Fried Chicken Nuggets without Buttermilk

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Fried chicken nuggets without buttermilk are super crispy, juicy, and just waiting to be dipped into your favorite sauce! This is an easy homemade chicken nugget recipe that is completely dairy-free, the chicken is juicy and coated in a seasoned flour mixture, and frying it in a cast iron skillet ensures that you have the best crispy chicken nuggets every time!

Chicken nuggets with a bite taken out on a plate.

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Looking for more dairy-free fried chicken recipes? Check out these reader favorites!

Southern fried chicken is usually made with buttermilk. It is used to add flavor and the acid in the buttermilk helps to tenderize the meat making it even more tender and juicy. My family and I have made fried chicken with buttermilk and without it and we really didn’t see much of a difference, instead, we actually love the flavor of the chicken without it!

In both cases the chicken came out very juicy and crispy – thanks to our cast iron skillet, so there isn’t a need to keep buttermilk in this recipe if we don’t have to.

On top of that, we don’t usually have buttermilk and this extra skip is wonderful to avoid because sometimes you just want a batch of fried chicken. Like right now. And not after a 30-minute buttermilk marinate time. You know what I mean? 

These crispy fried chicken nuggets are little bites of deliciousness. They are simple to make and follow the same process as our other fried chicken recipes. The only difference is that the flour mixture is in a plastic gallon bag. Because the nuggets are so small we don’t want to individually toss them in the seasoned flour mixture. The egg-drenched nuggets are placed inside the bag and all you have to do is shake shake shake!

Chicken nuggets in ketchup on a plate.

Everyone loooooves chicken nuggets so they are the perfect crowd-pleasing game day snack or holiday party appetizer.

Grab your favorite sauce or dip because these fried chicken nuggets will be ready in 1 hour!

Recipe Ingredients

Chicken nuggets ingredients on plate.

Chicken – You’ll need 2 chicken breasts cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch pieces. It doesn’t have to be exact just roughly the same size. 

Eggs – Used to create the crispy crunchy crust on the nuggets. Since we aren’t using buttermilk, the eggs are important to seal in the juices of the chicken and it allows the seasoned flour mixture to stick to it. We love to use the Happy Eggs Brand, they have great flavor but any organic or pasture-raised eggs will do!

Seasoned flour – We will use all-purpose flour, ground paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper – for a hint of spice, salt, and ground black pepper. The seasonings are important to a delicious chicken nugget!

Seasonings on a plage and flour in a gallon bag.

Salt – Salt is important to use inside the flour mixture but also on the chicken itself, before the drenching and breading processes. It is sprinkled on the chicken before the flour because it will tenderize the meat and give it flavor. The worst thing ever is bland chicken under a crispy breading. 

Vegetable oil – Used to fry the chicken because we are making deep-frying chicken nuggets. If you want to pan-fry them instead just use half of the oil listed in the recipe card. For deep frying, you want to use at least 2 – 3 inches of oil so the nuggets can float in the oil. I used olive oil but avocado oil or any neutral-tasting oil will work here. 

How to Make Fried Chicken Nuggets

All ingredients, measurements, and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Cut chicken in a plate, seasonings in a plastic bag and eggs whisked in a shallow bowl nearby.

Step one. Set up your drenching stations first – this will make frying the chicken so much easier. 

You’ll need:

  • sheet pan with a wire rack set over it for the cooked chicken
  • sheet pan or large plate lightly dusted with flour for the raw chicken, 
  • shallow bowl for the whisked eggs
  • large gallon bag for breading the chicken nuggets
  • 2 pairs of tongs- 1 for the dry ingredients and 1 for the wet ingredients
  • slotted spoon or fork for frying 

Step two. Rinse and pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces, set the pieces onto a plate, toss with salt then set aside. 

Step three. Into a large plastic gallon bag add all the dry ingredients – flour, salt, ground black pepper, ground paprika, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, and onion powder. Close the bag then mix until the seasonings are well combined. 

Step four. Place a few chicken nuggets into the bag with the flour. Close the bag then shake to coat. 

Raw chicken pieces inside a gallon bag with flour.
Chicken coated in flour in egg mixture.

