemade version (which bolsters the theory that we’re never too old to enjoy kid-food).  For vegetarian family members, you can serve this with some meatless nuggets (we think Morningstar Farms Chik’n Nuggets or Buffalo Wings are the tastiest and most reminiscent of the real thing).  Serve it with warm Italian bread and celery sticks with blue cheese dressing.

Do your kids love chicken or meatless nuggets? If so, do you make your own, or do you have a favorite kind to buy?

Recipe: Buttermilk Bathed Chicken Nuggets

  • Prep Time: 20 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 20 min(s)
  • Total Time: 40 min(s)
  • Servings: 6, 5-6 nuggets each

A healthy, homemade version of a kid-favorite recipe: chicken nuggets.


    • ½ cup reduced-fat buttermilk
    • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 cup bread crumbs
    • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
    • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • ½ cup barbecue sauce and/or ketchup, or to taste (optional)


    • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
    • In a shallow bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and garlic powder. In another shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper.
    • Cut the chicken into nugget size pieces, then dip each piece into the buttermilk mixture, then coat it well in the bread crumb mixture, and put it on the baking sheet.
    • Bake the nuggets for 15 – 20 minutes until they are just cooked through and lightly browned, flipping once after about 10 minutes. Serve them immediately with the dipping sauce(s), if desired, or refrigerate them for up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to 3 months.

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11 Responses to “Buttermilk Bathed Chicken Nuggets”

  1. Michael Willemsen

    Even more healthy would be to purchase faux chicken nuggets. No saturated fats and no chickens killed = much better. 🙂

  2. Michael Willemsen

    Oops….I really need to read things fully before commenting. My apologies, please don’t post my previous comment. (Or this one).

  3. Anne Mattioli

    That sounds like a really good recipe, but what if children have allergies to dairy products? Is there an alternative that you know of?
    Thank you

    • Aviva Goldfarb Aviva Goldfarb

      Hi Anne, I would use a beaten egg instead of the buttermilk and omit the cheese in the breading. Hope you enjoy!

  4. Cameron

    Just made this recipe this evening and it was AWESOME! I made them for adults, so I added a little cayenne to the breading mix, and I made whole wheat bread crumbs from sliced french bread from the grocery store. Thank you so much for the great recipe!

    • Aviva Goldfarb Aviva Goldfarb

      So glad you enjoyed it, Cameron! I love your adult adaptations, too.

  5. Mike

    Great recipe that my kids love. Try using panko instead of normal bread crumbs for a little extra crunch. We also use low sugar ketchup to reduce sugar intake.

  6. Megan Swampy White

    I make something like this all the time, but normally brine the chicken in buttermilk for a couple hours first.