Step five. Transfer the floured chicken to the whisked eggs, mixing to coat then transfer them back to the flour mixture. Make sure to allow most of the egg to fall back into the bowl.

Chicken coated in flour and egg.
Chicken pieces coated in egg inside a bag with flour in it.

Step six. Seal the gallon bag then shake to coat the chicken pieces. Remove each piece of chicken from the bag and onto a lightly floured plate or sheet pan. Repeat with remaining chicken. 

Battered and drenched chicken pieces on a metal sheet pan.
Chicken frying in a cast iron skillet.

Step seven. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until the vegetable oil is hot. To test the heat of the oil, sprinkle a little bit of flour onto the surface. If it sizzles immediately it’s hot enough to fry. Or you want to use a dried carrot, once it sizzles you are good to go. 

Step eight. Carefully place chicken nuggets into the hot oil. Put in as many as you can comforting fit without them overlapping or touching each other. Fry for 5 – 6 minutes, flipping halfway through or until they are nicely golden brown all around. You might need to flip them a couple of times until it reaches a golden brown color. 

Step nine. Use a slotted spoon or fork to transfer the cooked chicken to the prepared sheet pan with a wire rack to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Step ten. Serve chicken nuggets hot with your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Variations

Add extra cayenne pepper if you want spicy chicken nuggets.

Use the seasonings you like! This is my go-to seasoning blend for fried chicken but add your favorite seasonings or seasonings blends or take out ones you don’t like. Be careful if your seasoning blends contain salt, if so, reduce some of the salt used on the chicken so it doesn’t end up overly salty.

If for some reason you don’t have chicken breasts use an equal amount of chicken tenders. It will make your chicken nuggets even more tender and juicy! Just make sure to remove the chicken tendon – the long white strip in the middle of the chicken tenders. It’s tough and best when removed!

Chicken nugget in ketchup.

Recommended Tools

Sheet pans and wire racks, one for cooked chicken and one for uncooked chicken

Large plastic gallon bag, easier way to bread the chicken nuggets

2 pairs of tongs or gloves, if you don’t like touching raw meat

Slotted spoon or fork, for getting the cooked chicken out of the frying oil

Large cast iron skillet, the chicken comes crispier than if cooked in a stainless steel skillet

Pro Tips

Use tongs or gloves to drench the chicken: I prefer to use tongs for the flour steps and one pair for the egg steps. If you don’t like touching raw meat or don’t want your hands caked with flour and egg, they are the way to go.

Season the chicken BEFORE drenching it in flour and egg: You don’t want the crust to be seasoned and the chicken underneath bland tasting. So sprinkle a bit of salt on the meat before coating the chicken in the flour and egg mixture. 

Use a carrot to keep the frying oil clean: I add half of a rinsed and fully dried carrot to the frying oil to 1. help me know when the oil is hot and 2. to help keep the oil clean when frying. 

Recoat raw drenched chicken in flour before frying if needed: I like to drench all the chicken with flour and egg before I start the frying process. So by the time I finish cooking one batch, the raw chicken will have absorbed the flour coating and start to look a little wet, to avoid this simply give the chicken a quick dusting in flour before frying it so it gets as crispy as possible. 

How To Store/ Reheat/ Make Ahead

Store fried chicken nuggets in an air-tight container or plastic bag for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Store in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap then inside a freezer bag for 2 months. 

When you are ready to eat – reheat chicken from the refrigerator in a 400-degree F oven for 10 minutes or until heated through, if you have the “Quick Bake” setting on your oven set it to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. From frozen, the chicken will need a few extra minutes 15 – 20 minutes. Cover the chicken for the first few 20 minutes so it doesn’t dry out, then continue to cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until heated through and crispy.

Make Ahead. Fried chicken nuggets will always taste the best on the first day, however, you can prep some of the ingredients beforehand. Add all the seasonings to the plastic gallon bag and then cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks. You can store the raw chicken pieces in the refrigerator inside an air-tight container or plastic storage bag for 1- 2 days before you are ready to make chicken nuggets. Whisk the eggs only right before you are ready to work with them.

Frequently Asked Questions  —

What is the purpose of buttermilk in fried chicken?

Buttermilk is used to add flavor and it tenderizes the meat making the chicken even more juicy. It’s not necessary to use buttermilk to make delicious fried chicken but it’s a popular ingredient.

Looking For More Recipes?

Fried Chicken Recipe Without Buttermilk

Chicken Tenders Recipe (No Buttermilk)

Fried Chicken Breast Recipe Without Buttermilk

Texas-style Chicken Fried Steak without buttermilk

Fried Chicken Sandwich with Coleslaw(Dairy-free)

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Fried Chicken Nuggets without Buttermilk

Fried chicken nuggets without buttermilk are super crispy, juicy, and just waiting to be dipped into your favorite sauce! This is an easy homemade chicken nugget recipe that is completely dairy-free, the chicken is juicy and coated in a seasoned flour mixture, and frying it in a cast iron skillet ensures that you have the best crispy chicken nuggets every time!
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Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 40 nuggets
Calories: 38kcal
Cost: $10

Equipment

  • Large Cast – iron skillet
  • Large zip loc bag
  • 2 Pairs of tongs one for the wet ingredients and dry ingredients
  • sheet pan with wire rack
  • Slotted spoon or fork for frying

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 chicken breasts about 1 ½ lb, cut into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 – 4 eggs whisked

Breading

  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • Vegetable oil for frying 3 cups or 2 – 3 inches
  • Small carrot to keep the oil clean

Optional

  • Dipping sauces like ketchup honey mustard, or barbecue sauce

Instructions 

  • Set up your drenching stations first – this will make frying the chicken so much easier. 

You’ll need:

  • – sheet pan with a wire rack set over it for the cooked chicken
    – sheet pan or large plate lightly dusted with flour for the raw chicken, 
    – shallow bowl for the whisked eggs
  • Rinse and pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Cut chicken into 1 1/2-inch bite-sized pieces, set the pieces onto a plate, toss with salt then set aside. 2 chicken breasts 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Into a large plastic gallon bag add all the dry ingredients – flour, salt, ground black pepper, ground paprika, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, and onion powder. Close the bag then mix until the seasonings are well combined. 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper 1 ½ teaspoon ground paprika ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon dried thyme ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • Use the dry pair of tongs to place a few chicken nuggets into the bag with the flour. Close the bag then shake to coat. 
  • Transfer the floured chicken to the whisked eggs, mixing to coat then transfer them back to the flour mixture inside the gallon bag, making sure to allow most of the egg to fall back into the bowl. I like to use my wet tongs for this step. 3 – 4 eggs
  • Seal the bag then shake to coat the chicken pieces. Use your tongs to remove each piece of chicken from the bag and onto a lightly floured sheet pan. Repeat with remaining chicken. 
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until the vegetable oil is hot, with the carrot if using. To test the heat of the oil, sprinkle a little bit of flour onto the surface. If it sizzles immediately it’s hot enough to fry.
  • Carefully place chicken nuggets into the hot oil. Put in as many as you can comforting fit without them overlapping or touching each other. 
  • Fry for 5 – 6 minutes, flipping halfway through or until they are nicely golden brown all around. You might need to flip them a couple of times until it reaches a golden brown color. 
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chicken to the prepared sheet pan with a wire rack to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  • Serve chicken nuggets hot with your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Notes

Store fried chicken nuggets in an air-tight container or plastic bag for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Store in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap then inside a freezer bag for 2 months.
Reheat chicken from the refrigerator in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes or until heated through, if you have the “Quick Bake” setting on your oven set it to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. From frozen, cover the chicken for the first few 20 minutes so it doesn’t dry out, then continue to cook uncovered for another 5 minutes or until heated through and crispy.
Make Ahead. Add all the seasonings to the plastic gallon bag and then cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks. You can store the raw chicken pieces in the refrigerator inside an air-tight container or plastic storage bag for 1- 2 days before you are ready to make chicken nuggets. Whisk the eggs only right before you are ready to work with them.

Nutrition

Calories: 38kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.04g | Vitamin A: 65IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.4mg

All nutrition information is automatically generated and should be only used as a rough estimate. This recipe card may contain affiliate links.

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